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Red Rock Canyon

Looking across Red Rock Canyon National Conservation
 Area towards the Calico Hills.

Over the past thirty years, I have visited Las Vegas as a tourist a handful of times.  Although gambling and shows have never been high on my personal priority list, the cheap accommodation and food, the mind-boggling extravagance of The Strip, and its location near such scenic wonders as the Hoover Dam, Death Valley and the Grand Canyon make it an attractive destination.

Calico Hills.

When you are staying in Las Vegas itself, there are few worthwhile running options, but at Red Rock Canyon, 25 kilometres out of town in the Mojave Desert, there are a number of trails to choose from.  After the flat monotony of the Las Vegas city landscape, it seems amazing to find such a spectacular park nearby.

Grand Circle Loop Trail, Red Rock Canyon.

My favourite run is the 18km Grand Circle Loop.  It starts from the Visitor Centre and begins climbing gradually, firstly following a dry watercourse beneath the red rocky bluffs of the Calico Hills and later across desert landscapes, occasionally crossing small dry creeks and at other times following low ridges.  In some places the running is easy and in others careful attention has to be paid on rocky technical trail.

The Grand Circle Loop trail finishes across the
 valley floor in Red Rock Canyon.

The highest elevation of about 1500m is reached at the half-way point and from there the run is mostly gradually downhill, initially below the White Rock Hills and then across the valley floor through sparse arid scrub.  The easier return running gives more chance to enjoy the expansive views back towards Las Vegas and of the surrounding rocky mountains.  A great run!

For my training today I ran an easy 5km through Copa on a balmy sunny morning.  My legs were stiff and sore from yesterday morning's run, but I didn't push the pace and it was a comfortable run.