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Redstone Discovery Loop
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Redstone Discovery
Redstone Discovery
Mile 25.8 Trailhead and direction of travel
(view SW from parking)

Overview

This 3-3/4 mile route runs south from the highway to make a scenic loop through a large area of red sandstone outcrops, squeezes through a slot canyon, and climbs to overlooks with views into Pinto Valley, the namesake for the Pinto Valley Wilderness Area, from vantage points atop red sandstone crags.

This route requires considerable 2nd-class route finding and a bit of 3rd-class scrambling in the sandstone where the "landmarks" all look alike. Hikers can simply wander into and out of this area, but following any described path is only possible by going with a guide or by following GPS waypoints. Therefore, this route is described as an orienteering course where hikers follow GPS waypoints rather than landmarks. Be sure to print out the map, grab a compass, and load up the GPS before heading out on this hike.

Link to map.

Redstone Discovery

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is an off-trail route that leads into rugged territory. While the rocks are inviting, always watch your step and be extra careful when high enough to fall and get hurt. Lost hikers need only walk downhill to find the pavement.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, be sure to bring the 10 Essentials. Cell phones do not work. This hike goes into the Pinto Valley Wilderness Area, so pay particular attention to respecting the land.

Redstone Discovery

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. From the intersection of Lakeshore Road and Northshore Road, drive north on Northshore Road for 25.8 miles to the Mile 25.8 Trailhead, which is on the north side of the road. Park here, this is the trailhead.

Redstone Discovery

The Hike

From the parking area, the hike crosses the road and runs 80 yards east on the pavement to the trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01) on the south side of the highway. Watch for a faint use-trail that runs off a low ridge and down into a wash, then angles southeast and away from the pavement.

In the wash, or following an intermittent use-trail, the route runs up the wash through low red mudstone hills. The route splits (Wpt. 02) to begin the loop, although the left (return route) is hard to see. Stay to the right as the use-trail leaves the wash runs up a low ridge, eventually climbing over the higher ridgeline above and out onto gray limestone soils (Wpt. 03) and continues south towards a red sandstone crag.

Redstone DiscoveryWash leading away from the trailhead

At the east edge of the crag (Wpt. 04), scramble through a cleft in the crag and out the other side. Beneath the northwest face of the crag, notice an eye in the rock through which the sky can be seen.

Leaving the sandstone crag (Wpt. 05), the route runs southwest across gravel soils and eventually drops into the bottom of a canyon (Wpt. 06) where the walls are towering red sandstone crags. In the wash, the route runs generally southeast, eventually climbing out of the canyon (Wpt. 07) and regaining the gray desert flats beyond (Wpt. 08).

Redstone Discovery

The route continues southwest, eventually arriving at a rocky overlook (Wpt. 09) where the land ahead falls away and provides grand views into Pinto Valley. Dropping off the overlook to the northwest, the route circles around to the head of a steep chute (Wpt. 10), then drops between towering sandstone walls onto a broad platform with scattered flat-topped boulders (Wpt. 11) seemingly intended for sitting and enjoying the view.

From the sitting rocks, the route continues southeast along the base of the cliffs that tower above. Generally staying high, the route passes the mouth of a box canyon (Wpt. 12), then continues south, still staying high along the base of the cliffs to a corner (Wpt. 13).

Redstone Discovery
The route splits to start the loop (Wpt. 02)

The route turns the corner (Wpt. 13) and climbs northeast towards a low saddle upon which sits an enormous boulder (Wpt. 14). Passing the boulder, a broad hidden canyon is revealed. Continuing into the canyon, the route runs northeast and passes great examples of "Indian marbles," small round sandstone balls formed when water moves through the solid sandstone and minerals (probably iron) precipitate around a nucleus and glue together the grains of sand. During surface erosion, the concretions erode more slowly than the surrounding rock, resulting in marbles that will be a hiking hazard farther along the route.

The route runs through the hidden valley, then bends to the left into a narrower slot canyon. When the canyon appears to end (Wpt. 15), the route turns hard to the right and scrambles up a 3rd-class pour-over, which actually still is the main wash.

Redstone Discovery
Approaching the first sandstone outcrop

Above the pour-over, the route enters a long, narrow canyon running southeast that eventually opens into a broad area drained by a sandy wash (Wpt. 16). The route follows the wash down through deep and very tight narrows (take you pack off tight; Wpt. 17) before emerging into the sunshine at the far end (Wpt. 18). Be sure to examine the varnished wall adjacent to the exit slot.

From the exit, the route runs onto the sandstone heading south until arriving at a highpoint on gray gravel soils (Wpt. 19). The route then begins heading south and east, generally staying on desert soils and and avoiding the red sandstone. Looking over the hillside, it becomes apparent that there are pour-overs and water pockets in the canyon below that would have blocked the route (Wpt. 20).

Redstone Discovery
Northeast face of the first outcrop

Staying more-or-less on gray gravel soils, the route continues southeast and climbs onto a highpoint (Wpt. 21) overlooking the entire sandstone area as it spreads out to the north. This is essentially the south-most point on the route.

Beyond the overlook, the route descends to the northeast, finds a gully (Wpt. 22), and drops through heading north. Before long, a gap (Wpt. 23) in the right sandstone wall permits passage to the northeast. Running through the gap, the route runs out onto gray desert soils and skirts around the south side of the sandstone (Wpt. 24; Wpt. 25) before crossing a wash and climbing onto a low dirt saddle (Wpt. 26).

Crossing over the saddle and following down between sandstone crags provides easy access to the desert flats below.

