Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in History



First Committee Member

Andrew G. Kirk, Chair

Second Committee Member

David M. Wrobel

Third Committee Member

Eugene P. Moehring

Graduate Faculty Representative

Robert Futrell

Number of Pages



Though Americans tend to view wilderness as separate from nature, environmental historians have argued that wilderness is a cultural construct more than a quantifiable geographic category. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (NCA), a 195,000-acre tract located west of Las Vegas, Nevada, is one such cultural construction. Since 1960, this BLM-managed parcel has served as a local and regional expression of broader, national trends in outdoor recreation, interpretation, and development and thereby forced visitors to engage (often unknowingly) in a cultural dialogue about consumerism, technology, and identity. With information from newspapers, archival collections, oral histories, and government documents, this thesis illustrates the complex relationship between humans and nature by examining the stories of climbers, environmentalists, developers, and interpreters in Red Rock Canyon NCA.


Development; Human ecology; Interpretation; Las Vegas; Nevada; Nevada – Las Vegas; Nevada – Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area; Outdoor recreation; Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area; Rock climbing; Urban development; Wilderness areas – History


Cultural History | Desert Ecology | Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Policy | History | Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration | Social History | United States History