Of all the major peaks of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Cactus Flower Tower is the hardest to climb by its standard route. In addition to some exposed Class 3 and 4 spots, no anomalies in this area and actually par for the course, there is a 40' pitch that goes at 5.3. Almost everyone who climbs that route scrambles the pitch although a large crack on one side might accommodate large cams and hexes, and many rappel down it and down the awkward Class 4 pitch just beyond it as well. But it is well worth it for the knockout views and for the solitude you will likely find.
Cactus Flower Tower
Cactus Flower Tower is considered a subpeak of Mount Wilson
, the highest sandstone peak of RRCNCA, and stands just to the north of it. Unlike the other subpeaks and "features" of Wilson such as South Wilson
, Dead Horse Point
, and White Rock Pinnacle
, it's separated from the main peak by a deep notch that makes it truly stand out on its own. Furthermore, while one can climb the three aforementioned peaks along with Wilson itself in one long outing, it's not so easy to add Cactus Flower Tower since doing so involves a long descent into Oak Creek Canyon before climbing this peak; in other words, you can't link it with the others on one big traverse.
There should be plenty of cairns en route to help steer you the right way, but since this peak has plenty of Class 3 and 4 plus the 5.3 pitch, this is not a peak for people who rely on cairns but rather is one for people with both climbing and route-finding skills.
Cactus Flower Tower, Sunset
The standard scrambling route goes at 5.3. Attached to this page is a route description for it.
Some technical routes:
Follow SR 159 (Charleston Boulevard) west from Summerlin or east from SR 160 to the well-signed entrance to the Scenic Loop of RRCNCA.
Turn onto the RRCNCA Scenic Loop (the one and only paved road looping through the NCA) and follow it for approx. 11 miles to the signed Oak Creek Canyon dirt road turnoff. Follow the well-maintained dirt road for a mile or two to a well-marked parking area. The parking area is spacious and even has a restroom. The trailhead, which is at the south end of the parking area, is signed for Oak Creek Canyon.
You can avoid the fee and the one-way loop drive by parking at the unmarked but easily seen trailhead for North Oak Creek Trail located along SR 159 a short distance west of the loop drive's exit. This, of course, adds some hiking distance each way-- 0.9 mi.
Hiking in from the signed Oak Creek Canyon TH off 159, which reaches the canyon via South Oak Creek Trail and the Chinle Trail, adds 1.5 mi each way-- definitely not recommended unless the other TH off 159 is closed for some reason.
Cactus Flower Tower-- by Branch Whitney
There is a daily
entrance fee of $7 per vehicle (2013). Annual and interagency passes are available (the Interagency Pass, AKA the America the Beautiful Pass, grants access to all federal fee areas for a year).
Hours the Scenic Drive is open:
|November through February|| 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.|
|March || 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.|
|April through September|| 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.|
|October || 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.|
Note: these hours are subject to change. To be safe and sure, contact the park before visiting.
The BLM (the agency that manages this area) allows dogs in the backcountry. Please keep them leashed and pick up their feces.
Nice spot in Oak Creek
There are no campgrounds off the Scenic Drive in RRCNCA. There is a campground outside it, though; see here
for more details. Bivouacs and backcountry camping are permitted, but with permits and restrictions. Use the link at the end of this page to find out more.
Dawn on the Tower
Lone tree on ridge-- by Andinistaloco