Trailhead parking (view W)
Grapevine Canyon is rocky canyon in granite mountains (unusual for the Las Vegas area) with an amazing array of petroglyphs, several stands of cottonwood trees, a seasonal stream, water-sculpted narrows, and a nice little waterfall and bathtub 1.5 miles out. A good trail leads for 0.27 miles to petroglyphs on cliffs at the mouth of the canyon; after that, the route boulder-hops up the canyon for about 1-1/2 miles to a 15-foot waterfall.
Link to map.
Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this hike is fairly safe, but for those of us used to walking on rough, almost sticky, limestone and sandstone, the water-polished granite is surprisingly slick. There is a fair bit of scrambling over and around boulders and walking on granite slickrock, so be careful when you get high enough to fall and hurt yourself.
While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, this is a fairly short hike, so just bring what you need of the 10 Essentials.
This hike goes into the Federally designated Bridge Mountain Wilderness Area, so pay extra attention to respecting the land, and don't touch or otherwise mess with the petroglyphs.
Arriving at mouth of narrows (view NW)
| Getting to the Trailhead
This hike is located near Laughlin, about 75 miles south of Las Vegas (7 miles west of Laughlin).
From Las Vegas, drive south towards Laughlin. From the intersection of Highway 93 and 95, drive south on Highway 95, past Searchlight and Cal-Nev-Ari, for 54 miles to Highway 163 (Table 1, Site 0826). Turn left onto Highway 163 towards Laughlin and drive east for 12.8 miles to Christmas Tree Pass Road (Site 0823). Watch for a small sign indicating a left turn. This point is 6.7 miles before the bridge in Laughlin.
On Christmas Tree Pass Road, drive north on the well-graded dirt road for 1.8 miles to a T-intersection with the Grapevine Canyon access road (Site 0824). Turn left (west) and drive west for about 0.15 miles to the parking area at the end of the road (Site 0825). Park here; this is the trailhead.
From the trailhead (Table 2, Waypoint 01), a trail runs west from the parking lot on a bench overlooking Grapevine Wash. The trail runs out for 0.27 miles to a gap in the cliffs where Grapevine Wash comes out of the canyon (Wpt. 02) and empties onto the desert flats.
There is an amazing amount of rock art on the granite cliffs that form the gap. There are some nice petroglyphs at eye-level right where the trail gets to the cliffs, but there are better ones a few feet higher up the cliff and across the wash. Most of the rock art is within a 1-minute walk of the gap, but rock art is scattered up the wash. Be careful if you climb the cliffs to see the petroglyphs up close. Don't fall, and also don't climb on the petroglyphs. These are treasures from a time gone by, and all of us are responsible for taking care of them.
Link to more information and photos of the rock art here.
Continuing up the wash (including climbing through and around a thicket of wild grape and common reed) for about 0.09 miles, there is an enormous overhanging boulder in the bottom of the canyon. Just beyond the boulder, someone (probably ranchers), built a small cement dam (Wpt. 03) on a slickrock pour-over to catch water and pipe it down the canyon. The pool makes a suitable place to sit in the water and cool off.
Use-trails continue up the canyon on both sides of the wash, but getting past a narrow granite canyon with a boulder cap is a bit easier on the north side. Above the narrow section, the canyon opens onto a nice grove of cottonwood trees (Wpt. 04).
For the next 0.75 miles or so, use-trails run up both sides of the wash, passing narrow rocky spots and slickrock granite interspersed with broad, sandy canyon bottoms with cottonwood groves. The trees attract a variety of bird species, and Northern Mockingbirds, Gamble’s Quail, Ash-throated Flycatchers, American Goldfinches, House Finches, and other species nest here.
Past the last large grove of cottonwood trees (Wpt. 05), the wash runs up through a section of narrows cut into the bedrock granite (Wpt. 06). The walls are low, but the gorge is narrow, winding, and scenic.
Above the narrows, stay in the main wash (to the left; south) at the confluence of two washes. About 0.27 miles above the top of the narrows, the canyon is blocked by a 15-ft waterfall that drops into two nice bathtub pools in a little granite gorge (Wpt. 07). The outer pool, at least, is a nice place for a cold bath on a hot day.
Routes continue up the canyon, but this is a nice spot to stop, rest in the shade of the cottonwood tree, and then return to the trailhead by following the wash back down the canyon.
Table 1. Highway Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Highway GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.
||Hwy 163 at Christmas Tree Rd
||Christmas Tree Rd @ Grapevine Cyn
||Grapevine Canyon Parking
||Hwy 95 at Hwy 163
||Hwy 93 @Christmas Tree Pass Rd
Table 2. Hiking Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Hiking GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.
||Point-to-Point Distance (mi)
||Cumulative Distance (mi)
||Grapevine Canyon Trailhead
||Trees above Rock Tunnel
||Top of Narrows