Nevada has at least three
Red Rock Canyons; two are in sections of the Toiyabe National Forest
near the center of the state but by far the most well-known is location
is along the east side of the Spring Mountains - one of the
ranges of hills that surround
Las Vegas in most
directions. Parts of the flat land rises to a great colorful escarpment,
formed along a fault zone (the Keystone Thrust) with peaks over
8,000 feet, and including huge cliffs and ravines composed of bands of
grey, white and red sandstone, all heavily eroded.
A thrust fault is a fracture in the earth's crust
where one rock plate is thrust horizontally over another. About 65
million years ago, it is believed that two of the earth's crustal plates
collided with such force that part of one plate was shoved up and over
younger sandstones. This thrust contact is clearly defined by the sharp
contrast between the grey limestone and red sandstone.
The wide empty plains
beneath the hills are studded (dont'cha love that part - studded) with Joshua trees and other plants typical
of the Mojave Desert, contributing to a most impressive
spectacle. Las Vegas, Nevada resides in the Mojave Desert.
Locals and visitors come to explore the many off-road trails
and dirt roads leading off
into the mountains. Red Rock Canyon Area is a great place for
mountain climbing. There's another type of visitor frequenting the area
known as Park Rangers, Search & Rescue and Flight For Life. Quite often,
Flight For Life and Paramedics are at the beckon of rangers being called in under
difficult circumstances for
hikers and climbers who get hung-up on the sides of perilous cliffs,
falling either to death or serious injury. To give you some idea, take a
look at the 2 photos below of some free fall climbers. To the best we
could tell, no ropes were being used. Other incidents are motorcycle and
bike riders. We've been involved in them and have seen many.
Red Rock Canyon is pretty,
red with big red rocks but just an OK place to go on
wheels for a brief moment, if you're not going to get out of the car /
motorcycle much. Aside from the aesthetic superb views and photo
opportunities, the largest side of this areas beauty is found
on foot, not in the seat of a rental car or
I used to complain about the small entrance fee to Red Rock Scenic
area. However, vandalistic people are destroying it and some areas are
now in conservation. I've been making this trip for
over 50 years and when I see the line of cars, motorcycles and buses
have to acknowledge that it will attract many types of people, even the
Photography: There's a time to be at
Red Rock Canyon when it comes to photos and that's in the morning. If
you go in the afternoon, depending on the time of the year, the
Rainbow Mountain Wilderness Area (Below) is shaded from a western sunset
and you'll not find the color your looking for on the face of the
Sunset Overview: Now, if you're in a romantic mood head to
this location and just watch the sunset, it's beautiful or anywhere
along the side of the road leading to Blue Diamond.
Motorcycle Roads?: As far as motorcycle roads go, Red Rock Canyon isn't going to be one
of the most memorable places to visit in your life, nor life changing
but it's pretty for about an hour or so.
The photos below reflect the best of Red Rock Canyon as seen from the
seat of a motorcycle.
There are 2 choices for a ride in this state park.
Option 1: Ride up highway 159 (West Charleston), 5.6 miles
above 215 or the Red Rock Hotel then turn right on to scenic drive for
Option 2: is to bypass the scenic drive and enjoy the Rainbow
Mountain area which is a total distance of 10.2 miles to Spring Mountain
Ranch from 215. You'll have never been so bored in your life at this
Spring Mountain Ranch: Historical Sites at the park include
the Main Ranch House; Wilson Cemetery, Sandstone Cabin; Board and Batten
bunkhouse; Blacksmith's Shop, Hay and Horse Barn/Corral, Two-Hole
Outhouse, Chinchilla Shed and many more. They have some plays here in
the Summer that are great though, but once again, not in the day and not
on a bike.
Other areas along the way: There are a couple of places to
waist some time if this is going to be the extent of your ride.
Bonnie Springs next to Spring Mountain Ranch. A stone's throw
away. Look for the big wooden arch. It has an old bar / restaurant with
dollar bills on the walls. A children's petting zoo and an old small
choo choo train. We say this not to be condescending but do so with the
viewpoint as to riding motorcycles. Half way up the ride is gravel, last
time up anyways.
The expression on my daughters face reveals a lot about the place...
Nice little petting zoo at Bonnie Springs for kids
That is it.
We don't feel most riders are in search of a 24 mile drive. Once
again, if you're not hiking or hitting the trails this the extent of
road. In fact the only decent drive is scenic road, so make that 13
Ok, enough about Spring Mountain Ranch in the area.
Rainbow Mountain Wilderness / Red Rock Canyon Area
Below are examples of a western sunset shading out the cliffs of
the Rainbow Mountain Wilderness Area.
Here's a photo of the same mountain range earlier in the day.
Coffee break at Red Rock Canyon.
Varied Sandstone Layers
This particular photo provides a depth of
beautiful sandstone layers at one of the stops.
It's relatively hard to tell how big this is but
if you looked at the rock climbers above, this is
close to the same size, in the same area.
These mountains and rolling
valleys can be seen in some shots below.
To the right of this photo (North) is an area
that contains a rugged complex set of
canyons, ridges and mountain peaks. La Madre
Mountain dominates the area with spectacular
cliffs and steep canyons occurring on its
southeast flanks. Elevations range from 3,600
feet in Brownstone Basin to 9,600 feet at La
Once again Red Rock Canyon revealing the many
layers of color rock. Below is the money shot...
Splendid Valley of Beauty - Spring Mountains
East Valley on scenic drive at Red Rock
Now turn around and grab a shot of this
Isn't there a saying that goes, "When you get
tired of looking at your Bike, it's time for a
Another nice place to stop...
There are a few spots to pull off, ...
Enjoy the photos....
Malissa L. teaching us a few tricks about
photography. (2 Shots Below)