valley of fire   7 comments

Posted at 8:47 am in desert,nevada

The second day after leaving Bisbee to return to the northeast, I stopped to visit Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. The park is within an hour’s drive of Las Vegas, so it wasn’t too surprising to find a long line of vehicles at the entry gate. I used the time inching forward in line to eat some salad made before leaving home. By the time lunch was finished, I was at the front of the line. Once inside the park, the crowds dispersed – some to the campgrounds and others to the visitor’s center and trail head parking areas. On this day, I would just be passing through to the east side gates and beyond after touring around a bit to appreciate the rock formations and take a few photos.

Early April is a good time to visit — not yet too hot, and the desert vegetation was fresh and green against the intensely red rock formations. As usual, it’s difficult to convey size or scale in photos, but most of the formations are large, but not on the scale of other red rock places such as Zion or Bryce Canyon. I was particularly drawn to the strange partial circle pattern in the above formation (click on all photos to see larger views). Similar formations always catch my eye when I’m traveling through southern Utah.

As I was planning to camp the night up near Kanab, Utah, there wasn’t time for hiking on this day. However, it would be terrific to return to walk a few trails to sites that are not visible from the road system as there are petroglyphs and petrified trees to be seen. Having Sage and Sabrina along, I did not want to leave them in the van for more than a few moments. When you’re in the desert, the temperature in a vehicle can begin to soar immediately when you’re not moving along with the windows open, so any stops for photos were minimal and consisted of quick leaps out of the van to shoot an image or two of particularly striking formations. A couple of times along the roadway, a Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus) raced out of the sagebrush and bounded ahead of us for a few moments before leaping for cover. Sage stood perched with front feet atop the cooler between the front van seats where she could get the best view of the action.

Although the brilliant red rock formations are signature of this park and seemed to attract the greatest visitor attention, it was the “painted hills” section that most appealed to me. It is like a somewhat scaled down and more concentrated version of the landscape in the Escalante-Grand Staircase region of southern Utah. Softly rounded hills and domes of rock in pastel tones of pink, yellow, violet and brown.

After leaving through the east gate of the park, I took a roundabout route back to the freeway and on up to Hurricane, Utah. Quite by chance, I took a wrong road going out of town — intending to go towards Springdale to look for the place on the cottonwood flats along the river outside of Zion where I had seen RVs and campers boondocked on my way through last March. Within minutes, it became apparent that I was on the wrong road, and actually cutting back into Arizona on the narrow strip between the Utah border and the Grand Canyon. Rather than turn back, I drove on to Fredonia and then up to Kanab. It wasn’t such a bad thing as we spent the night at one of my favourite campgrounds – a quiet place which only ever seems to attract one or two fellow travelers. Which one? As the movie saying goes, “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.”

Well, it is morning and I’m about five days away from Ottawa. I crossed the border into Canada yesterday and am making good eastward progress. I’ll be spending about a week in Ottawa, loading up the van with tools and other items that will be needed at the place in Nova Scotia. In the meantime, I’ll try to post a few more trip photos as we’ll be moteling it at least one or two more nights along this route. More coming up soon.

Written by bev on April 7th, 2010

7 Responses to 'valley of fire'

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  1. All of these photos are so beautiful. I love red rock formations, but you are right to appreciate the painted hills. I palet of colors is amazing. I must say my favorite photo is the last one of the road cutting through all the natural beauty of the desert.

    Drive safe. And enjoy each moment.



    7 Apr 10 at 7:43 pm

  2. I love that country and your photos capture it beautifully. Safe traveling.


    8 Apr 10 at 2:18 pm

  3. Dan – Thanks. I have enjoyed all of my travels thus far. Lots of photos which I’ll try to share soon.

    Rain – Thanks! And yes, I love that country too.


    8 Apr 10 at 8:21 pm

  4. Hi Bev,
    I too am intrigued by that gouged place in that rock formation. When in the west I always wish I had a geologist with me. I wonder if you submitted that picture to a geology department somewhere if they could easily explain what caused that formation.

    Your pictures capture it that stark beauty wonderfully.

    And then a wrong turn! Oh that sounds too familiar. Nice thing is that you keep your cool. I’d be U-turning with my hair on fire ;-D

    So you’re 5 days from Ottawa as of this writing.

    I’m so glad you’re checking in. It’s good to follow your journey.

    Safe travels, dear.

    Cathy Wilson

    12 Apr 10 at 2:28 pm

  5. Hi Bev,

    I found your blog after doing a google search to identify a butterfly (my very first – i’m 63, but just got into bird and nature photography in the past year or so) that I photographed. I didn’t find a match in your photos, but lost myself for several hours in your story. The writing, photos and observations all touched me deeply. I’ve added you to my blog list, and will continue to follow your journey (if that’s okay) as you explore life in Nova Scotia. All the best, and thank you!

    Carol Carson

    13 Apr 10 at 10:43 pm

  6. Hi Cathy – There are so many fascinating formations in red rock country. It would be nice to visit in the company of a geologist and discuss which effect caused a particular formation. One thing I do know is that a good many formations have been created through the action of wind and water – a creek gradually cutting its way through the earth to form a canyon – flash flooding carrying rocks along and cutting new paths in the landscape – strong winds eroding sand from stone and carrying them miles to deposit as sand dunes. It almost seems unimaginable.
    On getting lost – it happens now and then, but never really lost in the sense of not knowing where I am. My sense of direction and place is always very strong, so the main thing that may happen is that the roads aren’t quite as they are shown on a map, or I see a road that isn’t shown but probably goes where I am headed, so I take it just to see what happens. When in unfamiliar places, I try to keep the gas tank topped up. We always have lots of food and water on board – enough for a week usually — and that helps me to feel safe enough to do some exploring. It’s all in the way of seeing.
    So you won’t fret – we’re in Ottawa now. I pushed very hard the last few days and got here last Sunday. The weather was cool in most of the country and I had to drive through some slushy snow on the north shore of Lake Superior — just blowing snow – no accumulation, luckily. The van acted up a few hours from here, but we made by Sunday evening. I’m rushing around trying to take care of a bunch of arrangements before I leave for Nova Scotia – hopefully on Monday morning. Sabrina has had some health problems, so I’m hoping those cn be resolved – she’s getting on in age and is at that point where things can go badly too easily. I’m hoping she’ll be around to enjoy Nova Scotia with me this summer.

    Hi Carol – So nice that you found your way to my blog and enjoyed the writing and photography. Yes, please feel very welcome to follow my journey! take care, bev


    14 Apr 10 at 8:25 am

  7. So glad you’re safely in Ottawa. Sabrina. Gosh. Sure hope you get some answers and that she starts feeling better. She’s such a sweetheart and I know that the two of you have shared some very tough times – together.

    I hope you’re giving yourself time to adjust to being up north again. I imagine you’re anxious to see your new place and get settled in.

    We’ll all be looking for updates. Give Sabrina a lovey for me. Sage, too 🙂 Well, heck! you, too. Lovies all around!

    Cathy Wilson

    15 Apr 10 at 9:17 pm

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