First time bouldering in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

Boulders in Red Rock Canyon
Boulders in Red Rock Canyon

This was my first time trying out the bouldering in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, or just "Red Rocks" as many call it.

Red Rocks ended up being a fitting destination for our group, which had a wide range of climbing levels (from V2 to V7) and a wide range of outdoorsiness (from never-having-peed-outside to regularly-solo-backpacks). Red Rocks has a huge number of boulders, so there were quality climbs at every level, sometimes even on the same boulder. With everyone in our group coming from California, the boulders at Red Rocks felt very easy to access. The Las Vegas airport is only 30 minutes away, and the drive to the boulders is simple and paved, unlike some other bouldering destinations. Despite the closeness to the city, the landscape is beautiful, with hikers and climbers alike visiting the area.

Trip itinerary

It was most of my group's first time at Red Rocks, so we spent the majority of the time at Kraft Boulders, the most popular boulder area. We also spent one day at Red Spring; it's much less crowded than Kraft, but the classic climbs here can gather a crowd at times. Some parts of our group did different things on different days; some people wanted to climb every day, while others preferred to take a rest day. Here's how my schedule ended up playing out.

Detailed trip itinerary

  • Day 0: Arrive in Las Vegas
  • Day 1: Kraft Boulders
    • Monkey Bar Boulder: *Monkey Crack V1 [Send]
    • Wave Boulder: *The Wave V3 [Send]
    • Burnout Boulder: *Jones'n V4
  • Day 2: Kraft Boulders
    • Monkey Bar Boulder: Monkey Bar V2
    • Cube Boulder: Perfect Poser V1 R
    • Sorange Boulder: Sorange V3 [Send]
    • Big Mac Crack Boulder: Thot Provoking V4
  • Day 3: Rest day
    • Pinball Hall of Fame arcade
  • Day 4: Kraft Boulders
    • Monkey Bar Boulder: Monkey Bar V2 [Send], Hyperglide V5, Classic Monkey V6
    • Potato Chip Boulder: Potato Chips V2 [Send]
    • Pearl Boulder: The Pearl V5
  • Day 5: Red Spring Boulders
    • Sundial Boulder: *Equinox V6
    • Turtle Shell Boulder: Jugs V1 [Send], *Cherry Garcia V3, Monkey Wrench V7
  • Day 6: Solo hiking day and drive home
    • Calico Tanks Trail
    • Turtlehead Peak Trail [Did part of it]

(*) My favorite climbs!

Climbing memories from the trip

Sea-nic rocks

I love how illustrative the rocks are here. Here are some sea-themed climbs.

The Wave V3
The Wave V3
The Pearl V5
The Pearl V5

Perfect Poser V1 R

This is an R-rated climb because it's 25-feet tall, requiring a certain level of both confidence and risk-tolerance. Two of my friends sent this, while the rest of us didn't even want to touch it. I watched a less-confident climber make it halfway up, with others calling out beta the entire time, then struggle to climb back down. My hands and feet were so sweaty while I was watching; I'm glad the climber made the decision to come back down early.

Perfect Poser V1 R
Perfect Poser V1 R

Jones'n V4

First of all, this is a pretty technical and interesting climb. But anyway, we met a minor celebrity here, one of the contestants from the HBO reality show The Climb (Robyn, and she sent this climb easily). One of the other climbers recognized her, and she was really friendly and answered all of his burning questions about the show. I came back to this climb a few days later for a last attempt. I met some climbers who recognized me from the first day, and we had a nice chat while bonding over our struggles on the climb. Based off this experience, I'd say this is a pretty conversational spot.

We did not encounter Jason Momoa nor Chris Sharma. Image credit: HBO Max
We did not encounter Jason Momoa nor Chris Sharma. Image credit: HBO Max

A rest day

On our rest day, we mostly lazed about at the Airbnb, playing pool and watching The Climb. Our one outing was to the Pinball Hall of Fame, which is basically a pinball machine arcade, with some machines dating back to the 70's. The four of us split a 20-dollar bill to get coins to play, and we ended up playing games for 2 hours before we ran out of all our coins. I had a lot of fun; it reminded me of how much I liked playing games as a kid.

A solo hiking day

While my friends flew in to Vegas, I drove myself because I was already on a road trip prior to this trip. My friends flew home on the evening of our last bouldering day. Since I had the freedom of having my own car, I decided to stay another night, in a cheap hotel near the Strip, and do a hike the next day.

Calico Tanks Trail

The Calico Tanks Trail is one of the more popular hikes in Red Rocks; it's moderate and showcases some very red rocks. I did this hike on a Tuesday and only encountered a few other groups.

View along Calico Tanks Trail
View along Calico Tanks Trail

Turtlehead Peak Trail

After my Calico Tanks hike, I really wanted to hike more, and got the crazy idea to try this strenuous hike, Turtlehead Peak Trail. While Calico Tanks surrounds you with large rocks, the Turtlehead Peak Trail shows you the open plain of the park. The hike ends with a steep climb up Turtlehead Peak. I never found out what the view was from up there because a storm was starting to blow in and I decided to turn back early. However, the midway point had a great view.

Watching the storm blow in from Turtlehead Peak Trail. These mountains weren't visible 10 minutes later once the clouds came in.
Watching the storm blow in from Turtlehead Peak Trail. These mountains weren't visible 10 minutes later once the clouds came in.

Logistics: housing, transportation, bouldering

The majority of our group flew in to Las Vegas, while I drove. We also rented another car. With two cars (1 SUV and 1 sedan), we were able to comfortably fit 6 people, 6 crashpads, and all of our luggage.

We rented an Airbnb on the west side of Las Vegas, about 25 minutes from the crag.

We reserved crashpads for rent from REI and picked them up on the morning of our first bouldering day. To find climbs, we used the guidebook Southern Nevada Bouldering II as well as Mountain Project.


During my visit, there were no fees to enter the Kraft or Red Spring area. These areas are outside of the main park gate.

If you drive further down the road you will encounter the Scenic Drive, where popular hikes such as Calico Tanks Trail are located. The Scenic Drive requires either a park fee or a national park pass. The Scenic Drive also required a reservation made online in advance. I visited on a weekday and made a reservation on the same day as my visit. See more information on

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