Saturday, October 17, 2015

An Afternoon on the Red Rock Loop

A couple of weeks ago I had an open Friday afternoon and new camera, so I headed to the Red Rock Loop. My mission for the day: Stop at all the major turnouts and take pictures.

Stop #1: Calico Hills Overlook 

The first thing I learned was that even on a weekday, a significant number of people visit Red Rock. There was a line to get in. There were people everywhere. (Maybe not like on the Strip, but still.)

Back in the days when I was ditching high school, there was no one at Red Rock in the middle of the day on a Friday. Also, the Loop was two ways and you didn't have to pay to get in--but I digress.

Trails have been worn all over the desert in this area, where the landscape dwarfs the people. See if you can spot the hiker in this picture, and you'll see what I mean.

Stop #2: Sandstone Quarry

Right after I got out of the car and started snapping pictures, I heard a conversation between two women.

"But where's the trailhead? How do we get to the Calico Tanks?"

"Is it this way?" (Said while walking in the wrong direction completely.)

"The trailhead for Calico Tanks is over there," I said, pointing to other end of the parking lot.

A few minutes later, when I was wandering around the trailhead, I heard, "Oh, look, there's our friend! Which trail do we take?"

"It's that trail right there," I said, pointing to the only trail option available. "Just bear to the right whenever you have a choice on which way to go. There's signage." Since I didn't hear anything about lost hikers that day, I assume they were fine (although I seriously doubt they ever found the Calico Tanks).

Stop #3: Red Rock Loop High Point Overlook

It's bizarre to see the city from anywhere at Red Rock--outside of the tops of the hills and mountains--but you can plainly see the sprawl of Las Vegas in the distance. Appalling.

Stop #4: White Rock and Keystone Thrust Trails

I thought maybe the dirt road at this stop would deter people, but apparently everyone disregards that clause in their rental agreement.

For some reason, while cell reception at the High Point Overlook was terrible, next to the Yuccas in the dirt lot, I could converse with my boss just fine. Gotta love technology.

Stop #5: Willow Springs Area/Lost Creek Trails

This area is full of trails, including several that are great for families, especially the Lost Creek Children's Discovery Trail. This is also the only place on the Loop with picnic tables.

Look for wildlife here--where you have springs in the desert, you have critters. I've seen chuckars, quail, and a herd of big horn sheep in this area. I once walked up to a group of people on a trail here who claimed to have spotted a mountain lion. You'll find lots of petroglphys here also.

Stop #6: Ice Box Canyon

By this time, the clouds were moving in, and my new camera and I were starting to have some minor disagreements. (We overcame our differences.)

Ice Box is a great trail with plenty of rock scrambling, but on this day I merely explored the trailhead, where I found several cairns. You'll find these all over Red Rock, along with rock labyrinths.

Stop #7: Red Rock Wash Overlook

You've got cliffs and cholla cacti behind you, a wild untamed wash below you, and construction in the distance. A big truck nearly ran me off the road after this stop.

Stop #8: Pine Creek Canyon

Pine Creek is my favorite place to hike in Red Rock: there's a stream, the ruins of a homestead, loads of pine trees (naturally), and two fabulous canyons for bouldering. 

I also saw a convo of those little scooter cars leaving the parking lot. I'd seen them back at Ice Box, too, and they look like fun.

It was back off to town after that, off to First Friday and to ponder on how to learn more about my camera.  

When’s the last time you were on the Loop? 
All pictures by Terrisa Meeks

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