Did you know that just 20 miles north-west of the Las Vegas Boulevard “Strip” lies a fascinating geological area in the Mojave Desert? Red Rock Canyon’s majestic red sandstone peaks and the Keystone Thrust Fault are just two reasons why avid climbers are growing increasingly intrigued by this corner of South Nevada. Red Rock Canyon offers climbing experiences and challenges for people of all ages and ability levels. Better still, the Nevadan climate means that it’s a year-round climbing location.
Nowadays, more people are venturing out to Las Vegas to experience Red Rock Canyon, as opposed to exclusively sitting in the casino floors of the Strip. The increasing accessibility of real-money poker rooms and online casinos, which offer plenty of games and welcome bonuses, means that the unique feeling of playing table games in “Sin City” is being lost. Las Vegas is also working hard to diversify into other areas of entertainment, including fine dining.
The number of Michelin-starred eateries is rising year-by-year, while Vegas is also welcoming more professional sports teams to the city, namely the Las Vegas Knights NHL team and the prospective Las Vegas Raiders NFL team.
Besides, it’s also rapidly gaining a reputation for its Red Rocks, which are wholly unique for North American rock climbers. Some might think that Nevada is mostly flat as a desert. But real-money poker rooms interspersed within its flatter landscape. The busiest time for climbing at Red Rock is between September and May. It remains popular in the summer months but due to the searing midday heat of June, July and August, climbers tend to head out on climbs at 6 am, returning well before the midday desert heat reaches its climax.
There’s no other location in North America that feels like you are climbing in the wilderness of the desert despite being just a 20-minute drive from the glitz and glamor of Las Vegas’ civilization. Let’s take a look at a few of the best climbs you can do in and around Red Rock’s National Conservation Area:
1. Pine Creek Canyon
This scenic granite canyon appears to be the most popular climb of all at the Red Rocks. With an elevation of 7,190 feet, it’s a stiff physical test. There’s up to 630 different routes you can take on your climb, most of which will demand a 230 ft (70m) or 260 ft (80m) rope. Climbing conditions can be almost impossible when Pine Creek is wet, due to the fragile sandstone. Nevertheless, Pine Creek is easily reached by car via the scenic loop road.
2. Black Velvet Canyon
There are few more breath-taking climbs in the entirety of the Red Rocks than at Black Velvet Canyon. In particular, the Epinephrine route is one that offers something for everyone. Aside from the awe-inspiring finish, looking down at the Las Vegas Strip, the chimney pitches are worth the entry fee alone, as is the descent.
3. Juniper Canyon
Easily accessible from the Pine Creek parking lot, the Juniper Canyon offers exciting moderate routes for brave beginners and intermediates, as well as stiffer routes up the Rainbow Wall and the Cloud Tower. Once again, it’s important to reaffirm that climbing Juniper Canyon is unsafe if the area has experienced heavy rainfall and should not be attempted if the ground or rock face is damp in any way.
Of course, it’s possible to stay in and around the Las Vegas Strip if you are embarking on daytime climbs. But you can also choose to camp within the National Conservation Area. Vehicle campsites are first-come, first-served, and available at just $15 a night. The Red Rocks are definitely a bucket list climbing experience, even for those that don’t enjoy the bright lights of Las Vegas.