Friday

Daytrip – Bridge Canyon Wilderness Area – AKA Grapevine Canyon

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The Bridge Canyon Wilderness Area, located in the rugged Newberry Mountains, is a small 7,761 acre wilderness with elevations rising to 5,600 feet. It is contained within the boundaries of the southern area of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. It is bordered by Hwy 163, Christmas Tree Pass road and the Spirit Mountain Wilderness Area. It is home to Grapevine Canyon, one of Nevada's premier rock art sites, and Sacatone Wash, also know for it petroglyphs. There are also several caves in the area that may have provided temporary shelter many hundreds of years ago.

Bridge Canyon Wilderness Area is characterized by steep canyons, large and rugged granite boulders and numerous springs and seeps that provide water to plants and wildlife in the area. Most vegetation in the area is typical creosote bush, catclaw, mesquite, desert scrub oak and yucca. The bottoms of Sacatone and Grapevine Washes also support stands of cottonwood. Grapevine Canyon also supports cattails, rushes and canyon grape. In this area is one of the northernmost populations of smoke tree. In the higher elevations you'll find scattered stands of juniper and pinon pine. While hiking this area you may come across coyote, bighorn sheep, mule deer, side-blotched lizard, western chuckwalla, desert tortoise and several species of rattlesnake.



02/09/2012 Trip Notes: The rock hounds from the Henderson Heritage Park Senior Facility spent the majority of the day hiking Grapevine Canyon, Sacatone Wash and around some of the areas’ huge monolithic-like granite outcrops.  

The Granite Outcrops: We started with a hike around a large grouping of granite outcrops and older metamorphic rocks located at the southeast corner of the Bridge Canyon Wilderness Area. These granites date from about 1.4 billion years ago and the metamorphic rocks are composed of gneiss and schist's that date from about 1.7 billion years ago. These rock formations are generally separated by natural faults.
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During our hiking around the monolithic like rock formations we seemed to be confronted with many that reminded us of various images. Top left (a turtle with its head protruding from its shell), top right (an elephants head and trunk), bottom right (various skull like resemblances).
 
Sacatone Wash: On our way to Grapevine Canyon we stopped for a brief hike along Sacatone Wash. While some walked the wash, some of us hiked along the base of the mountain ridges all the way to Grapevine Canyon. Though I don’t think anyone from our group walked far enough up this wash, I have learned from some Internet research that a longer hike here may provide some petroglyph sighting's.  The picture below is a view of the ridge line above the wash.
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Grapevine Canyon: This being my fourth trip to Grapevine Canyon, I have captured nearly all of its outstanding petroglyphs as well as having hiked up three quarters of its length. As a result, I really didn’t get very many new photographs on today’s visit. I did find one rock face high up that contained a few faint petroglyphs that I had missed on previous visits. I also got a picture of a Western Chukwalla that several people in our group also spotted high up on a ledge.
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I also got a picture (below) of a Western Chukwalla that several people in our group spotted high up on a ledge. The chuckwalla, a large (up to 16 or more inches) lizard related to the iguana. To learn more about the chuckwalla go my page ... Western Chuckwalla (Sauromalus obesus).
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Click the following links to read about and view additional images, a slide-show and petroglyph pictures from previous hikes to Grapevine Canyon.  Grapevine Canyon; Grapevine Canyon Petroglyphs; More Grapevine Canyon Petroglyphs.

Link to Spirit Mountain Wilderness Area ... Daytrip - Spirit Mountain Wilderness Area.

Saturday

Daytrip – Lava Butte and Rainbow Gardens

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Destination: Lava Butte and Rainbow Gardens
Distance from Point of Origin: 21.4 miles.
Estimated (One Way) Travel Time: 40 minutes.
Directions: From the Stratosphere Casino head southwest for 0.3 miles on S. Las Vegas Blvd toward W. Baltimore Ave. Turn right onto W Sahara Ave for 0.7 miles and merge onto I-15 North via the ramp to Salt Lake City. Travel 3.9 miles and take exit 45 for Lake Mead Blvd, then turn right onto NV-147 E/E Lake Mead South Blvd. Travel 13.4 miles, past the base of the Sunrise and Frenchman Mountains, and turn right onto a gravel road. Go 1.3 miles and turn left and travel 85 feet and turn left again. Go 0.7 miles and turn left and go 0.9 miles. All told you will drive approximately 2.9 miles from the initial turn off to the parking area, which is beneath some power lines. The road will fork on occasion, but has markers that say Lava Butte along the way, take note because if you see a marker for Rainbow Gardens you will know you are off course.

