guest post and photos by good travel blogging friend Bret of The JetPacker.
The trembling bass of a raging nightclub. The constant ringing of slot machines. The relentless barrage of advertisements. Honking horns. Flashing lights. Drunken laughter.
Sometimes Las Vegas can be overwhelming. Sometimes you need peace and quiet. Sometimes you need fresh air... even if the air is hot and dry.
From a hotel room high above The Strip, you scan the harsh desert landscape in the distance, looking for a temporary escape, when something unusual captures your attention, sticking out like a bright red sore thumb...Red Rock Canyon.
Fifteen miles west of Las Vegas is an odd place where the flat, sandy desert landscape gives way to a patch of crimson hills. At first glance, these strikingly massive clumps of Aztec sandstone in the middle of no where seem misplaced. Like nature's mistake.
But it's not. Hundreds of millions of years ago, when dinosaurs walked the earth, active fault lines violently pushed land masses together at such speed that wet sand dunes fossilized, causing the minerals from the water to lodge in the rocks and alter its color.
Red Rock Canyon serves as a visual record of that tumultuous time in earth's history, a chronicle of the region’s geographic history that stretches from the red band streaking across the mountains of the Keystone Thrust Fault to the smooth crimson and amber rocks of Calico Hills.
Today, Red Rock Canyon is a prehistoric playground for hikers, rock-climbers and curious sight-seers. A 13-mile scenic drive winds through Joshua trees and cactus, twisting around jackrabbit burrows and rattlesnake holes, gaining over a thousand feet in elevation, rendering the Vegas strip a tiny glimmer in the distance.
Those with a more adventurous spirit can hike across 58 miles of trails, attempt to traverse cliff walls as high as 3,000 feet, or bike along roads frequented by wild burros, coyotes and desert tortoises.
You can easily spend an entire day appreciating the visually stunning and unique features of Red Rock Canyon for an admission fee of only $7. It's cheaper than a hand of blackjack... and even more rewarding.
Bret is a writer for The JetPacker, a humorous travel site packed with odd travel news, cool lists, fun facts and stories about the weird and interesting aspects of travel.