Featured Road Trip: Las Vegas

Featured Road Trips is a new column intended to give detailed beta on the drives to popular climbing destinations outside Colorado. Knowing the best places to get gas, good food, camp, and climb along the way can make all the difference on a long drive. We hope others will add to this info and we can create a comprehensive community resource for all the road warriors out there.

Red Rocks is one of the premier climbing areas in the United States, with everything from single pitch sport climbs to some of the longest trad routes in the country. Slabs, cracks, overhangs, and a range of grades from 5.easy to 5.hard make it appealing to a wide variety of folks. The drive from western Colorado is relatively easy, as you are on interstate the entire time, and you only cross one stretch of mountainous terrain that can present weather-related driving challenges. Here’s our simple guide to getting the most out of your next Vegas road trip.

Best Stops Along the Way

Green River – The stretch after Green River is one of the most desolate in the west, with 110 miles to the next gas and services, so unless you have a fancy hybrid that can go 100’s of miles on a single tank, you’ll probably want to refuel here. Food options are pretty limited, as there is a Subway by the exit,and a Blimpie at the gas station in town.

Cedar City/Saint George – If you stopped in Green River, you’ll probably want to stop here, or go a little further to Saint George. You’ll have more dining options in Saint George, although we admittedly haven’t spent much time exploring non-fast food joints in Cedar City. 5 Buck Pizza looks promising, offering a medium pie with unlimited toppings for only $5. Saint George is home to the ever popular In-N-Out Burger, and also one of the funkier coffee shops around, Jazzy Java, which serves up tasty caffeinated beverages as well as delicious food.


While this is a fairly simple drive to do in a single push, sometimes you get a later start than you’d like and you need a good place to crash for the night.

San Rafael Swell – Just west of Green River, this huge swath of BLM land offers numerous free camping options.

Fishlake National Forest – This is the stretch after the Swell, where you drive over some mountains. Consult a map for the best access to public land.

Parowan Gap – 15 minutes off I-15, about 20 miles north of Cedar City, this area offers free camping, and climbing too. See below for more info on that.

Walmart – For those who don’t know, Walmart allows free car camping in their parking lots. This is better than your average commando hotel parking lot because it’s ok if you go in and use the bathroom, and many are open 24 hours. Here are some key Walmarts along the way:

Grand Junction

Cedar City

Saint George

Climbing Areas

Most of us are strapped for time and usually try to get where we are going as quickly as possible. That being said, if you have the time there is a plethora of climbing between here and there. Here are some of the more notable spots:

San Rafael Swell
About 30 minutes north of I-70 is some of the best Wingate crack climbing outside Indian Creek. Sunny walls and a range of grades make this a good spot for just about anyone. It’s also very scenic and rarely crowded. There is limited info on Mountain Project, and plenty of exploring to do.

This is sport climbing on cobbles that are similar to Maple Canyon, a mere 20 minutes off I-15. See the Southwest Utah guidebook for more info.

Saint George
This town has it all, from Red Rocks style sandstone to some of the steepest limestone in the US.

Virgin River Gorge
The Puoux’s big brother, right off I-15. The climbing tends to be difficult and techy.

Local’s Beta

It’s the little things that make all the difference and here are a few nuggets we’ve picked up from our time there.

Urban Crag – Most visitors to Red Rocks know that if it rains you should really give the rock 24 hours to dry out, or you risking breaking off holds and possibly ruining a climb forever. It seems that few actually follow that advice, much to the dismay of the locals who will have to deal with destroyed routes long after we have all gone back home. So what to do the day after a storm when the sun is shining and you are jonesing to crush some rocks? Head to the Urban Crag, a funky little limestone cliff right on the edge of town. It boasts about a dozen routes from 5.7 to 5.12 on featured limestone. It’s fairly sheltered and gets sun until mid afternoon, and it’s only a 5 minute approach, about 5 minutes off I-15. There are a few other limestone outcrops in the vicinity, beta is available at Desert Rock Sports on Charleston.

Food Deals – One of the great things about climbing in Red Rocks is how you can go into town and get good food at places like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, etc. Some might dig the cheap buffets, but you’d probably get more nutrition from dog food. Anyway, we discovered two great deals last time we were there. One, the Whole Foods on Charleston has a deal with$1 tacos on certain days. The other was two for one drinks at Starbucks. Food and caffeine, and you are ready to roll!

Cheap Tickets – Most of us don’t go to Red Rocks to experience Vegas, but it is fun to spend a least one night on the strip, pretending to be a big shot or the guy in the movie 21. Most shows are pretty pricey, but Tix4Tonight offers big discounts on same day tickets, and is your best bet for a low cost evening on the Strip.

Feel free to add your own beta below, we’ll incorporate into this list to help create the best resource possible for road tripping to Vegas!


4 Responses to Featured Road Trip: Las Vegas

  1. Samurai Sam’s on W. Charleston, great cheap eats!

    D Brown January 1, 2011 at 11:58 pm
  2. Whenever we pass through Saint George we have to stop at the Orange Peel. A must do if you like Bubble Tea (Boba) or Smoothies. http://www.theorangepeel.biz/

    Luke January 3, 2011 at 9:19 pm
  3. If you have a minute to eat in Green River, the West Winds Truck Stop and Restuarant has great trucker food. The chicken fried steak is incredible. Ray’s Tavern in the middle of town has great burgers and beer on tap. It’s a river rat favorite.

    LKepsel January 14, 2011 at 3:45 pm
  4. I am going there in Feb.. so psyched!! This info helped. Thanks BJ!

    Katrin December 14, 2011 at 7:53 pm
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