Overview | Blue Diamond Hill Southern Ridgelines | Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada

Northern Blue Diamond Hill is Most Familiar

The most familiar area of Blue Diamond Hill is its Northern area. This is the area mostly accessed from the trailhead parking at the Cowboy Horseback Riding operation across from the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive. There is a great network of multiuse trails on Northern Blue Diamond Hill and it’s a popular area for daily hiking, running and biking workouts along with horseback riding. The canyons also have access trails, and there are ancient fossils and limestone caves.  

Southern Blue Diamond Hill is Largely Unknown

However, there is a huge, largely unknown area on the Southern end of Blue Diamond Hill just West of the Blue Diamond Gypsum Mining operation. This Southern area on Blue Diamond Hill is characterized by high ridgelines with spectacular unique views of the Rainbow Mountains. These high ridgelines are surrounded by no less than 9 deep majestic, narrow canyons with towering vertical limestone walls that contain hidden limestone caves. Each canyon conjures up the image of a larger version of Cowboy Canyon to the North!

Unlike the Northern end of Blue Diamond Hill, there are no trails in this area…at least, no marked trails. I did discover some unmarked “phantom trails” and “phantom roads” that appeared and disappeared along the way. I’ll identify an awesome trailhead to access all the wonders of Southern Blue Diamond Hill, along with how to find your way through that long barbed-wire animal barrier that skirts the entire length of Highway 159.

This is an Initial Orientation to Southern Blue Diamond Hill

This adventure is an initial orientation to Southern Blue Diamond Hill. It’s an adventure loop ascending a ridge on the North side, skirting West edge of the Blue Diamond Hill Gypsum Mining operation along the summit area, then descending another ridgeline to the South. Along the way there are deep views into the surrounding canyons inspiring exploration there along with detailed views of the Rainbow Mountains inspiring more future adventures.

Rainbow Mountain Peaks Identified

The video identifies each of the Rainbow Mountain peaks from this unique perspective which presents a spectacular wrap-around view of that range. From South to North these include:

In addition, every canyon on the Southern end of Blue Diamond Hill is identified from the ridgelines above.

Best Time of Year to Visit Southern Blue Diamond Hill

The best time of year for this adventure is Fall through Spring. Summer mid-day temperatures can easily exceed 110 degrees! Winter is mostly snow-free.    

Route Starting Point Directions | Blue Diamond Hill Southern Ridgelines | Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada

Take the Charleston Blvd. exit off Hwy 215 in Las Vegas. Head up Highway 159 toward the mountains (Red Rock Canyon). You’ll pass Calico Basin, the Red Rock Canyon scenic drive entrance and exit. Continue on Highway 159 past the Oak Creek and First Creek trailheads. Continue past Spring Mountains State Park and Bonnie Springs. Just before the Gypsum Mining road branches off to the left, watch carefully for the Wheeler Camp Spring trailhead parking area on the right. It’s not marked and easy to miss.

Adventure Narrative Guide | Blue Diamond Hill Southern Ridgelines | Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada

From the Wheeler Camp Spring parking area, cross Highway 159 and take a brief left to the South edge of the Blue Diamond Gypsum Mine Road. This is the closest access to cross the long barbed wire animal fence. Now get your bearings. To the South you can see a long ridgeline ascending up toward the summit of the Southern area of Blue Diamond Hill. This ridgeline and the highest hill you can see at the summit are your initial target. You may need to skirt the inside of the barbed wire fence line until you cross the first intervening canyon wash. Cross the wash then begin to ascend the ridgeline.

A Note About the 9 Canyon Washes on Southern Blue Diamond Hill

Each canyon wash descends from the summit area and empties at Highway 159. Where the washes intersect with Highway 159 they look shallow and insignificant. However, as the washes ascend the hill they very soon deepen into majestic canyons with towering walls and hidden caves. We’re not traversing the canyon washes today, but rather getting an eagle’s view from the ridges above.

