First visit to Red Rock National Conservation Area? Have young children or other entry-level hikers? Only have an hour to spend on the trail? These are all great reasons to choose the Moenkopi Loop Trail for a hike. The trail leaves from the picnic area just south of the visitor center and does a nice, easy loop through some beautiful desert country and up along a short ridge for some 360-degree views of the park.
From the picnic area, take the trail west and follow it for 0.2 miles until it forks. Either direction is fine for this loop as there are great views in all directions. Going right at the fork, the trail heads in the direction of Calico Basin and provides some nice views of the Scenic Loop Drive and the red rocks of the Calico area. Soon the trail swings south and starts up the short Moenkopi ridge. There are some nice rock formations up at the top that are actually the remnants of an ancient lake bed. Views to the south and west can be spectacular with the steep mountains and deep canyons standing in stark contrast to the flat desert below. This is a great introduction to the plants of the Mojave Desert such as cholla, barrel cactus, hedgehog cactus and creosote bush. Views to the east show the visitor center and distant glimpses of Las Vegas.
Having glimpsed the vast amphitheater of the park, the next adventure may be to drive the 13-mile Scenic Loop to get closer to the spectacular rocks.