Red Rock Canyon forecast to draw holiday crowd

Unlike that uncle of yours with the bottomless stomach, Red Rock Canyon occasionally fills up at Thanksgiving.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is warning visitors to expect large crowds, heavy traffic and even the occasional closure over the long holiday weekend.

During periods of especially high visitation, the 13-mile scenic loop will be temporarily shut down to relieve congestion and maintain access for emergency vehicles if necessary.

Volunteers and staff will be positioned along the loop and will radio the fee station just off state Route 159 when the roughly 600 parking spaces in lots and along the drive fill up.

Road signs will be posted along state Route 159 to announce any closures, which generally last 30 to 45 minutes at a time.

Visitors can call 515-5350 to find out whether the scenic loop is open.

This is one of the busiest weekends of the year at the 196,000-acre national conservation area, and it's easy to see why, said Kirsten Cannon, spokeswoman for the conservation area.

"Thanksgiving weekend provides the perfect mix for increased visitation to Red Rock: temperate weather, extra time and the houseguests itching for adventure," she said.

It's also a good spot to escape rabid shoppers and work off some pie.

The most congested time is usually between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

The visitor center will be open 8 a.m. to noon on Thanksgiving and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. the rest of the weekend. The scenic loop will be open daily from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cannon said Red Rock also tends to fill up when local schools go on spring break.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area draws about 1 million visitors a year, making it the busiest site BLM manages anywhere in the nation.

Contact reporter Henry Brean at or 702-383-0350.