birdandhike.com logo
Home | Wilderness | Hiking | Red Rocks | Backroads
Wildhorse Loop Road
Backroads Around Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Wildhorse Loop Road
Wildhorse Loop Road
Hwy 160 at east end of Wildhorse Loop (view NW)

Overview

Wildhorse Loop Road is an unmaintained backcountry road north of Highway 160 (the road to Pahrump) that provides 4WD access to the wild backcountry of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area at the base of the Red Rock Escarpment. Wildhorse Loop Road makes a horseshoe-shaped loop, both ends of which require 4WD, although the east end is worse. The rest of the road is fine for high-clearance vehicles.

Wildhorse Loop Road is 2.9-mile loop that runs through the desert between Mustang Hill and the Red Rock Escarpment. Camping is not permitted along the road.

Link to map.

Wildhorse Loop Road
First "bypass," such as it is, requires 4WD (view NW)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about driving in the desert, ...this is a 4WD road. Under normal conditions, the road is suitable for any 4WD, but I would stay off the road if it is muddy.

A ravine about 0.2 miles out, another ravine about 1.1 miles out, and a 0.2-mile-long section of soft gravel near the end of the road normally require 4WD vehicles, but otherwise a 2WD-HC vehicle is fine. The ravines are somewhat easier to cross while driving outbound than when coming back (if not completing the loop).

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.

Wildhorse Loop Road

Getting to the Roadhead

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 for 5.0 miles. Watch for the paved Late Night Trailhead Parking area, which is 0.3 miles before Wildhorse Loop Road, and a large, green sign (Passing Lane 1 Mile) sits on the right just before the turnoff.

A paved roadway apron, a cattle guard, and a gap in the roadside fence on the right side of the highway mark the beginning of Wildhorse Loop Road (Site 1090). There is no sign.

Wildhorse Loop Road makes a "loop" of sorts. The west end of the loop (Site 1089) returns to Highway 160 about 0.7 miles farther up the highway.

Wildhorse Loop Road

The Road

From the pavement (Site 1090), Wildhorse Loop Road runs northwest angling away from the highway. Bike trails and closed roads crisscross near the highway, but the winding Wildhorse Loop Road generally is obvious as it bends to the left and then to the right.

At only 0.20 miles out, the road arrives at the edge of a steep ravine. Road conditions here change, but sometimes continuing straight is either great fun or folly, and a bypass winds around to the left and drops into the ravine. The "bypass," such as it is, would require 4WD to climb back out. At the bottom of the ravine, another bypass climbs out to the left. Other times, continuing straight is the easy route and both bypasses are washed out. Stop at the edge, survey the options, and use your good judgement.

Wildhorse Loop Road

At 0.35 miles out, the Wildhorse Loop Road passes a short spur road to the right. The spur road runs out only 400 feet to the northeast and ends at nothing, so the purpose of the road is unclear, as is the willingness of the BLM to leave it open.

At 0.65 miles out, the Wildhorse Loop Road dips into another ravine. The road straight out is quite steep and dug out, but a bypass runs around to the left.

At 0.96 miles out, the Wildhorse Loop Road passes Lone Grapevine Road on the right (Site 1085). Lone Grapevine Road runs northeast and connects to Black Velvet Road.

Wildhorse Loop Road

At 1.09 miles out, the road passes a small parking area (Site 1086) on the left, dips steeply into another ravine, and climbs straight out the other side. Trying to come back this way, climbing out of this ravine would be a problem in a 2WD-HC vehicle, so some hikers heading towards Lone Grapevine Spring or Wooden Fence Spring park here and walk the remaining 0.1 miles to the Lone Grapevine Trailhead and 0.3 miles from Wooden Fence Spring Trailhead.

At 1.19 miles out, the road arrives at Lone Grapevine Trailhead Parking (Site 1075). This parking area provides access to Lone Grapevine Spring, Wooden Fence Spring, and miles of mountain bike trails. The road condition becomes more rocky beyond this point.

