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Carpooling and Parking

Parking at Red Rock Canyon
Another great season of climbing in Red Rock Canyon is upon us and in order to improve your experience we thought we would share some insider tips about parking in the Red Rock Canyon Loop Road. As more and more people discover the wonders and benefits of outdoor recreation, almost all National Parks, State Parks, and BLM Lands continue to break records for yearly visitation. With more people comes more cars with an unprecedented burden for parking in these areas and Red Rock Canyon is no exception with an estimated 2.5 million visitors in 2016.

The Loop Road in Red Rock Canyon has undergone major road resurfacing for the entire 13 miles, as well as parking lot renovations increasing the total number of parking spaces. While two of the three lots undergoing renovations received a substantial increase in total number of parking spots, one lot received only a small increase due to terrain and ecological restraints. The First Pull Out (Calico 1) trailhead went from 42 to 167 parking spots, Sandstone Quarry trailhead went from 72 to 97 parking spots with improved flow for tour buses and Pine Creek trailhead went from 22 to 79 parking spots. The Second Pullout (Calico 2) trailhead did not undergo any parking renovations due to funding constraints.  The Ice Box parking area has had the spots parallel to the road removed due to safety concerns. All the resurfacing is completed and the all the parking lots are open as the time of this writing, with only minor road and parking lot improvements remaining.

While the BLM has taken a very relaxed stance on illegal parking in the past, they have expressed that they will begin ticketing this year for parking in non-designated areas in order to ensure safety of the loop road as well as protecting the ecology of the area. This includes no parking on the side of the road and no pulling off the road onto the desert landscape. Along with the loop road renovations, the BLM has installed clear and visible signage for no parking areas as well as installed physical barriers including curbs, boulders, and wooden fences. So, while the total number of legal parking spots has increased in the park, the difficulty of parking will remain high as the total number of illegal parking spots will disappear with stricter parking enforcement. In addition Red Rock Canyon in the past has “closed” for brief periods of time throughout the day due to maximum capacity within the park and reopening later in the day once volume within the park decreases.

In order to have the best experience parking within the Red Rock Canyon Loop Road, we have included the following recommendations:

-Take some time and plan out your day to avoid any unnecessary driving in and out of the park. Once in the park, it is one way for 13 miles to exit and if you miss your pull out you can’t turn around and go back. It may be a good idea to pull into the visitor center parking lot just after entering to stop and make sure you know where you are going, as well as take advantage of the restrooms.

-The Second Pullout (Calico 2) trailhead did not undergo any parking renovations due to funding constraints. If you are planning on climbing at areas that are associated with the Second Pull Out (Calico 2) trailhead, you may consider parking at the First Pull Out (Calico 1) trailhead and making the fairly easy hike over to Calico 2 either along the road or on trail down by the wash. If you arrive at Second Pull Out and the lot is full, you may find parking at Sandstone Quarry trailhead and then hike back to the Second Pull Out via the road or grand circle trail.

-Make plans with friends to meet somewhere outside of the park and consolidate into one vehicle prior to entering. There are numerous benefits for this including less carbon emissions within the park, less parking spaces consumed in the park and total cost savings upon entry as it is a flat rate per vehicle. Places to meet up include the BLM campground for those staying there, the Red Rock Overlook off of Hwy 159 and the gravel parking lot just outside the exit of the loop road on Hwy 159.

Early Bird gets the Route
-The park gate opens at 6am and the visitor center opens at 8am. In order to ensure a parking spot at the pullout for which you intend to climb then get there early. Most people will start entering the park around 9:00am and by 10:00 am you will be waiting in line outside the park on Hwy 159. Once again the park may “close” temporarily throughout any given day depending on the volume within the park, so get there early.

Drop Off/ Pick Up
-If possible coordinate a drop off and pick up at the trail head with a friend or other ride sharing service. If someone is planning on a rest day, coordinate with them to drive you into the park and drop you off at your destination with a pick up scheduled for later. This is a good idea if it is later in the day and you missed out on the early bird approach. Remember, though, that cell service is spotty on the loop so make plans in advance.

Other Parking Options
-If all lots are full, the park is temporarily “closed” due to heavy volume, or you don’t want to risk going into the park to find a parking spot, it is possible to park in Calico Basin and hike over. The main parking lot there is Red Springs and it is also under BLM management. This is a good place to park as another means to approach the Calico 1 trailhead (First Pull Out) or other crags located on the Southern most aspect of Calico Hills. However, keep in mind that the Red Springs Parking area closes at 5 pm for the winter season. For other trailheads such as Calico 2 (Second Pull Out) or Sandstone Quarry trailheads, there is no easy approach from here, essentially you just keep hiking.

We hope this helps with your experience at Red Rock Canyon.






March 30, 2016 POST:

Parking opportunities at Red Rock exist at every pull-out, however, as we all know these areas can get very congested and in an effort to save angst and fuel (and carbon emmissions), carpooling is a great idea. Once upon a time we had a parking area at the Red Rock entrance gate where climbers would meet, leave a vehicle and share a ride around the loop. That parking lot is gone and since then climbers, hikers, cyclists, and other recreationists have gone to parking areas east of Red Rocks, mostly along Charleston, to find places to meet. The most recent location was the shopping center at the NEC of Charleston and Desert Foothills. It is the west most shopping center along Charleston and has a good many stores that are convenient for user groups, such as Dunkin Donuts and Albertsons. The property management company for that project has placed signs discouraging long term parking and warning of towing violator’s vehicles. While we are working with the property management company to come to an agreement on some allowed parking for recreational user groups, we have some alternatives we’d like to recommend and also offer some information on other courses of action we are pursuing.

The map above shows several alternative parking areas which include the public school on the SWC of Charleston & Desert Foothills, Red Rock Casino, and the Best Buy Shopping Center at 215 and Charleston. All these are great alternatives and I know more exist.

We are supposed to begin discussions with the property managers for the Desert Foothills & Charleston Shopping Center in February 2014 and hope to arrive at an agreement allowing for some recreational use parking in designated areas.

We’re working with other user groups to create a joint effort to have some real dialogue with the BLM concerning additional parking for Red Rock outside the loop. We feel this is the best strategy for creating a long term solution to parking issues for all user groups.

Park Hours and Camping Information

Late Exit Information