The Petroglyph Wall Trail takes hikers back in time to a cliffside etched with rock images over 800 years old.
Located near Willow Springs Picnic Area, this is an easy activity to add to your day-trip to Red Rock Canyon and is suitable for all ages.
Looking for more day trip ideas? Here’s a great 1-day itinerary.
Petroglyph Wall Trail Quick Stats
|Trail Description||Out and back|
|Trail Location||Petroglyph Wall Trailhead – Rock Art Trail, Las Vegas, NV 89161|
|Parking Lot||36.16117340825106, -115.49897579231946|
|Round Trip Mileage||0.2 miles|
|Average Time||Less than 30 Minutes|
|Elevation Gain||~15 feet|
|Best time to visit||Fall, Winter, Spring|
|Entrance Fee||$15 / car or truck, $30 for annual pass or $80 for an America the Beautiful National Parks pass. $2 timed reservation fee also required during high season (October 1st through May 31st from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.)|
|Park Info/Closures||Red Rock Canyon|
What to expect on the Petroglyph Wall Trail:
We arrived at the Willow Creek parking area to find the lot half full on a weekday. We found the trail on the left-hand side (south) of the road as you’re driving into the parking area.
Insider-tip: Go to the end of the Willow Creek parking area on the gravel portion of the lot if you want to be closest to the trailhead. Also note that due north of the trailhead you’ll find the Willow Creek Picnic Area that is perfect for a quick bite to eat if you’ve packed a lunch.
The trail is well-marked and starts off heading south towards a large rock face which holds the petroglyph wall.
The path consists mostly of hard packed gravel and dirt, though you do have to traverse through a large wash which can get quite rocky.
Given the trail is only 0.2 miles round trip, it won’t take long before you approach the rock wall which holds the petroglyph carvings and pictographs.
We do recommend stopping to enjoy the sweeping views of Red Rock Canyon on your way to petroglyphs, as we felt this was the best part of the trip.
We reached the rock wall, and noticed there was a clear path where water is sure to flow during the rainy season in the park.
Given we visited in January, we saw a small amount of ice which had formed on the rock cliffs above us.
Despite the mid-50s temperatures and mostly sunny conditions, the petroglyph wall was fully in shadows and cool during our visit. It would be a welcome respite during the warmer months, but quite cold when we visited.
We arrived at the wall to find an informational sign board and the famed petroglyphs blocked off by a wooden fence and half hidden by overgrown plant life.
The viewing area was limited in both space and views of the petroglyphs. The pictographs (located to the left of the petroglyphs), were easy to miss.
In fact, we did miss them and only noticed they existed after reading the information sign upon returning home.
Luckily, we returned a few weeks later to get an upclose view of them.
After taking a few snaps (as well as we could through the trees), we headed back the way we came to finish our day trip to Red Rock Canyon.
What type of rock images are found on the Petroglyph Wall Trail?
There are two types of images found at the Petroglyph Wall, petroglyphs (carvings in the rock) and pictographs (rock paintings).
Petroglyphs are images carved in rock, usually by pecking (with a hammerstone of harder rock) or by incision (cut or scratched with a sharp-edged stone).
Pictographs are designs that were painted onto the surface of the rock. Paint was traditionally made mixing various materials such as clays or charcoal.
Should you visit the Petroglyph Wall Trail?
What we liked:
- The trail was short and not overly crowded on the day we visited.
- There was plenty of parking at the Willow Springs lot.
- The trail was easy and suitable for all levels of fitness or hiking experience.
- On a hot day, the shade from the canyon walls will make for a cooler experience, or during the winter months it is likely to be deceptively cool in the shadows.
What we didn’t like:
- There was only one “wall” of petroglyphs with very carvings.
- We completely missed the pictographs on the wall to the left of the petroglyphs.
- The area is fenced off (appropriately so), which prevents getting close and photographing the petroglyphs. Additionally, there was foliage covering half the wall.
- The area for photographing the petroglyphs was small. You’ll need to queue if the trail is busy.
Verdict: It’s a quick stop if you’re in the park to see a tiny piece of history. We felt like it was a “check the box” activity, but worth stopping if you like petroglyphs as they are one of the easiest to get to in the Vegas area.
If you love petroglyphs and you have the time and energy, we recommend checking out the Petroglyph Trail in Sloan Canyon (just south of Vegas) for an overall better experience and the chance to see some Bighorn sheep. Alternatively, you can check out the petroglyphs at the Red Springs Boardwalk in Calico Basin which are also easy to get to.
Know before you go
- You’ll need reservations to enter Red Rock Canyon if you plan to visit between October 1 and May 31. Reservations can be made on the Recreation.gov app or you can find out more information on their website.
- The trail is less of a hike and more of a short walk to see the petroglyphs.
- Keep in mind, you will be hiking in the desert. It is recommended to follow all trail warnings when you visit:
- Flash flooding can occur during or after desert rain.
- If it rains, do not climb on the sandstone for at least 24 hours.
- Stay on the designated trails.
- Do not feed or disturb wildlife.
- Cell phone service is unreliable in Red Rock Canyon.
- Do not touch or alter the petroglyphs.
More Information for your trip to Red Rock Canyon
- Plan your visit: Top things to know about Red Rock Canyon near Las Vegas
- Best Viewpoint: High Point Overlook
- The Visitor Center: Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center
- Choose a Hike: A list of every hike in Red Rock Canyon Area
- Best Canyon: Exploring Ice Box Canyon
- Best Views: Summiting Turtlehead Peak
- Fun Scramble: Kraft Mountain to upper gateway
- Quick Hike: Calico Tanks Trail
- Find the Guardian: Guardian Angel Pass Hike
- Viewpoint: Red Rock Wash Overlook
Day Trip to Red Rock Canyon:
Interactive Map availabile here or below: