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Rock Garden Trail
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon NCA, Blue Diamond Hill
Rock Garden Trail
Rock Garden Trail


The Rock Garden Trail is one of many trails on the northwest end of Blue Diamond Hill. This trail runs for 1.8 miles from the Cowboy Trail Rides parking area up onto Fossil Ridge and out to connect with the Fossil Trail. This trail provides relatively easy access to the higher Blue Diamond Hill Bike Trails, and it provides great views of the Red Rock Cliffs across the valley to the west and of the La Madre Mountain Range to the north. Unfortunately, the cowboys use this trail, and as a result, it is rather trashed and parts stink of horse urine. At the far end of this trail, hikers can make a 3-mile loop by taking the Fossil Trail back down to the trailhead or hike farther up the mountain on one of the other Blue Diamond Hill Bike Trails.

Link to map

Rock Garden Trail

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is a pretty safe hike. The Blue Diamond Hill Trails were designed for mountain bikes, so the grades are generally easy, but you have to watch out for bikers careening down the trail. Don't step in puddles of "yellow water" in the trail. Falls off the ridge into Fossil Canyon would hurt.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, even though this hike is short, be sure to bring what you need of the 10 Essentials.

Rock Garden Trail

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, about 30 minutes from town, but not on the Scenic Loop Road. Drive out West Charleston Blvd, past the entrance to the Scenic Loop Drive, to the Cowboy Trail Rides Trailhead on the left. Park here; this is the trailhead.

Rock Garden Trail

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 1), walk through the gate for 4-5 steps, then turn to the right and follow the trail that runs southeast towards the toe of Fossil Ridge. Two other trails start here, confusing the issue. The Fossil Trail runs to the south skirting around the west side of Fossil Ridge, and the Fossil Canyon Trail runs more to the east towards the mouth of Cave Canyon.

The Rock Garden Trail runs southeast and climbs from the galleta grass flats up onto the crest of Fossil Ridge (Wpt. 7), then continues south along the top of the ridge. The crest of the ridge provides nice views down into the trailhead and horse corral area.

Rock Garden Trail

Following Fossil Ridge south, the trail passes a junction (Wpt. 9) with a trail that drops off the east side of the ridge to the horse corrals in the bottom of Cave Canyon.

Continuing south, the now well-used trail more-or-less follows the crest of the ridge with nice views down into Fossil Canyon and off to the Red Rocks Cliffs and La Madre Mountains.

Along the ridge, the trail passes the east edge of a 2005 fire. The firefighters used the trail as a fireline, so the contrast from one side of the trail to the other clearly shows how fire affects desert vegetation.

Rock Garden Trail

The trail passes the burn area and gets to some sections were cactus seem unusually abundant. In particular, there is a nice stand of barrel cactus near the junction with the Fossil Trail (Wpt. 3), which is the end of the Rock Garden Trail.

From the end of the trail, walk back to the trailhead, make a loop back down the Fossil Trail, or continue on one of the other Blue Diamond Hill Bike Trails.

Table 1. Hiking Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Hiking GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Wpt. Location Easting Northing Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
01 Trailhead 641052 3998352 3,705 0.00 0.00 GPS
07 North End of Ridge 641257 3998133 3,810 0.21 0.21 GPS
03 Fossil Trail Junction 641888 3997083 4,076 1.61 1.82 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
© 2015 Jim Boone; Last updated 141010

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