Gunsight Notch Peak is nestled within the main escarpment of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (RRCNCA, hereinafter “Redrock”). Gunsight Notch Peak offers a variety of terrain involving boulder hopping through Pine Creek Canyon, to unique but steep sandstone walk ups on the summit approach. Best of all, fabulous views of the City of Las Vegas are to be had from the summit and great views of Redrock Canyon itself, particularly from the Notch, which sits adjacent to the Rainbow Wall.
Getting there: From the fee gate at Redrock drive 10.4 miles to the Pine Creek trailhead. Begin hiking west into Pine Creek Canyon. There is an old foundation you will encounter as you make your way in. To this point you have been following a trail which forks. Take the left fork of the trail. When the trail meets a wash, stay to the right of the wash and continue west. As you approach, the pyramid shaped Mescalito Peak towers before you. Mescalito splits Pine Creek canyon into two forks. You must stay to the left side of the canyon at this point. As you hike in further, the trail goes into a wash. Here you begin the boulder hopping and will encounter brush. Depending on the weather, you may encounter a lot of water too. The canyon walls provide interesting views as you make your way further into the canyon.
The canyon will divide again, taking you into Gunsight Notch Canyon. Look hard for cairns along the way, they are difficult to see because they blend in so well with other sandstone. The cairns will guide you into Gunsight Notch Canyon. You are now heading in a southerly direction at this point. You will see a dramatic change to a deep red, smooth sandstone as you make your way up into Gunsight Notch Canyon. The terrain is now easily walked up, although portions are steep. As you walk up in an easterly direction on this portion, you will see trees above/ahead of you. Aim for the trees. Keep watching for the cairns all along this route, they are there and numerous. The direction of travel is obvious. The sandstone becomes quite steep in some areas. You will see the Rainbow Wall to the right side and your goal is to the left. The Notch near the Rainbow Wall offers an awesome view and worth the brief detour. The peak is north of Gunsight Notch, and is another steep ten minute scramble.
A five dollar fee is required to drive the scenic loop, but an annual pass is available at the reasonable price of $20.00.
When To Climb
As with all desert peaks, Gunsight Notch Peak should be climbed in cooler weather. Spring and Fall is the best times to do this peak, but watch the weather, you do not want to be caught in the rain while on this hike. The sandstone is slick and steep, and if wet, could cause a real problem on the decent. Additionally it is never a good idea to be in any washes within the canyon during rain.
There is a campground located south of SR159 two miles before the entrance to RRCNCA. There is no developed campground within Redrock, although backcountry camping with a permit is allowed.