Red Rock Canyon National Park

Red Rock Canyon High Point Lookout

A recent work trip sent me to Las Vegas. Awesome, says you. Awesome, says I. There are a couple of ways to experience Vegas. I like the other way. The alternative version. The one that has you driving just a few miles west on W. Charleston Blvd to Red Rock Canyon National Park.

Years ago, 16 of them actually, I applied as a tour guide for Escape Adventures. My interview was in Vegas. There was the typical sit down and talk with the boss and then there was the surprise; join another guide on a tour to observe my interactions with the guests and, oh yeah, see if I could actually ride. It’s here I first learned about Red Rock Canyon. All these years later, and it’s the same; a 13 mile loop and 1500 ft of climbing. For the those that push it, 40+ mph descents await. All of this on velvety, smooth blacktop with tight twisty sections at speed.

Climbing ends at High Point Overlook about 4.5 miles in. It’s steady with a few punchy sections and less breaks. A spectacular view, especially at night, is visible and teases onlookers with the different kind of recreation that Vegas is known for. The contrast in the ways to experience the area couldn’t be more different.

There are cars too. A lot of them. They share not share the road. Mostly it’s safe, but when one considers our modern age and driving while distracted, you can’t help but wonder if the driver picture taker at the wheel behind you is destined for an introduction to your back wheel. What’s one to do? Ride fast.

With only a couple of short, punchy climbs in the remaining 8.5 miles, one is dared to keep pace with the speeding cars and draft. So fun. It’s not uncommon to pass vehicles and get the looks that are the actual motivation for riding hard; admiration and attention of course. Oh, and the hope that bulging thighs from years of cycling get noticed. Just me?

Depending on where you park, there is a 2 mile finish on Hwy 159/W Charleston Blvd headed east.

The park is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and bike access will set you back $5. Worth it.

For more info check out the BLM’s site below.