I am not much of a gambler. My thoughts on gambling are about like those of Master Sgt. Ernest G. Bilko, the old TV series character played by Steve Martin in the motion picture Sergeant Bilko. If you haven’t seen the movie, Sgt. Bilko’s stance on gambling was, “I like a sporting event in which I know the outcome ahead of time. It’s more organized.”
Next time you find yourself RVing in the Las Vegas area and want to bet on a sure thing like Sgt. Bilko, head to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The small admission fee guarantees a much better return on your investment than any money wagered in the casinos.
The Red Rock Canyon area is a few miles west of downtown Las Vegas and offers 197,000 acres of exploration and adventure. The area has interesting geological formations and intense beauty, most notably in its namesake red rocks. It was the first national conservation area established in Nevada, and is visited by more than 1 million people each year. You can enjoy the area by driving or bicycling the 13-mile scenic loop drive, hike all or part of the 30 miles of hiking trails, or bring your climbing gear and scale one of the many rock faces. There truly is something for everyone to enjoy at Red Rock, making it a sure bet for every member of the family.
Begin at the Visitor Center
The Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center is the place to start to get the most out of your visit. The center offers interpretive exhibits and information about recreational opportunities, geology, wildlife, vegetation, cultural history and much more.
Next, Head Out on the Scenic Drive
The scenic drive offers numerous stops for sightseeing and photography. Hiking trails are accessible from the designated pullouts and parking areas. The scenic drive is open daily from 6 a.m. until dusk. Parking is limited at most stops. The parking areas are suitable for Class B and smaller Class C motorhomes. If your choice of RV is something larger, plan on making the drive in your tow vehicle or dinghy.
Beat the Odds
Studies show that a high percentage of visitors to public lands never leave the vicinity of their vehicle during their visit. Beat the odds and a trip to your cardiologist by including biking, climbing or hiking as part of your visit. Red Rock’s many hiking trails are described in brochures at the visitor center or you can download a map ahead of time at www.redrockcanyonlv.org/Trail_Maps.htm. Red Rock trails vary in length and terrain, and offer spectacular views of the Las Vegas Valley and surrounding mountains. Climbers should check in at the visitor center for information on rules and routes.
Stay the Night
Skip the $50 to $60 nightly charge at RV parks along Las Vegas Boulevard and stay the night at Red Rock Canyon Campground. The views are spectacular and it is much quieter than the strip. Currently the campground has no utilities, which means no air conditioning unless you have a generator. Plan on camping during the cooler months, which is the best time to visit Red Rock anyway.
Come away from your next Las Vegas RV trip a winner by including Red Rock Canyon on your itinerary. It is the best bet you will ever make in the state of Nevada. n
Dave Helgeson and his wife promote RV and manufactured home shows in Western Washington. They spend their free time traveling and enjoying the RV lifestyle.
IF YOU GO:
From Las Vegas Boulevard head west on West Charleston Boulevard (State Route 159). An alternate route is coming in from the south via Blue Diamond Road (State Route 160).
Fees: $5 a day or $20 for an annual pass. Does not include overnight stays in the developed campground. Various federal campground passes are honored.
Hours: The scenic drive opens at 6 a.m. It closes at 5 p.m. from November through February, at 7 p.m. in March and October, and at 8 p.m. from April through September. The Red Rock overlook on SR 159 (West Charleston Boulevard) closes one hour after the scenic drive. The visitor center is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m
Red Rock Canyon Campground is two miles east of the visitor center. The campground is closed in June, July and August due to extreme heat. There is no check-in, however payment of fees must be made within 30 minutes of arrival at a self-registration station. The roads are gravel. There are no showers, hookups or dump station. Restrooms are pit toilets. Water faucets for drinking water are located throughout the campground. Firewood is for sale by the campground hosts and is available between Sept. 1 and May 31. There is no shade. There are no formal hiking trails in the campground area, but you can hike on miles of old dirt roads that are closed to vehicles. Campers with tents and recreational vehicles are intermixed. Generators may be operated between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
There are 71 individual campsites and five group campsites. Stays are limited to 14 days. Fee is $10 per night. No reservations are taken, but do not arrive in the middle of the night and expect to find an empty site, especially during the fall and spring. The Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday periods are also very busy.