Sloan Canyon, Nevada

Sloan Canyon, Nevada

Where? Near Las Vegas in Henderson Nevada. Here are some very exact directions:

Nawghaw Poa Road, the 0.7 mile access road, is paved with a paved bike trail, and there is a nice visitor contact building in the parking area. Parking area: N(latitude) 35.91635 W (longitude) 115.12514

Nawghaw Poa Road is only open when the contact station is open. Hours are 8:00-4:30 Friday-Sunday during summer and open 8:00-4:30 all week during winter. Call (702) 515-5350 to confirm that the road is open. The rest of the area is always open, and when the road is closed, hikers and bikers can use the road to get to the trailhead.

What is it? This is a National Conservation Area (NCA) administered by the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM). This protected area includes amazing petroglyphs listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This area consists of a few trails, a lot of desert and the main attraction-petroglyphs!

Trail Length? The main trail is marked from the parking area. You follow it around and it curves towards the hillside, not towards the suburbs and is a 4 mile out and back trail.

(The McCullough Hills Trail (also on this property), is something I read about and wanted to do. It’s an 8.2 mile trek and it’s recommended between the months of October and May. With it being July, we opted out- Ha! Like that was the only reason. There are several other trails on the property (6 total), but we only hiked the main trail.

How hard are we talkin’? The hardest thing about this hike is the complete exposure to the elements. There are no trees to speak of, or shade. You should pray for cloud coverage, wear a hat, sunscreen and take a backpack with plenty of water. For 4 miles out and back, I would take no less than a gallon per person. I took more.

It’s considered moderate, although it’s almost completely flat. Sand. Loose sand makes this trail a little cumbersome, like walking on the unpacked part of a beach. There are 3 small scrambles up a dry waterfall bed, with the last being a little challenging depending on your fitness level. It’s maybe an 8 foot climb on the final ascent, buy it’s sloped with plenty of hand/foot holds.

Why go here? I feel like I always say this, but it’s true every time I say it: We were the only people on the property. We went late on a Friday afternoon (I’m pretty sure) and literally saw no one. We did see lots of lizards, a Desert Tortoise, several Black Tailed Jack Rabbits with insanely long ears, a Chuckawalla-he was so fat, a Side Blotched Lizard, a ton of Long-Tailed Brush Lizards and a road runner-they’re so small! Besides the abundance of wildlife, the trail leads you up a waterfall! It was a dry waterfall, but I’d love to see it in action. Actually, if the bottom falls out, they tell you to move to higher ground asap, so I’d likely not be walking through a waterfall. The Petroglyphs are unbelievable. I don’t know their age, but I can tell you they are completely amazing!! You can kind of figure out what some of them are and why the Indians put them there. All over the rocky side of the canyon (you aren’t supposed to walk up these rocks) there are Petroglyphs of (sometimes) recognizable things. One area had a lot of drawings of snakes, mountain goats, lizards, etc. It could have been meant as a warning-“Don’t walk this way” or a sign-“food is this way”. I have no idea, and I’m obviously no expert. The petroglyphs will be on the right side of the trail once you scramble to the top of 3 small areas which are part of the dry waterfall. You will round a corner and to your right for the next 100 or more yards, you will see petroglyphs on the hillside. They ask that you not touch them, take them home, carve into them, etc. All obvious things.

Best time to go? I suggest October 1st-May 31st 8:00am-4:30pm everyday, outside of these months, days and hours are limited. Check out this site for tons of helpful information: http://birdandhike.com/Hike/Sloan/Trailheads-Sloan/TH-SloanCyn/_TH-SloanCyn.htm

Other Details: I posted a picture of myself on social media, holding a Desert Tortoise-I love any kind of turtle. Someone who works for Sloan Canyon posted a comment stating that desert tortoises often go long periods of time with no water, therefore they hold water in their bladder for a long period of time. They sometimes empty their bladder in a response to a life-threatening situation. This could be a death sentence for these animals. Basically, don’t pick them up.

Resist the urge to climb to the top of the steep, rocky hillside. It’s further than you think, full of snakes and other critters, and they ask that you not contribute to any type of destruction of this natural area full of petroglyphs.

Leave no trace: We saw not a single piece of trash, not even a footprint on our visit. Please do your part to help keep it that way!

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