In The Desert
Content including photographs are Copyright © 2018 - Present - Don & Linda Gilmore
Redstone Picnic Area
Lake Mead Nat'l Recreation Area, Nevada
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Story/Photos by Tom Garrison
Those of us a certain age may remember the Redstone rocket, a workhorse of the American space program in the 1950s and early 1960s. A Redstone variant launched America's first orbital satellite, Explorer 1, in 1958. In 1961 a Mercury-Redstone rocket boosted Freedom 7 carrying Alan Shepard into a suborbital flight-the first American in space.
While hiking around the Redstone Picnic Area may not be quite as exciting as a trip into space, it ain't bad for a terrestrial adventure. A quick check of the map shows Redstone Picnic Area is located off Northshore Road which roughly parallels Lake Mead. Cruising along admiring the stark mostly gray, brown, and tan desert you come upon a series of massive red rock outcroppings. Lucky for you they are at mile marker 27, the Redstone Picnic Area and trailhead. A ready-made easy hike among giant red monoliths.
If this could be you, then follow my wife Deb and me on our latest adventure to Redstone Picnic Area located approximately half way between Las Vegas and Overton off Northshore Road.
The Redstone Picnic Area hike is located in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The nearly 1.5 million acre recreation region, administered by the National Park Service, follows the Colorado River corridor from the westernmost boundary of Grand Canyon National Park to just north of Laughlin. The hike is free, and no permits are required.
The trail also enters the 39,173 acre Pinto Valley Wilderness Area. The wilderness, located on the north side of Lake Mead, is dominated by rugged hills, deep narrow canyons, red sandstone outcroppings, and scenic valleys. People have lived in and passed through the wilderness region for at least 4,000 years, leaving rock art panels, roasting pits, rock shelters, and stone flakes.
View to the south at Redstone Picnic/Hiking Area - March 2018 / Photo by Tom Garrison
Deb and I left our home in St. George early on a chilly early March morning (temperature in the mid-40s) and drove south on Interstate 15. At Exit 93 we followed State Highway 169 south through Logandale and Overton. At the Valley of Fire turnoff, continue south on Northshore Road. Approximately 38 miles later you arrive at Redstone Picnic Area.
The picnic area has ample parking, covered picnic tables, pit toilets, but no drinking water. The trailhead, elevation 2,155 feet, is at the south end of the parking area. As we began our adventure, the temperature was in the low 60s with a chilly wind under hazy sky.
The well maintained and nearly level trail begins by skirting the east (left) side of a large red sandstone formation. It continues for approximately 1/2 mile in a loop returning to the parking area. Signs along the trail provide information about local geology. We took advantage of ample opportunities to scramble among the red rock formations. The view from the summits are spectacular-red sandstone islands in a sea of grey limestone mountains.
Being adventurous, and needed more than an easy 1/2 mile hike, we broke away from the trail and headed west to a long line of easily accessed red hills. Off the main trail, be careful for the routes are littered with small rocks ready to trip the unwary. We threaded our way around and across several of the outcroppings.
These, coupled with the formations on the formal trail, provide scores of fascinating small caves, niches, and nooks-a natural playground. It is amazing what wind and water erosion can accomplish on Jurassic era (age of the dinosaurs) relatively soft sandstone in a hundred million years or so. While we left the maintained trail to the west, there are interesting-looking hills southeast of the parking area that we explored on the way back to the trailhead.
Odd shaped red sandstone formations at Redstone Picnic / Hiking Area - March 2018 /
In all, we spent about 1 1/2 hours and traveled a little less than two miles in this red monolith wonderland. In contrast to the increasingly popular Valley of Fire State Park about 20 miles to the north, this is an adventure for those who desire splendid solitude-we only saw one small group of hikers in the distance during our trek.
After our exploit, we finished the day in a Mesquite casino celebrating our hike with drinks, gambling, and a late lunch. What a day.
This is a well worth it day trip, especially in winter. It is an easy hike, with rock scrambling if you are a bit adventurous. If only for a few hours, escape the cold and rocket into the Redstone Picnic Area.
Redstone Picnic/Trailhead Map
View a larger more detailed map --
This story was first published March 7, 2018 by the Moapa Valley Progress. Reprinted here with permission from the author - Tom Garrison. Other scenic areas abound on Rt. 167 also. Thanks to Tom Garrison for bringing this one to our attention.
Visit - Valley of Fire State Park
An avid hiker for more than 25 years, Tom's latest book, Hiking Southwest Utah and Adjacent Areas, Volume Two was awarded 2nd place in the non-fiction category of the League of Utah Writers published book contest. It is avialable at Amazon.com and the Desert Rat outdoor store in St. George, Utah. He can be reached here --