Retroactive Post – April 6th, 2013
When we arrived at our hotel (Stratosphere Hotel and Casino) the night before, we were told that we had arrived after 6PM so a Deluxe room had not been held for us. The staff at the registration counter apparently didn’t have any deluxe rooms available so we got a downgrade to a smaller room with a “limited” view of the mountains – not a great way to start off a six day relationship with a customer. The next day, they found us a better room for the rest of our stay, but that took time and time is not one of those commodities that a traveler wants to waste. Based on this initial night’s reception at the front desk, I would not add this hotel to my highly recommended list.
Our plan for the day was to drive out to the Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area which is only a few miles to the west of the Las Vegas subdivisions. (Location)
As we headed for our car a fire truck arrived at the back entrance to the casino. This reminded me of a similar situation that I and my wife had experienced when we were visiting Rhode Island in the Fall of 2012. (“Rough Point”, Newport, Rhode Island)
With this bit of excitement behind us, we headed out to Red Rock Canyon.Â The canyon was the turn-around destination for some sort of cycling event on this Saturday so, all along the highway, we had to be cognizant of the presence of many, many cyclists who were pedaling their way towards the canyon. Happily there was a bit of space between the cyclists when we reached the canyon marker, so I was able to safely depart from the highway.
The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management and after paying our entrance fee we headed for the Visitor Center where there was plenty of information about the area and the flora and fauna and the history of the area’s development. The basic entrance fee is $7 per vehicle but we opted to purchase the America the Beautiful Annual Pass for $80. The America the Beautiful pass is an interagency pass that will be honored by the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Reclamation. Later in the week, we would use the pass for access to the Lake Mead area and to the Death Valley National Park. For anyone planning on visiting a number of U.S. parks and conservation areas during the year, the America the Beautiful Annual Pass is an excellent way to go. (Official government site)
In the parking lot, a vehicle was sporting this sign:
Happily, no zombies found us during our visit to the Red Rock Canyon but we did find plenty to photograph starting with the desert tortoises at the visitor center.
In addition to the many information placards located along the walkways and displays at the Visitor Center, the Center also provides a wonderful overview of a broad expanse of desert habitat at the foot of the mountains.Â Red Rock Canyon is a popular location for hikers and rock climbers and provides an interesting option for those who need to get away from the noise and glitter of Las Vegas for a few moments of relative solitude.
During our visit, the Desert Globe Mallow (Sphaeralacea ambigua) and Yucca were beginning to add floral accents to the still rather barren-looking countryside.
One of the primary attractions of Red Rock Canyon is the massive rockface very close to the scenic roadway. From the Visitor Center, it is difficult to grasp the massiveness of this red rock climbing surface but, once closer to the scene, the climbers still appear as small objects moving along the face o the massive rock. In the following image, a group of three climbers appear as mere dots by the green foliage to the left of the image.
Graeme and I spent most of the day exploring the Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area and didn’t see even a small part of what this area has to offer. A great place to visit and only a 20 – 30 minute drive from the Las Vegas Boulevard casinos!
Additional photos will be uploaded as time permits.
A few of Graeme’s Red Rock Canyon images can be viewed here.