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Rings Loop Trail
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Mojave National Preserve
Rings Loop Trail
Rings Loop Trail
Rings Loop Trailhead at Visitor Center (view SE)

Overview

This easy, 1.5-mile loop trail starts at the Visitor Center and circumnavigates Banshee Peak. The trail wanders east and south down a sandy wash, heads west around the south side of Banshee Peak, turns back to the north, climbs up through the Hole-in-the-Wall cleft (Banshee Canyon) using the ringbolts (Rings Trail), and then follows the road for 0.2 miles back to the Visitor Center. There are some interesting petroglyphs along the trail in the southeast corner of the loop.

Although easy, this trail requires a 3rd-class scramble up the ringbolts in Banshee Canyon, which is somewhat awkward and not suitable for all hikers.

Link to map.

Rings Loop Trail
Rings Loop Trailhead

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is a pretty safe hike except that hikers could fall on the steeper, 3rd-class sections of the Rings Trail. Ringbolts provide hand- and foot-holds, but hikers could fall as much as 10 feet if not being careful. Watch the kids at the overlook. The ringbolts are a bit awkward and require some balance and agility, especially the upper set.

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 is a short hike, be sure to bring what you need of the 10 Essentials. Please don't touch the petroglyphs - oils on your hands will damage the artwork.

Rings Loop Trail
Direction sign at Rings Loop Trailhead

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located in Mojave National Preserve, about 2 hours south of Las Vegas.

From town, drive out to the Mojave National Preserve, Hole-in-the-Wall Visitor Center (Table 1, Site 0502), which is about 85 miles from town. Park here; this is the trailhead.

Rings Loop Trail
Trail sign at Rings Loop Trailhead

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 2, Waypoint 01) in the southeast corner of the Visitor Center parking lot, the trail runs east and down along the wash. This part of the route runs parallel to the Visitor Center access road. Shortly, the route arrives at a barbed-wire fence (Wpt. 02). After squeezing through the gate, the route drops into and runs down the wash. In this cool, north-facing area, the vegetation is relatively lush. Remember this, and later compare it with the hot, south side of the hill.

Staying up against the base of the hills, the wash curves around the corner and bends south. There are some nice California Barrel Cactus along this east-facing hillside.

Rings Loop Trail
Starting down Rings Loop Trail

The route leaves the wash along the southeast corner of the hills and starts to turn the a corner, curving to the west. A sign adjacent to large boulders at the corner announces some amazing petroglyphs (Wpt. 03). Enjoy and photograph the ancient art work, some of which may be as much at 10,000 years old, but don't touch. Oils on your hands (the same oils that leave fingerprints) will damage the artwork. Link to photos of more petroglyphs at this site.

Turning the corner, the trail heads west across desert flats. This part of the route runs parallel to Wild Horse Road. Notice the sparse vegetation here; some of this is due to over-grazing by cattle and horses, but much is due to the hot and dry conditions on this south-facing slope.

Still staying against the base of the hills, the route begins bending north as it passes an old road and traditional camping area.

Rings Loop Trail

Following the wash north along the base of the hills, the route runs north and approaches Banshee Canyon. The trail stays along the base of the cliffs, eventually reaching a trail junction with the Barber Loop Trail (Wpt. 04).

Staying right at the trail junction, the trail follows the wash up into Banshee Canyon (Wpt. 05). Watch for the cleft on the north (left) side of the canyon, which is the Rings Trail. A cleft to the right is impassable to mere mortals.

Ascend the Rings Trail to the road (Wpt. 6). For details of this section, which might be the more interesting part of the loop, see the description of the Rings Trail.

The trail follows the road around to the right for 0.2 miles back to the Visitor Center, completing the loop.

