Hike Turtlehead Peak Trail
|In This Guide|
|Distance||5 miles (8.1 km)|
|Hike Time||3-4 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||2,070 feet (631m)|
|Highest Elevation||6,017 feet (1834m)|
|Fees & Permits||Park Entry Fee|
|Park Contact||Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area|
One of the best hikes in Red Rock Canyon, the Turtlehead Peak hike is tough but rewards you with sweeping 360 views of Las Vegas and the surrounding La Madre mountains. The trail to Turtlehead Peak the shortest peak hike in Red Rock Canyon park, so be prepared for a workout and some crowds. It’s worth it, the views are incredible.
How To Get To the Turtlehead Peak Trail
The Turtlehead Peak Trail is located in the popular Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. It’s about 35 minutes from the Las Vegas strip and a great option if you need a break from the city. There’s a fee to enter Red Rock Canyon, or you can use a National Parks Pass to get in for free.
The trailhead address is: Sandstone Quarry Overlook, Las Vegas, NV, 89161, USA.
When you first enter Red Rock Canyon, the Visitor’s Center is worth a stop. They have interpretive displays that explain the geology and wildlife. They have some nice exhibits and a decent gift shop with hiking books, water, and snacks. There are also bathrooms here.
The Red Rock Canyon road is a 13 miles one way loop. The Turtlehead Peak Trail is a few miles in, and there are many other trails you can do as well (guides to some of the best ones are at the end of this guide). Even if you don’t do other hikes, I recommend stopping at some of the scenic overlooks. You could easily do the better part of a day at Red Rock Canyon.
When planning your visit, my advice would be to come early. This is one of the most popular hikes in the park and can get crowded.
I wouldn’t bring small (or inexperienced) children on this hike. The Turtlehead Peak trail is tough, climbing about 2000 feet in 2 miles. And the chute section is really tough, with stretch where you do about 700 feet in a half of a mile.
What You Need For The Hike
Turtlehead Peak is in the Mojave Desert, and it can get very hot in the summer and surpassingly cold in the winter, especially at the summit. The summit is often windy too, so having layers for the top is smart. Bring 2L of water and a snack for the summit. Trekking poles are also helpful for the steep descent.
Here’s the gear that I personally use, have tested, and recommend for this hike*.
My best lightweight pack for hikes between 3-10+ hours. I use mine with the 3L water bladder from Osprey.
You can text, SOS, and get weather in the backcountry where your cell phone doesn’t work. Literally a life-saver.
Modern materials mean you get the protection of a traditional hiking boot (waterproof, etc.) with feel of a sneaker.
If you’re not using poles yet, you should be. This model takes a beating, is light, and is super comfortable.
I use a light inner toe sock and then a top-quality outer sock to prevent blisters.
Probars are great: no preservatives, vegan, low-GI, compact, and tasty. Put good fuel in your body.
Make sure you have all the right gear before hitting the trail!HikingGuy Best Gear List
* No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an REI link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.
What to Know Before You Hike
- Native Americans have been in this area since 11,000 BC. Today the Southern Paiute call this area home. There are also some petroglyphs in the park, which are kept hidden to stop vandalism and theft.
- On the lower slopes of this hike you’ll see some interesting sandstone formations. If you want to explore them, check out the Calico Tanks Trail hike.
- Red Rock Canyon became a protected area in 1967 and in 1990 became a National Conservation Area, managed by the BLM. 2 million people visit every year. On some days it feels like they’re all there on the same day as you.
- The rocks you see have an interesting history. Turtlehead Peak is much older than the sandstone that’s below, but a tectonic shift 66 million years ago thrust the older stone (and peaks) up higher.
- Red Rock Canyon is home to some interesting wildlife, including wild burros and desert tortoise. On the hike to Turtlehead Peak you’ll often see ground squirrels, and maybe if you’re lucky, bighorn sheep on the upper slopes.
- Turtlehead Peak isn’t the highest point in the park; that honor goes to La Madre Mountain at 8,154ft. But Turtlehead Peak is the highest peak within the park that you can hike to.
Turtlehead Peak Trail Maps
Hike Turtlehead Peak Trail Map Downloads
Download the Hike GPX File
View a Printable PDF Hike Map
Turtlehead Peak Hike Directions
Don’t be surprised if you see struggling tourists on the trail. The hike is popular with inexperienced hikers who go to the visitor center, get a map, and go for it.
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Turn by Turn Hike Directions
Update from Eli S.: New orange and white blazes mark the way up. and are easier to spot that the worn blazes in the pictures below. Thanks Eli!
Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.