Las Vegas, known for its vibrant nightlife and entertainment, may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of camping and outdoor adventures. However, just a short drive from the famous Las Vegas Strip lies a natural wonder that’s a must-visit for campers and outdoor enthusiasts – Red Rock Canyon. In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey through the breathtaking Red Rock Canyon and why it should be on your camping radar when visiting Las Vegas.

The Hidden Gem of the Mojave Desert

A Natural Oasis

Nestled within the Mojave Desert, Red Rock Canyon is a true desert oasis. Its striking red sandstone formations, unique geology, and diverse flora and fauna make it a haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers. While Las Vegas offers glitz and glamour, Red Rock Canyon provides an escape to a world of tranquility and natural beauty.

A Playground for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Red Rock Canyon offers a wide range of outdoor activities, making it an ideal destination for campers. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a rock climber, or simply someone who enjoys a scenic drive, there’s something for everyone in this stunning desert landscape.

Camping at Red Rock Canyon

Campground Options

Red Rock Canyon offers two developed campgrounds – Red Rock Canyon Campground and Willow Springs Picnic Area Campground. These campgrounds provide basic amenities such as picnic tables, fire rings, and vault toilets. However, it’s essential to note that there are no water hookups, so campers need to bring their water supply.

Reservation Information

Reservations are highly recommended, especially during the peak camping season, which runs from September to May. You can make reservations through the Bureau of Land Management’s website. Keep in mind that camping is not permitted within the Scenic Loop Drive area.

Wilderness Camping

For those seeking a more rugged camping experience, Red Rock Canyon also offers the opportunity for wilderness camping. You can obtain a free permit to camp in designated areas, but you must follow Leave No Trace principles and pack out everything you bring in.

Hiking Trails for All Levels

Calico Tanks Trail

The Calico Tanks Trail is a popular choice for hikers, offering a moderate hike with stunning views of the canyon and Las Vegas in the distance. The trail leads to a seasonal water tank and offers opportunities for rock scrambling.

Ice Box Canyon Trail

For a refreshing escape from the desert heat, the Ice Box Canyon Trail is a great choice. This moderate hike takes you through a narrow canyon, offering shade and the chance to see seasonal waterfalls.

Turtlehead Peak Trail

If you’re up for a challenge, the Turtlehead Peak Trail provides a strenuous hike with a rewarding panoramic view of Red Rock Canyon at the summit. This hike is best tackled in cooler months.

Junior Ranger Program

Families camping at Red Rock Canyon can engage their kids in the Junior Ranger Program. It’s an educational and fun way for children to learn about the desert environment and earn a Junior Ranger badge.

Rock Climbing Paradise

Red Rock Canyon is renowned for its world-class rock climbing opportunities. The vibrant red sandstone cliffs and diverse climbing routes attract climbers from all over the world. Whether you’re a seasoned climber or a beginner, there are routes for all skill levels.

Safety First

If you’re new to rock climbing, it’s crucial to have proper gear and consider taking a guided climbing tour with experienced instructors to ensure your safety. The unique geology and sandstone composition require specific climbing techniques.

Wildlife and Photography

Desert Wildlife

Red Rock Canyon is home to a variety of wildlife, including desert bighorn sheep, tortoises, and a wide range of bird species. Keep your camera handy, as you might spot these fascinating creatures during your hikes and camping trips.

Sunrise and Sunset Photography

The striking red sandstone formations of Red Rock Canyon come alive during sunrise and sunset. The soft, warm hues of the canyon walls provide the perfect backdrop for photography enthusiasts. Be sure to capture the magic of these moments.

Important Tips for Campers

Leave No Trace

When camping and hiking in Red Rock Canyon, follow the Leave No Trace principles. Pack out all trash, stay on designated trails, and respect the fragile desert ecosystem.

Weather Considerations

The desert climate can be extreme, with scorching summer temperatures and chilly winter nights. Be prepared for fluctuating weather conditions, and carry plenty of water, sunscreen, and layers of clothing.

Staying Safe

Safety should be a priority when exploring Red Rock Canyon. Inform someone of your plans, carry a map, and be aware of your surroundings, especially if you venture off the beaten path.


Red Rock Canyon offers a unique camping experience just a stone’s throw from the dazzling lights of Las Vegas. It’s a place where you can immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Mojave Desert, hike among towering red sandstone formations, and witness desert wildlife in its habitat. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a photographer, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, Red Rock Canyon has something special to offer. So, when you plan your trip to Las Vegas, don’t forget to include a visit to this hidden gem in the Mojave Desert. Your camping adventure at Red Rock Canyon awaits, promising memories that will last a lifetime.