Calico Tanks Trail in Las Vegas

When you think Vegas your first thought might not be stunning mountains and diverse wildlife – well, some sort of wildlife, maybe – but just a few minutes out of the city you’ll find just that in Red Rock Canyon.

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I’ve been in Vegas for over a decade (on a side note, get me out) and have had lots of time to explore the hikes and sights of Red Rock. I just revisited one of my favorites and it reminded me why it’s always my go-to when introducing visitors to the canyon: Calico Tanks Trail.

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I like hikes with a big pay-off, and Calico Tanks delivers with amazing views of the Las Vegas Strip and a little swamp-like “tank” full of frogs and birds and dragonflies and bees and wasps and – well, the list gets less pleasant as it goes on but from a distance it’s a remarkable sight in the otherwise dry desert.

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The hike itself is classified as Moderate but honestly it’s very accessible thanks to the stone stairways that have been constructed throughout the trail. It’s about 2.5 miles there and back but it feels shorter because the scenery changes frequently.

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Go early in the morning and you’ll catch a lot of animals hopping about. I became a wildlife photographer with zero talent because literally anywhere I pointed the lens something was either flying or scuffling into my view.

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Here’s a picture of a mountain pigeon.
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Couldn’t get a clear picture of the smallest frog alive, but I sure got a ton of blurry ones!
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Dragonflies look uglier the closer you get.
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This one is my favorite. The bright blue contrasted so well against the red rocks. National Geographic you getting this?

At the very end of the hike you can see the Strip in the distance. It was a bit smoggy the morning I came here but I can imagine on clearer days you’d get the type of views you use for your laptop screensaver.

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All in all, Calico Tanks is an enjoyable and diverse hike. It’s a little different from any other Red Rock hike and that makes it perfect for newbies and veterans alike who want to see all the beautiful secrets the desert has to offer.

That last line was cheesy but really it’s a good hike.

-Zach

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