ADVENTURES IN RED ROCK CANYON
LAS VEGAS, NV | MAY 24, 2019
Every year around late May, I travel to Las Vegas. My obligations have me spending a lot of time on The Strip and at the Convention Center so it's necessary to carve out some time to decompress among nature. Two years ago I was able to visit Red Rock Canyon for the first time with a good friend of mine who is frequently down for modeling for my photography. We spent about an hour shooting in the canyon but weren't able to do much more exploring. You can check out one of our final images here!
Since that impromptu photo shoot, I've always been craving to go back to Red Rock. The next time I was able to, I really wanted to take in more sights and walk some trails. This year was that time and I decided to have my mom meet me in Vegas too! It was practically her birthday weekend so it was the perfect time. All photographs of me are courtesy of her!
My mom was a trooper on the trails with me. We spent most of our time on the Calico Hills trails. These are trails in the photographs of the amazing rocks in the canyon with memorizing red and orange colors. The Calico Hills trail actually takes you into the canyon along the main road. It's easy to loose track of the trail if you're not paying close attention!
One of the very first things you'll notice driving into the park is the cautionary road signs for Tortoise Crossing. TORTOISE CROSSING! I'd be lying if I said I wasn't intently looking for tortoises in along the roadsides and canyons. Unfortunately, we didn't see any tortoise, but we did see a Jack Rabbit and a Desert Cotton Tail... along with one other reptilian friend you'll meet in just a moment!
Enjoy this photo gallery of fauna, flora, and breathtaking Sonoran Desert landscape!
RED ROCK FAUNA
I was ecstatic when we came across a Chuckwalla within the first 20 minutes of meandering around the canyon. I love seeing the wildlife in places I visit, it's always a wish that I encounter as many animals as possible! This guy was basking in the sun, with no care in the world. He didn't seem to mind me approaching him and snapping a few shots while he was in and out of sleep. Chuckwallas are in the Iguana family and are herbivorous reptiles. For scale, my best guess is that this guy was about 2 feet long from head to tail.
RED ROCK FLORA
One of the best parts about visiting Red Rock Canyon in late May is that you get to see all the flowers of Springtime still blooming. It's amazing how many different varieties of plants there are in the desert. Yes, there was plenty of cacti but just as many other types of flowering plants. I took a photo of every single type of flower/plant I came across on the Calico Hills trail. Check them out below! Click on the images to expand the entire photo.
The most abundant plants that you see across the landscape at Red Rock are Cholla Cacti and Yucca (Mojave and Banana). Some of the prominent plants of the canyon that are photographed above include: Hedgehog Cactus, Banana Yucca, Globe Mallow, Giant Four O'Clock, Desert Marigold, Apache Plume, Indigo Bush, Mojave Sage, Bastard Toadflax Fruit, and Prickly Pear Cactus Bloom.
The plants below (from left/top to right/bottom) are Mojave Yucca, Buckhorn Cholla, and Barrel Cactus.
PETROGLYPH WALL TRAIL
While we still had time before sunset in the park we went to check out the Petroglyph Wall. The trail head was poorly marked off a gravel road. It was less than a half mile round trip, so to say it was exciting is a bit of an overstatement. It's a sad reality when you see vandalism first hand on native artwork that dates back hundreds to thousands of years. The petroglyph wall in the park isn't secured (closed off with a gate or glass), as with most public parks, it's up to you to keep the parks in the best condition possible. Unfortunately, not all people care. The petroglyphs and pictographs at Red Rock are still clearly visible though. Check them out here... In the image on the left/top, you can see the petroglyphs carved into the rock-face. In the image on the right/bottom, you can see pictographs stained (red) onto the rock-face.
CATUS BOTANICAL GARDEN
Last but not least, the next day we visited the Botanical Cactus Garden that is located on the grounds of the Ethel M Chocolate Factory. The property is free to visit and is 3-acres of cacti. It was a nice and easy stroll and a perfect ending to our trip (yes, we got chocolate too!)