Calico Tanks Trail

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Moderate
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
1-1.5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
3.7 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
105 m
User Ratings
These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
Overall Rating
This is the average user-submitted overall rating on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
9.7
Physical Difficulty
This 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.
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Technical Difficulty
This 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.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
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Directions to Trailhead
Panorama from the Calico Tanks hike near Las Vegas, Nevada

Calico Tanks is a classic hike leaving from the scenic Sandstone Quarry. Though hard to follow at times, this trail leads through a narrow canyon to a picturesque water tank. If you leave early you will have this stunning secluded spring all to yourself, allowing you to bask in its gorgeous natural presence in peace.

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Route Description for Calico Tanks Trail

From the parking area of Sandstone Quarry start along the obvious trail beside the signs and outhouses. The path will soon pass a junction; continue straight. It will shortly also pass by a large boulder, where you will most likely see climbers.

After a little way along this relatively wide and loose gravel path, you will reach another junction. Turn right here towards the Calico Tanks. Soon after the junction, the path will turn into loose sand, which is extremely frustrating to walk along. After hiking along the sand for a short way, the difficulties of the trail will start to make themselves apparent. You will find several unmarked forks in the trail where both of the options look good. Typically in these scenarios each option does, in fact, lead to the tanks, so no worries.

Towards the end of the path, the trail will run you up onto the sides of the canyon, where it will turn to sandstone. Here is where the trail is particularly hard to find, as there are very rarely any cairns or other trail-markers to follow. However – don’t worry – there are no turnoffs for other canyons along the way, so any route you may take through this small canyon is guaranteed to end at the tanks.

Remember when making these route-finding decisions to judge your scrambling ability. There is certainly a way to get around all the obstacles in front of you without climbing, it just sometimes takes a bit of problem-solving. Though this hike is not especially physically demanding, the route finding skills required in this section are challenging, as reflected in the hike’s grade. Once at the tanks return the way you came.

Check out more amazing hikes around Las Vegas:

Insider Hints for Calico Tanks Trail

  • When walking in the loose sand, stay to either side of the trail where it has been trodden on less, as it is typically firmer. Additionally, try to step on grass or boulders as they are always the more sturdy option.
  • If you’re a climber (or an aspiring one) consider renting a bouldering mat in Las Vegas to climb the boulder near the parking lot.

Getting to the Calico Tanks Trail Trailhead

From Las Vegas follow Route 157 West as it exits the city. After less than 10 minutes of driving from the city limits you will reach the turn off for Scenic Drive, and signs towards the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area Visitor Centre. Make this turn and pay your dues at the park entrance. Follow the one-way Scenic Drive until the third turnoff, signposted as the direction of Sandstone Quarry. Park in the relatively large (but quickly filling) parking lot.

Route Information

  • When to do

    Spring and Fall, avoid summer heat

  • Backcountry Campsites

    None

  • Toilets

    At Trailhead

  • Family friendly

    No

  • Route Signage

    Poor

  • Crowd Levels

    High

  • Route Type

    Out and back

Calico Tanks Trail Elevation Graph

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Calico Tanks Trail Reviews

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