Boulders, bolts, and big adventures, Red Rocks has everything a climber could want. Located just west of the city of Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, as it is officially called, has become a very popular climbing destination due to its ease of access, plethora of moderate routes, and excellent dining and accommodation options in nearby Las Vegas.
The multi-pitch climbing is what really sets Red Rocks apart from other climbing areas. Sure, the sport climbing in Calico is fun, and grunting your way up The Fox is a worthwhile character-building experience, but there aren’t many places in the world with such approachable, safe, and fun big climbs as Red Rocks.
Almost all of the climbs are either within the conservation loop or in Black Velvet Canyon. The hours for the loop road vary, and can be found on the BLM website. If you’re headed for one of the long classics within the loop, you’ll probably find others lined up waiting to race in after it opens to be first on the rock (please obey posted speed limits). Another options is to park in a pullout on the right a bit past the loop exit (see map), and start hiking before the park opens. This will add some miles to your day, but you can beat most others to the climbs in Oak Creek or Juniper Canyon.
The entrance to Black Velvet is open 24 hours so it’s easier to get an early start there. The Black Velvet wall itself is Red Rocks’ crown jewel, so don’t miss the opportunity to climb in this area. The Jerry Handren guidebook (by far the best source of info for all of Red Rocks) has a clear positive bias for the climbs in Black Velvet, and who can blame him. Please do not camp in the parking lot.
- Birdland 5.7+
- Frogland 5.8
- Dark Shadows(to the top) 5.8
- Epinephrine 5.9
- Triassic Sands(to the top) 5.10c
- Inti Watana-Resolution Arete 5.10c
- Levitation 29 5.11c
- Cloud Tower 5.11d
- The Original Route (Rainbow Wall) 5.12a
Spring and Fall. Climbing in the sunshine in the winter is possible, but the wind on the big walls can be unpleasant. Summer is way too hot in this area.
The Red Rocks campground is the only nearby campground to choose from if you need to pitch a tent. If you can sleep in your vehicle, you can try to find a parking lot inside the city. Otherwise, there is a pullout on 159, by the campground (see map). We always saw vans parked along here, but since my van and Lukas’ truck blended right in with other vehicles, we slept in a hospital parking lot nearby for like a month with no issues :).
Las Vegas also has some great options for cheap hotels and AirBnB houses at reasonable rates and not too far from the climbing, so if this is within your budget, it’s definitely an attractive alternative to the dusty, windy campground.
You can get water at the campground.
The Red Rock Casino has an all you can eat buffet for $19 (after signing up for a free loyalty program). The food is good and soft drinks are included! But don’t be a sucker, liquid doesn’t compress and your stomach has valuable real estate.
Sushi Koma has all you can eat made to order sushi for $26. After a huge day in the mountains, I’m sure you will make it worth it.
Red Rock Climbing Center has showers for $4.
The Las Vegas strip hosts an entirely different kind of entertainment that may or may not appeal to those looking to take a break from the climbing.
The Hoover Dam is about a 3 hour drive from Las Vegas, and worth checking out at least once in your life.
Vegas has a number of fun go-kart tracks. Gene Woods Racing is a particular favorite, but Google ought to help you find one nearby.
By Tyler Wellman, James Huang