Turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, football, and postprandial narcolepsy: the quintessential American family Thanksgiving. This holiday weekend in southern Nevada it seems BLM officials are seeing an addition to the tradition, family bonding time during a hike.
Information concerning the expected high volume of visitors was released by Red Rock Canyon officials earlier this week, posting the likely Red Rock 'rush hour' as between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The BLM issued the notice informing visitors of possible closures during this time in order to prevent traffic jams from occurring on the one-way 13 mile scenic loop. Normally open from 6 a.m. til 5 p.m., visitors can call ahead at (702)515-5350 to check if the scenic byway has been temporarily closed.
Any casual visitor to Red Rock has seen the mad scramble for parking alongside the breathtaking sandstone formations. If you are hoping to embark on creating some holiday family memories with an awe-inspiring natural backdrop consider preplanning your visit. Besides the necessary water, first aid kit, snacks and of course the camera, contemplate what kind of outdoor experience the family desires and can handle, there are ways to accommodate both the young, old and energetic all at Red Rock.
Despite all the attention paid to the fiery red and marbled sandstone, there is an entire other half of the Red Rock loop that provides adventure, dazzling colors and formations, and great photo-opps. The aptly named Rainbow Mountains run along the western border with a brilliant red streak across the majestic pinnacles. Multiple trails lead expectant holiday visitors from parking lots into the canyons between the peaks and bring them face to face with the monoliths.
For families with little feet pattering alongside during the hike, Lost Creek Canyon and Discovery Trail off the Willow Springs parking area offers a manageable but adventurous route of 0.7 mile complete with hidden waterfall. For those looking for more duration to their endeavor consider Oak Creek Canyon or Bridge Mountain for the serious outdoor adventurers. Situated between the short, easy trail and the longer trails is the Goldie-Locks of hiking trails: Ice Box Canyon. An amiable 2 miles with some boulder hopping for those that require more energy expenditures this trail leads to a semiannual waterfall.
If the sandstone is an absolute must there are three parking areas along the way. The first two provide steep trails that lead into the marbled walls, but no real hiking as these footpaths lead to climbing routes - remember be safe and do not attempt climbing on the rock without proper safety equipment.
The best bet for a family walkabout is the third parking lot at the Sandstone Quarry. Multiple trailheads start here, including Turtlehead Peak and Calico Tanks. The gently sloped beginnings of the massive petrified sand dune offer easy access for a picture of the family scrambling on red rocks.
Have a safe Thanksgiving weekend and happy hiking.