Location: Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Length: Approx 2.5 miles one way
Difficulty: Easy (rocky dirt road)
Finding the trail-head
From the intersection Interstate 15 and Blue Diamond road in south Las Vegas, drive 10.6 miles west on Blue Diamond Road. Exit onto Nevada highway 159 for 6.9 miles and Oak Creek Canyon trail-head is on your left. Parking is available on both sides of the street.
There was a little bit of a controversy on whether there would be availability to this trail due to the government shutdown. The scenic loop drive and access to all the trails along the scenic loop drive is closed during the government shutdown. However First Creek and Oak Creek trail-heads are outside of the scenic loop drive and is available to use. As I approached passing First Creek Trail-head before I reach Oak Creek I notice that the parking area for First Creek is pretty full, and arriving to the Oak Creek Trail-head, the same situation was true, many cars parked. There was no signs posted denying access. There was a heavy police presence and the entrance and exit of the scenic loop drive, but was not appearing to harass anyone on the trails that did not start from the scenic loop drive. Also the ranches that are located inside Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area seemed to operating as well.
As you start this trail you follow the rocky road west toward the canyon walls. After about a half mile or so there is a smaller trail that veers off to the right, follow this path along right. After hiking this trail several times, following the main wide rocky path of the road is rough under the hikers foot. Small, medium and large rocks that roll very easily under your feet, lie along the path of the main wide road. The smaller trail that veers off, connects back with the main path as you reach the mouth of Oak Creek, with a much better footing control. Once you reach the mouth of Oak Creek and follow back toward the canyon wall the brush will start getting dense and the end of the trail in nearing, the return path should be of one in similar fashion of the way you came.
A fact I learned after hiking the trail is that this trail is named for the live oaks that grow along it. The term “live oak” means that the plant is evergreen and keeps its leaves all year.
As far as my opinions on the government shutdown and closing of parks:
God gifted us with this planet.
The government gifted us with preserving some portions of the planet.
Just because the government decides to stop funding the preservation of these God gifted treasures, does not mean the government should deny us access to the gift God gifted us, our planet. I do understand the closing of facilities that have been built, but the closing of the land is ridiculous. I understand the arguments lie in not enough staff for search and rescue efforts. But I think each one of us take that risk every day whether we are walking around the block or driving to work. Then there are the other arguments of vandalism. Vandalism usually happens to man created items, not God created items. The closing of a memorial can be understood through those arguments but not the access to the wild Earth.
There is a Yin and a Yang for every situation. I am willing to accept that there may not be someone to help me in a moment of danger. I accept this risk everyday, going into the wilderness is no different. And as far as vandalism goes….where do I sign up to be part of the restoration crew?