Las Vegas. You may picture bright lights, Eiffel Tower shaped hotels, show girls, slot machines. I picture red sandstone cliffs, low cacti, and days spent out in the desert sun. The Las Vegas area is different for me because I’ve only experienced the famous downtown Strip out of the window of the car as we drove passed it to enter Red Rock Canyon. Over winter break some friends and I packed our gear into the van and headed south on a 5 day rock climbing trip. I can only recommend you visit this place yourself, whether on your own outdoor trip or just as side stop when you get sick of the City of Sin.


Red Rocks might be Las Vegas’ best kept secret from the mainstream tourist scene. This gorgeous canyon, quite well known by many climbers and hikers, sits along the east side of the Spring Mountains just five miles out of the city. As you drive out the city development ebbs away and eventually stops as the park begins. You can enter the main canyon for a small fee or explore some of its outer reaches for free. In the summer, Red Rocks can reach scorching temperatures, but winter and parts of the spring and autumn are quite pleasant for climbers, hikers, and bikers. The gray, red, and white sandstone formations are seriously beautiful. On our trip, we also took a short drive into Arizona and hiked down to the Colorado River, where we found a natural hot springs with 3 pools. Hot water was a savior for climbing-sore muscles!


Red Rocks has a campground on site, but it’s rather small and crowded and lacks showering facilities. For a large group like ours, it was worth it to rent a small apartment on the outskirts of Vegas for a few days. It seems like many people have vacation condos that they like to rent, which you can find via internet search.

Traveling for a sport is a really interesting and different way to do things. Climbing has taken me to places I may have not normally included in my itinerary and shown me some of my country’s arguably most beautiful national parks close up and personal on the mountainside. Not to mention it always seems to be easy to meet and socialize with other climbers!






post by Jackie Clark