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Campground Wash Loop Route
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
campground wash loop
campground wash route
Trailhead (gate through fence) (view west).

Overview

A number of nice use-trails have become established in the Red Rock Canyon Campground Area. The Campground Wash Loop (1.67 miles round trip) runs west from the public trailhead and drops into Red Rock Wash. The route runs up the wash below cliffs to a break in the cliffs, climbs above the cliffs on a use-trail, and loops back to the trailhead following old roads and use-trails. Except for getting into and out of the wash, this loop is flat and easy with broad expansive views. After hiking this loop, consider hiking one of the other short or long loops in the campground area.

This hike is nice because it is close to town and not on the Scenic Loop Drive. This makes it free, a quick little get away from town, and it minimizes time driving to and from the trailhead.

Link to map.

campground wash route
Intersecting old road (Wpt. 2) (view west).

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this hike is about as safe as hiking in the desert can be, but don't get too close to the edge of the cliffs because the edge is unstable.

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

campground wash route
Old road into wash (view west).

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. For non-campers, drive out West Charleston Blvd to the General Access Campground Trailhead, which is located along the Campground Road. Park here; this is the trailhead.

For campers, continue into the campground, park at your campsite, then walk out into the desert and pick up the trails.

campground wash route
Cliffs along edge of wash (view west).

The Hike

From the public trailhead (Table 2, Wpt. 1), the use-trail runs west across a flat sparsely vegetated area where the trail is braided and poorly defined. Hiking in that direction, however, will shortly bring you to an old road (Wpt. 2) that cuts diagonally across the area. Following the road northwest, the road quickly arrives at a trail junction (Wpt. 3), which is the beginning of the loop.

The loop can be walked in either direction, but for now, follow the old road down over the cliffs and into Red Rock Wash. The road starts across the wash, but then ends at a washout (Wpt. 4).

campground wash route
Use-trail to get above cliffs (view southwest).
From there, the route runs up the wash following along under cliffs on the edge of the wash. The larger trees in the wash are desert willow, not a true willow, but they get long narrow leaves similar to true willows. The more common shrubs are desert almond and black-banded rabbitbrush, and there are a few Mojave yucca and Joshua trees about.
campground wash route
Use-trail to above cliffs (view northwest).

At the end of the cliffs (Wpt. 5), a use-trail runs up the west side of a side wash that comes in from the south. Following the use-trail, the route winds up the hillside, crosses the wash, and runs up a hillside to a trail junction (Wpt. 6). The trail to the right runs south and up Fire Station Hill, but the loop turns left and runs back out towards the wash.

The trail quickly turns into an old two-track road, which is followed back toward the trailhead. The old road runs far enough from the edge of the cliffs to be quite safe, but the edge invites closer inspection. However, the edge is not entirely stable, so be careful near the edge.

campground wash route
Two-track road above cliffs (view east).

Above the cliffs, the vegetation is typical Mojave Desert Scrub habitat type with lots of creosote bush and white bursage, plus Nevada ephedra, spiny menodora, and galleta grass. Also watch for beavertail cactus and cottontop cactus.

The old road closes the loop (Wpt. 3) when it intersects the old diagonal road. Follow the diagonal road back to the trail junction (Wpt. 2) that runs back to the trailhead (Wpt. 1).

End of route description.

Campground Wash Trail

The grand scenery includes Joshua trees and red sandstone (view north).

campground wash route

Cottontop cactus on the edge of the cliffs overlooking wash (view northeast).

Table 2. 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 644710 4000437 3,456 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 Old Road 644509 4000343 3,473 0.14 0.14 GPS
03 Trail Junction 644453 4000353 3,471 0.04 0.18 GPS
04 Red Rock Wash 644308 4000397 3,448 0.18 0.36 GPS
05 Gully past Cliffs 643843 3999827 3,495 0.50 0.86 GPS
06 Trail Junction 643971 3999744 3,563 0.14 1.00 GPS
03 Old Road 644453 4000353 3,471 0.49 1.49 GPS
02 Trail Junction 644509 4000343 3,473 0.04 1.53 GPS
01 Trailhead 644710 4000437 3,456 0.14 1.67 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 120427

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