Tuesday, April 9

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Call me fickle.  I have a new favorite place.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is in the Mojave Desert just west of Las Vegas. Beautiful geologic formations (including the Keystone Thrust Fault), nice colors and textures and lots of trails to be explored. The vegetation here early in April seemed so much happier than comparable locations in So Cal. The result of more water, I suppose. There seem to be lots of springs - the result to the fault perhaps.
The visitor center at Red Rock Canyon is really impressive. It's mostly outdoors and has great colorful exhibits and scuptures of local wildlife. Unfortunately, it is behind a gate with a $7 per vehicle admission fee. You can use your America the Beautiful (National Parks) pass for admission, too.
The Red Rock Canyon camground is a pleasant if exposed sort of place with a nice couple from Idaho acting as camp hosts this season. They'll take off in May when it must be really, really hot.
Taking my cue from them, I'll probably wait until the fall to see if RRCNCA really pans out. Then, I'll be reaching out to my hiking pals to share the drive (4 to 5 hours) and the walks (seemingly limitless).

By the way - Red Rock Canyon Campground makes for cushy camping. It is less than 3 miles from a couple of McMansion developments. Their local shopping center offers Alberson's, CVS, Chevron, Wells Fargo and assorted pizza, pet, bike, donut and nail shops. Oddly enough, I didn't spot a Starbucks where I could tap into a wi-fi connection. But the corner sports bar has an excellent burger and very nice watresses (they flirted me out of an extra generous tip).
And, yes, there is video poker. After all, it's Vegas, baby!

Saturday, April 6

Spur of the moment has a barb

Heading to Vegas, baby, for a workshop on Monday. So I figured I'd camp the weekend away, then drop in to the resort for the session and hit the road. Nice plan but, I didn't do adequate research and made no reservations.
My plan was to camp at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area but I got a late start and the sites are few and the weather got warm. En route, I decided to go to Mount Charleston where there are more campground options and the elevation would mean more comfortable temperatures.

I'll spare you the details and just say that I am "camping" in a room at Saddle West Hotel Casino in Parhump.  Nice grounds, basic but spacious and truly non-smoking accommodations, good drinking water and less than $100 a night.
I'm hoping to get a spot in Red Rock for tomorrow night.

Don't get me wrong, the day was not all bad.  It was a lovely, easy drive. Lunch at the Mad Greek was big enough for dinner, too. There are some wildflowers in Kyle Canyon (leading up to Mount Charleston) and the blooming Joshua trees, viewed late in the afternoon in Lee Canyon, enticed me to stop for photos. Much of the vegetation here looks happier than its SoCal counterparts.
These views look toward Mount Charleston from the northeast. I will try to figure out the name of the distinctively-shaped hill. The shot below was made in the Sawmill picnic area. Only one picnic party - they had the run of the place.