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Grapevine Canyon Waterfall
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Lake Mead NRA, Bridge Mountain Wilderness Area
Grapevine Canyon overview
Grapevine Canyon
Sign (view N from Christmas Tree Pass Road at Grapevine Road)

Overview

Grapevine Canyon is a rocky canyon in granite mountains (unusual for the Las Vegas area) with an amazing array of petroglyphs, several stands of cottonwood trees, a seasonal stream, water-sculpted narrows, and a nice little waterfall with a bathtub at about 1.7 miles out.

A good trail (a sandy wash) leads 0.3 miles to petroglyphs on cliffs at the mouth of the canyon; after that, the route boulder-hops up the canyon for another 1.4 miles to a 15-foot waterfall.

Link to map.

Grapevine Canyon
Entering the trailhead parking area (view W)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this hike is fairly safe, but for those of us used to walking on rough, almost sticky, limestone and sandstone, the water-polished granite is surprisingly slick. There is a fair bit of scrambling over and around boulders and walking on granite slickrock, so be careful when you get high enough to fall and hurt yourself.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, this is a fairly short hike, so just bring what you need of the 10 Essentials.

This hike goes into the Bridge Mountain Wilderness Area, so pay extra attention to respecting the land, and don't touch or otherwise mess with the petroglyphs.

Grapevine Canyon
Trailhead parking and toilets (view W)

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located near Laughlin, about 75 miles south of Las Vegas (7 miles west of Laughlin).

From Las Vegas, drive south towards Laughlin. From the intersection of Highway 93 and Highway 95, drive south on Highway 95, past Searchlight and Cal-Nev-Ari, for 54 miles to Highway 163 (Table 1, Site 0826). Turn left onto Highway 163 towards Laughlin and drive east for 12.8 miles to Christmas Tree Pass Road (Site 0823). Watch for a small sign indicating a left turn. This point is 6.7 miles before the bridge in Laughlin. There is no turn lane, so consider stopping on the right shoulder and waiting for traffic to clear before making the left turn.

Turning onto Christmas Tree Pass Road, signs give names and distances to points of interest, including "Grapevine Canyon Parking Area 2 miles." Drive north on the graded dirt road for 1.8 miles to a T-intersection with the Grapevine Canyon Road (Site 0824). Turn left (west) and drive west for about 0.15 miles to the parking area at the end of the road (Site 0825). Park here; this is the trailhead.

Grapevine Canyon
Trailhead parking (view W)

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 2, Waypoint 01), a trail drops into Grapevine Wash. The trail runs out for 0.27 miles to a gap in the cliffs where Grapevine Wash comes out of the canyon (Wpt. 02) and empties onto the desert flats.

There is an amazing amount of rock art on the granite cliffs on both sides of the gap. There are some nice petroglyphs at eye-level right where the trail gets to the cliffs, but there are better ones a few feet higher up the cliff and across the wash. Most of the rock art is within a 1-minute walk of the gap, but rock art is scattered up the wash. Be careful if you climb the cliffs to see the petroglyphs up close. Don't fall, and also don't climb on the petroglyphs. These are treasures from a time gone by, and all of us are responsible for taking care of them.

Link to more information and photos of the rock art here.

Grapevine CanyonTrailhead parking and trailhead (view W)

Continuing west and up the wash (including climbing through and around a thicket of wild grape and common reed) for about 0.09 miles, there is an enormous overhanging boulder in the bottom of the canyon. Just beyond the boulder, someone (probably ranchers), built a small cement dam (Wpt. 03) on a slickrock pour-over to catch water and pipe it down the canyon. The dam is not gone, but marks on the granite slickrock recall its former glory.

Use-trails continue up the canyon on both sides of the wash, but getting past a narrow granite canyon with a boulder cap is a bit easier on the north side. Above the narrow section, the canyon opens onto a nice grove of cottonwood trees (Wpt. 04).

For the next 0.75 miles or so, use-trails run up both sides of the wash, passing narrow rocky spots and slickrock granite interspersed with broad, sandy canyon bottoms with cottonwood groves. The trees attract a variety of bird species. Northern Mockingbirds, Gambel’s Quail, Ash-throated Flycatchers, American Goldfinches, House Finches, and other species nest here.

Grapevine Canyon
Trailhead (view W)

Past the last large grove of cottonwood trees (Wpt. 05), the wash runs up through a section of narrows cut into the bedrock granite (Wpt. 06). The walls are low, but the gorge is narrow, winding, and scenic.

Above the narrows, stay in the main wash (to the left; south) at the confluence of two washes. About 0.27 miles above the top of the narrows, the canyon is blocked by a 15-ft waterfall that drops into two nice bathtub pools in a little granite gorge (Wpt. 07). The outer pool, at least, is a nice place for a cold bath on a hot day, but be careful to avoid hurting red-spotted toad tadpoles if they are present.

