Moenkopi Trail / Photo by Lizzie Gerecitano

Moenkopi Trail / Photo by Lizzie Gerecitano

Top 7 Must-Try Trails in Red Rock Canyon


Let’s face it - Red Rock Canyon is all about the hiking trails! There is no better way to get inside the canyons and up close to the rock formations and ancient petroglyphs, or to see a bighorn sheep staring down at you from a cliffside, than from a beautiful trailhead through this national conservation area.

Here are our Top 7 picks for beginner and intermediate hikers.

1. Calico Hills

Length: 6 miles, about 3.5 hours 
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
This trail goes from the base of the Calico Rocks from Calico Basin all the way up to Sandstone Quarry. This trail can be accessed from either the Calico I or Calico II parking lots, or from a side trail that runs from the Fee Booth parking lot to connect with the Calico Hills trail. Variable distance depending on where you choose to start the trail from and how long you decide to stay on it, including how much you choose to meander around and through the red rocks that you can walk upon. 

2. Calico Tanks

Calico Tanks / Photo by Lizzie Gerecitano

Length: 2.5 miles round trip, about 2 hours 
Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous -  rock scrambling and route-finding skills are necessary the farther along the trail you go
This is the most popular trail in Red Rock Canyon and can be accessed from Sandstone Quarry. This hike will take you past signs of prehistoric life and interesting geologic formations.

3. Willow Spring Loop 

Length: 1.5 miles round trip, about 1 hour 
Difficulty: Easy
From the parking lot, follow the trail by the restroom south, which runs parallel to the parking lot and roadway. This path takes you past a pictograph site and ancient Agave roasting pits to the Lost Creek parking lot on the other side of the road. There the trail heads to the right to where two trails fork. Bear to the right and continue back up to the Willow Springs parking lot. Part of this trail is paved and easily accessible from the parking lot. 

RELATED: One-Day Itinerary: Red Rock Canyon

4. Petroglyph Wall 

Length: .2 miles, about 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
This is a very short trail that takes you across a wash to a cliff side full of ancient rock art that is estimated to be at least 800 years old. Take the trail head from the Willow Springs Picnic Area parking lot. It’s on the opposite side of the road from the picnic benches. 

5. Red Rock Overlook 

Red Rock Overlook / Photo by Lizzie Gerecitano

Length: .25 miles, about 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy to moderate (there is a slight incline, but this hike is wheelchair accessible)
This is a paved path from the parking lot of the Red Rock Overlook that starts behind the helicopter pad. It leads to the top of a small incline and is easily accessible. It gives you a marvelous view of Red Rock Canyon and the escarpment. 

6. Red Spring Boardwalk/Calico Overlook

Length: 1.5 miles, about 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Starting from the Red Spring parking lot, this is a loop trail that takes you up and around the Red Spring Boardwalk and down into a sandy wash. You’ll hike by massive sandstone boulders where lizards and bunnies frequently can be seen scurrying across the trail. This trail does have some elevation and slightly steep areas although it’s rated easy to moderate. 

7. Calico Basin 

Calico Basin Trail / Photo by Lizzie Gerecitano

Length: 1.5 miles round trip, about 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy
Starting from the Red Spring parking lot, this is an in-and-out trail that leads you along the base of the colorful Calico Hills. You’ll frequently see rock climbers on the walls of the mountains. Ash trees line the seasonal Calico Spring. 

RELATED: The Ultimate Red Rock Canyon Travel Guide

Red Rock Canyon Hiking Tips

While you’re hiking in Red Rock Canyon it’s important to remember that this is the Mojave Desert, and you have to respect the elements and take good care of yourself. This means preparing in advance. You will be out in nature with no access to food, water, gasoline or a wifi/cell phone signal. When going on a hike, bring more water than you think you need, sun protection (wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen, sun glasses, long sleeves and pants) and proper hiking shoes and snacks in case you get low on energy.

Consider an emergency locator beacon in case of emergency (especially if you are hiking alone), a small first-aid kit in case you get spiked by a cactus or scraped by a rock, a compass in case you lose your bearings, and extra layers in case the winds shift and the temperatures drop suddenly. And always tell someone where and when you will be hiking. It is very important that someone knows where you went in case you become lost and out of range. 

Carry a spare cell phone portable charger and charging wire in your backpack. You’d hate to run out of battery just when you want to take a photo of that perfect rock formation or that bighorn sheep staring down at you from a cliffside!

Finally, beware of steep cliffs. Loose sand and pebbles on stone become slippery and you certainly don’t want to fall from heights that could kill you. Never get too close to the edge of a rock formation if you can't see how steep the drop-off is. There are no barriers or guardrails here to protect you, your kids or your pets. And don’t climb on wet sandstone. It becomes brittle when wet and can break off.

Now that you’re prepared, it’s time to enjoy yourself and these amazing hikes!

Visiting Red Rock Canyon? All of these hikes are on Shaka Guide’s Red Rock Canyon Tour

We hope that we’ve given you all the information you need to make the most of your day. Your vacation is extremely important to us so if you have any questions feel free to reach out at aloha@shakaguide.com.

For more detailed information to help you plan, check out our Red Rock Canyon Itinerary and Know Before You Go article.


The Ultimate Red Rock Canyon Travel Guide

Red Rock Canyon: 10 Things To Do + 4 Things To Know

Calico Basin Trail: A Must-Visit Hike at Red Rock Canyon


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