Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is located in the Mojave Desert. Many come here to hike, bike, camp, go rock climbing, or go off-roading within the park. Getting a nice workout in is all the better with a breathtaking view of red sandstone cliffs and serene, quiet beauty of the open air.
For those that want to get in the scenery from the car, there’s a 13-mile Scenic Drive with several overlook points and picnic areas.
Nearby is the Las Vegas Strip and surrounding Red Rock Canyon area where you can do some further adventuring and hiking with your dog! We cover trails here within the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
See our full list of Dog Friendly Outdoor Adventure Guides made just for dog owners. We give you everything you need to plan your next adventure outing with your dog right at your fingertips. We also pick the best dog friendly trails for you! These destination guides are invaluable one-stop source of information if you have a dog!
WHEN TO GO
Fall and Spring is a great time to visit Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Otherwise, exercise caution when hiking with your dog in the summer or winter. You’ll want to avoid times with extreme heat or cold. The temperature in the desert can change very quickly. Summer temperatures can get well over 100 degrees – definitely too hot for your dog.
Daily entry into Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is by car. Busses and commercial vehicles must charge by car and by person. Annual or senior passes are per person. Most will pay a daily fee of $15 for their car. Other prices and camping fees are available from the Bureau of Land Management website. Prices have been revised as of Feburary 2018.
When you first get to Red Rock Canyon, we suggest you stop by the Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center for paper maps and information on current conditions of roads and trails. Take note of the weather as there are flash floods in the area.
Dogs may not enter buildings but are allowed on leash anywhere in the park. Dogs must be attended by a person at all times. Read further for some important tips on desert safety. Don’t forget to pick up after your dog!
WHAT TO BRING
Bring a paper map with you with information on trails and the surrounding area. The Red Rock Canyon Las Vegas website has a great guide for visitors that includes a map and brief information about all 19 trails in the area.
You will want to bring a lot of water with, especially when temperatures are warm. The park actually recommends 1 gallon per person for a day long hike, with 1 more gallon waiting back for them in the car. Considering a 6 hour day, that’s about 128 ounces of water or about 21 ounces of water per hour. We usually recommend drinking 16 ounces per hour for a moderate hike. Your dog should drink about 1/2 an once of water per pound per hour. A 50 pound dog would need about 25 ounces of water per hour (perhaps more by park estimates). Actual results will vary, so it’s important to get a rough approximation for what works for you and your dog. It’s always a good idea to drink water before your hike to help stay hydrated.
Don’t forget to wear protective gear to protect yourself from the sun and to apply sunscreen. A cooling vest or banana will help your dog stay cool.
Too hot out? Consider driving on the 13 mile Scenic Drive of the area. It’s a one way loop around the area. Bring a picnic lunch and get out of the car to enjoy the scenery. Allow for about 45 minutes to drive, and more time if you want to stop. You’ll most likely travel along the Scenic Drive just to get to a trail. There are plenty of accessible parking lots and bathrooms around.
DOG-FRIENDLY HIKING TRAILS
If you want to find water along the trail, you’ll see the most just after winter. A few trails offer waterfalls and streams but these often dry up towards the summer months. The park does not recommend drinking or wading through natural water sources.
No need to go through all 19 trails. We picked the best dog friendly trails for you! Most trails in the area are about 2-5 miles.
Lost Creek – Children’s Discovery Trail
If you have kids with you, this out and back trail is perfect. It’s only 0.75 miles and features cultural sites, pictographs and other fun, shady places to explore. A section of the trail is on boardwalk, but the rest is not suitable for a stroller and is rocky or sandy. You can usually see a waterfall at the end of the trail during December – April months.
The Moenkopi Trail is an easy 2 mile trail loop starts just west of the visitor center where you will park your car. You’ll see sweeping views of Calico Hills, Spring Mountains, and La Madre Mountains. La Madre Mountains will be the highest peak you see in the area at 8,150 feet. Be sure to go when it’s not sunny since there is no shade.
