Are you searching for somewhere spectacular to go hiking near Las Vegas? Calico Basin is just outside of town and is a superb place to hike for free.
If you can tear yourself away from the strip, which you should, then there are some incredible things to do in Las Vegas, including biking, rock climbing, or hiking Calico Basin.
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The Calico Basin natural area is a wonderful place to go hiking in Las Vegas. The vast colors of red and white sandstone and gray limestone found here make for some amazing views between sunrise and sunset. While we lived in Las Vegas this was one of our favorite places to take out of town guests. It’s quick and easy and they get a taste of the diverse landscape found in the area.
Unlike the rest of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, this particular area has no admission fee, making this one of the best free things to do in Las Vegas. There is no gate, but the entrance is clearly marked. There are two large parking lots with several hiking options. They also have BBQ pits, restrooms, and covered picnic tables.
How to Get to Calico Basin
This area is easily accessed from anywhere in Las Vegas, including the strip. Calico Basin can be found out on the west side, about a mile and a half before you enter the gate into Red Rock Canyon National Park. If you are driving from the strip, you can be there in 20-30 minutes. From North Las Vegas, it will take a little longer, 30 minutes or more. There’s a free parking lot.
To get there, follow Charleston Boulevard to the west. Once out of town take a right onto Calico Basin road and follow the road a short distance until you can take a left into the Red Springs picnic area. Once you are there, you have successfully left the craziness of Vegas behind and entered the new quiet terrain full of rock formations made of white, pink, and red sandstone.
Hike the Boardwalk
The first hiking option is the boardwalk. The boardwalk is half a mile round trip and great for any skill level. It is an easy way to hike with children or with an older grandparent since it is much easier for them to walk along wooden boards. As you walk along the boardwalk, your family can discover native plants like velvet ash trees, animals, and petroglyphs.
To find the petroglyphs walk over to the far side of the walkway next to the hill. In this spot, you will see several massive rocks with petroglyphs etched on them. There are other petroglyphs high up on the hill as well as near the base. You will find more spread out along the hill for several hundred yards.
Along the boardwalk are other things to see. There are many informational signs about the birds and education on how the area was formed.
Lots of Trails
The other trails are more of a challenge. You can pick which way you would like to go from a handful of rocky paths. This is a heavily used area, so you will be able to easily identify which way the trails travel. The kids will need good shoes since these trails are mostly rocks. Old pants are also recommended, this enables them to climb without getting scratches on their knees and legs or tearing brand new clothes. Keep in mind, if it’s summertime there’s no way you would want to be wearing pants.
These trails go on and on; so hike a reasonable distance for your family, let the kids climb, and then turn around. Some of the trails connect to the visitor’s center inside Red Rock Canyon. So, if you are feeling ambitious, you can hike into the Red Rock Canyon for free.
Children ages 4 and up can hike these trails without much help. But the park recommends that they are at least 10 years old.
It does not matter if you hike a lot or a little, bring water. It’s the desert and everyone will be thirsty.
Rocks are everywhere and range from tiny to gigantic. Some of these rocks are great fun for the kids to climb. Kids of all ages enjoy climbing rocks, parents too! If the rocks are too difficult for your children, just walk a little further until you find some easier ones to climb.
Extra Fun at Calico Basin
One fun activity besides hiking is watching rock climbers. If you take one of the trails toward the deep red rock in the distance to the north, you will discover beginner rock climbers learning to scale the rock walls. Children will be mesmerized to see the climbers work their way up to such heights. Plus, it might inspire them to try rock climbing themselves someday!
There’s also horseback riding nearby and of course, if you want to see more majestic rock formations you could head into the official Red Rocks park.
On the way out to Calico Basin, there is an indoor rock climbing gym that you could also visit or you could stop by the Red Rock Casino for a bite to eat.
A popular attraction nearby is Spring Mountain Ranch State Park.
More Excellent Hiking Trails near Las Vegas
If you are looking for more places to go hiking near Las Vegas head to Mt. Charleston, where you can hike Mary Jane Falls or venture even further out to the stunning Valley of Fire. For more hiking trails Las Vegas check out the book: Best Easy Day Hikes Las Vegas.
Where to Stay in Las Vegas
Cosmopolitan <- My favorite place to stay
The Palazzo <- My second favorite place to stay
Golden Nugget <- if you’re on a budget
The Luxor<- if you’re out of all other options
Caesar’s Palace <- Keep in mind my room was robbed the last time I stayed here.
Trump <- smoke free