The Other Side of Las Vegas: Red Rocks Climbing and Mountain Biking

Viva Las Vegas.

I've been to Las Vegas many times before. In fact, when I moved to California, going to Las Vegas was one of my many frequent trips with friends on the weekends. We went 5 or more times a year sometimes. Then, I grew tired of it, or rather, my body grew tired of being hung over and stumbling into the next work week. I stopped going really. I'd always marveled though at the Red Rocks in the distance in Las Vegas, but never really had anyone to go climb with there and so I had never been.

Well finally, Michael and I joined some of our friends on Valentines day weekend this year to go check out the Red Rocks in Las Vegas. A biking/climbing trip. A whole different side of Las Vegas.

There is apparently only limited campgrounds near the Red Rocks, but fortunately our friends came down early and were able to grab a spot. Red Rock Canyon Campground.

We got there Friday night and had a 3 day weekend, since Monday was a holiday. Saturday morning we warmed up with a bit of mountain biking on some single track near the campground. Let's put some things in perspective here though. They are like Astronauts to mountain biking and I'm like a Cessna pilot. I pedaled behind them mostly at my own pace and walking all the scary rock gardens and they rode laps on me, but, it was still fun.

I can't really complain... I mean, you hate to see them leave, but you love to watch them go ;). AM I RIGHT? I'll stop being creepy now.

Callie being badass on her new bike with this more technical section. She sets a new standard for what I need to achieve in mountain biking... I have a long ways to go.

We spent the second half of the day in Calico Basin in the Red Rocks Park. We spent a good portion trying to find a wall that was not overly crowded, and a good portion being lost on a hike, until we came across some top rope climbs at a wall I can't remember the name of and I'll have to ask my friends because I can't seem to find it in the massive guidebook for the area. 

The climbs were cool, but I felt pretty sick most of the afternoon, so I  don't remember much of them. 

Pretty area though, and we basically had it to ourselves and it was in the shade most of the time, which was great. Good first introduction to some red rocks climbing.

Even if you don't climb, it's definitely worth visiting this park. There are some cool hikes, and the rocks are really epic.

Kind of weird seeing the city of Las Vegas in the background when you're out in such a different environment.

Sunday morning Greg and Callie left early to go climb a multi pitch trad route called Frogland. We originally were going to go with them, but backed out the night before feeling like we didn't have enough trad experience under our belts. We decided we'd sleep in and then meet them over there in the same area to do some climbs near there. 

Basically nothing in red rocks is convenient to get to, and almost everything cool has a 40min to an 1 hour uphill approach hike. Which is fine, but also sort of sucks if it's hot... and it was hot. We walked all the way up a steep cliffside to some climbs before realizing our rope wasn't long enough for any of the climbs we came to do. Frustrated and feeling like we were having an off day, we decided to abandon climbing and let loose on some mountain biking!

We saw some single track on our drive into the Frogland area, so we decided to explore.

It's hard to say exactly what trail we did, but something along the Blue Diamond Loop/RubberDuckyTrail/Beginner Loop... which was right up my alley, and I had a ton of fun on it. I finally was able to get feeling more confident going faster on my bike, and ya, it was just good times. We rode parking lot to parking lot and then back again.

Michael got a gnarly salt sweat stain on his shirt from riding too.

And while we waited for Greg and Callie, we entertained ourselves in the parking lot.

Monday we found a climbing area with a short approach hike. The area was Willow Springs. There were some people on the climb we wanted to do, so we first went over and did a climb called OK OK OK (5.6 trad). Michael lead it, and I followed. We didn't want to get our rope stuck so we both climbed to the top and then went up and around on this big ledge up top to a bigger rappel tree. It was cool actually, wandering around up there... sort of "free soloing" some 5.2 stuff (hardly). It would be an epic place to camp the night... if that sort of thing were allowed. The rappel off the Rappel Tree was also pretty fun, because it was long and there was a bit of an overhang portion. 

Eventually we climbed the first pitch of Ragged Edges (5.8 trad) which again Michael lead. This climb was so strange, I don't remember exactly why, but it was tricky... especially near the anchors where things got a little more slick. In the picture below, Ragged edges is the climb in the middle.

To the left of ragged edges we top roped the first pitch of another climb up this thinner crack called Plan F (5.11a, first pitch likely 5.9+). This one was actually really cool, and I'm glad we top roped it.

Michael and I ended our day on a long easy trad route called Crooked Crack (5.6). It was fun, easy climbing, with a good view of the park. Michael took some time practicing his placements and trad anchors. He even placed his first piece of gear that I was unable to get out. Thus, a lonely nut is left in the rock, waiting for a stronger soul to be able to pull it out. At least it was a nut and not a cam...


Great little weekend with these guys, and a good introduction to climbing and mountain biking in the Las Vegas area. 

Heart shaped rocks for Valentines day.

It won't be hard to get me back here. If the weather is cool enough, this place is a gem and a great place for trad experience. I can't wait to come back to do some of the more epic multi-pitch trad routes this place has to offer. 

Also, I want to ride that mountain biking trail again because, i loved it. I wish we had something like that in Bakersfield.