Routes continue up the canyon, but this is a nice spot to stop, rest in the shade of the cottonwood tree, and then return to the trailhead by following the wash back down the canyon.

Grapevine Canyon
Approaching the trailhead (view W)
Grapevine Canyon
Trailhead (view NW)
Grapevine Canyon
Trailhead sign: sacred area (view NW)
Grapevine Canyon
Trailhead sign; protect America's past (view NW)
Grapevine Canyon
The trail descends into the wash (view NW)
Grapevine Canyon
In the wash, the trail heads uphill (view N)
Grapevine Canyon
Trail in the wash with blooming Brittlebush (view N)
Grapevine Canyon
Entrance to the canyon (view W)
Grapevine Canyon
Entrance to the canyon during wet spring (view W)
Grapevine Canyon
Entrance to the canyon: south side (view W)
Grapevine Canyon
South side, outside entrance to the canyon (view SW)
Grapevine Canyon
South side, inside entrance to the canyon (view S)
Grapevine Canyon
Entrance to the canyon: north side (view W)
Grapevine Canyon
North side, entrance to the canyon (view NW)
Grapevine Canyon
Continuing up the canyon (view W)
Grapevine Canyon
Lots of boulders to pass (view W)
Grapevine Canyon
First patch of Canyon Grape (view W)
Grapevine Canyon
Enormous overhanging boulder (view W)
Grapevine Canyon
Grasses and shrubs hinder travel (view W)
Grapevine Canyon
Minor obstacles (view W)
Grapevine Canyon
Stream and smooth granite (view W)
Grapevine Canyon
Stream and smooth granite (view W)
Grapevine Canyon
More minor obstacles to come (view NW)
Grapevine Canyon
Cottonwood trees (view NW)
Grapevine Canyon
Outcrops of granite
Grapevine Canyon
Desert stream (view NW)
Grapevine Canyon
Desert stream (view NW)
Grapevine Canyon
Desert stream (view NW)
Grapevine Canyon
Cottonwood trees along desert stream (view W)
Grapevine Canyon
Sculpted granite narrows (view E)
Grapevine Canyon
Top of the waterfall (view W)
Grapevine Canyon
Waterfall and bathtub (view W)
Grapevine Canyon
Bottom of the waterfall and bathtub (view W)
More to come
More to come ...

Returning to the Trailhead

Grapevine Canyon
Sculpted granite narrows (view E)
Grapevine Canyon
Heading down the canyon (view SE)
Grapevine Canyon
Passing the last of the granite obstacles (view E)
Grapevine Canyon
Approaching the mouth of the canyon (view E)
Grapevine Canyon
Approaching the mouth of the canyon (view E)
Grapevine Canyon
Passing easy granite obstacles (view E)
Grapevine Canyon
Creek flowing from mouth of the canyon (view E)
Grapevine Canyon
Creek flowing from mouth of the canyon (view E)
Grapevine Canyon
Heading down the dry wash (view E)
Grapevine Canyon
Heading down the dry wash (view E)
Grapevine Canyon
The trailhead comes into view (view E)
Grapevine Canyon
Approaching the trailhead (view SE)
Grapevine Canyon
Trail exits the wash (view SE)
Grapevine Canyon
Back to the trailhead parking area (view E)

Table 1. Highway Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Highway GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Site Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Latitude (N) Longitude (W) Elevation (ft) Verified
0823 Hwy 163 at Christmas Tree Rd 712306 3897607 35.20082 114.66796 1,952 Yes
0824 Christmas Tree Rd at Grapevine Cyn 711331 3900326 35.22553 114.67796 2,325 Yes
0825 Grapevine Canyon Parking 711079 3900353 35.22582 114.68072 2,341 Yes
0826 Hwy 95 at Hwy 163 695527 3896339 35.19280 114.85245 2,516 Yes
1219 Hwy 93 at Christmas Tree Pass Rd 693735 3904630 35.26787 114.87016 2,535 Yes

Table 2. Hiking Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Hiking GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Wpt. Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi)
01 Grapevine Canyon Trailhead 711051 3900358 2,366 0.00 0.00
02 Petroglyphs 710645 3900478 2,420 0.27 0.27
04 Trees above Rock Tunnel 710246 3900521 2,539 0.29 0.56
05 Cottonwood Grove 709415 3900850 2,680 0.67 1.23
06 Top of Narrows 709213 3900957 2,691 0.16 1.39
07 Waterfall 708780 3900963 2,751 0.31 1.70
01 Grapevine Canyon Trailhead 711051 3900358 2,366 1.70 3.40

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 180410

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