I love camping and hiking…but it’s hard to do in the winter here in Idaho. It’s too cold…or snowy…or cold…or wet…or cold.
So I thought I’d post about a great place that you can hike and explore during the winter. This is Red Rock Canyon. It’s just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. The weather usually switches between 2 seasons: sunny and brisk or sunny and scorching. Sunny is pretty consistent…even in the winter. My suggestion is to explore Red Rock Canyon anytime but Summer. The heat is brutal then!
I’ve hiked here a ton (since I grew up close to it). My dad brought me here a lot and let me and my siblings explore the cool rock formations for hours. Fun! The good things about the red sandstone here is that it has perfect grip! You can shimmy up steep rocky cliffs and your tennis shoes meld to the rock like the hoofs of a mountain goat. You don’t slip (unless it’s rainy…then it can be very slick. But since you’re in the desert, it don’t rain much!)
Red Rock Canyon has a scenic 13 mile loop you can drive with several stops along the way where you can hike, climb, or just stop to take a picture of a wild burro. This road is a great place to bike, since the traffic only goes one way. You’d better be in shape though, because it has some good climbs that might make you huff and puff like the Big Bad Wolf!
The desert has some amazing flora. To me, the best micro flowers are in the desert. When a spring shower comes along, the desert comes alive with color for a day or two until the sun scorches it all away again.
My favorite plant in Red Rock Canyon is the manzanita. It has a deep burgundy bark that makes its small green foliage burst out at your eyes! I would plant this stuff all over my yard if I could, but it doesn’t transplant (like many desert plants). So I have to enjoy it when I hike in Red Rock…and I do!
Another desert plant you’ll see a lot of is creosote. This is the dominant plant of the Mojave desert. It’s kind of scraggly and thirsty looking…but take a leaf of this plant and crush it between your fingers and smell it. Ummmm! I could wear this stuff as perfume! Ah! It smells like a fresh, cleansing rain. In the higher deserts of Utah and Idaho, rain smells like sagebrush–the dominant plant there. I like creosote rain smell the best.
Now on to fauna! There are wild burros in Red Rock Canyon. When I was a teenager I drove up a couple times early in the morning to capture the sunrise with my camera. Desert sunsets and sunrises are SPECTACULAR! When I’d park and get out, a herd of burros would meander along and watch me, probably wondering what in the world that fool girl was doing up so early.
Burros are small donkeys. They’re not mules, which are part horse and part donkey…and because of this inbreeding, are sterile. You’ll see baby burros and baby donkeys…but you ain’t EVER gonna see a baby mule! Nope!
Now even though they can’t repopulate, mules, according to Brian Regan, still have a great sense of humor (maybe it’s the fact that they never had to do the midnight feeding and changing diaper routine that gives them such a great sense of humor. I think I had a great sense of humor before I had 4 kids and lost about 4 years of sleep. Sleep deprivation is hard on one’s humor tank!)
Whatever the case, I’m not quite sure that burros have this same great sense of humor as their cousins, because when I tried to take a picture of one and told a knock-knock joke, it just looked at me weird and turned it’s backside to me. Maybe knock-knock jokes don’t make sense to burros because they don’t have the slightest idea what a door is and what knocking is all about! Next time, I’ll try telling a Chuck Norris joke…and if the burros don’t laugh, then I’ll know for sure they are stick-in-the-muds. Who doesn’t like a good Chuck Norris joke?
Did you know that Chuck Norris can cut through a hot knife with butter? He also makes onions cry…and one season, he won American Idol just using sign language! Even Lord Voldemort calls Chuck Norris ‘You Know Who.’
Enough! Now back to Red Rock. Take lots of water because it’s hot in the desert and dehydration kills more people in the outdoors than any other thing (even Chuck Norris). Take a camera along too so you can take pictures of the magnificent rock formations and mountains. One of these is the Keystone Thrust (a geological wonder where the earth has done a mighty heave and thrown up eons of layers up above the ground for us to gape at. Ahhh!)
There are so many colors and shapes and beautiful sunrises and sunsets. The desert is a great place to explore. Whether you like cracking jokes to burros…or whether hiking’s more your thing, I think you’ll like Red Rock Canyon in Nevada! Winter is a great time to go, because it will look like this–sunny and maybe be in the 70’s (that’s what it was last week, although it can get colder).
For more information on the hikes and other cool features of Red Rock Canyon, click on this link: Red Rock Canyon
I hope you get to explore this awesome place someday…or if you have already, I hope you can return to keep the burros entertained with Chuck Norris jokes. I can already hear them heehawing.