Doing the Grand Circle Loop at Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas is one of the most scenic runs I’ve done in a while. It’s easy to hike, and you have a gorgeous view nearly 100% of the time. If you are looking for an 11-12 mile run or hike in Las Vegas, doing the Grand Circle Loop at Red Rock Canyon is definitely a good option.
About Red Rock Canyon:
The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is located in Clark County, Nevada about 15 miles outside of the Las Vegas Strip. You can easily see it from downtown Las Vegas and more than 3 million people visit the Red Rock Canyon each year. This is important because it gets busy fast. If you are coming to Red Rock Canyon, come before 8 am. When we left around 10 am, there was a 20-minute wait to enter.
It does cost $15 to enter Red Rock Canyon, and you also have to have reservations. You can make those here.
Red Rock Canyon showcases sizeable red rock formations made from sandstone peaks and walls. These walls are over 3,000 feet, with the highest peak at 8,154 feet. If hiking isn’t your thing, Red Rock Canyon also offers a 13-mile one-way driving loop with several parking areas to allow access to the trails.
About the Grand Circle Loop at Red Rock Canyon:
Grand Circle Loop at Red Rock Canyon Quick Stats:
Elevation: 1600 ft
CamelBak Zephyr 10L Running Vest
The Grand Circle loop at Red Rock Canyon starts from the Visitors Center. The trail is marked as strenuous, but it’s nearly 11 miles. It took us just over 2 and a half hours to complete. I was surprised to learn it had 1600 feet of elevation gain because it never felt like that. It’s fairly flat.
You’ll need decent shoes because the Grand Circle Loop at Red Rock Canyon includes hiking over gravel, rocks, and even mud. We arrived around 7 am and there was one other car in the visitors center lot. When we left around 10 am, the entire lot was full, and there was about a 20-minute wait to get inside the park. I cannot emphasize how important it is to get there early.
There are some sections with loose rocks. If you are running, the trail is fairly technical, and most of it is covered with rocks. You’ll find a few smooth sections that are primarily dirt, but for the most part, it’s rocks.
To begin the Grand Circle Loop at Red Rock Canyon, you park at the Visitors Center. You’ll start on the Moenkopi Loop and head East. It was extremely windy, and we ran about 3 miles into an 11 mph headwind. Since there was nothing to block the wind, it felt rough. After you reach the Calico Hills, you’ll head northwest, and you’ll get a view of the gorgeous red, white, and tan cliffs. This is probably most people’s favorite part of the trail, and if you just want to see the red rocks, you can hike to that section and back (roughly 5 miles round trip…or you can just drive to that section). You’re able to get up close and stand, sit, or walk on the red rocks.
You’ll pass through a few parking areas and finally reach Grand Circle Loop: White Rock – Sandstone Quarry Connector. You head west and cross Scenic Drive twice. Around this point, I questioned whether I was going to finish. You’ve climbed a few technical sections, and it took it out of me. Especially since I’m just getting back into shape. But, we were over halfway done, and there was no way but to continue.
After that, you’ll reach the Grand Circle Loop: Visitor Center – White Rock Connector. The rest is easy, and you just head back towards the visitors center. The first people we saw the entire hike were around this area. We were lucky because we started so early, and the trails weren’t crowded.
Grand Circle Loop at Red Rock Canyon Conclusion:
I really liked the Grand Circle Loop at Red Rock Canyon, and I would love to run again when I’m more in shape. It will probably become a staple route for me when I’m in Las Vegas. I’ve run a few times in Nevada now, and the trails always surprise and amaze me. When we were in Reno, I enjoyed trails up there too. It’s an underrated state, and I’m looking forward to exploring more.
You can see more hikes and trail runs here.
Questions for you:
Have you been to Grand Circle Loop at Red Rock Canyon?
What is your favorite hike?
We drove the circle loop when we were in Vegas a couple of years ago. It was SO beautiful! They had signs posted all over saying that you needed to carry lots of water, because the air there is so dry, and you might get dehydrated before you know it. Thanks for sharing these memories!
Yes! That is a huge lesson I learned when moving out this way. It’s so easy to get dehydrated here.
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