Leaving Las Vegas
As its name implies, Red Rock is punctuated by crimson sandstone that 380 million years ago was part of a sand-dune field stretching all the way to Colorado. With more than 30 miles of hiking trails and dozens of climbing routes, visitors are invited to come face to face with this rough-hewn Bureau of Land Management preserve with a base elevation of 3,720.
Directions: From the Strip, head north on I-15 to the Charleston Boulevard exit and head west. Go about 13 miles to the 13-mile, one-way Red Rock Scenic Loop and turn right.
Pine Creek Canyon Trail
Length: 4 miles round trip
From the Scenic Loop turnoff, stop at the well-stocked visitors center for weather information and a peak at Red Rocks of Southern Nevada, the local climbers' Bible. Then go 11 miles to the Pine Creek Canyon Overlook parking area on the right. The trail heads down the hill, toward the can't-miss stands of ponderosa pine trees along the valley floor. The pines thrive in this area because of the relatively wet and cool environment along Pine Creek, a cheerful streamlet most of the year and a perfect picnic spot. From the creek, the trail heads west toward Juniper Peak and Bridge Mountain, which look like hand-painted pyramids with gray limestone tops resting on red sandstone bases.
After about a mile, the trail passes what was once the basement of Horace Wilson's 1920s homestead. Keep an eye out for wild burros, descendants of animals left here by Spanish and Italian settlers. The trail heads into steep-walled Pine Creek Canyon, where it dead ends amid Toyota-sized boulders in the creek bed. Return the way you came.
Information: Contact the Bureau of Land Management, (702) 363-1921.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication