I’ve been traveling to Las Vegas for a number of years now either for business, or on the way to the Grand Canyon, but I had never explored the absolutely delightful Red Rock Canyon before. Just 13 miles from the strip, this conservation area includes a scenic driving loop, expansive views, beautiful rock formations of reds, whites and browns and a multitude of hikes. As a solitary traveler here for just a few days, I took the bus to the airport from the strip, booked a ridiculously cheap rental ($25 for the day) and headed on out West.
The car park at the head of multiple trails including Turtlehead is easy enough to find, but the actual trail up Turtlehead Peak took a lot more patience. There are so many crossing paths and tracks which look like they should be a trail, it can often be a little difficult to figure out which is the right way – judging by some of the notes in the summit diary, others had these same issues.
The first mile and a half are a pleasant 500+ft elevation gain, at which point the more challenging portion of the hike kicks in. For the next mile, the elevation progressively steepens along winding dirt and loose rock upward of another 1000ft to the summit. it’s not overly difficult but concentration will avert some potential tragedy here. I mentioned the loose rock which I lost my footing on the descent a couple of times but exposure, especially in summer, could be a significant issue; there’s no shade and no water. I passed a handful of people on the way up but not on the way down, only to assume they gave up and turned back. If you push through, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Calico Basin and the surrounding peaks, as well as an unhindered view of Las Vegas itself. In total I was 6 hours from strip to canyon, back to strip, including picking up and dropping off the rental car. Highly recommended, if you need to escape the noise of Sin City for half a day.