Calico Basin to Brownstone Canyon

[tab:Overview]

Activity: Hiking, Scrambling

Location: Red Rock Canyon NCA

Time on Trail: 4 hrs 30 mins

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 6.5 miles

Elevation:

Trailhead

From Las Vegas, take Charleston Blvd/ Hwy 159 west towards Red Rock. Turn right on Calico Basin Rd and follow it back through the community to the parking are at the end of the road.

Highlights

This hike starts in the Calico Basin, climbs to the saddle revealing views of Turtlehead Peak, drops into a wash, connects to Gateway Canyon, and ultimately opens into a very cool trek through white sandstone to the ultimate perch above Brownstone Canyon. The hike is well worth it if you want sweeping views of the entire Las Vegas valley. Great photo opportunities around every corner.

Trail Description

We head up the left saddle which seems to be the more grueling scrambling section, then down the wash to Gateway Canyon. A left into the canyon takes you up a loose wash for a short stretch before the scrambling begins. This scrambling section includes about a half dozen dry waterfalls, one that is about 20 feet high and can be climbed if you have the skills (but I think it’s pretty sketchy).

Gateway canyon makes a sharp turn left and opens to a very cool area with tons of white and red rock. It’s easy to move here but trail finding can be a bit tricky. A short push through the maze brings you to the cliffs above Brownstone Canyon and the views of the canyon and Las Vegas are well worth the effort. Take it in and enjoy a snack and some fluids.

We retraced our path back down Gateway Canyon but continue down the wash past where we entered. A trail emerges on the right that is well marked that heads up the side of the hill and ultimately leads to the other saddle. From here, you can see all of Calico Basin again and Bridge Mountain, Rainbow Mountain, and Mt Wilson in the background. One of the best views in Red Rock if you ask me! It takes 30 minutes to get down to the trailhead from here.

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[tab:Notes]
This is a great loop and one of my favorite in Red Rock. This is an extension of the basic Calico Basin Loop by way of Gateway Canyon. It’s hard to beat the view of Las Vegas from the cliffs above Brownstone Canyon.

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I'm the founder of Vestor Logic, the digital strategy and web design firm that created Trail Sherpa, ParksFolio, and Modern Steader. I'm a day hiker, top chef in camp, doting husband, and father to two headlamp wearing boys. My work in digital media brings those experiences to life.

  • Greg

    We've done this hike in reverse. Less severe climbing. 6.5 miles round trip and not too bad if you can handle Class 3 and can route find over Brownstone Ridge. Park at the bouldering trailhead on the north end of the road in Calico Basin. Hike east along the trail to Gateway Canyon, but instead of going left into Gateway continue to the low saddle of Brownstone ridge to the northeast. Hike over the top and travel west over to Brownstone Wash. From there, it is a 2 mile hike on sandy soil to the Brownstone Basin. You'll know your there when you get to the cable gate. Petroglyphs lie on the west side of the first outcrop you get to. Several more, including the main panels are scattered about the base of the wash on the south side. Several agave roasting pits guide the way. If you are good at route finding and bouldering, return to Calico over the top of Brownstone. If not retrace your steps the way you came in.

  • Great addition to the report Greg. I’ve seen some of the agave roasting pits, like the one near Sandstone Quarry, but missed the petroglyphs. I’ll have to check them out next time. Thanks for adding to this report. It’s a great one for Red Rock first-timers.

  • Great addition to the report Greg. I’ve seen some of the agave roasting pits, like the one near Sandstone Quarry, but missed the petroglyphs. I’ll have to check them out next time. Thanks for adding to this report. It’s a great one for Red Rock first-timers.

  • Great addition to the report Greg. I’ve seen some of the agave roasting pits, like the one near Sandstone Quarry, but missed the petroglyphs. I’ll have to check them out next time. Thanks for adding to this report. It’s a great one for Red Rock first-timers.

  • Great addition to the report Greg. I’ve seen some of the agave roasting pits, like the one near Sandstone Quarry, but missed the petroglyphs. I’ll have to check them out next time. Thanks for adding to this report. It’s a great one for Red Rock first-timers.

  • Great addition to the report Greg. I’ve seen some of the agave roasting pits, like the one near Sandstone Quarry, but missed the petroglyphs. I’ll have to check them out next time. Thanks for adding to this report. It’s a great one for Red Rock first-timers.

  • Great addition to the report Greg. I've seen some of the agave roasting pits, like the one near Sandstone Quarry, but missed the petroglyphs. I'll have to check them out next time. Thanks for adding to this report. It's a great one for Red Rock first-timers.

  • Do you have maps of this hike?  I’m new to hiking and I love going over the saddle.  Thanks a bunch!