Wildhorse Loop Road
Second bypass (view NW)

The road bends hard to the left at the Lone Grapevine Trailhead and runs southwest to another parking area where the road again bends hard to the left and runs southeast. The road passes a third parking area (Site 1092) that provides the shortest trail access to Wooden Fence Spring.

The road generally runs south from there with a few rocky spots, but it is still a fine high-clearance road. At about 2.08 miles out, the road passes a traditional camping area off to the right, and although it obviously gets use, camping here is illegal.

Wildhorse Loop Road
Intersection with Lone Grapevine Road (view NW)

Beyond the campsite, the road bends to the left to run southeast. At about 2.26 miles out, the road dips steeply into the last ravine, but a bypass runs around to the right.

At 2.42 miles out, the road arrives at a somewhat confusing 5-way intersection (Site 1987). The two roads to the left are closed, but they obviously get illegal use. Wildhorse Loop Road bends to the right, sometimes is signed, and is the most heavily used road.

Continuing to the right, the road runs southwest along the edge of a bluff overlooking a broad wash, then gradually drops into the wash. The road can get rougher as it approaches the wash, depending on the recent flooding history, and deteriorates into a 2-track road.

Wildhorse Loop Road
Road (view NW)

At 2.55 miles out, the road drops into the gravel wash and turns very hard to the left to run northeast down the wash. There is no road here, just tracks in the soft gravel for about 0.2 miles. The tracks tend to the right, but the best route is not always obvious. The tracks eventually cross the wash to the right and climb onto firm ground on the other side. In a 2WD vehicle, the soft gravel in the wash would make me nervous about getting stuck. For people in 2WD vehicles driving the other direction, there is a parking area on the south side of the road just before it enters the wash.

In another 0.1 miles, for a total of 2.89 miles, Wildhorse Loop Road arrives a Highway 160 (Site 1089) where another asphalt apron, cattle guard, and gap in the roadside fence mark the end of the adventure.

Wildhorse Loop Road
2WD parking for Lone Grapevine Spring trails; steep downhill ahead
Wildhorse Loop Road
Lone Grapevine Spring trailhead parking (view NW)
Wildhorse Loop Road
Road (view S)
Wildhorse Loop Road
Road (view S)
Wildhorse Loop Road
Road (view SE)
Wildhorse Loop Road
Intersection with closed roads (view SE)
Wildhorse Loop Road
Road drops into broad wash (view SW)
Wildhorse Loop Road
Road runs on loose gravel in wash (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 Longitude 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
1072 Late Night Parking 641416 3986150 3,930 36.01139 115.43080 GPS
1075 Lone Grapevine Trailhead Parking 639480 3986554 4,036 36.01531 115.45221 GPS
1085 Lone Grapevine Rd at Wildhorse Loop Rd 639781 3986369 4,056 36.01360 115.44891 GPS
1086 Wildhorse Loop Rd at 2WD Parking 639604 3986478 4,040 36.01460 115.45085 GPS
1087 Wildhorse Loop Rd at 5-way intersection 639799 3984924 4,327 36.00057 115.44896 GPS
1088 Wildhorse Loop Rd at Wash 639723 3984734 4,358 35.99887 115.44983 GPS
1089 Hwy 160 at Wildhorse Loop Rd (west) 640188 3984900 4,251 36.00030 115.44465 GPS
1090 Hwy 160 at Wildhorse Loop Rd (east) 640960 3985735 4,056 36.00772 115.43594 GPS
1091 Wildhorse Loop Rd at Side Rd 640552 3985890 4,080 36.00917 115.44044 GPS
1092 Wooden Fence Spring Parking 639382 3986267 4,096 36.01274 115.45335 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 150127

Backroads Hiking Around Las Vegas Glossary Copyright, Conditions, Disclaimer Home

 

Google Ads