Juniper Peak is not among the highest peaks in Red Rock Canyon and only a class 2 scramble, but it was the first desert peak Dinah and I ever ascended. We're used to climbing in the Canadian Rockies, so routefinding in a desert landscape was a bit daunting. But we also found the environment fascinating, and we marvelled at the lizards and cactus as well as the unfamiliar geology. Credit goes to Jim Boone's web site for helping me identify flora and fauna and Anya Jingle's web page for inspiring us to try the mountain.
We tried climbing Juniper Peak the previous day but since we didn't have a good route description we missed the turnoff. When we reached a chimney (later we learned it was Gunsight Notch) that looked risky without helmets, we turned back.
By our next attempt we sorted out where we went wrong. We reached Juniper Canyon from Pine Creek Trail. Keeping right we found the turn-off for Juniper Peak and ascended rock slabs. Here lizards scurried everywhere. So many, that I saw two collide!
We followed the cairns and trails to the summit with little difficulty. Occasionally we lost sight of the route, but by backtracking several metres we were always able to get on track.
Even though Juniper Peak is dwarfed by nearby peaks, the view was superb. But of course, it all of it was new and striking to us. Given how close this rugged, fascinating terrain is to Las Vegas , I can see why Red Rock Canyon is a popular area for climbing.
Juniper Peak is in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
The mountain is accessed from the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Loop
Juniper Peak from the trailhead: Rainbow Wall sits left while Magic Mountain lies in front
Hiking down Pine Creek Trail: Magic Mountain and Mescalito ahead
Rainbow Peak, Rainbow Wall and Magic Mountain (Juniper Peak is hidden)
Looking back at Turtlehead Peak and the colorful Calico Hills
Cholla and barrel cactus
Approaching Pine Creek Canyon
We clamber up some boulders
Past the boulders
We'll gain the lower rock slabs on the right. Gunsight Notch left.
On the slabs above the canyon
Dinah makes her way up
Lots of pancake pricklypear cactus here
Juniper Canyon below
This lizard watches me intently
Walking up yet another smooth section of rock
Cactus beginning to bloom
Interesting rock everywhere
Following alongside a rock face
Paths and cairns like this one make routefinding easy
Just before the summit, the route goes through a tunnel
On the summit
Contact with a cactus leaves a spot of blood on my pant leg
La Madre Mountain and Blue Diamond 1:24,000 Topos (4.8 mi, 6102 ft, 2126 ft)