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Redstone Dune Loop Trail
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Redstone Loop Trail
Redstone Loop Trail
Redstone trailhead (view S)


This 0.5-mile trail runs south from the Redstone Picnic Area to make a scenic loop around a large, red sandstone outcrop before returning to the picnic area. Signs along the trail provide information about the local geology. This is a nice, scenic little nature trail.

In addition to the trail, the piles of red sandstone provide a great place for families to scramble and climb around on the rocks. Even if you don't walk the trail, this is a fun little area.

Link to map.

Layered sandstone eroding back to sand

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is a safe trail if you stay on the trail. The rocks are inviting, so if you climb on the outcrops, watch your step and watch your kids.

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

Redstone Picnic Area

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located along Northshore Road in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, about 1 hour northeast of Las Vegas.

From town, drive out to Lake Mead, then drive north on Northshore Road for about 27.0 miles to the Mile 27.0 (Redstone) Trailhead. Park here; this is the trailhead.

Redstone Picnic Area
Layered sandstone eroding back to sand

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 2, Waypoint 01), the well-maintained and nearly level trail runs south-southeast towards the east (left) side of a large red sandstone outcrop (Wpt. 02). The trail runs around the east side of the outcrop to the southeast corner (Wpt. 03), loops around the back to the southwest (Wpt. 04) and northwest (Wpt.05) corners, and returns to the trailhead (Wpt. 01).

This is a scenic area where the bright red sandstone outcrops contrast with the gray limestone mountains. There are several other outcrops in the area, and the views in all directions are spectacular. Although this trail is short, and I wouldn't go out there just to hike it, trail is well worth a visit if you are out at the lake for some other reason. For example, this would be a good place to stop with out-of-town visitors who don't have the time to take a longer hike.

Redstone Picnic Area

Signs along the trail explain some of the local geologic history. You will learn that the sandstone was formed during the Jurassic (Age of Dinosaurs) when much of the southwestern United States was a hot, dry desert; much like the Sahara Desert today. The red color is rust, and different parts of the rocks rusted to different degrees, resulting in white sandstone and varying shades of pink, purple, and red. Red sand at the base of the outcrops suggests that the rocks are weathering away, perhaps starting the next cycle of erosion and sand dune building. Desert varnish on some of the sandstone faces creates a black patina on the rock.

The trail is a loop that ends back at the trailhead.

Redstone Picnic Area

If you are fortunate enough to be here after a windy day, the sand along the trail will have been smoothed out by the wind, and you will be able to see many animal tracks in the soft, smooth sand. There should be many tracks from kangaroo rats, pocket mice, lizards, beetles, and perhaps a snake. Watch for marks left by these animals as they went about their daily (or nightly) activities. Kangaroo rats have long tails and hop like kangaroos, so they leave paired footprints on each side of a tail mark. You can tell how fast they were moving by the distance between the foot marks.

Layered sandstone eroding back to sand
Southwest corner of the loop (view north)

Lizards walk on all four feet, so they leave tail tracks with lots of footprints scattered along the tail mark. Beetles leave all sorts of footprints, usually some regular pattern of closely spaced marks; these often look mechanical. Snake tracks, and you rarely see these, look like a wide, smooth, flat, continuous depression in the sand with little mounds of sand pushed up where the snake pushed against the ground while moving along. Count yourself among the lucky if you see a snake track.

Redstone Dune Trail Redstone Dune Trail
Redstone Dune Trail Redstone Dune Trail

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

Wpt. Location Easting Northing Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
01 Trailhead 723297 4013463 2,238 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 East corner 723420 4013237 2,299 0.16 0.16 GPS
03 Southeast corner 723402 4013164 2,323 0.05 0.21 GPS
04 Southwest corner 723246 4013129 2,300 0.10 0.31 GPS
05 West edge 723225 4013298 2,275 0.11 0.41 GPS
01 Trailhead 723297 4013463 2,238 0.11 0.52 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 140205

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