Ice Box Canyon trail: the ultimate hiking guide

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Ice Box Canyon trail hiking stats

LocationThe trail is located within Red Rock National Park at the following coordinates: 36.15092, -115.48412
Round Trip Mileage2.2 Miles Round Trip
Elevation Gain~500 ft.
Average Time1-2 hours
Entrance Fees$15 Day Pass or America the Beautiful Pass
Rating3.5 Mooses

The Ice Box Canyon trail is located within the boundaries of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area. The park is an extremely popular area to visit in the Las Vegas area and one not to be missed if you’re a nature lover. Within the park, you’ll find many hikes to choose from. We wanted to check out the Ice Box Canyon trail on this trip.

Pro-tip: Enter the Park before 8 a.m. between Nov through May to avoid the need for reservations.

Once entering the park you’ll start driving around a 14-mile one-way loop through the park. The Ice Box Canyon trail is located near the end of the loop around mile 11. You’ll see the a sign for the parking lot after the speed drops.

A word of caution, this trail gets super busy and the official parking area is not large. We arrived pretty early around 7:45 a.m. on a Saturday, and while there was only one or two cars in the lot, by the time we were done there were people waiting for a parking spot. Go early or not on a weekend.

Ice Box Canyon trailhead sign

The trail starts off flat and meandering through the valley. After crossing a wide wash, the trail continues on towards the towering canyons in the distance.

The trail towards to the canyon – straight ahead between those cracks in the center.

We enjoyed the views of the valley and unique stone paths that wound up the trail towards the canyon.

Stone path on the Ice Box Canyon trail

After a quick hike through the valley, you approach the first walls of the canyon. The towering walls surround you on both sides. Be sure to look both ahead and behind as you hike along through the canyon. The views are spectacular whichever way you look.

Trail markers on the path to Ice Box Canyon

Once you get to the start of the canyon, there will be several avenues to choose from. We chose to stay to the right and take the upper trail. Eventually you’ll have to go down to the wash to make your way to the final area of the trail. It really depends on what time of year it is and if there is water in the wash.

Beautiful canyon walls along the Ice Box Canyon trail

While it doesn’t seem like it, this trail is subject to deadly flash floods. It may seem dry as a bone when you’re there, but things can change quickly. Check out this video of one very lucky fellow who not only caught this epic event on tape, he stayed safe and sound by getting out of the way of the flowing water.

The magic starts at 41 seconds…

After you’ve climbed over boulders, around trees and avoided any water in the wash, you’ll find yourself at the end of the canyon. It’s a beautiful ending to the short hike. Many have climbed up the final area in the picture below, but it didn’t seem all that safe to us and we opted to stop. Rock climbers with appropriate gear have continued on and climbed out of the canyon.

The end of the trail at Ice Box Canyon

When we arrived at the end of the trail, there was only other couple. By the time we were ready to leave, many more had shown up. In fact, the trail on the way back had become so crowded, we often had to wait for others to get out of the way.

If solitude is important to you, I can’t stress enough how important it is to go early if you’re going to hike this trail.

Looking back towards to the parking lot and the beautiful red rocks
Towering stone walls in the canyon

Should you visit Ice Box Canyon or skip it?

Rating: 3.5 Mooses

This is a fairly quick hike, except for the scrambling/bouldering at the end of the trail. There’s not a ton to see on this hike. The canyon walls were pretty cool to see and the end of the trail was certainly unique, but the crowds were too much. We enjoyed the hike up to Turtlehead Peak far more than Ice Box Canyon. If you have the time and energy, check out Turtlehead instead.

Verdict: If you’re short on time, check it out, but there are nicer trails in the park.

Related: Top things to know about Red Rock Canyon

Frequently Asked Questions about the Ice Box Canyon Trail

Enjoying the view of the canyon

Where is the Ice Box Canyon Trailhead located?

The trailhead is located within the Red Rock Canyon National Park at 36.15092, -115.48412.

How difficult is the Ice Box Canyon Trail?

The trail is rated as moderate to strenuous. The first portion of the trail is relatively flat traversing over the gentle valley and several washes. The second portion of the trail winds into the canyon and requires traversing over boulders and around obstacles to reach the end.

Are dogs allowed on the Ice Box Canyon Trail?

Yes, dogs are allowed as long as they are on a leash. Keep in mind you may have to pick them up to get them through some of the bouldering areas.

More Information for your trip to Red Rock Canyon

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The information contained on this website is for entertainment purposes only and references only opinions of the author. Nothing contained within should be considered professional advice, including but not limited to, health, safety, financial, legal, or psychological advice.

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