Hiking The Calico Tanks Trail, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (Las Vegas, NV)


Hiking The Calico Tanks Trail, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (Las Vegas, NV)

In a previous post, I wrote about visiting the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. In this post, I’ll talk about hiking one of the most popular trails in Red Rock Canyon, the Calico Tanks trail.

Hiking The Calico Tanks Trail, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area:

The Hike

The hike will take about 2 hours and is rated moderate to strenuous.

Although most of the trail is well marked, there are some places where you’ll have to make your own trail, others places where there are several trails to choose from.

For the most part, I recommend always staying to the left and taking the forks on the left whenever possible, as these routes tend to be easier. For more of a challenge, take the forks on the right for more strenuous trails and rock scrambling.

Getting There

The Calico Tanks trailhead is located at the back of the Sandstone Quarry parking lot.

There is a large parking lot, however the lot for this popular trail usually fills up fast. There is some overflow parking available back on the main road, but make sure you park over the line as Park Rangers are known to hand out tickets there.

The parking lot (notice the overflow parking on the far right)

The Calico Tanks Trailhead

You’ll start the hike at the sign below.

Next, you’ll pass by the old rock quarry on the right.

Continue along the trail following the signage.

At this fork in the road, keep right to stay on the Calico Tanks trail.

Following the trail, you’ll walk down a wash toward the mouth of a small canyon.

There are awesome rock formations everywhere you look

Let the easy rock scrambling begin

Once you see the little rock formation on the ridge, the trail suddenly splits. For the easier route, take the trail on the left.

Follow the path on the left

Do you see the stairs?

This is a look at the “harder” pathway to the right of the fork, this way is harder – don’t say I didn’t warn you!

The view back

Stick to the left!

Colorful rock patterns

The Calico Tanks

Eventually, you’ll make it to the Calico Tanks – small natural reservoirs that often hold water.

You are not done yet! Don’t stop here, the final push to the viewpoint will require the most challenging rock scrambling of this hike (but it’s really not that hard).

The View From The End Of The Trail

Once you scramble up the rocks near the tanks, you’ll be rewarded with the views below (which are amazing at sunset)!

View of Las Vegas

Picture perfect

Out And Back

To get out, simply head back the way you came by retracing your steps. When headed back to the parking lot, remember to stick to the right.

The way back

Final Thoughts On Hiking The Calico Tanks Trail

This is an overall great little hike. It’s easy enough that the whole family can do it (including dogs), but challenging enough that you’ll definitely sweat it out and feel the burn.

This hike took me two hours exactly (out and back). As with most desert hikes, I recommend doing this in the early morning or late afternoon. Be sure to bring plenty of water. If you only have time for one hike in Red Rock Canyon, this is a great option.