LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Taking a hike at Red Rock Canyon before taking in a Thanksgiving meal has become a growing holiday tradition that over a thousand people took advantage of this year.

It’s especially so as the COVID-19 pandemic forced holiday plans to change over the past two years. But, some restrictions have stuck around.

The state park, which boasts a 13-mile scenic drive, several hiking trails, and thousands of climbing opportunities, still requires a reservation. They were first implemented in November 2020 to manage visitor capacity. 

The few reservations available Wednesday night for the following day entirely disappeared by Thanksgiving morning, representing over a thousand visitors on Thursday alone.

Four friends from Canada made sure to get those reservations in early ahead of one special weekend.

“We’ve come to Vegas to elope,” Annmarie Garby said, while her fiancé, Jim Martin, and other friends cheered on. “It was a perpetual engagement.”

Martin added that the beginning of this romantic weekend wouldn’t be complete without the “epic” views.

From romantic to platonic love, others used the day to be thankful for the friendship and unmatched recreation. Doug Davis, Aubrey Menard, and Tim Nixon are part of a large rock-climbing group that has camped out and explored the different climbs all week.

“The best climbers come here to test themselves on this rock,” Nixon said. Davis added that he’s “thankful for all the sediment that’s created these rocks.”

“We climbed for hours until we got to the top of the spire, and then got to watch the sunset over the canyon. It was just, I mean, this is what we climb for,” Menard said.

If not for any special occasion, others simply used the day to be with family, with views that are hard to find elsewhere.

“We’re from Illinois, so there’s not a whole lot to look at,” Neha Tummala said while looking at the canyon thousands of feet in the air.

“Thanksgiving is all about family, right? We are here as a family spending time together,” Jay Tummala added, sharing the same view with his daughter.

Gates closed to visitors at 12 pm Thursday. Visiting hours return to normal on Friday for those who make a reservation on this website.