We went to Vegas and didn’t really like it. There, I said it. So instead of stuffing our faces with casino buffet food, we hit the road looking for adventure, and found a true gem: Red Rock Canyon State Park. Only 20 miles from the Strip, this small park doesn’t need to get intimidated by its gigantic National Park neighbours, as it has more than its fair-share of epic desert landscapes and rock formations, with plenty of hikes and eye candy for an amateur photographer like me.
Vegas was hot. Spending August in Southern California wasn’t the smartest choice, but it was the only one we had. So when we started our drive back to LA on our last day, we seriously debated taking the detour to visit the park. Should we? Shouldn’t we? If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that I would never let the opportunity to go off-route pass. I can almost taste the adventure when my fingers touch the weathered pages of our paper map, this time taking us to the desert once again. I couldn’t wait.
The park was recommended to us by a Las Vegas couple we had met hiking a coastal path while in Oregon. They boasted about its landscape and promised us that it was worth trading a day in Sin City, and they were so right – the Red Rock Canyon Park blew us away.
Located within the Mojave Desert, Red Rock Canyon was incredible and truly surpassed our expectations. The rock formations had thousands of layers of bright orange and the Aztec sandstone cliffs on the horizon, lithified sand dunes that are millions of years old.
We didn’t go on any big hikes due to the heat, but the big boulders and many rocks make for the best natural playground you can think of. We did heaps of climbing, our four year old son enthralled by the enormous rocks around him. There weren’t many wildflowers around as we visited in the middle of Summer, but if you’re lucky enough to go to the park in Spring you can find out more about the many types of wildflowers in the park here.
It was our last full day in the US. After six short months of travelling around this epic country, we were having to say our goodbyes. Red Rock couldn’t have been a better parting gift – and the sunset I snapped from the car on our way back to LA, well, see for yourself…
Cost: $7 per car for one day / Included in our annual National Parks card
Driving directions from Las Vegas:
Red Rock Canyon Nature Preserve is just 30 minutes from central Las Vegas, making it the perfect small day trip from the city.
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