Keystone Thrust

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Las Vegas + Southern Nevada, Nevada

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Keystone Thrust


  • White Rock Trailhead is the beginning of the Keystone Thrust hike.- Keystone Thrust
  • Crossing a wash before beginning the climb to Keystone Thrust.- Keystone Thrust
  • 0.2 mile in, leave White Rock Trail and turn onto the Keystone Thrust Trail.- Keystone Thrust
  • Looking back at views over the Red Rock Canyon National Recreation Area.- Keystone Thrust
  • First views of Keystone Thrust.- Keystone Thrust
  • Marked by the colored stone, this is the exposed point of tension for two tectonic plates.- Keystone Thrust
  • Stone formations at Keystone Thrust.- Keystone Thrust
  • Trail across Keystone Thrust.- Keystone Thrust
Overview + Weather
Unique visible geologic occurrence.
No shade.
Las Vegas + Southern Nevada, NV
Pets allowed: 
Yes, with restrictions
Net Elevation Gain: 
380.00 ft (115.82 m)
Parking Pass: 
General Day Use Fee
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Fall
Total Distance: 
2.20 mi (3.54 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
4,862.00 ft (1,481.94 m)
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

The Keystone Thrust Trail is a out-and-back trail within the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area that leads to a geologically significant exposed area of two different tectonic plates.

The hike is about 1.1 miles one way, and it gains about 400 feet in elevation. It leads through a shadeless area of Red Rock with scenic views of surrounding ridges and a distant portion of the Las Vegas skyline before arriving at the thrust.

Jutting out red in color, a contrast to the surrounding gray mountains and ridges, the Keystone Thrust allows one to see exposed sections of the Pacific and North American continental plates. While most plate movement takes place deep underground, it is possible to step from one plate to the other here. The impact between these two plates are what formed the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the west, along with what formed the landscape of Red Rock Canyon.

It is possible to walk around the thrust area, where a stream may trickle or run, depending on seasonal conditions. The hike, though short, does have a pretty steady climb and can get very hot during the summer. The trail continues beyond the thrust, though it soon ends on an adjacent ridge.

From the thrust, return the way you came back to the White Rock Parking Area. 

Visitors will find a vault toilet and interpretive signs at the trailhead.

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Updates, Tips + Comments

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Field Guide

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(30 within a 30 mile radius)

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