Las Vegas, NV, Part III: Red Rock Canyon
If you're tired of all the lights, gambling and glitz of Las Vegas, then Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a good place to go. Red Rock Canyon is located about 15 miles west of Las Vegas, and we headed there the morning after we went to Fremont Street.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, which is under the control of the Bureau of Land Management, is along the Keystone Thrust Fault. A thrust fault is where one plate of the earth's crust is riding up over another plate. The fault runs up the western side of the conservation area and across the northern side. There is a 13-mile loop road that traverses the valley surrounded by sandstone hills and limestone cliffs.
Red Rock Canyon has a new visitor center that had numerous outdoor, hands-on exhibits about the land, the plants and the wildlife. The new visitor center was just opened in October, 2009.
At the end of the outdoor exhibit area is a large observation deck with a panoramic view of the valley. The photo below shows escarpment along the fault to the west...
...and the next photo shows us with the sandstone Calico Hills to the east in the background.
From the visitor center we started on the 13-mile loop road. Our first stop was at Calico Hills. Calico Hills are Aztec cross-bedded sandstone that are ancient sand dunes. The dunes once spread all the way into Colorado with sand piled up to half a mile deep. The cross-bedding was created when shifting winds piled sand at different angles.
Turtlehead Peak is visible to the northeast above and behind Calico Hills. Turtlehead Peak is older limestone that has been thrust up over Calico Hills by the fault.
Our next stop along the road was at High Point Overlook which provides an expansive view of the entire valley. The photo below shows a view of Calico Hills from the overlook.
The next photo taken at the overlook shows another view of Turtlehead Peak in the background.
And to the west are the cliffs of the fault.
The road continues along the west side of the valley near the base of the escarpment. There are several hiking trails in conservation area, but we didn't hike because most of the trails are longer and take an hour and a half or more to complete, and Paul was just too tired. The next photo shows Ice Box Canyon, which has a two-hour, moderately-difficult trail.
Pine Creek Canyon, shown in the next photo, has a moderately-easy trail, but it still takes about two hours.
We headed back toward Las Vegas after finishing driving the loop road.
There is a program on the History Channel called Pawn Stars which features three generations of men who run a pawn shop in Las Vegas. The pawn shop is called Gold & Silver Pawn. Pawn Stars is like the PBS program Antiques Roadshow for rednecks.
We decided to stop on our way back through town. For security and safety reasons, they only let a certain number of people in at a time, and there was a fairly long line when we got there. However, the line moved quickly, and it took us less than 10 minutes to get in.
The program shows some of the more exotic and interesting things people bring in to sell or pawn. Some of the items include what was supposed to be a pirate's peg leg (it turned out to be from the Civil War, but was still fairly valuable), custom motorcycles, Spanish gold from a shipwreck, an ivory carving (it turned out to be a fake made from bone instead of ivory), and a lottery ticket from colonial times signed by one of the founding fathers.
Inside, in addition to lots of coins and jewelry, they also sell T-shirts (on the racks in the background). The T-shirts made up the bulk of the sales while we were there.
Around the corner are some of the larger items - power tools, antique Coke machines and motorcycles. The next photo shows Paul beside a Rocon Trail-Breaker that was featured in a recent program. The Trail-Breaker is a two-wheel drive, off-road bike that can go almost anywhere. It's not real fast, but it can climb over rocks and logs up to three feet high.
We made a slight detour on the way back to the motor home to stop for an early dinner at another one of our favorite chain restaurants, Bahama Breeze. We like the tropical atmosphere and the menu inspired by the Caribbean Islands. Margery had almond encrusted talapia and Paul had jerk chicken with mango chutney. Yum!
We had more we wanted to do in Las Vegas, but since we had to spend time getting the car back in shape we just ran out of time and energy. We headed to a new location in the morning. Look for our next post, and we'll tell you all about it.