Summary: It's not one of the most spectacular hikes in Red Rock Canyon - but Ice Box Canyon is a good choice on a hot day, as part of the trail is through a shaded and cool canyon.

On a fairly warm Spring day, Ice Box Canyon is my pick of the many hikes in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area near Las Vegas. I’ve done a few hikes in this area over the years, and most are fairly exposed. The signposted Ice Box Canyon trail is exposed for much of its length too, but at least offers some shade towards the end.

The trail heads west as it crosses the Red Rock Wash, crossing the SMYC Trail (which stands for the “Spring Mountains Youth Camp,” a long-term correctional facility for young men, who in partnership with the US Forest Service undertake trail maintenancew) and the Dale’s Trail. This part of the trail is Ice Box Canyon trail is signposted and easy to follow.

As the trail gets closer to the canyon opening, there’s an upper trail to the right and a lower trail to the left. Take the upper trail, which offers some nice views back towards the carpark, Calico Hills and Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive.

The trail soon enters the canyon; it’s much cooler here, with Ice Box Canyon rarely receiving direct sun.

There’s no longer a trail from here – you just need to find a route through the boulders that fill the bottom of the canyon (the best path is normally to the left of the larger boulders). There’s some easy scrambling and it’s a bit slow-going, but it’s the most fun section of the hike.

As the canyon narrows, a rock ledge on the left takes you to the base of the tall cliff – and seasonal waterfall – that marks the end of Ice Box Canyon.

Although it’s quite an impressive sight looking up at the high canyon walls on both sides, the hike would be even better after some rain, when the falls are flowing (but avoid this hike after a storm, as you can get flash floods through the canyon).

It’s possible to scramble a bit further up the end of the canyon – but it’s much easier going up than down!

The wide ledge makes a nice spot for a break here before heading back the same way – although it can get pretty busy (we encountered five hiking groups, and that was mid-week). The carpark often fills up by mid-morning on a weekend. The actual distance hiked was 3.4 miles (5.5km) – a fair bit further than the official length of the trail wnd what’s suggested by the map.

Getting to the Ice Box Canyon Trail

The Ice Box Canyon trailhead is located near the end of the one-way Scenic Loop Road in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, about 1 hour west of Las Vegas. The carpark and trail are signposted.

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