Cool weather a good time to take advantage of Red Rock Canyon programs

Before the blazing temperatures return and air conditioning kicks in 24/7, Las Vegans can explore the nature at their back door in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

Leah Daniel, interpretive naturalist, sets up the programming schedule at Red Rock Canyon.

“We try to get people out here to take in the beauty of Red Rock Canyon,” she said. “We want to educate people about Red Rock so people will come back again and tell their friends and tell family members to come out here to the Mojave Desert and learn what it’s all about.”

Programs are set up to appeal to all age groups. A list of what’s offered can be found at and by clicking on “events.” Most are free. Space is limited, so registering for all programs is mandatory. To register, call 702-515-5367.

To access Red Rock Canyon, travel west on Charleston Boulevard and look for signs about five miles past the Las Vegas Beltway. Entry into Red Rock Canyon is $7 per vehicle.

Here are some programs planned for March:


First up is the Colors of Red Rock Jewelry Making class, slated for 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center, 1000 Scenic Loop Drive. Offered through the Red Rock Interpretive Association, the class shows participants how to create beaded items such as necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Some items made in the class are sold in the gift shop.

Materials are provided, but bring any specific beads and supplies you want to incorporate into a piece. It’s open to beginners as well as advanced jewerly makers.


One of the canyon’s more popular hikes is Medicinal Plants of the Moenkopi, which starts near the visitor center. The next one is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday and can take up to 15 participants.

Aaron Leifheit, environmental education specialist, explains the Native Americans’ traditional uses for a variety of desert plants. The program involves a moderate two-mile hike that starts near the visitor center. The program is open to all ages.

Besides medicinal uses, one of the facts participants learn is how Native Americans took a “shower” without any water. Another is how they made rope from plants.

“My favorite one is, there’s a plant here called the desert willow,” Leifheit said. “A lot of people have them in their yards because of their beautiful flowers. But what most people don’t know is that aspirin is made from that plant. … It’s something they walk by every day.”

The rangers remind visitors that all plants in Red Rock Canyon are protected by law and cannot be harvested.


Wildflower Training is planned for 9 a.m. Saturday and includes a hike that is rated “easy.” Participants 10 or older can sign up, but minors must be accompanied by an adult.

The canyon contains a diversity of wildflowers, and participants will be introduced to them in this interactive session. Learn how to identify wildflowers, the differences of single flower structures versus “daisy” flowers and the various bloom patterns found at Red Rock.

It will make use of the staff guidebook, which depicts 259 plant species.


Art Naturally invites people to sign up for Red Rock’s painting class, slated for 9 a.m. March 12 and 26 in the visitor center classroom. A rainbow of acrylics, brushes and papers will be provided. All skill levels are welcome.

The class advertises as being open to those 15 or older, but school hours mean the class mostly sees adults, said Carl Widmann, class facilitator.

“Most of what we try to do are things that are related to Red Rock –– the animals, the flora, fauna, using the rock formations and things like that (for inspiration),” he said.

Sometimes the class moves to the large panoramic windows that overlook Calico Hills. He said it makes it easier to express oneself in their painting.

“You have the view of all the different sandstone, the pinks and the reds and all the oranges that come out,” Widmann said. “You can really be inspired.”


For anyone who always has a camera around their neck, Night Photography of Red Rock Canyon is on the docket for 6:30 p.m. March 13. Leifheit covers the basics of night photography at the visitor center, then moves things outside to follow the Moenkopi Trail. The hike is short, roughly a quarter-mile, just enough to get behind a hill so the lights of Las Vegas are blocked out.

“We have it structured so people come out before sunset, so you get the colors of the sunset, the light on the mountains,” Leifheit said. “… The reason I picked that night is there’s going to be a planet out, Jupiter, and the new moon is going to be just a sliver. You get the combination of those things.”

Those who sign up are advised to bring a flashlight and water. A tripod and a camera with manual settings are required. This program is good for all ages.


For those who relish a challenge for their quadriceps, the Gateway Canyon Loop Geology and Nature Hike includes a trek from the Calico Basin over a saddle into Gateway Canyon. The next one is planned for 9 a.m. March 18.

Expect views of the rugged interior of Red Rock Canyon. Hike facilitators commonly discuss the geology, plants and animals encountered along the trail.The hike is rated “strenuous” and covers 3½ miles.


With all that Red Rock Canyon offers, it’s nice to consider giving back a little. A canyon cleanup is scheduled for
8:30 a.m. March 29. There will be easy hiking that is good for all ages.

Registration is required. To register, call 702-515-5367.

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at or 702-387-2949.

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