When I was growing up, Calico Basin was where my family picnicked. Red Rock was just around the corner, but for some reason my dad was never interested in picnicking there. I finally discovered Red Rock as a teenager, when the Loop was still a two-way road. Red Rock was not closed at night in those days, nor was there an entrance fee, which made it a great place to do those up-to-no-good things teenagers like to do. But while Red Rock may make me nostalgic for my teen years, Calico Basin holds my childhood memories. Imagine my shock a couple of weeks ago when I made a detour to Calico Basin and discovered the area had been completely renovated.
Now, I have to digress for just a little bit and say that although I like the renovations and believe that the boardwalk and the picnic area and the parking lot are all good additions, even necessary additions, that wasn’t my first reaction when I pulled up. My first reaction was, “What the #@$!# happened? Where’s the Calico Basin I remember? What yodel head came up with this idea??” I imagine many people can sympathize with me because progress tends to wipe out our past, and sprawl has infected every part of our world. No one likes to see her childhood memories tampered with. However, as a native Las Vegan, I must say that the rate at which things are demolished, changed, removed, redesigned, or otherwise altered is kind of hard on a person.
At any rate, Calico Basin is now accessible via a boardwalk that protects the fragile meadow and springs. Three rare species live here – the Spring Mountain Snail, the Mariposa Lily, and the White Bearpoppy. One lichen, the Dermatocarpom Iuridum, may be endemic as it has not been found (yet) at any other location. In order to protect these creature and plants, as well as to protect the springs, the meadow, and the petroglyphs, the boardwalk was created. Interpretative signs and benches invite visitors to take a seat and watch the abundant wildlife.
Sadly, a part of the boardwalk was vandalized and burned. Repairs were in progress when I visited. It seems that not everyone takes such a charitable view of the BLM’s efforts to preserve the area.
Curiously, almost every parcel of land in the residential area had a For Sale sign posted. The Calico Basin residents must know something we don’t.
To visit Calico Basin, head west on Charleston, which will turn into State Route 159. Look for the sign on your right directing you to Calico Basin. Follow the road and you’ll see the parking/picnic area. Hiking trails are also available.