Calico Hills Trail
- Physical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
- Technical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
A visit to the red rock of Calico Hills is the centrepiece of most peoples’ trip to Red Rock Canyon. Requiring only a small modicum of effort, this stunning route will take hikers along a short loop that grants a more intimate look at the steep and textured cliffs that feature a spectacular color palette ranging from creamy whites to deep reds.
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Route Description for Calico Hills Trail
Starting from the Calico 2 parking lot, you will begin your adventure by descending the trail towards the rugged canyon in between the rock formations. You will soon arrive at a signposted junction. From here, turn right and follow the sign that points toward rock climbing areas.
As you hike into this small canyon in the hills, the trail will die down a bit, so take some time to do some exploring here – there is a lot to find! Among the trees and the bushes scattering the plane you will be able to find small water holes (seasonal) as well as incredibly textured rocks that feature an interesting variation in their colors.
After exploring as much of this small recession as you wish, return along the same route that you came in on but veer to the left, hiking along the basin of the creek bed. Keeping left, you will hug the red rock and quickly see large cylinders of mesh metal filled with stones. These mark the remainder of the trail and make for especially easy route finding.
As you continue following these mega-cairns, you will gain a small amount of elevation that will bring you up to a ridge. Hiking along this ridge is the true highlight of the hike. On your left will be the deep red rocks of the Calico Hills, and on your right the expansive sweeping plane followed by the abruptly steep La Madre Mountains. The panoramas achieved from this ridge are breathtaking, and since you have lost some elevation from the road, it feels like you are much more isolated than you actually are.
Continue hiking along the ridgeline until the trail starts to lose elevation. From here you could conceivably continue towards the Calico 1 parking lot, then make your return journey. However, we think it is best to simply return here and save yourself another brief ascent, as the views don’t change much between the two parking areas!
Forming a border between the lower Calico Basin and the lower Red Rock Canyon in Nevada, the Calico Hills are a beautiful series of ancient Aztec Sandstone dunes that feature a variety of shapes and color patterns ranging from deep red to creamy white.
While they may look small from a distance, these scenic rock formations are actually pretty deceiving. As you get closer, you will realize that the Calico Hills are not being dwarfed by neighbouring rock formations. In fact, they feature vertical drop offs that are in excess of 9 m-12 m in some places, making the dramatic terrain a popular place with hikers and climbers.
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Insider Hints for Calico Hills Trail
- Calico Hills is a very popular rock climbing area. Consider joining a guided climbing trip through one of the many companies based in Las Vegas.
Getting to the Calico Hills Trail Trailhead
To get to Calico Hills Trailhead from Las Vegas, follow Route 157 West as it exits the city. After less than 10 minutes of driving past the city limits you will reach the turn off for Scenic Drive, and signs towards the visitor centre for Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Make this turn and pay your dues at the park entrance. Follow the one way Scenic Drive for a very short while until you reach the Calico 2 parking lot (the second turn off), park here – it fills up quickly!
Calico Hills Trail Elevation Graph
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Calico Hills Trail Reviews
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