The traditional class 3 route to the summit, which is discussed in further detail in the route section, entails, as Andy Zdon describes it, "a virtual obstacle course" across incredible limestone and sandstone terrain to the magnificient summit, where wonderful views of the Red Rock area await. Although I've come across several Red Rock NCA routes possessing more of an obstacle course-like nature, the traditional Bridge Mountain route is a lot of fun and does have a sort of playground feel to it.
Near the summit, if one explores around enough or knows where to look, can be be found several tinajas, which are natural catch basins in the sandstone. These tinajas tend to hold water the majority of the year and one of them, located only a short distance NE of the "bridge" is of considerable size and depth.
Also located near the summit is a hidden forest. Nestled high up in the sandstone, a small, but spectacular, grove of ponderosa pines tucked away there make a great camping spot.
Getting to the summit of Bridge Mountain via the traditional route from Red Rock Summit requires a high clearance vehicle, good route-finding skills, and the ability to travel across exposed class 3 terrain. Despite these deterrents (or perhaps, because of them), Bridge Mountain is, at one time or another, on every Vegas-area hiker's/climber's to-do list.
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From Charleston Blvd. and highway 215 in Las Vegas, take Charleston Blvd. (Highway 159) west for about 5 miles until you reach the entrance to Red Rock Canyon NCA. Once inside the park, follow the main loop road to the Willow Springs turnoff (just before mile marker 8). Follow the paved road for about 1 mile until it turns into a dirt road. Although passenger cars can continue for another 1/2 mile or so, the road quickly deteriorates and a high clearance vehicle, at minimum, will be necessary for the duration. Continue on the dirt road for about 5 miles until you reach Red Rock Summit, which is an obvious pass between limestone ridges. On the left, you will find adequate parking for 5-6 vehicles and a sign designating the trailhead.
On 7-22-12, Bob Sihler added:
"The driving directions on the page make it sound as though it is about 6.5 miles from the Scenic Drive to Red Rock summit, but I clocked it a week ago at 5.1. Also, there is no longer a sign at Red Rock Summit.
I mention this because there is a possibility that not knowing it could get someone unfamiliar with the location in trouble. Because the sign is not there, one might pass Red Rock Summit at 5.1 miles and think it is the beginning of yet another dip before climbing to the true summit 1.4 miles later. The danger is that less than a mile from RR Summit, the road becomes so nasty that it would be difficult for someone in a stock SUV or truck to get through, and a stubborn or foolish person might get stuck or incur serious vehicular damage in trying to continue to where he thinks the trailhead will be."
On 11-29-06, MoapaPk added:
"For those coming from CA, it might be easier and faster to take Lovell Canyon road, then approach Red Rock Summit from the SW. This is the route described in the DPS guides.
From the intersection of routes 382 and 160 (west side of Pahrump), drive 29 miles east on rte 160, to the Lovell Canyon Road. Turn north on the paved Lovell Canyon Road and drive 7.7 miles. Turn right (east) on a dirt BLM road, and drive up as far as you can. (This road first goes straight for a short distance, the crosses a wash, curves radically NNE, then radically S, then heads east again, all within the first 0.25 miles!) Park and walk up the road to Red Rock Summit, where a marked trail leads east to Bridge. The first part of the trail is easy to follow. However, once you hit the sandstone, watch for cairns.
The SW end of the Red Rock Summit road has deteriorated much since the DPS guide was issued, and I wouldn't drive my Subaru more than 1.5 miles up. A true high-clearance vehicle might be able to go 0.5 or so miles farther, but after that, there are extremely rough washouts in a few places. I saw some 4WD tracks, but probably from a short-wheelbase, HC jeep; I also saw lots of broken car parts and boulders with nasty scrapes."
Red TapeA $5 entrance fee is required to enter Red Rock NCA.
When To ClimbThe mountain can be climbed any time of the year, although winter snows can make the dirt road to Red Rock Summit virtually impassable to vehicles. If you hike up the dirt road to the trailhead, the rest of the route is perfectly doable in winter, although close attention should be paid for the presence of ice along the more exposed portions of the route. Unfortunately, these more exposed portions are difficult to protect in the event of ice.
If attempting routes other than the one from Red Rock Summit in the winter, icy exposure on the sandstone cliffs and ledges can be treacherous and is to be taken seriously.
Also be cautious when climbing the mountain during or after a rain. Moisture on the sandstone can make it very slick.
CampingBackcountry camping is allowed above 5000 ft (with permit). Although there are no established camping areas within the RRCNCA scenic loop area, the Red Rock Canyon Campground is nearby and accepts walk-ins. To get to the campground, head east two miles on Hwy 159 from the park's entrance station to Moenkopi Road and turn south. The campground entrance is located one mile south of Hwy 159 on Moenkopi Road.
Mountain ConditionsFortunately, the Las Vegas area has fantastic weather. In the odd chance there could be nasty weather, I suggest contacting the Red Rock Canyon NCA Visitor's Center (702-515-5350) for current info.
- Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
- Panorama from Bridge Mountain
Interactive panorama taken from the summit of Bridge Mountain
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