Denise Goldberg's blog

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Changing state

It was a day of changing locations, of wandering too. My day started in California and ended in Nevada, from Death Valley to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area.

Early morning brought a quick drive through the badlands of Twenty Mule Team Canyon before I headed east. I chose to follow the shortest route between Death Valley and Las Vegas, almost a reverse of my previous voyage along that route.

Open range signs kept appearing along the road, bearing images of different animals in each new (sign) location. They varied from burros to cattle to big horned sheep, and then back to burros again. No animals... do you suppose they see the signs and deliberately stay away?

I was keeping an eye out for a sign for route 159 to cut over to Red Rock, hoping that road signage here is better than home. I was still on route 160 when I saw red rocks off in the distance. Shortly after that a well-signed route 159 intersected with the road I was on. I turned, I drove a bit more. Oh look, there's another park, Spring Mountain Ranch State Park. Interesting. It's a state park (that turns out to be) inside of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Later in the afternoon I had a conversation with another photographer and he highly recommending this park as well. And guess what? I (think) I have time to stop there too.

It was an afternoon of walking, first the Calico Tanks trail, and then the trail from Sandstone Quarry to the Calico II overlook (and back again, of course).

As the sun dropped lower the mountains were mainly covered by shade, with occasional sunlight on the peaks. Tempted by the view, I stopped to attempt a photo. There was a car pulled off on a gravel parking area leaving room for me too. It turned out to be a good conversation stop; my companion was a local photographer who was waiting for the light to change. We chatted about Death Valley, about Racetrack Playa, a place I'd love to see but that requires a vehicle with 4-wheel-drive, about other places to see in the general Las Vegas vicinity. He recommended spending some time at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, and he showed me geologic points to watch for on the route from Valley of Fire State Park to Lake Mead.

Hey, what book is that? You know me, I'm fascinated by geology, and while souvenirs of my travels tend to be photos, sometimes I need to buy maps and books. Instead of driving straight to my hotel I reentered Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area to stop at the bookstore to pick up my own copy of Geologic Tours in the Las Vegas Area. Now I have some reading to do.

Tomorrow? Valley of Fire State Park is calling to me.