Summary: This is one of those must-do hikes in Red Rock Canyon -- both because it is so easy and accessible, and because it's a great introduction to the diverse vegetation and rocks found throughout Red Rock. This is a nice short hike for tourists and others who want a lot of" bang for their buck". If it wasn't for climbing rocks we'd have to call this an easy trail, but people who have sore knees or difficulty with their footing say it's moderate to strenuous for them. Be prepared for the tanks (tinaja) to be dry most of the year. If we have a rainstorm or sustained snowfall & melt you might be lucky enough to see water. Tinajas are indentations in the rock (usually sandstone) caused by erosion which capture water and provide critical water source for wildlife. In spring/early summer this hike takes you past many wildflowers and blooming trees/shrubs as you walk into the brilliant red rocks & washbed (loose gravel). Many nice places to step off the trail & rest, snack.
Trailhead: 18 miles W of Las Vegas Blvd. on Charleston Ave. (SR 159) to Red Rock entry (fee) station. Take 13 mile scenic loop to the 3rd parking area past the entry station -- this is the Sandstone Quarry parking lot and it's really easy to find, go straight when the road curves sharply to the left -- there is a nice sign showing you where to park. This parking lot gets really, really full especially on weekends so go early for a place or be prepared to park further along the road and walk back to the trailhead. There are vault toilets at Sandstone Quarry pkg, but no water of any kind. Even though this is a short hike, you lose shade early so make sure and carry plenty of water. Dogs are allowed on this trail, but be sure and keep them leashed and under control as this trail gets really, really busy. Sandstone Quarry is also the TH for Turtlehead Peak & Grand Circle and there are often tour buses, rapellers, climbers & yoga classes going on -- very busy and full of people! (Lat:36.16314 Lon:-115.4393)
Trail Guides for Calico Tanks:
Keystone Hiking Trails Information
by BLM - Red Rock NCA (BLM - Red Rock NCA)
Hiking Around Las Vegas
by Jim Boone (Jim L. Boone)
Hiking Las Vegas
by Branch Whitney (Branch Whitney)
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Winter,
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs,
Ranger Contact: Red Rock (BLM) ranger at entry to NCA (fee station) 702-515-5350
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Kat Green, who has posted 86 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Page 1 of 2 Submit your own review
Reviewed by Brian Williams on 10/24/2012
Great hike all year round. Even my 6 year old daughter completed it in about an hour and went over the other side of the tanks for the awesome view of Las Vegas.
Reviewed by Kelley on 2/20/2012
Very fun. Great w/ adventerous kids.
Reviewed by Rob on 1/16/2011
This was such a great hike. Light and easy with a great reward at end. The Tank was full in January there was even a bit of snow in the shady parts.
Reviewed by Frank on 5/20/2009
Went in November 2008. Perfect weather (not too hot) and the rock scrambling required on this hike made it very interesting. The nice thing is that you can choose to make it more or less difficult by the path you take. No water in the tinaja when I was there. I am going back with the kids next time. A perfect family hike if your kids are active and older than 8 or 10.
Reviewed by Marky on 4/24/2007
This is a great hike !! I had my dog with me and he did like it too!!(Rat Terrier)Awesome view of the city !!!
Reviewed by david gorski on 1/31/2007
very nice hike. the at the end of the trail had 3 to 4 feet of water and a sheet of ice 1.5 to 2 inches thick covering half. my dog had a "swimmingly" great time in the icy bath! great views of the back of calico hills, the valley, and the strip.
Reviewed by Derek on 10/19/2006
Calico Tanks is one of the best trails at Red Rock Canyon. It is a little work to get to the tinaja, and after hiking it many times, I still find some water present and reeds growing most of the year. Carefully skirt the edge of the water and keep going up. You will be rewarded with a fantastic view of the Las Vegas valley. This trail is one of the few hikes I recommend to friends and visitors alike. Watch your step and hike safe.
Reviewed by Young on 7/1/2005
This was an awesome hike. I went today (July 1, 2005) in the summer, at 7am with four of my friends. It's a lot of climbing rocks, and that makes the hike more enjoyable. It's really an awesome opportunity to take a step higher in hiking. The view at the end is just phenomenal, very pretty, with frogs and tadpoles. The tank is rather large too. The only negative aspect of the hike was the spiderwebs/cobwebs I kept running into. However, the hike was probably one my personal favorites at Red Rock Canyon.
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