I went to Vegas last weekend (7/10/10 - 7/11/10) for Patrick and Shannon's wedding and had a blast. Beautiful ceremony, awesome people: just great.
Sunday my plan was to cruise out west of Las Vegas to check out Red Rock Canyon. All I knew about Red Rock was that it was a climbing area, it was supposed to have awesome sandstone, and that the rock was red.
I had no idea it was going to be this gorgeous cathedral of beautiful rock. It literally dropped my jaw.
It's essentially this wide valley protected on the west side by these dramatic, triangular peaks, and on the east side by rolling, petrified sand dunes with colors ranging from brick red to blonde to fuchsia.
Click on any picture to enlarge.
This is when I was still driving, and first caught sight of the park. Again, I had no idea there were going to be mountains like this. I was so excited I took a picture from inside the car:
Another shot while driving in. The colors are a little muted but you can see the huge incredible striations that run horizontally across the peaks:
This is Calico Basin, the east side of the park, the petrified sand dunes:
The little trail across the chaparral gives you a sense of the scale of these things:
Gorgeous wind shaping on the sandstone in a little ravine. The ground in here was covered in fine red sand that had eroded from the walls over the years:
That's really what color the rock is:
Again, use that little trail for size perspective:
Love the two shades of sandstone here. A quarry was operated down at the base of this hill, in the blonde sandstone, for a few years starting in 1904 if I remember correctly, but the costs of extraction proved too high to make the operation profitable and it folded in a couple years:
You can still see the last, unfinished stones that were left in place when the quarry folded:
View from on top of one of the former sand dunes of the peaks in the west:
This orange stone is some of the smoothest natural rock I've ever felt:
Some pretty lichen:
Awesome erosion in the rock. The sand dunes petrified in about third-of-an-inch layers:
Here you can kind of see they layering of the sandstone. I walked down this slab to a little promontory where I got a great view of the valley:
More beautiful yellow sandstone. I leaned in here to get a picture and a grasshopper flew out from under that crack and scared the hell out of me:
View of the peaks with zoom lens. Loved the sunlight that was raking across them as the sun set:
Wide angle from my little promontory:
You can see how it's a little greener at the base of the mountains. There's a little bit of shade there, so it's cooler, and more importantly there's water that seeps through the porous mountain rock and flows out the of the base of the mountain in little springs and streams:
Kicking back for a minute. Was a teensy bit winded from the climb. 98-degree weather didn't help:
This picture's crooked ('cause the camera was on a crooked rock) and out of focus, but I left it in because of the crazy orange light that's reflected off the rock onto my skin (I'm not usually that color). Weird, huh?
View of the mountains:
Cool fuzzy tree:
The line of trees across the bottom fourth of this picture represents a wash that drains the mountains, and, according to the signpost I read, approximates the conditions of the entire Las Vegas valley during the last ice age:
View looking east back at the sand dune area:
Wish I were climbing that ridge!
I love these peaks, especially the middle one with the weird taupe-ish copper color:
Shot from the wash's pine forest:
I have not idea what causes these sort of polka dots in sandstone, but there a number of rocks with this coloration: