The one-way 13-mile scenic drive (open daily from 6:00 a.m. until dusk), offers numerous opportunities to picnic and photograph the beautiful shapes and colors up close. Stop first at the Visitor Center for a map, and while inside learn about the area’s geology, history, and wildlife, including the wild horses and burros you’re sure to see.
It's hard to fathom, but Red Rock Canyon's natural desert beauty was once the bottom of an ocean. About 225 million years ago, movements of the earth's crust caused the seabed to slowly rise. When the seabed sediment was exposed to air, it began to oxidize, resulting in the red, pink, purple, and orange colored rocks seen today. It's also believed that millions of years ago two of the earth's plates collided, causing older layers of rock to be thrust horizontally over younger layers. The red sandstone collided with gray and tan limestone, creating striking multi-colored formations found in Red Rock Canyon.
If you’re a rock climber, get your permit in advance. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is one of the top five climbing destinations in the USA and has more than 2,000 routes. If you’d rather not get roped into anything, the beautiful colors and angles of the canyons, cliffs, and ravines are just as stunning from a hiking trail or roadside overlook. To see fragile petroglyphs (rock art carved into the surface of the rock), pictographs (painted onto the surface of the rock), and food roasting pits left behind by ancient Indians, be sure to hike the easy Willow Springs Loop trail. Trail Running Gaiters will keep sand out of your shoes. Razer Snake Gaiters are your best bet whenever you're in rattlesnake territory.
There's quite a great deal to see and do beyond the opulent oasis of Las Vegas. Stock up on bottled water and prepare to be amazed by the colorful natural wonders just outside of town.
Some areas are more colorful than the Strip!