Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is located a few kilometers west from Las Vegas and includes 195 819 acres in Mojave Desert. Amateur and experienced geologist who visit Red Rock are impressed by its rock formations, its natural beauty and the vivid colors of the rocks. The natural forces that formed such a viewpoint took millions of years to create the masterpiece which is known today under the name of The Red Rock National Conservation Area.

Photo: Byron and Tamara

The Aztec Sandstone

The wonder cliffs in Red Rock, thousands feet high, are made of Aztec sandstone. This formation, dating from around 180 to 190 millions of years, includes dunes of lithified sand that formed a huge desert that covered a large part of the southwestern United States during the Jurassic period. The lithification is the process that turns a soft sediment into a sedimentary rock. Huge slanting stratifications, specific to the wind deposits, are the result of changes in the direction of the wind in the Jurassic dune field, and can be seen in the Aztec sandstone of the outcrops.

Photo: James Fraleigh

The Red Color

The red color of some of the Aztec sandstone outcrops is caused by the presence of iron oxide or hematite. The exposure to elements oxidized the iron mineral or rusted it, resulting in red, orange and brown-colored rocks. The iron in the regions where the rocks look reddish could have been washed by the water under the surface, where the iron oxide was never deposed.

Photo: Rojer

Iron Concretions

The red spots on the Aztec sandstone are iron concretions, where the water under the surface rushed the iron oxide around a core in the sandstone. These concretions are more resistant to erosion than the surrounding sandstone, and they erode in little balls known under the name of Indian marbles or moqui.

Photo: Rojer

Keystone Thrust Fault

When you look at the west scarp, you can see ancient Paleozoic limestone resting on top of the younger chamois and the Jurassic red sandstone. This is a result of the Keystone Thrust Fault. At the end of the Mesozoic era, around 65 million years ago, the tectonic plate started pushing in the west side of the North American plate. This caused the intrusion of the Sierra Nevada batholithe granite, which implemented buff forces in the earth's crust, pushing the old limestone east and over the younger sandstone. An upper limit of limestone served to protect the weaker sandstone from erosion during millions of years. The thrust faults can be seen here in Red Rock Canyon.

Photo: Rojer


There are 19 different trails which go in the canyons to the highest points in Red Rock Canyon. Climbing is also possible in the big rocks and in the rocky cliffs. A 20-km road awaits the cyclists for a breathtaking view. Camping is also offered, you can have information at (702) 515-5371.

Photo: Rojer

Extract of
Tour from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon

Tour from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon image circuit

Presented by : US-Trips

Directions to get there

Download the BaladoDiscovery app (for Android and iOS) and access the largest network of self-guided tour experiences in Canada.