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Calico Hills Loop

  • Difficulty
  • 2.1km
  • 38m
  • 0.5-1h
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The red rock of Calico Hills is the centrepiece of most peoples’ visit to Red Rock Canyon. A small modicum of effort takes hikers along a short loop granting a more intimate look at the steep and textured red cliffs.

Getting there

From Las Vegas follow Route 157 West as it exits the city. After less than 10 minutes of driving past the city limits you will reach the turn off for Scenic Drive, and signs towards the visitor centre for Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Make this turn and pay your dues at the park entrance. Follow the one way Scenic Drive for a very short while until you reach the Calico 2 parking lot (the second turn off), park here – it fills up quickly!

elevation

Total Gain: 38m

About

Type of Hike Loop
Crowd Levels High
Route Signage Moderate until you gain ridge
Toilets At Trailhead
Family Friendly Yes
Backcountry Campgrounds No
When to Do Spring and Fall, avoid summer heat

 Detailed Description

Starting from the Calico 2 parking lot, begin by descending the trail towards the clear canyon in the rock. You will soon arrive at a signposted junction, from here turn right following the sign pointing towards rock climbing areas.

The trail will die down as you hike into this small canyon in the hills. Do some exploring here – there is a lot to find! Among the trees and the bushes scattering the plane you will be able to find small water holes (seasonal) as well as incredibly textured rock.

After exploring as much of this small recession as you wish, return the way you came but veer left, hiking along the basin of the creek bed. Hanging left you will hug the red rock and quickly see large cylinders of mesh metal filled with stones. These mark the remainder of the trail and make for especially easy route finding.

As you continue following these mega-cairns, you will gain a small amount of elevation to a ridge. Hiking along this ridge is the true highlight of the hike. On your left with be the deep red rocks of the Calico Hills, and on your right the expansive sweeping plane followed by the abruptly steep La Madre Mountains. The panoramas achieved from this ridge are breathtaking, and since you have lost some elevation from the road, it feels like you are much more isolated than you actually are.

Continue hiking along the ridgeline until the trail starts to lose elevation. From here you could conceivably continue towards the Calico 1 parking lot, then make your return journey. However we think it is best to simply return here and save yourself another brief ascent. The views don’t change much between the two parking areas!

Insider Hints

  • Calico Hills is a very popular rock climbing area. Consider joining a guided climbing trip through one of the many companies based in Las Vegas.