Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Clark County, Nevada, United States, is an area managed by the Bureau of Land Management as part of its National Landscape Conservation System, and protected as a National Conservation Area. It is about 15 miles (24 km) west of Las Vegas. More than three million people visit the area each year.

The conservation area showcases a set of large red rock formations: a set of sandstone peaks and walls that were formed by thrust faults including the Keystone Thrust. The walls are up to 3,000 feet (910 m) high, making them a popular hiking and rock climbing destination. The highest point is La Madre Mountain, at 8,154 feet (2,485 m).

A one-way, loop road, 13 miles (21 km) long, provides vehicle access to many of the features in the area. Several side roads and parking areas allow access to many of the area trails. A visitor center is at the start of the loop road. The loop road is also popular for bicycle touring; it begi...Read more

The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Clark County, Nevada, United States, is an area managed by the Bureau of Land Management as part of its National Landscape Conservation System, and protected as a National Conservation Area. It is about 15 miles (24 km) west of Las Vegas. More than three million people visit the area each year.

The conservation area showcases a set of large red rock formations: a set of sandstone peaks and walls that were formed by thrust faults including the Keystone Thrust. The walls are up to 3,000 feet (910 m) high, making them a popular hiking and rock climbing destination. The highest point is La Madre Mountain, at 8,154 feet (2,485 m).

A one-way, loop road, 13 miles (21 km) long, provides vehicle access to many of the features in the area. Several side roads and parking areas allow access to many of the area trails. A visitor center is at the start of the loop road. The loop road is also popular for bicycle touring; it begins with a moderate climb, then is mostly downhill or flat.

The Rocky Gap Road in Red Rock Canyon NCA is a side canyon accessible only by an unmaintained primitive road from the scenic loop which mostly only off-road or high-clearance vehicles can access. State Route 159 cuts through the Cottonwood Valley, also a side trail of the Old Spanish Trail. The Wilson Cliffs, a massive escarpment, can be seen to the west from SR 159.

Toward the southern end of the National Conservation Area are Spring Mountain Ranch State Park; the town of Blue Diamond; and Bonnie Springs Ranch, which includes a replica of a western ghost town, but which in 2019 was sold and closed to the public.

Native Americans  Pictographs in Red Rock Canyon Lomatium parryi, a common plant consumed by early Native Americans

The first humans were attracted to the Red Rock area due to its resources of water, plant, and animal life that could not be easily found in the surrounding desert. Hunters and gatherers such as the historical Southern Paiute and the much older Archaic, or Desert Culture Native Americans, have successively occupied this area.[1]

As many as six different Native American cultures may have been present at Red Rock over the millennia. The following chronology is an approximation, from the present to ancient pre-history:

Southern Paiute: 900 to modern times Patayan Culture: 900 to early historic times in the 1800s Ancestral Puebloan:[2] 1 AD to 1150 Pinto/Gypsum: (Archaic) 3500 BC to 1 AD San Dieguito: 7000 to 5500 BC Paleo-Indians (Tule Springs): 11,000 to 8000 BC

Numerous petroglyphs, as well as pottery fragments, remain today throughout the area. In addition, several roasting pits used by the early Native Americans at Red Rock provide further evidence of human activity in the past.

Modern history

In the early 20th century, around the time the first European Americans settled in nearby Las Vegas, the Excelsior Company operated a small sandstone quarry near the northern area of the scenic loop. It proved to be uneconomical and was shut down. Evidence of the quarry's existence includes some of the huge sandstone blocks that have been left behind.

The Red Rocks have been a film location for such movies as Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger in Bells of San Angelo (1947) and was a location for The Stalking Moon with Gregory Peck in 1968.[3]

In 1967, the Bureau of Land Management designated 10,000 acres (16 sq mi; 40 km2) as the Red Rock Recreation Lands. In 1973, the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on Federal Conservation Areas held a special hearing in the Foley Federal Office Building in downtown Las Vegas to review a legislative resolution sponsored by Nevada's lone Congressman, David Towell (R-NV) to establish the Red Rock Conservation Area by transferring Federal land to the State of Nevada. Testimony in favor of the bill was given by the Sierra Club and a high school student and environmental activist, Dennis Causey. The subcommittee unanimously approved the resolution, sending it to the full Committee on the Interior and subsequently to the full House, followed by favorable action by the U S. Senate and approval by President George H. W. Bush. Further legislation in 1990 changed the status of the Red Rock Recreation Lands to a National Conservation Area, a status that also provides funds to maintain and protect it. The Federal area was adjacent to the Red Rock State Park.[4]

The Howard Hughes Corporation, developer of Summerlin, has transferred land adjacent to the protected area, to provide a buffer between the development and the conservation area. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is adjacent to the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area on the west side.

^ "Red Rock Cultural Resources". Bureau of Land Management. Retrieved 2011-09-03. ^ "Ancestral Puebloan Artifacts Recovered in Nevada - Archaeology Magazine". ^ BLM list of film locations, 2015 ^ "Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area Overview". GORP. Retrieved 2011-09-03.
Photographies by:
Serge Melki from Indianapolis, USA - CC BY 2.0
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