Rings Loop Trail
Trail follows edge of wash
Rings Loop Trail
Gate through barbed-wire fence
Rings Loop Trail
Trail drops into wash (view SE)
Rings Loop Trail
Desert Cottontail hopping down the wash
Rings Loop Trail Rings Loop Trail
Rings Loop Trail
Trail runs south in wash (view S)
Rings Loop Trail
Approaching SE corner of the hillside (view S)
Rings Loop Trail
Hiker arriving at petroglyph site (view SW)
Rings Loop Trail
Info sign at petroglyph site (view SW)
Rings Loop Trail
Hiker viewing rock art on largest boulder (view W)
Rings Loop Trail
Inside rock shelter (view SE)
Rings Loop Trail
Bighorn sheep petroglyph [more photos]
Rings Loop Trail
Inside rock shelter (view SE) [more photos]
Rings Loop Trail
Trail begins to turn west onto south side of the hill (view W)
Rings Loop Trail
Looking back at rock wall between boulders
Rings Loop Trail
Trail runs west on south side of the hill (view W)
Rings Loop Trail
Summit of Banshee Peak (view W)
Rings Loop Trail Rings Loop Trail
Rings Loop Trail
Trail passes through gate in barbed-wire fence
Rings Loop Trail
Trail begins to wrap around the the north (view NW)
Rings Loop Trail Rings Loop Trail
Rings Loop Trail
Trail approaching Banshee Canyon (view N)
Rings Loop Trail
Rings Loop Trail
Trail sign (view N; Barber Peak trail turns left)
Rings Loop Trail
Trail sign (view N)
Rings Loop Trail
Trail starting up into Banshee Canyon
Rings Loop Trail
Hikers approaching Banshee Canyon Slot
Rings Loop Trail
Historic check dam from the cattle ranching days (view N)
Rings Loop Trail
Historic check dam from the cattle ranching days (view N)
Rings Loop Trail
Hiker beginning 3rd-class scramble up Banshee Canyon
Rings Loop Trail
Hole-in-the-Wall cleft (view NE)
Rings Loop Trail
Lower ring-bolt ladder (view W)
Rings Loop Trail
Ring-bolt
Rings Loop Trail
Hiker climbing lower ring-bolt ladder (view W)
Rings Loop Trail
Hiker climbing lower ring-bolt ladder (view W)
Rings Loop Trail
Upper ring-bolt ladder (view W)
Rings Loop Trail
Hiker climbing Upper ring-bolt ladder (view W)
Rings Loop Trail
Hiker climbing Upper ring-bolt ladder (view W)
Rings Loop Trail
Hiker arriving at Ring Trail Trailhead (view W)
Rings Loop Trail
Picnic Area road leads back to the visitor center (view SE)
Rings Loop Trail
Road to visitor center (view SE)
Rings Loop Trail
visitor center (view SW)
Rings Loop Trail
Returning to the trailhead (view SE)

Going Around the Loop the Other Way

Rings Loop Trail
Bottom of the Rings (Banshee Canyon) Trail
Rings Loop Trail
Trail runs south along base of Banshee Peak (view S)
Rings Loop Trail
Trail runs east along base of Banshee Peak (view E)
Rings Loop Trail
Trail runs north along base of Banshee Peak (view NE)
Rings Loop Trail
Trail runs west along base of Banshee Peak (view NW)
Rings Loop Trail
Trail runs west back to the trailhead (view NW)

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

Site Location Latitude (°N) Longitude (°W) UTM Easting UTM Northing Elevation (feet) Verified
0502 Hole-in-the-Wall Visitor Center 35.04262 115.39514 646380 3878748 4,260 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) Verified
01 Trailhead 646466 3878677 4,213 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 Gate 646645 3878571 4,192 0.14 0.14 GPS
03 Petroglyphs 646596 3878296 4,163 0.20 0.34 GPS
04 Trail Junction 646020 3878753 4,163 0.62 0.96 GPS
05 Bottom of Cleft 646079 3878812 4,182 0.06 1.02 GPS
06 Rings Trailhead 646177 3878898 4,256 0.17 1.19 GPS
01 Trailhead 646466 3878677 4,213 0.26 1.45 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 151227

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