Located in the heart of Calico Basin, you’ll find the famed Red Spring Boardwalk near the famed Red Rock Canyon in Nevada. A quick 0.5 mile loop, this trail boasts gorgeous views of Calico Basin, petroglyphs, wildlife, and at times, a lush meadow full of plant life.
Suitable for all ages, this location is frequently used as a jumping off point for hikers and climbers, as well as for wedding ceremonies, picnics and an easy way to see the renowned Calico Basin.
Looking for more day trip ideas to Red Rock Canyon? Here’s a great 1-day itinerary.
Red Spring Boardwalk
|Trail Location||Red Spring Picnic Area, Red Spring, Las Vegas, NV 89161|
|Parking Lot||36.14716747620383, -115.4183736449402|
|Round Trip Mileage||0.5 miles|
|Average Time||< 1 Hour|
|Elevation Gain||~50 feet|
|Best time to visit||Fall, Winter, Spring. The trail is accessible year-round.|
|Entrance Fee||Currently free (December 2022), however, there is discussion to make this a fee area in the future.|
|Park Info/Closures||Red Rock Canyon|
|Amenities||Restrooms, Picnic area. No drinking water is available.|
What is the Red Spring Boardwalk trail like?
The boardwalk is a mostly flat trail constructed from Trex which is suitable for all ages and abilities, including strollers or wheelchairs. The trail starts off at an incline with gentle switchbacks until you reach the main meadow area. It proceeds to traverse around the Red Spring area in a loop before returning to the picnic area and parking lot.
Any attire (including flip flops) would be suitable for the trail. Sun protection including a hat and/or sunglasses are recommended on sunny days.
What makes the Red Spring Boardwalk special?
The Red Spring area is considered a “desert oasis.”
The area has been providing lush vegetation, food and a permanent water source to local wildlife and people for thousands of years.
Many of the plants in the meadow are considered to be “water spenders.” These plants freely utilize water year-round as it is plentiful and can grow quickly to maximize growth.
In the land surrounding the Red Spring, you’ll also find plants that are considered “opportunists” and “water savers.” The opportunists lay dormant during much of the year, but grow rapidly in times of rain, whereas the savers conserve water in their spines and leaves throughout the year (i.e. cacti).
Depending on when you visit, you will find a wide variety of plant life through the Red Spring area.
What to expect on the Red Spring Boardwalk trail?
We arrived on a weekday to find the parking area mostly full, but luckily snagged a spot. The trail is located on the western most point of the Red Spring parking area (also known as Calico Basin parking lot).
You’ll pass by a reservable picnic area, restrooms, and many informational sign boards as you make your way up the path to the main area of the spring.
The boardwalk reopened in November 2019 after the new construction of the refurbished Trex path was completed.
It’s a well-constructed wide path with plenty of benches and informational signs boards throughout the loop.
There are several points of interest you’ll want to be sure and see while you’re in the area:
First up, is the view of Kraft Mountain and Turtlehead to the north. The best view can be found on the northern part of the Red Spring loop.
Second, you’ll want to check out the petroglyphs on the western most part of the loop. The petroglyphs are carved into large boulders and easily viewable from the boardwalk.
Lastly, you can see a small cave where the Red Spring flows on the southwestern tip of the loop.
If you’re there during the spring, you may miss the cave due to the overgrowth of the plant life. We missed it the first time we visited.
It is typically viewable in the late fall and winter months.
What are the red colored spotted rocks?
As you continue to traverse the boardwalk, you will notice many brightly colored sandstone rocks. These unique rocks are referred to as “Aztec Sandstone” and began to form 180 million years ago. As water mixed with the red sand dunes that were found in much of the Southwest, the grains were cemented into sandstone.
The red spots on the rocks are formed from Iron Oxide (rust), which accumulates in the sandstone to form a variety of shapes and can be found in many parts of Red Rock Canyon.
Should you visit the Red Spring Boardwalk?
Rating: 4.0 Mooses
What we liked:
- The Red Spring Basin parking area is a jumping off point for several hikes in the area, including Guardian Angel Pass, Red Spring Ridge Trail, and the Girl Scout Trail. You could also get to Kraft Mountain (though there is a better parking lot nearby).
- The mountain views surrounding Red Spring are amazing to look at.
- It’s an easy place to view petroglyphs and if you’re there in the right season, a lush meadow with lots of greenery.
What we didn’t like:
- For whatever reason, the metal railing is full of static electricity and packs quite a shock! Every time we touched it; we got a little jolt.
- Many visitors did not respect the rules of the boardwalk and continually walked on the fragile ecosystem off the official trail.
- It can get busy as the Calico Basin area is currently fee free (though this is likely to change in the future).
Verdict: A perfect stop to cap off your tour of Red Rock Canyon. We’ve been to the area twice and plan to visit again soon.
More Information for your trip to Red Rock Canyon
Red Rock Canyon (within the park on the scenic loop)
- Frequently asked questions about Red Rock Canyon
- Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center
- Quick Stops:
Calico Basin (entrance is currently free)
- Red Spring Boardwalk (Picnic area / photo spot, short walk and jumping off point for other hikes).