Juniper Peak | Rainbow Mountain Wilderness, Nevada

If you’re looking to climb your first peak in the Rainbow Mountains, Juniper Peak is a good start. Many of the surrounding peaks dwarf it in comparison: Mt. Wilson; Rainbow Mountain; Bridge Mountain. Experience all the beauty and challenge of a Jurassic Era Aztec red rock peak in the Rainbow Mountains of Nevada. When you are facing Juniper Peak there appear to be 3 routes from the Red Rock Park side: Two narrow chutes to the left and what looks like a more gradual approach to the right. I ended up selecting the middle of these routes – the right chute of the two chutes to the left. Hindsight says that the easier, and likely the more traditional route is the more gradual climb up the slope on the right (just before Pine Creek Canyon). Route Description: 8.7 mi/ 3,909 > 6,109ft; **Some Trails, Some Wilderness** Click image or title above for more…

Middle Oak Creek Trail in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

Middle Oak Creek Trail | Rainbow Mountain Wilderness, Nevada

The videos on this page are an example of rains and flash floods in the desert. I recorded water cascading down canyon walls in the Rainbow Mountains of Nevada. It wasn’t a major life-threatening flash flood, but enough to get an idea how quickly things can change in the desert during a storm. Route Details: 4 miles RT; 300ft elevation gain; **Mostly wilderness, few trails.** Click image or title above for more…

Bonnie Springs Ranch | Red Rock Canyon

In mid-March of 2019, after about 45 years of operation, Bonnie Springs Ranch and it’s Old Nevada replica mining town, just West of Red Rock National Park, closed down. We feature Bonnie Springs Ranch here not because it is a hiking destination, but rather a long-time fixture in Red Rock Canyon. Click image or title above for more…

La Madre Mountain Eastern Approach from Red Rock Park, Nevada

The Eastern approach route will begin following the same path as the Southern approach route starting at the Sandstone Quarry parking area (Turtlehead Peak trailhead). From there head up Red Rock Wash and circle around the upper end of the Turtlehead Peak ridge system into Calico Basin, cross the upper Calico Basin, circle around the East end of the Keystone Trust and finally ascend the North side of La Madre Mountain.
It’s important to note that as with the other routes up La Madre Mountain, this route is quite the marathon and the most limiting factor will be enduring the distance and altitude gain. Image: Damsel Peak from La Madre Mt. East approach. Route description: 28 mi / 4306-8000ft; *Wilderness, No Trail* Click image or title above for more…

La Madre Mountain Southern Approach from Red Rock Park | La Madre Mountains Wilderness, Nevada

La Madre Mountain is 8,154ft in elevation. It is the highest central feature of the Keystone Thrust, the cliff system that spans the rear area of Red Rock Park in Nevada. The La Madre Mountain Southern approach, from a distance, looks impossible as you’re facing a sheer cliff wall between 1000 and 2000 feet high. However, as you approach the base of the cliff from Calico Basin it’s evident that there is a passage between the two peaks. The summit view is amazing featuring Las Vegas Valley with Lake Mead across and to the East, Gass Peak and the Sheep Range to the North, spectacular views of Mt. Charleston Wilderness to the East and the awesome total expanse of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Calico Basin to the Southwest. Route details: 22 mi / 4306-8000ft; *Wilderness, No Trail* Click image or title above for more…

Kraft Mountain Loop | Calico Basin | Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada

Kraft Mountain Loop circles the base of Kraft Mountain located in the Calico Basin, Nevada (last turn-off before Red Rock Park). During this 3.5 mile loop you will experience navigating colorful Jurassic era frozen sand dune formations, incredible vistas of the surrounding area and some class 2-3 scrambling up and down sandstone ledges in a desert wash. It’s highly recommended that you undertake this adventure on a Fall, Winter or Spring day to avoid excessive Summer temperatures that can exceed 115 degrees. And, do not attempt this under wet conditions (rain, snow) because the sandstone you will need to traverse and climb can become as slick as ice! Route description: **3.5 Miles, 3,710 – 4,299ft Elevation ** Click image or title above for more…

Kraft Mountain – Gateway Canyon Loop | Calico Basin | Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada

Kraft Mountain - Gateway Canyon Loop | Calico Basin | Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada

On this day I intentionally set out to head up Gateway Canyon thinking it might be a short cut to Damsel Peak. Wrong! Between figuring out the best way to navigate 10-15 class 3 and class 3 barriers, I ate up so much time that I decided to just make a large loop out of Gateway Canyon, continuing all the way to Brownstone Basin at the base of Damsel Peak, and then taking Brownstone Basin down to a cross-over point back to Kraft Mountain. Many hikers have mistakenly taken this route thinking they are on the Kraft Mountain Loop. I made this very mistake on my first attempt to do the Kraft Mountain Loop! In fact, during today’s adventure, I redirected 2 groups of appreciative hikers back to the Kraft Mountain Loop. Here’s how that error happens… Route details: Approx . (12 mi.) | 3,700-5,400ft Elevation; **Some Trail, Mostly Wilderness** Click image or title above for more…

Damsel Peak Southern Approach Route from Calico Basin, Nevada

Damsel Peak Southern Approach | Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area | Nevada

The Southern approach to the summit of Damsel Peak (aka Pincushion Mt) in Nevada begins at the trailhead parking area in Calico Basin, navigates to the South side of Damsel Peak, traverses to the North side, descends into Brownstone Basin then navigates back to the starting point in Calico Basin. Incredible views from the summit of Damsel Peak include almost all of the Las Vegas Valley, Brownstone and Calico Basins, Turtlehead Peak, the Calico Hills, Mt. Wilson, Rainbow Mountain, Juniper Peak, North Peak and Bridge Mountain and finally the huge expanse of the Keystone Thrust cliffs with La Madre Mountain as the high point. To the North one can see Gass Peak, the Sheep Range and Fossil Ridge. Route details: Approx 15 mi RT; **No Trails, Some Class 3 Climbing** Click image or title above for more…

Grand Loop | Calico Basin | Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada

The Calico Hills form a boarder between lower Red Rock Canyon and lower Calico Basin in Nevada. The Grand Loop follows a 5-mile trail around the circumference of the Calico Hills. The Calico Hills are composed of ancient sand dunes that have been frozen into an artistic display of fantastic shapes, colors and designs. From a distance the Calico Hills are dwarfed by the larger surrounding formations. However looks are very deceiving as the closer you get these formations become huge with 30-40ft sheer drop-offs. Route description: 5mi Loop Circles Calico Hills; *Fairly Good Trail, Sketchy in Places – Some Steep Rocky Stretches* Click image or title above for more…