Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, NV

Just west of Las Vegas, we spend a day at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.  Even though it's the Monday after the US Thanksgiving weekend, this park is still super crowded making parking spots at the overlooks hard to find.  Another visitor tells us that the park had to be closed on the long weekend due to over-crowding!  But it is a beautiful location set in the foothills of the Spring Mountains above Las Vegas, with red sandstone formations very popular with rock climbers and the most distinguishable fault in North America, the Keystone Fault.  We use the day to circumnavigate the 13-mile loop scenic drive, thinking we'll scout areas of interest for a longer visit next year since the park's higher elevation makes it too cold to camp at now.

The red sandstone cliffs called the Calico Hills. Turtlehead Peak, the limestone mountains in the background, seem to frame the red rock. These grey cliffs lie on the Keystone Fault - you'd have to look closely to see the uplift in the mountain on the left.
Marilyn at the Calico Hills. Visitors can scamper around these rocks, down to the wash 100-200 feet below. (Hey! My hair's the same colour as the rock!)
Climbers on the Calico Hills. The park boasts more than 2,000 climbing routes making it one of the top five climbing destinations in the US.
View of the Calico Hills area from High Point Overlook. The fog in the background is dust particles suspended in the air and trapped in the bowl where Las Vegas sits. It is actually brown when not viewed through the camera lens making it look more like smog than dust.

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