Cottonwood ValleyLas Vegas Trail Running Scene

Local SceneCottonwood Valley

About Cottonwood Valley

Part of the Red Rock National Conservation Area, Cottonwood Valley occupies the southern end of the Red Rock NCA. Nestled up against Mount Potosi and the Red Rock Escarpment — stunning sandstone cliffs created by the Keystone Thrust Fault approximately 66 million years ago — Cottonwood Valley is a 13-mile stretch of scenic desert near southwest Las Vegas.

Cottonwood Valley is full of wildlife including wild burros on the north side of SR 160 and wild mustangs on the south side of SR 160. Other notable wildlife that may be encountered are coyotes, rabbits, lizards — including Gila Monsters —, snakes, scorpions, tarantulas, and more. Desert plants such as Joshua Trees, various species of Yuccas, Junipers, and hundreds of varieties of flowers can be seen throughout different parts of Cottonwood Valley. Along with the assorted desert flora and fauna, Cottonwood Valley contains a portion of the Old Spanish Trail along with freshwater springs used by early travelers through the region.

Present day Cottonwood Valley is home to 125 miles of interconnecting singletrack trails with a mixture of smooth and fast trails and technical climbs and descents.

Getting to Cottonwood Valley

Cottonwood Valley is located in the southeast corner of the Las Vegas Valley, in the southern part of the Red Rock NCA and directly south of the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Loop. It is accessible via SR 160, which bisects Cottonwood Valley from east to west.

Official Trailheads

Late Night Trailhead

Used for Trails of Glory

The most equipped trailhead in Cottonwood Valley, the Late Night Trailhead offers plentiful paved parking and two outhouse-style bathrooms. Trails accessed through the Late Night Trailhead are the namesake Late Night Trail, the southern section of Mustang Trail, and the northern section of Badger Pass Loop.

How to Get There

The easiest trailhead to access, take SR 160 for approximately 4 ¾ miles past the turnoff to SR 159 and the convenience store. Watch for a small brown building (the bathrooms) and a pull-out lane on the right side of the road to turn in to the trailhead parking.

Black Velvet Trailhead Moderate off-road travel required

More popular with rock climbers and mountaineers than runners, the Black Velvet Trailhead offers only dirt parking and provides access to the under-appreciated Black Velvet Trail.

How to Get There

The Black Velvet Trailhead is the most difficult trailhead to access, requiring some travel along a moderately maintained dirt road. Follow the directions above to the Late Night Trailhead but after pulling off of SR 160, keep driving straight on the access road until it turns into a dirt road (Black Velvet Rd). Follow Black Velvet for approximately 1 ¾ miles until it bends left, then continue another ¾ miles to the trailhead parking area.

Cottonwood Valley Trailhead

The entryway to the southern trails of Cottonwood Valley, the aptly-named Cottonwood Valley Trailhead offers dirt parking and a single outhouse-style bathroom. The only trail accessed through the Cottonwood Valley Trailhead is the northern section of Dead Horse Loop.

How to Get There

The Cottonwood Valley Trailhead is accessed via SR 160 just short of 6 miles past the turnoff to SR 159 and the convenience store. Watch for a small tan building (the bathroom) on the left side of the road, with a pull-out lane on the right side of the road. Turn left onto the dirt road (Cottonwood Valley Rd) and cross the cattle guard before turning right into the dirt parking lot of the trailhead.

Red Valley Trailhead

Used for Trails of Fury

A smaller but better-located trailhead than the Cottonwood Valley Trailhead, the Red Valley Trailhead offers only dirt parking. Trails accessed through the Red Valley Trailhead are Badger Pass Loop and Dead Horse Loop.

How to Get There

The Red Valley Trailhead is located further down Cottonwood Valley Rd from the Cottonwood Valley Trailhead. Follow the directions above to the Cottonwood Valley Trailhead, but instead of turning into the dirt parking lot, keep driving down the dirt road (Cottonwood Valley Rd) for another ½ mile to a short dirt road on the left leading to a small, round dirt parking lot.

Unofficial Trailheads

Katie's Lot

Although not an official trailhead, Katie's Lot offers only dirt parking and is often used for its easy access to two of Cottonwood Valley's most popular trails. Trails accessed through Katie's Lot are The Hurl and Landmine Loop.

How to Get There

Take SR 160 approximately 2 ¼ miles past the turnoff to SR 159 and the convenience store and when the SR 160 starts begins a wide curve left, watch for a small dirt lot on the right side of the road.

McGhie's Bike Outpost 16 Cottonwood Dr, Blue Diamond, NV

McGhie's Bike Outpost offers some parking, along with cool water and healthy snacks in the small town of Blue Diamond. Trails accessed from McGhie's Bike Outpost are The Hurl and Landmine Loop.

How to Get There

When traveling down Blue Diamond Rd/SR 160, turn right onto SR 159 (towards Red Rock Canyon) instead of continuing straight at the convenience store. Once on SR 159 continue for 3 miles and turn left onto Castalia St, taking it to the intersection of Cottonwood Dr. The parking lot and Bike Outpost is on the left side of the intersection.