A Note About the Ridgelines on Southern Blue Diamond Hill

The ridgelines tower above the canyon washes. The upper edge of the ridgelines is a sheer, life-ending drop-off into the canyons below. The upper edge has a loose rock surface. You might want to give the edge a healthy 3-6ft distance. Fortunately, the ridgelines themselves are wide so you don’t need to get near the upper edge. And and the ridgeline ascents are fairly gentle, though the incline can get pretty steep in places. This arrangement of ridgelines and canyons allows you to easily gauge the distance and timing of your adventure in this area, descending and returning to the trailhead area at multiple points. All the ridgelines will get you back to Highway 159.

A Note About the Barbed Wire Animal Barrier Fence Along Highway 159

Where each ridgeline reaches Highway 150, you can easily fine an opening in that imposing barbed wire fence. Just skirt the fence until you find a place (often at the canyon crossings) where there is room to slide under. Along much of the fence line the bottom strand does not have barbs! There are places where the strands are separated enough to allow a careful squeeze through.

A Note About Plant Life in the Southern Blue Diamond Hill Area

This entire area is an incredibly beautiful, untouched Southwestern U.S. desert garden! You’ll pass among various types of cacti, yucca and sage. Some of the plants you’ll see include:

  • California Barrel Cactus
  • Strawberry Hedgehog Cactus
  • Prickly Peak Cactus
  • Yucca
  • Joshua Trees
  • Sage 

Ascending the 2nd Ridgeline South of the Mining Road

Using the Blue Diamond Gypsum Mining Road as a reference, there are 2 ridgelines and 2 canyons to the North of that road. The road itself ascends a 3rd ridgeline. There are 5 ridgelines and 5 canyons South of the mining road. For this initial adventure I ascend the 2nd ridgeline South of the mining road and descend the 3rd ridgeline South of that road. There are deep canyons to observe on either side of these ridgelines. In the video I point out a few of the caves visible in the towering limestone walls. Some can be accessed with care. Others would require technical rock climbing skill, experience and gear.

About a third of the way up the ridgeline, a faint trail appears along the North (left) side of the ridgeline. I follow that for a while. Further up a faint road appears. There is some evident of recent passage along the trail and road, but these are largely unused. The road will eventually skirt the Eastern boundary of the gypsum mining operation as it heads South.

Summit Area of the Southern End of Blue Diamond Hill

You’ll get a great view of the gypsum mining operation along the upper road. Along the way, there is a great viewpoint. At the Southern end of Blue Diamond Hill you can see the upper end of that huge chute created to transport oar down the South side of the mountain. There’s a distinctive hill near the South end of the summit area. I ascended that hill for the best view of the day.  

Descent to Highway 159

On this day I did not take the furthest ridgeline to the South. I hear that ridgeline has an incredible view of the region to the South of Blue Diamond Hill. I took the ridgeline, 2 ridgelines to the North. It was the ridgeline descending from the observation hill just mentioned. The canyon to the South (to the left) of the ridgeline was huge and deep with towering vertical walls. The canyon to the North of the ridgeline (to the right) was more shallow and had a number of fairly gradual but steep slopes one could use to descend into that canyon. The ridgeline reached Highway 159 just South of the main entrance road for the town of Blue Diamond. I crossed through the barbed wire fence barrier, took a right of Highway 159 and reached my starting point at the Wheeler Camp Spring parking area in an incredibly short (less than half a mile) distance from the descent ridge!

Summary of the Southern Blue Diamond Hill Ridgeline Adventure

This was a fairly short adventure offering a huge reward for the energy and time investment. It was a great initial overview of the beautiful Southern Blue Diamond Hill area. From this beginning, it’s easy to imagine future adventures here!

Blue Diamond Hill Southern Ridgelines, Nevada
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Blue Diamond Hill Southern Ridgelines, Nevada
Enjoy non-stop eagle-eye views of the entire Rainbow Mountain range from a Southern perspective while simultaneously surrounded by majestic canyons! This little-known Southern wilderness area on Blue Diamond Hill is across highway 159 from the town of Blue Diamond.
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