Ice Box Canyon Trail

Ice Box Canyon trail: A local’s hiking guide

Neslted in the heart of the scenic loop within the Red Rock National Convservation area, you’ll find the famous Ice Box Canyon Trail.

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$20 per vehicle or an America the Beautiful Pass. Reservations are required during high season (Oct 1 – May 31).
Rating3.5 Mooses
Cactus lit up by the sun in the desert
Cactus along the Ice Box Canyon trail

The Ice Box Canyon trail is located within the boundaries of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation fee 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.

Insider tip: Enter the Park before 8 a.m. between Oct through May to avoid the need for reservations.

Once entering the fee area you’ll start driving around a 13-mile one-way paved loop through the park. The Ice Box Canyon trail is located near the end of the loop around mile marker 10. You’ll see the a sign for the parking lot after the speed drops.

IIce Box Canyon Road Marker

A word of caution, this trail gets busy and the official parking area is not large. We arrived 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.

Man walking along Ice Box Canyon hiking trail
Ice Box canyon straight ahead between the 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 across the valley floor, you will approach the entrance to the canyon. The towering walls will surround you on both sides. Be sure to look both ahead and behind as you hike along through the canyon as 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.

Rock formations along the Ice Box Canyon trail

While it doesn’t seem like it, this trail is subject to deadly flash floods. Even if it is dry as a bone when you’re there, things can change quickly.

Check out the video below of one 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.

Ice Box Canyon trail end
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.

The red Calico hills seen in the distance
Looking towards the parking area and the Calico Hills
Red sandstone cliffs along the Ice Box Canyon Trail in the Red Rock Canyon Park
Towering stone walls in the canyon

Is Ice Box Canyon worth visting?

Rating: 3.5 Mooses

What we liked:

  • This is a fairly quick hike, except for the scrambling/bouldering at the end of the trail.
  • The canyon at the end was beautiful. It’s even better when there’s a waterfall going.

What we didn’t like:

  • There’s not a ton to see on this hike except the short amount of time you’re within the canyon walls. The remainder of the time you’re fully exposed in the desert.
  • The crowds were over the top. After leaving the canyon on our return trip, a steady stream of hikers poured in, many blaring music through portable speakers. Others let their dogs run freely without leashes.
  • The parking area is small and fills up fast.

Verdict: If you’re short on time, check it out, but there are nicer trails in the park. We enjoyed the hike up to Turtlehead Peak far more than Ice Box Canyon.

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 36.1500716, -115.4862686.

Approaching Ice Box Canyon - scenic loop
Approaching the Ice Box Canyon trailhead (seen on the right)

As you’re heading around the Red Rock Canyon scenic loop, you’ll find the trailhead around mile marker 10. The speed limit slows to 15 mph on this portion of the loop. Watch out for pedestrians crossing.

Parking at Ice Box Canyon Trailhead

There are 22 offical parking spots at the Ice Box Canyon trailhead, plus a small pull out area that might fit another three to four cars.

Parking is only allowed in designated areas and violaters are subject to fines.

Check out the google street views here.

Parking lot at Ice Box Canyon trailhead
Parking area of Ice box Trailhead

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.

The time of year you visit could greatly increase your experience alon the trail. Colder months can bring ice and snow and whenever the canyon is filled with water, the route will more challening.

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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