A Fun Climb to Turtlehead Peak

On a visit to the Las Vegas area in March a few years ago, Red Rock Canyon was again the destination for another trek. Looking at the descriptions of the 19 hikes listed in the visitor guide, there was only one characterized as strenuous. The rest were described as easy or moderate. After thinking it over for a few seconds, I decided to make the 2,000-foot climb to the summit of Turtlehead Peak, a rite of passage for locals.

The first mile was an easy stroll up an old wash on the desert floor, gaining a few hundred feet in elevation. Then the work began. The next 1 ½ miles was a tough scramble climb (only intermittent trails) up the shoulder of Turtlehead Peak. The upper section of the hike was very rough with loose rock, steep exposures and many confusing side paths.

Turtlehead Peak rising above the Trailhead


Looking far down to the Trailhead


Bright lichen on sandstone rocks

The 360-degree views from the large open space at the top made the journey worthwhile. The hazy Las Vegas Valley laid out to the west. The spectacular features of Red Rock Canyon were literally at one’s fingertips. I stretched out and enjoyed the seemingly endless views while eating a PBJ and some fresh grapes.

The steep downhill on the return trip was tough on the knees. In order to stretch out the muscles some, I took a side trip almost to the Calico Tanks on the way back. It was an interesting excursion up a slot canyon requiring some modest slick-rock climbing.

All in all the hike was seven miles in length with 2,300-feet of elevation gain. Another fun trek added to the list of fond memories.  

Hazy view of Las Vegas from Turtlehead Peak

Hazy view of Las Vegas from Summit

Natural Arch

Natural abstract art


Red Rock Canyon is very popular for rock climbing

Turtlehead Peak

Las Vegas beyond the Calico Hills

Dark red and tan layers of sandstone


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