Magazine article Sunset

On the Rocks in Nevada

Magazine article Sunset

On the Rocks in Nevada

Article excerpt

In Red Rock Canyon, find quiet beauty and wildlife among the cliffs

The air is crisp at the base of the 1,500-foot-tall cliffs of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. By now, the searing temperatures and crowds of summer have yielded to cool days and quiet trails, giving wise visitors in the early hours a chance to glimpse wildlife such as the remarkable desert bighorn sheep.

In search of wildlife, we follow the easy-to-moderate Pine Creek Trail (2.9 miles round trip) through old-growth ponderosa pines. Above us, the ocher cliffs glow like fire in the early-morning sun. We look for bighorn clattering on the cliffs, but instead we see only wind-eroded rocks that look like bighorn. Meanwhile, ground squirrels and lizards scurry around us, and a black raven circles above.

We take a brief lunch stop before resuming our wildlife search, this time along the moderate Calico Tanks Trail 2 1/2 miles), adjacent to Turtlehead Peak. After passing an ancient Native American agaveroasting pit, the trail continues over the jumbled sandstone of a small canyon to a large tinaja (Spanish for "tank"), a natural formation full of water after recent storms. …

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