Calico Tanks Trail
The Calico Tanks Trail is popular among tourists. It’s a moderate to strenuous 2.5 mile hike that starts at the Sandstone Quarry parking lot and ends with a natural tank and great views. Many make the mistake of passing the parking lot along the Scenic Drive. Watch your footing on this trail as some areas are slippery. Bring water as the trail gets very sunny and hot, but well worth it just to get to see all the beautiful rock formations around the area. You’ll feel like you really saw Red Rock Canyon with this trail. There are several rocks so if your dog isn’t great on rough terrain and scrambling over rocks, you may opt for a different trail.
Ice Box Canyon Trail
The Ice Box Canyon Trail is a 2.6 mile moderate trail that features several waterfalls and shady areas once you cross a bit of open desert to get there. You’ll see them during the months of December through April. It’s a fun place for your dog to explore and climb some large boulders. The trail isn’t well marked so pay attention to where you are at all times.
Keystone Thrust is a popular geological spot in the park where the Pacific and North American continental plates collided 65 million years ago. You can access this popular 2.2 mile moderate trail via the White Rock parking lot.
White Rock / La Madre Spring Loop
Need a trail that’s a bit less crowded and that just goes in a loop? The White Rock / La Madre Spring Loop is a moderate 6 mile trail accessible from the Upper White Rock parking lot, Los Creek Trail parking lot, and Willow Spring Picnic Area. The White Rock Rail connects to the La Madre Spring Loop. This is a great place if you go trail running during winter months. Prepare to see an abundance of colors and one of the best westside views of the park. You’ll even see bighorn sheep in the area!
Looking or more water along the trail? Consider Pine Creek, Oak Creek Canyon, First Creek and Willow Springs Trails.
Most dogs are unfamiliar with desert creatures. They’ve never seen one, nor know quite how to react to something they’ve never seen before. Rattlesnakes and other dangerous animals and insects are in the area. Always have an eye on your dog and never let him per into small dark spaces. You’ll want to do the same, especially to avoid poisonous snakes and insects. If your dog is bitten by a poisonous snake or insect, keep your dog calm and the wound below the heart. Call a nearby vet immediately for more instructions.
Weather is another concern. Temperatures in the Mojave Desert get really cold in the winter or shade and well over 100 degrees in the summer. Summer hiking should be done in the early mornings. Bring water, a cooling vest or bandana for your dog, and perhaps an emergency shade tent.
There is risk of flash floods and summer lightning in the area, so make sure you check for closures or other information prior to heading out. If you are caught in the rain, be alert for flash floods, and move to higher ground if necessary. If there is lightening in the area, seek shelter immediately.
Last of all, there are hazards from desert flora. Don’t forget to bring tweezers if you need to pull out any cacti from your dog’s paws.
If you want to go camping, read our listing for Red Rock Canyon – Camping at Red Rock Canyon Campground.
Camping at Red Rock Campground is closed during summer months. Peak months are March and October. Reservations are available at Recreation.gov.
Backcountry camping is allowed with a permit by calling 702-515-5050. Sites must be set up above 5,000 feet and 200 feet away from water sources. Dogs are allowed but must be leashed.
If you are out camping, be sure to watch the sunrise and sunset at Red Rock Overlook and Highpoint Overlook!
Road biking is allowed along State Route 159 and Scenic Drive. Mountain biking are only allowed in two areas: Cottonwood/Late Night Trailheads off State Route 160 and Mile Marker 12 on Kyle Canyon Road / State Route 157 (Twilight Zone Trails). Mountain biking is not allowed on hiking trails.
How was your trip? What trail or campground did you go to? Do you have any tips that you want to pass on to fellow dog owners?
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Related Pawtivities / Events: Red Rock Canyon Hiking, Red Rock Canyon Camping, Trail Running, Biking
Location: Las Vegas, NV | Nevada
Activities: Hiking, Walking, Camping, Backpacking, Biking, Running, Trail Running
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