Redstone Discovery
Looking back at the first outcrop

Continuing generally northwest, the route turns up a side canyon (Wpt. 27) and begins running northeast across desert flats on a use-trail. The use-trail eventually runs up the edge of a canyon (Wpt. 28), then descends to the south before curving back around the the northeast and dropping into a major wash (Wpt. 29).

This was is followed almost back to the trailhead, but a pour-over (Wpt. 30) must be passed on the left. Beyond the pour-over, the route drops immediately back into the wash, but it might be easier to just stay above the wash until the low ridge runs naturally back into the wash.

Continuing down the canyon, the wash eventually makes a hard bend to the left, cutting through white and yellow mudstones. On turning the corner, a bank of red mudstones lies ahead (Wpt. 31). At that point, the route exits the wash to the left, climbs over a low saddle, and rejoins the original route (Wpt. 02) in a small wash. The wash flows north and back to the trailhead (Wpt. 01).

Redstone Discovery
Approaching the second sandstone outcrop ...
Redstone Discovery
while turns out to be a sandstone canyon
Redstone Discovery
Wash in the sandstone canyon (Wpt. 06)
Redstone Discovery
Exit from the sandstone canyon (Wpt. 07)
Redstone Discovery
Pinto Valley overlook (Wpt. 09; view into Pinto Valley)
Redstone Discovery
Pinto Valley overlook (Wpt. 09; view of route)
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Steep descent chute (Wpt. 10)
Redstone Discovery
Near sitting rocks (Wpt. 11; view back up route)
Redstone Discovery
Sitting rocks (Wpt. 11; view into Pinto Valley)
Redstone Discovery
Redstone Discovery
View ahead
Redstone Discovery
Looking back
Redstone Discovery
Looking back (route stays against cliffs)
Redstone Discovery
Corner (Wpt. 13), looking towards saddle
Redstone Discovery
Hidden Valley (Wpt. 14)
Redstone Discovery
Indian marbles
Redstone Discovery
Route appears to exit canyon ahead, but turns right at Wpt. 15
Redstone Discovery
Long, narrow canyon
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Emerging onto open area (approaching Wpt. 16)
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Entering narrow slot (Wpt. 17)
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Narrow slot (Wpt. 17)
Redstone Discovery
Narrow slot (Wpt. 17)
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Exit from narrow slot (Wpt. 18)
Redstone Discovery
Crossing sandstone
Redstone Discovery
Looking back
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Skirting the sandstone (Wpt. 20)
Redstone Discovery
Southern overlook (Wpt. 21; view north)
Redstone Discovery
Gap (Wpt. 23) in the sandstone permitting passage to the NE
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View N from a highpoint
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Atop low saddle (Wpt 26; view north)
Redstone Discovery
Crossing desert soils (near to Wpt. 27)
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Top of slope (Wpt. 28)
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Main wash (view N)
Redstone Discovery
Main wash (view N)
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Main wash (view E; approaching exit, Wpt. 31)
Redstone Discovery
View from a highpoint looking towards trailhead

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) Verified
01 Trailhead 721398 4013553 2,116 0.00 0.00 Yes
02 Start of Loop 721540 4013343 2,136 0.22 0.22 GPS
03 Desert Flats 721526 4013215 2,170 0.09 0.31 GPS
04 Near Edge of Sandstone 721482 4012922 2,254 0.22 0.53 GPS
05 Far Edge of Sandstone 721409 4012834 2,259 0.09 0.62 GPS
06 Bottom of Canyon 721357 4012676 2,230 0.12 0.74 GPS
07 Climb out of Canyon 721451 4012524 2,288 0.15 0.89 GPS
08 Desert Flats 721413 4012529 2,310 0.03 0.92 GPS
09 Pinto Valley Overlook 721290 4012375 2,318 0.15 1.07 GPS
10 Top of Chute 721265 4012394 2,305 0.03 1.10 GPS
11 Sitting Rocks 721291 4012246 2,195 0.12 1.22 GPS
12 Box Canyon 721321 4012196 2,166 0.04 1.26 GPS
13 Corner 721330 4012086 2,180 0.09 1.35 GPS
14 Enormous Boulder 721372 4012101 2,205 0.03 1.38 GPS
15 Base of Pour-Over 721495 4012374 2,251 0.22 1.60 GPS
16 Wash 721569 4012212 2,288 0.15 1.75 GPS
17 Slot 721517 4012145 2,282 0.06 1.81 GPS
18 End of Slot 721480 4012109 2,259 0.03 1.84 GPS
19 Highpoint 721476 4012059 2,298 0.04 1.88 GPS
20 Edge of Outcrop 721524 4012014 2,320 0.06 1.94 GPS
21 Highpoint Overlook 721639 4011967 2,358 0.10 2.04 GPS
22 Top of Gully 721675 4011984 2,346 0.04 2.08 GPS
23 Gap 721648 4012065 2,331 0.07 2.15 GPS
24 Edge of Sandstone 721759 4012154 2,379 0.10 2.25 GPS
25 Edge of Sandstone 721843 4012161 2,342 0.07 2.32 GPS
26 Low Saddle above Gully 721872 4012216 2,352 0.04 2.36 GPS
27 Side Canyon 721803 4012401 2,325 0.13 2.49 GPS
28 Edge of Canyon 721928 4012490 2,338 0.11 2.60 GPS
29 Wash 722059 4012554 2,277 0.12 2.72 GPS
30 Pour-Over 721951 4012766 2,227 0.17 2.89 GPS
31 Exit Wash 721645 4013334 2,144 0.56 3.45 GPS
02 Start of Loop 721540 4013343 2,136 0.07 3.52 GPS
01 Trailhead 721398 4013553 2,116 0.22 3.74 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 130124

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