UPDATE: Calico Basin visitors don’t like possibility of fees; virtual meeting tonight

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is hosting a virtual public meeting about possible changes coming to a popular hiking spot.

Calico Basin in Red Rock Conservation Area is a free alternative to the scenic loop. But that could change.

To register to participate, or to offer public comment, see the BLM’s page here.

In an effort to preserve Calico Basin, the BLM is considering a new management plan. The informational meeting tonight is to explain the plan and to get feedback. The BLM might start charging people to keep it preserved.

“It’s beautiful, there is a lot of climbing,” said Alex Weels, who climbs in the area.

People come to Calico Basin for a number of reasons.

“It is nicer to get away from the crowds, you don’t have to do the whole Red Rock loop,” Wheels said.

The cost to get into Red Rock is one of the main reasons people choose Calico Basin.

“This is amazing, because it is free,” said visitor Kristina Meyer.

“It was nice because you don’t have to reserve anything like at Red Rock,” said hiker Andrea Ramos-Pyne.

“There is plenty to explore,” Weels said.

The area skirts the east edge of the Red Rock National Conservation Area. But with heavier traffic from visitors, the BLM is considering changes.

“In 2019, 700,000 people went to just the Calico Basin area,” said John Asselin, public affairs specialist with the BLM. “And it looks like we are going to get close to 900,000 this year.”

The Save Red Rock organization is asking its members to attend the meeting because it could impose limits on an area that is currently open. With fee increases at Red Rock over the past few years, Calico Basin is now seeing heavier use by outdoors enthusiasts.

Asselin said the BLM is taking public comment for the plan that could add an entry gate with fees and hours of operation.

“This will help us put in more infrastructure there, which would include restrooms back in the Kraft Mountain area, all these little infrastructure things we have needed over the years,” Asselin said.

The visitors we talked to are not happy about fees.

“It just seems like another barrier to access, just more hoops to jump through,” Ramos-Pyne said.

“Charging would probably stop me from coming here,” Meyer said.

Some wonder how it will affect people’s decisions on whether to come back.

“I think it would be good as far as conservation goes, but as far as access for a lot of people it might be a lot tougher,” Weels said.

The BLM move to preserve the area follows problems with trash left by visitors, and reports of higher impact on the nearby La Madre Mountains Wilderness Area.

A Bureau of Land Management plan posted in mid-October includes information on possible entrance stations, operating hours and mountain bike trail closures. Public comment closes on Dec. 8.

The BLM doesn’t expect to a plan to be finalized until January.

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