Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
2,070.00 ft (630.94 m)
Trail type
5.00 mi (8.05 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The hike to the top of Turtlehead Peak is not an easy feat. The trial is quite strenuous; it gains about 2,000 feet in 2 miles, it has spots with unsure footing, extreme exposure to the sun, and includes some trail finding. It is highly recommended that hikers start this trail in the early morning hours (typically around 6 a.m.) to avoid being on the trail in the middle of the day. The extreme heat and dry environment of Red Rock National Recreation Area makes it very easy for hikers to get dehyrated, so be sure to bring plenty of water. 

Despite the dangers and difficulty of the hike, the views at the top are extremely rewarding and offer hikers panormic views of both the Red Rock National Recreation Area and Las Vegas. In addition, the trail itself presents a great challenge for hikers.  

The trail starts at the Calico Tanks Parking Lot. The beginning of the hike is rather level with minimum elevation gain. You will pass by the Calico Tanks, which is a beautiful and multi-colored rock formation. The trail then traverses through some desert terrain, where hikers see a lot of cacti, sand and rock. This part of the trail is well-marked and easy to follow. If you're lucky, you may experience the rare sighting of a wild burro or desert tortoise. The trail then starts up a ridge, which is where the hike begins to get difficult.  

At this point, the trail becomes very narrow, steep, and difficult to follow. There are markings on the rocks that surround the trail that give hikers a general guideline for where the trail proceeds, but the markings are rather sparse, difficult to see and, at times, very far apart from each other. The trail remains steep for the remainder of the trek and only begins to flatten out once hikers reach the summit.  The views at the top are tremendous and well-earned.  

The trek up to the top of Turtlehead Peak is difficult, but one that hikers should greatly consider when visiting Red Rock National Recreation Area. Be mindful of your footing, water, and direction, and the trail will provide you with a phenomenal experience.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

General Day Use Fee

Open Year-round



Panoramic views. Not congested.



Trailhead Elevation

3,947.00 ft (1,203.05 m)

Highest point

6,017.00 ft (1,833.98 m)


Geologically significant
Big vistas
Bird watching

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area


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