What Happens Outside Vegas: Seven Magic Mountains & Red Rock Canyon

This is the final post covering my recent mini-Southwest road trip, which I’ve been blogging about in no particular order. It’s come full circle — so to speak — as I’m finishing up where it began: Las Vegas. But this post is about what happens outside Vegas! For me, that meant a trip to Seven Magic Mountains & Red Rock Canyon.

Stef at Red Rock Canyon
Kicking up my heels at Red Rock Canyon

But before we head off into the Nevada desert, time for a brief tangent —

Feel free to skip this tangent and scroll straight down to Seven Magic Mountains! I won't be offended at all! 
Well, maybe just a little. 😉
Southwest Road-Trip Recap!

In the past weeks I’ve written about my experiences appreciating zany art at SoCal’s Salvation Mountain and East Jesus. I’ve also shared a photo journal of my playful jaunt to Joshua Tree National Park and Palm Springs (spoiler alert: it included a lot of selfies).

Joshua Tree Silhouette
Trees, glorious trees!
Silhouette Selfie at Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park
Palms of Palm Springs
The palms of Palm Springs, California

What I haven’t touched on is the Arizona part of my trip. That segment started in the suburbs of Phoenix, where I caught up with dear friends. (I spent two years of high school in Mesa, Arizona, so I’ve got some roots in the area!)

Stef asleep in Mesa, Arizona
Caught snoozing on the couch with my friend’s dog, Precious, in Mesa, Arizona
Stef at Agritiopia in Gilbert, Arizona
Exploring the grounds of Agritopia in Gilbert, Arizona — a very cool and tasty farm-to-table place!
Agritopia: “A homestead morphed into a thriving village centered around an urban farm.
Agritiopia in Gilbert, Arizona
Me with my friend, Dusanka, at Agritopia in Gilbert, Arizona!

After Phoenix I spent a week down in Rio Rico (near the Arizona-Mexico border) with visits to nearby Tucson. That part of the trip was solely about spending time with family. And frolicking with hay bales.

Hay bales of Rio Rico, Arizona
Hay bales of Rio Rico, Arizona
Cow-crossing sign in Rio Rico, Arizona
Cow-crossing sign in Rio Rico, Arizona

Wind-carved red rocks and miles of open desert road: explore the beauty of the Southwest with Moon Southwest Road Trip.

What Happens Outside Vegas

But let’s get back to the beginning: leaving Las Vegas. When I say leaving Las Vegas, I mean barely. I picked up my little red Toyota Yaris rental car and drove twenty-two miles south of Vegas, to Seven Magic Mountains!

Seven Magic Mountains
Seven Magic Mountains

Have you ever heard of it? I only saw my first pictures of Seven Magic Mountains through a fellow blogger — guess where? — on Instagram! (Yes, I know. It’s an ongoing theme.)

Stef at Seven Magic Mountains
Got someone to snap my pic!

The Awkward Traveler blogged about her trip to Seven Magic Mountains, which led me to quickly add it to my mini-Southwest-road-trip itinerary!

Seven Magic Mountains: Stonehenge Meets Pop Culture

So, what is this magical place? Created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, Seven Magic Mountains is an art installation just outside Las Vegas.

Stef at Seven Magic Mountains

I found this description in the “About” section of its official website: 

"Visible across the desert landscape along Interstate 15, Seven Magic Mountains offers a creative critique of the simulacra of destinations like Las Vegas. According to Rondinone, the location is physically and symbolically mid-way between the natural and the artificial: the natural is expressed by the mountain ranges, desert, and Jean Dry Lake backdrop, and the artificial is expressed by the highway and the constant flow of traffic between Los Angeles and Las Vegas."

Personally, I like to think of Seven Magic Mountains as Stonehenge meets pop culture!

Stonehenge meets pop culture at Seven Magic Mountains
Stonehenge meets pop culture at Seven Magic Mountains

Basically, the art installation is made up of seven stacks of giant painted rocks, thirty- to thirty-five feet in hight, in the middle of the Mojave Desert!

Seven Magic Mountains

It doesn’t take much time to visit, so the trip is short and sweet and fun for photographers! Although it might take some time to get a good shot, as other visitors are walking around with their selfie sticks trying to do the same!

Stef at Seven Magic Mountains
A future album cover if I decide to go into the music industry? 😉

Seven Magic Mountains is so conveniently close to Las Vegas that it’s definitely worth a short visit!

Red Rock Canyon

After checking out Seven Magic Mountains, my rental car and I moseyed on over to Red Rock Canyon.

Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

Red Rock Canyon is about 25-miles and 25-minutes west of Las Vegas. And it takes about 45 minutes by car to get from Seven Magic Mountains to Red Rock Canyon.

Stef at Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
Got someone to snap my pic again!

There are so many trails and different stopping points at Red Rock Canyon. You could spend days exploring the area.

Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

While Seven Magic Mountains is free to visit, there are fees to enter Red Rock Canyon. Personally, I used my America the Beautiful pass for admission.

Stef at Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

Once you enter, you’re committing to a 13-mile one-way loop around the national park. (So make sure you’ve got enough gas!)

Stef at Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
Yeah, this is pretty much the same pic as earlier, only zoomed out more.

There are designated stopping points where you can hike or simply enjoy the scenery. And the scenic-loop drive was breathtaking!

Shadow selfie at Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

I only really got to explore a fraction of what Red Rock Canyon has to offer, but it was gorgeous.

Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
A tiny person on top of the world at Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

I’d definitely go back to do more hiking if I’m in the area again. And I recommend you do the same! 🙂

Stef at Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

Thanks for joining me on this trek into the dusty, but beautiful, Nevada desert! 🙂

Have you been out in this neck of the woods before? How did you like it? If not, do these places appeal to you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section! 


10 thoughts on “What Happens Outside Vegas: Seven Magic Mountains & Red Rock Canyon”

  1. never seen and heard about this outside Vegas!!!
    The Seven magic mountain should really be a must visit place! I agree with you that the Seven Magic Mountain is the Stonehenge pop version! so love it’s colorful pieces and how it was situated in the place.

  2. I’ve been to everything that you’ve listed and they are all great places to visit! Truly a unique sight to behold in the American SouthWest!

  3. This art installation was definitely not what i had expected, with such a name! That’s cool though. Unexpected and colorful. The Red Rock Canyon seems gorgeous, would make for lots of hiking adventures. I shall add it to my bucketlist too. Nice shots, thanks!

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