Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area – Las Vegas, Nevada - Atlas Obscura

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Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Dyed by iron oxide over centuries, these sandstone rocks rise thousands of feet into the sky. 


Maintained by the Bureau of Land Management as part of its National Landscape Conservation System, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a chunk of land just 15 miles west of Las Vegas that is visited by more than one million people every year.

Visible from the Las Vegas Strip, Red Rock Canyon showcases the large red rock formations from which it gets its name. The rocks, made of sandstone that reach more than 3,000 feet into the sky and formed by a number of geological forces including fractured faults and fossilized sand dunes, are a popular destination for hiking and rock climbing enthusiasts. The highest point in the area is more than 8,000 feet. The rocks get their color from iron oxide that has built up over centuries.

A one-way road loops through the Conservation Area and provides access to many of the main features of the site, including hiking trails, parking areas, and a visitor’s center. Many people driving outside of Las Vegas will take the slow detour through the area just to enjoy the stark change in scenery.

Today, the area is a gold mine for archeologists studying Native American culture. The site is littered with pottery fragments and petroglyphs that were left by various tribes that lived among the red rocks for millennia because of the region’s abundant plant and animal life.

Know Before You Go

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is located about 15 miles (24 km) west of Las Vegas, and easily seen from the Las Vegas Strip. Be warned that feeding wild horses and burros is not only potentially dangerous (they will bite if given the opportunity), but highly illegal. The entrance fee is $7 for cars and $3 for motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians. America the Beautiful pass-holders pay no entrance fee.

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