8. Las Vegas: Red Rock Canyon and Seven Magic Mountains Trip
The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Clark County, Nevada, is about 15 miles west of Las Vegas (pickup starts from 7 AM), and is easily seen from the Las Vegas Strip. The conservation area showcases a set of large red rock formations, a collection of sandstone peaks and walls called the Keystone Thrust. The walls are up to 3,000-feet high, making them a popular hiking and rock-climbing destination. The highest point in the park is La Madre Mountain at 8,154 feet.
A 13-mile loop road provides vehicle access to many of the area's interesting features, while the side roads bring visitors to many of the area's trails. A visitor center marks the start of the loop road, which also contains a popular route for bikers, beginning with a moderate climb and then continuing downhill or on flat terrain. Red Rock Canyon is a side-canyon accessible only by an unmaintained off-road from the scenic loop.
State Route 159 cuts through an unnamed but often-visited valley; it is commonly, but mistakenly, referred to as Red Rock Canyon. The Wilson Cliffs, or Keystone Thrust, a massive wall of rock, can be seen to the west from SR 159. Toward the southern end of the National Conservation Area are Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, Bonnie Springs Ranch, which includes a replica of a western ghost town, and the village of Blue Diamond.
Internationally renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone’s Seven Magic Mountains is a large-scale, site-specific public art installation located near Jean Dry Lake and Interstate 15, approximately 10 miles south of Las Vegas, Nevada. Comprised of seven towers of colorful, stacked boulders standing more than 30-feet high, Seven Magic Mountains is a creative expression of human presence in the desert, Seven Magic Mountains punctuates the Mojave with a poetic burst of form and color.
Seven Magic Mountains was produced by the Nevada Museum of Art and Art Production Fund. The exhibition opened May 11, 2016, and was originally scheduled to be on view for two years. Due to the incredible success of the piece since its opening, artist Ugo Rondinone has expressed a strong desire to keep the artwork on view at its current site. At the end of 2018, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a three-year permit extension for the artwork, allowing the installation to remain on view through the end of 2021.