The park - the oldest in Nevada - gets its name from the red sandstone formations that were formed from great, shifting desert sand dunes during the age of the dinosaurs 150 million years ago. Complex geological movements and extensive erosion have created the spectacular wind carvings in the colourful rock formations. There are shaded areas with restrooms at Atlatl Rock, Seven Sisters, the Cabins, near Mouse's Tank trail head and White Domes. At the Visitor Center, there are exhibits on the geology, ecology and history of the park, plus the nearby region. This whole area was extensively used by basket-making peoples and later by the Anasazi Pueblo farmers from the nearby Moapa Valley from 300BCE to 1150CE. It was probably visited for hunting, food gathering and religious ceremonies, though the lack of water limited their stays. Wonderful reminders of the time these ancient tribes spent here can be seen in the extraordinarily detailed Indian petroglyphs that tell the stories of their lives. The fantastic scenery and fascinating history make it well worth a day's visit.
6mls/10km from Lake Mead and 55mls/88km north-east of Las Vegas using Interstate 15 and Highway 169
Year round, dawn to dusk; Visitor Center: Open daily 8.30am-4.30pm
$6 per vehicle
The whole area is dominated by creosote, burro and brittle bushes, plus several different types of cactus. Spring is a wonderful time to visit as this is the time to see desert marigold, indigo bushes and desert mallow in bloom. The park is visited by many species of bird, but those in residence include raven, house finch, sage sparrow and, of course, the famous road runner - beep beep! The animals tend to be nocturnal, coming out to forage for food when the desert heat has begun to fade, and include many different types of lizard, as well as snakes, coyote, kit fox, spotted skunk, black-tailed jack rabbit and ground squirrel. The desert tortoise is now so rare it is protected by Nevada State law. Early mornings or late afternoons are the best time to see the wildlife, but keep your distance. One of the best ways to explore the park is by hiking through it and maps of trails are provided at the Visitor Center.
A 2ml/3km scenic loop road provides views of some of the valley's most interesting rock formations, for example Arch Rock and Piano Rock. You'll get a true wilderness experience at the secluded Arch Rock Campground with its primitive facilities!
Here you will find outstanding examples of ancient Indian rock art or petroglyphs, including a depiction of the atlatl (at'-lat-l), a notched stick used to throw primitive spears and the forerunner of the bow and arrow.
Unusual sandstone formations weathered by the eroding forces of wind and water, there are 3 group camping areas nearby, available by reservation only.
Now a picnic area, these historic stone cabins were built with native sandstone by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s as a shelter for passing travellers.
Named after a renegade Indian who used the area as a hideout in the 1890s, this is a natural basin in the rock where water collects after rainfall, sometimes remaining for months. A halfmile / 800m round trip trail leads to Mouse's Tank from the trail head parking area, passing numerous examples of prehistoric Indian petroglyphs.
Logs and stumps washed into the area from an ancient forest about 225 million years ago are exposed in 2 locations.
A favourite photo point with a panoramic view of multicoloured sandstone.
Fascinating red rock formations, which are easily accessible from the road. Picnic areas provide a relaxing stop.
Sandstone formations with brilliant contrasting colours, picnic area and trail head. White Domes is an 11 ml/17.7km round trip drive from the Visitor Center. Duck Rock is a short hike.
Clark Memorial, Elephant Rock, the deep red sandstone of Fire Canyon and the amazing Silica Dome.