6/24/15 – 6/25/15
Zion National Park –> Valley of Fire State Park (135 miles)
I woke up at 5 a.m. to get a head start on the drive. The summer time heat in this part of the country is the real deal. Some where along the line I went through a time warp and it was an hour earlier. I enjoyed the sun rising over the desert and arrived at Valley of Fire State Park around eight a.m. Valley of Fire is located just south of the thriving metropolis of Overton, Nevada, on the northwest edge of Lake Mead.
Valley of Fire is Nevada’s oldest and largest state park.
The Valley of Fire derives its name from red sandstone formations, formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of dinosaurs, 150 million years ago. Complex uplifting and faulting of the region, followed by extensive erosion, have created the present landscape.
Other important rock formations include limestones, shales, and conglomerates. Prehistoric users of the Valley of Fire included the Basket Maker people and later the Anasazi Pueblo farmers from the nearby fertile Moapa Valley.
The span of approximate occupation has been dated from 300 B.C.E. to 1150 C.E. Their visits probably involved hunting, food gathering, and religious ceremonies, although scarcity of water would have limited the length of their stay. Fine examples of rock art left by these ancient peoples can be found at several sites within the park.
I drove all the way to the back of the park and did a short run of the White Domes loop. It was beautiful and hot as the “trail” wove in and out of red sandstone walls, sandy flats, and up and over large limestone rocks. There are signs everywhere (and for good reason) warning against hiking after 10 a.m.
While I was running I noticed some curious looking mountains to the south. I stopped at the visitors center to ask a ranger what I was looking at and found out about the Muddy Mountains. There was a rather attractive long ridge line I gawked at and this would be a cool place to run/climb in the cold Colorado winter months. For me, road trips double as recon missions. I carried a steno pad with me and noted all the places I would like to return and things, like the Muddy Mountains I would like to do.
Valley of Fire State Park –> Hoover Dam (68 miles)
Next I took scenic 167 through Lake Mead National Recreation Area to the Hoover Dam. It was an absolutely gorgeous drive but so hot my sweat was sweating. Even with the AC on full blast and being in the airiest, most comfortable dress I have, I was over heating. I was also starving so I stopped at Callville Bay and jet boiled myself some soup. Odd choice for 105 degree weather? Yup.
As I passed Boulder Beach about 25 miles west of the Hoover Dam I decided to stop and swim in Lake Mead. The water was warm but still refreshing. However, the relief was short lived. As soon as I stepped out of the water and onto the rocky shore line I was instantly hot and sweaty.
I suppose everyone should see the Hoover Dam at least once in their lifetime…especially if it’s right there, but I must say I don’t agree with damning. It is incredibly harmful to riparian ecosystems and very unnatural. Wanna know why? Watch this documentary. That being said I went and saw it. Between funneling through a massive car check security line, then parking, then waiting in line for 20 minutes to take an elevator (I eventually figured out there are stairs), to the heat, the wind, the masses of people, and the enormity of it all, it’s definitely an experience. I am glad I saw it, would I ever go back again? Probably not. This kind of thing really isn’t my scene. But hell, I got some rad photos.
The last order of business was to walk across the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge which is an arch bridge that spans the Colorado River between Arizona and Nevada. You can see the bridge in almost all of the photos above. But here are some views from my walk across. The winds were whipping so strong most people were deterred from crossing. I had it all to myself. It was pretty neat.
I worked my way 20 miles towards Boulder City, Nevada to spend the night in the finest Quality Inn room money could buy (cheapest hotel in Boulder City). Once again, it isn’t possible to camp in this part of the country, let alone car camp. I stopped at the Boulder Dam Brewing Co and had a beer and a veggie burger. Both food and beer were yum. I went swimming again at the hotel and left my bathing suit behind, never to be seen from or heard from again.
And that’s all in a days work….
Next up, Death Valley.
“Have less. Do more, be more.”