Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Melting in the Valley of Fire

Oasis in the desert along Northshore Road
 Back in early September, Brian and I traveled to parts of Nevada, Utah, and Arizona.  You can read about the first part of our vacation spent at Hoover Dam and Lake Mead here, but I wanted to continue with our journey by writing about our time spent outside of Vegas at Valley of Fire State Park.  When I last posted, we we were just about to check into our casino/hotel, the Station Inn, and pig out at the hotel's dinner buffet.  The next morning, in an effort to burn off some of the calories we just consumed, we drove back out to Lake Mead and headed north up Northshore Road to Valley of Fire State Park.  The scenic drive alone was worth the trip- along the road you will encounter beautiful red stone formations and hidden springs surrounded by palms (but don't drink the water!), with sparkling blue Lake Mead as a backdrop.  We encountered several bicyclists, and if it hadn't been hotter  than Hades, then I would have loved to join them.

 

Rogers Spring


Park entrance to Valley of Fire SP
After approximately an hour's drive, we reach the back entrance to Valley of Fire State Park and realize we don't have enough cash to pay the entrance fee (I believe it was $7) and there's no ranger on duty so we stuff $5 dollars in an envelop along with a note that says, "Sorry- from out of state and didn't have enough cash.  If you find us we can pay the remainder with debit".  I'm sure park officials were amused.  The park itself is full of enormous red rocks, stone beehive formations, and ancient petroglyphs, and we decided on a relatively short trail to hike.  When we get out of the car our faces start to melt (the car's temperature gauge says its something like 107 degrees), and we hit the short trail to Mouse's Tank in order to see petroglyphs and a watering hole where a renegade Indian hidout in the 1890s.  As we trudge through the hot sand with the sun beating down on us, I realize, it is just too damn hot to be out here.  We take a quick look at the less than impressive, but no doubt lifesaving, watering hole and promptly return to our air-conditioned car.  It's really a lovely state park and I would have enjoyed exploring it further had it not felt like the equivalent of standing on the surface of the Sun.  I would suggest going anytime other than Summer, unless you have a hankering for face-melting heat.

Petroglyphs at Atlatl Rock

Trail head to Mouse's Tank

After leaving the park, we drive to Vegas where we've booked two nights at the Mirage and have plans to see friends renew their vows and catch 'O,' the amazing Cirque du Soleil water show.  More on that in a future post...

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