Calico Hills

Location: Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area

Trail: Sandstone Quarry

Distance: 1.2 miles (one way)

Difficulty: Moderate (easy)

Photo by Carl Moore

Getting There: West side of Las Vegas take the 215 (Bruce Woodbury beltway) to Charleston Blvd and head west into the Red Rock Conservation Area. Follow  the scenic loop drive, after paying the entry fee you can stop in at the Visitor Center to gather all the information needed for the area. The trailhead is a couple of miles past the entry, there is Calico I and Calico II, stop at Calico II for this particular trail.

If the views of the Red Rock and the contrasting white stone don’t get your blood flowing. The easy downhill grade at the beginning of trail makes an easy jump-start. In early April having a wet season in the desert, many wild flowers are blooming, shedding colors of purple, orange, yellow and red giving the desert landscape a thriving ecology, just don’t forget about the cacti giving the harsh reality of their survival. Many lizards scurry about as we approach them on the trail, birds fly about carrying a song in the wing. The birds seemed to stay at a distance though quickly passing me by making it very hard to get any photos.

Photo by Carl Moore

Tinajas: Water on rocks.

Tinajas or tanks are natural depressions in the rocks that hold water. These stone basins fill with runoff from the scarce desert rains. This “captured” water may remain in the tinajas many months and provides vital water for wildlife. This water source is critical for the areas’ wildlife. Please refrain from playing in or near a tinaja.

Shrimp in the Desert?

The waters of the tinajas provide a home for the tadpole shrimp. These tiny shrimp survive decades of drought as eggs, but when water fills the tinaja they quickly hatch and grow. Their entire life cycle from egg to egg-laying adult require as little as fifteen days.

The dramatic cliffs of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area are a popular climbing destination. The area’s great weather and superb sandstone provides excellent climbing that attracts climbers from all over the world and test their skills on the demanding routes. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area has an estimated 1700 climbing routes of varying lengths and difficulties.  The area is home to challenging climbs with entertaining names such as Prince of Darkness, Chicken Gumbo for Your Dumbo, Long Walk on a Short Pier, and Rubber Biscuit.

Erosion on the brittle aztec sandstone can result in some fascinating rock formations. This is a great hike any time of year but if you are lucky enough to catch the spring while all the plants are in bloom, you will capture a whole new aroma of the landscape. As you near the sandstone quarry you see the line where the rocks change from the white sandstone to the red sandstone.


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