Juniper Peak | Rainbow Mountain Wilderness, Nevada
Initial Exploration from Oak Creek Area
I was very new to Nevada at this time and errors in the video below probably reflect this. Missed the summit approach and ended up ascending a steep rock climber’s gully. However, there is the experience of the fresh, new discovery of someone recently arrived from Connecticut!
Juniper Peak | Rainbow Mountain Wilderness & Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
Popularity of Juniper Peak
\Why is Juniper Peak is one of the most popular climbing destinations in Red Rock Canyon and in The Rainbow Mountains?
- Easy access right off The Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive
- Opportunity to experience the fun challenge of one of the canyons on the Eastern Base of the Rainbow Mountains
- Summit one of those spectacular Aztec red rock peaks in the Rainbow Mountains.
- No need for advanced rock climbing experience or equipment (The entire route is class 2 and light class 3 scrambling)
- The trip to the summit and back takes about a half day (4-6 hours)
Challenges of Juniper Peak
- Locating Juniper Canyon’s Entrance: The Juniper Canyon approach trail can be a confusing network of unmarked “rabbit” trails splitting off in all directions. This is in part due to numerous unmarked rock climbing approach routes splitting off to the North and South.
- Navigating Juniper Canyon: Here you’ll face the brush, boulders and ledges typical of canyons along the Eastern base of The Rainbow Mountains. Though there are a number of helpful cairns to guide the way, cairns can disappear and are not 100% present when you need to know where to turn next. My own experience is that it’s possible to head off route and end up retracing your way numerous times to the correct route even after having navigated Juniper Canyon successfully more than once previously!
- Braving Some Significant Exposure: Though you can make the summit without exceeding a class 3 level of climbing, are a few stretches along the summit approach above Juniper Canyon that run along steep drop-offs.
Given these challenges, it might be wise to navigate Juniper Peak your first time with some rock climbing experience, a climbing partner, specific route directions and a good pair of rock climbing shoes. Or, you can take my approach and make multiple attempts going a bit further each time until you reach the summit!
Two Stages to This Adventure
Due to the two uniquely different terrains, I’ve devoted a page for each stage:
- Locating and Navigating Juniper Canyon
- Juniper Peak Final Summit Approach (this page, still in process…but getting closer, soon to be complete!).
Spectacular Views Along the Way and From the Summit
Along the way as you’re heading toward Juniper Canyon and its narrow opening expect spectacular views of Red Rock Canyon and its surroundings including The Rainbow Mountains, White Rock Mountain, The La Madre Mountains Cliffs, Turtlehead Peak, Damsel Peak, The Calico Hills, glimpses of The Las Vegas Valley and Blue Diamond Hill.
From the summit, expect to see all this and much more!
Best Time of Year to Summit Juniper Peak
I suggest mid Fall or mid Spring on a clear day. Rain within 24 hours previously can make the rock surfaces you will need to navigate rather treacherous; and Winter months may bring snow and ice which is also dangerous. Summer months can bring temperatures in excess of 110 degrees! During the Summer, do yourself a favor and head for the higher, cooler elevations of The Mt. Charleston Wilderness.
Directions to the Trailhead | Juniper Peak | Rainbow Mountain Wilderness & Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
Juniper Peak – 2 Trailheads in Red Rock Canyon
There are 2 trailheads in Red Rock Canyon that are closest to Juniper Peak:
- Pine Creek Canyon Trailhead, the second to the last turn-off on the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive Loop.
- Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead the last turn-off on the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive Loop.
Juniper Peak Via the Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead
My favorite approach to Juniper Peak is via The Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead and The Arnight Trail. It seems more direct, and the return trip when you’re tired at the end of the Juniper Peak adventure is downhill all the way! In addition, The Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead is not as crowded as The Pine Creek Canyon Trailhead. There are semi-primitive restroom facilities at both trailheads:
- Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead: A half-mile up the unpaved Oak Creek Canyon Road.
- Arnight Trailhead: A 1.2-mile trail that skirts along the base of the Rainbow Mountains between Oak Creek Canyon and Juniper Canyon.
Current Stage of Exploration
I’ve successfully navigated Juniper Canyon 3 times and note in the video on the Juniper Canyon Page a number of wrong turns I’ve tried out previously. Each turn did bring awesome new discoveries so no trip was wasted! You’ll probably make it to the summit on your first attempt.
Current extent of my Juniper Peak summit progress: I’ve made it to the white sandstone slab at the summit of Juniper Canyon. This is the beginning of what I refer to as the final summit approach. The sandstone slab and final summit approach appear to be easier to navigate than Juniper Canyon below. However, after looking around on the sandstone slab I decided that rock climbing shoes would be a benefit, bringing greater stability and confidence along the edge of some significant drop-offs.
Expect to see the final summit approach documented on this page soon! The good news: If I can make the summit, you probably can too!