White Owl Canyon

Enjoy A HOOT of a Hike: Explore White Owl Canyon

There’s a trail for every level and type of outdoor enthusiast visiting Las Vegas. We know the lure of neon filled nights might be what brings you to town, but if you have a thirst to step away for some daytime adventure hikes, we’ve got you covered!  


There are so many outdoor adventures just outside of Las Vegas but this hiking trail is a hoot and holler above the rest, and loved by locals. An adventure to White Owl Canyon will leave you with that peaceful, easy feeling. 


For this neon to nature itinerary Las Vegan, Saira Chaudry offers some advice on how to enjoy this easy to moderate trail.  

White Owl Canyon Hike

The Drive

A mere 20 miles from the Las Vegas strip, located in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area at the 33 Hole Overlook is where the your White Owl Canyon adventure begins. This trip can cost you next to nothing besides a few dollars in gas and snack money, and entry into the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. That cost is $25 for a day pass, or $85 for a year-long American the Beautiful national parks pass.  


The Trail

This hike is rated – YES! Let’s start with it’s a perfect beginner friendly route with a short distance and outstanding views; perfect for solo hikers or thos trekking with a gaggle of kiddos who will get a kick out the funky metal culverts that take you under the roads above. The views kick your happiness hormones into high gear as you move through valleys and canyons in a snake-like fashion. 

Picture of a valley on the White Owl Canyon hike.
Picture of A canyon in White Owl Canyon

Chaudry says the hike is relaxing and calm. The slot canyon portion of the hike is approximately ½ mile and makes you feel like you are far away from the city. It’s always quiet and peaceful. She offers a few tips to make this trip a success.


Her preferred time to tackle this trail is mornings and any time of year but summer. There’s not a lot of shade out there so it gets hot fast. Water and sunscreen are a must! Snacks and music are a sweet bonus. “I usually listen to old punk music, but almost any music will do,” Chaudry said. 


Wear a good shoe for hiking. This trail is rated easy and most of the terrain is flat, but at the beginning you encounter a steep downhill slope with loose gravel. Which means a steep climb back to the parking lot.


Be safe. This trail is not the best marked, so be sure to prepare by downloading a map before you start, especially because cell service can be a bit spotty on the trail. There is a fork in the trail that can be a bit tricky – be sure to stay left! Hint: When you see the red rocks on your left, there should be a simple rock arrow on the ground. Follow this arrow or you will end up on a much longer hike. 


No restroom facilities on the trail. Facilities are located throughout Lake Mead National Recreation Area, so go before you hit the trail. 


Funny Fact

Well folks, it is called White Owl Canyon. It’s named after a great horned owl or ‘Barn Owl’ that occupies the area, so be on the lookout. But do know the ‘white wash’ rock views is none other than owl poop. 


Historical Fact 

At one point, much of the White Owl Canyon trail was underwater; the slot canyons were formed from flowing water over the years. 


Photos Fact

Pick any spot in the canyon, the lighting is usually perfect and the background can’t be beat.  

Picture of a winding canyon in White Owl Canyon Hike
Picture of a tunnel in White Owl Canyon.

Trip Snapshot



Lake Mead – White Owl Canyon


Distance from The Strip

29 miles, approximate


Directions from The Strip

I-15 North

U.S. Route 95 North 

Cold Creek exit 

Turn left and drive approximately 14 miles



No commercial development in the area


Cell reception



Saira Chaudry is a lawyer in Las Vegas, avid outdoor enthusiast and dabbler in photography.

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