Red Rocks National Park – Enjoying the 13-Mile Scenic Drive

Some go to Red Rocks National Park for hiking.  Some for rock climbing.  All go to glance at the majestic red mountains and the stark desert landscape.  But you do not have to hike in the desert sun or be an avid climber to enjoy this beautiful park.  Red Rocks has a 13-mile scenic drive that lets you enjoy nature’s beauty from the comfort of your air-conditioned vehicle.  Check out the advantages of the scenic drive, and some of the epic views you will see, from the many beautiful vistas of Red Rocks National Park and Conservation Area

A view of the White Rock Hills and the Sandstone Quarry at Red Rocks National Park
The expansive beauty of Red Rocks National Park and Conservation Area

During my recent girls’ trip to Vegas, we wanted to see the Red Rocks National Park nearby, but the day was promising over 100+ degrees.  Sure, we would not mind a nice short hike in the shade.  But a hike in the desert, no, none of us wanted any part of that.  But Chef McKean had rented a car, and a quick online search found that there was a 13-mile scenic drive. This allowed us to drive around the park and see the sights but also gave us the comfort of the car with its air conditioning and comfortable seats. 

Woman looks out the window at the mountains in the distance
Enjoying the national park in comfort

The 13-mile scenic drive is a one-way loop that takes visitors through the park.  Most of the traffic is cars, but you can also see bicyclists, motorcycles, joggers, and walkers on the loop as well.  The road will take you through all the highlights of the protected area. There are several pullouts and parking lots in the park, that let you get out and see the main sights.  We pulled into these parking lots to take pictures and get up close to the rocks.  Many of these lots have access to climbing and hiking areas, and on cooler days, you would see the rock climbers trying their hand at these rocks. 

The Red Rocks of the Red Rocks National Park
The Calico Observation area has the titular red rocks, and is conveniently located, right off the scenic drive in an easy to access parking lot
Turtlehead Peek in the distance
You can see the Turtlehead peak in the distance
White Rock Hills in the distance, and the shrub of the dessert in front
You can see the White Rock Hills from the High Point Overlook
Sandstone quarry in the distance, with dessert shrubs in front
You also get a view of the Sandstone Quarry from the same lookout

A few tips:

  • This is the desert, and the desert can get hot.  Make sure your car is in good working condition as if you get stuck, it is a small one-way road.
  • Make sure to bring along plenty of water and sunscreen.
  • Avoid the heat of the mid-day.  Try for the morning or late afternoon if possible.
  • The road will be shut down if there is a flash flood warning or snowstorm. 
4 women in front of hills, dessert and dramatic sky
Enjoy the park with friends, and plenty of water and sunscreen

Getting into nature and hiking or rock climbing is great.  But sometimes you want to see a beautiful landscape, while comfortable and chatting with great company.  There is no shame in that as well. I did this with my girlfriends, but I could just as easily see coming back with my family and kids. Families with little ones who don’t do well on hikes would love this option to see the park in a family-friendly fashion. The Red Rocks 13-Mile Scenic Drive is perfect for those hot lazy days when you want to chat with your friends and/or family and see the sights – from the comfort of your car. 

Red Rocks National Park - Tips for Enjoying the 13-Mile Scenic Drive

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