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Rainbow Spring Road
Backroads Around Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Rainbow Spring Road
Rainbow Spring Road
Lovell Canyon Rd at Rainbow Spring Rd (view N)

Overview

Rainbow Spring Road is an unmaintained backcountry road north of Highway 160 (the road to Pahrump) on the west side of the Spring Mountains that provides access to Rainbow Spring, Bootleg Spring, Little Zion, and the wild backcountry of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The road is 3.1 miles long and runs west from Lovell Canyon Road towards the back of the Red Rock Escarpment. the road starts in Mojave Desert Scrub vegetation, but quickly gets into the Pinyon-Juniper Woodland.

Rainbow Spring Road is suitable for high-clearance vehicles, but some parts are a bit soft, and hikers with 2WD might want to stop at Bootleg Spring rather than Rainbow Spring. Camping is permitted near the beginning of the road on USFS land, but not at the end of the road inside Red Rock Canyon NCA.

Link to map.

Rainbow Spring Road
0.57 miles out

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about driving in the desert, ...this is a fairly good road. Under the best conditions, the road should be passable for carefully driven sedans, weather permitting, but parts are a bit soft. Near Lovell Canyon Road, the area is used for illegal target shooting, so don't get too far off the road in that area if you hear gunshots.

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

Rainbow Spring Road
1.26 miles out

Getting to the Roadhead

This road ends in Red Rock Canyon NCA, but on the west side of the mountain range. From town, drive out to Red Rocks. From West Charleston at the entrance to the Scenic Loop Road (Table 1, Site 0519), continue west on Charleston Blvd (Hwy 159) all the way past Blue Diamond town to Highway 160 (Site 0848). Turn right onto Highway 160, towards Pahrump, and drive west and over the mountains.

About 3 miles past the town of Mountain Springs, turn right onto Lovell Canyon Road (Site 1013). Watch for highway signs. Drive north on Lovell Canyon Road for 1.0 miles to an unsigned dirt road on the right (Site 1014). This dirt road is U.S. Forest Service Road 45537F (Rainbow Spring Road), and it leads to Rainbow and Bootleg springs.

Rainbow Spring Road
Entering Red Rocks; 1.80 miles out

The Road

From the pavement (Site 1014), Rainbow Spring Road runs east. In the first 1/4-mile, there are a number of campsites, pullouts, multiple roads, and other apparent roadways, but the main road stays to the right. Past the first 1/4-mile, there is only one road.

At about 0.4 miles out, a dirt powerline road to the north marks the boundary of the Rainbow Mountain Wilderness Area. Beyond the powerlines, everything on the left side of the road is designated Wilderness.

At about 1.9 miles from the pavement (Site 1015), the road leaves U.S. Forest Service land (Spring Mountains NRA) and enters BLM land (Red Rock Canyon NCA), although the sign might be a bit onto USFS land.

Rainbow Spring Road
2.07 miles out

Although not legal, the road passes a traditional campsite on the left at about 2.30 miles out.

At about 2.83 miles out, the road passes a short spur road to Bootleg Spring. For drivers who found the road challenging, especially near this point, stop here and walk the rest of the way as the road deteriorates rapidly past here because of water running in the roadway.

Continuing another 0.3 miles, Rainbow Spring Road ends at a narrow spot in the canyon (Site 1071) at a post-and-pipe fence. Park here; this is the trailhead.

Rainbow Spring Road
2.72 miles out
Rainbow Spring Road
2.98 miles out
Rainbow Spring Road
Fence at the end of the road (view NE)
Rainbow Spring Road
Sign at the fence: area closed to vehicles (view NE)

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

Site Location Easting Northing Elevation Latitude (N) Longitude (W) Verified
0519 Charleston Blvd at Scenic Loop Entrance 642120 3999525 3,681 36.13183 115.42059 Yes
0848 Hwy 160 at Blue Diamond Rd 647933 3988875 3,169 36.03498 115.35801 Yes-2
1013 Hwy 160 at Lovell Canyon Rd. 629717 3986740 4,643 36.01833 115.56049 GPS
1014 Lovell Canyon Rd. at Rainbow Spring Rd. 630234 3988179 4,825 36.03124 115.55451 GPS
1015 Rainbow Spring Rd. at UFSF-BLM Boundary 632830 3989327 5,155 36.04123 115.52551 GPS
1071 Rainbow Spring Trailhead 634157 3990503 5,496 36.05165 115.51059 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 170318

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