General Description: Composed of Dacite, an igneous volcanic rock, Lava Butte is part of a geologic wonder called Frenchman’s block that may have been a volcanic dome formed over 13 million years ago. Geologists are still arguing about this. The dark outer coating on these iron oxide rocks is desert varnish. The many smaller hills and peaks in the area composed of limestone that are much easier to climb. Lava Butte rewards nice summit views of the surrounding mountainous areas, as well as Lake Mead, the City of Las Vegas, and Lake Las Vegas.
Special Attraction or Points of Interest: The area call Rainbow Gardens and the many surrounding hills have coral and shell fossils from the Paleozoic era along with crystalline gypsum, quartz and many other minerals. The ravines and washes hold many fossils too washed down from the surrounding hills. When hiking Rainbow Gardens, look for Pinnacle Butte (also known locally as "Hitchhiker's Butte") and Red Needle. Depending upon the time of year, keep your eyes open for rattlesnakes. Other animals you may encounter wile hiking this area include desert tortoise, lizards, the cotton tale, the burrowing owl, Big Horn Sheep, wild donkeys, coyote, badgers, chip monks and raptors.
Primary Activity: Hiking and Rock-hounding
Secondary Activities: Photography

Elevation: 2,871 feet.
Best Time To Visit: The best times to hike the area in the summer are in the early morning and dusk. However, be forewarned; hiking during these periods you are more likely to encounter the diamondback rattle snake and the sidewinder, both of which are poisonous.
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult due to the steepness and some bouldering near the top. A hike to the summit takes and back takes several hours depending on your physical shape. The summit rises 2,831 feet above sea level and the trails to the summit are not defined.
Facilities: None.
Estimated Round-trip Time: Four to five hours if you include some hiking in the Rainbow Gardens area.
More Info On Lava Butte & Rainbow Gardens: http://vernpaulwriter.hubpages.com/hub/A-Mini-Las-Vegas-Hike-Often-Overlooked-Rainbow-GardensLava-Butte
Lava Butte Map-2
02/02/2012 Trip Notes: Today’s rock hound trip from the Henderson Heritage Park Senior Facility was to Lava Butte and the Rainbow Gardens. Even through the drive (yellow dashed line on the above map) in was a little rough in spots, we made it to the base of Lava Butte’s northwest face. While the majority of our group hiked the power line rode that ran along the length of the butte and around towards its south face, two of our members actually climbed and hiked its entire ridgeline from north to south. Their performance was actually an encouragement for the rest of us to give it a try on our next visit. On our way out from Lava Butte, we took one of roads marked ‘Rainbow Gardens’ (oraange dashed line on the above map), however, it did not lead to the main area that we were looking for. As we ran out of time to explore the other road that led to this area, we were forced to leave it for another trip. The picture below was taken at the beginning of the road that winds its way to Lava Butte.
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A washout in the road caused us to park our van (visible in the center of the picture) near the base of the butte’s northern end. We then hiked the power line road up hill for nearly a mile along its west face before it eventually turned and reached the butte’s southern exposure (shown in the picture below). With a view of the Las Vegas valley, I continued on about another three-quarters of a mile before heading back.
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On the left is Bill, our driver, looking for signs of the last five hikers that had yet to return. On the right is Albert Ramos, another longtime member of our group, taking in some final sights before boarding the van for our return trip.
The four pictures below were captured along the road that we followed around the base of the butte. I believe the two bird pictures are of a house finch. If anyone knows the name of the plant on the bottom left, email me at kccandcj@yahoo.com.
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Rainbow Gardens Road
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Again, due to a wash out, we had to park our van several miles short of our destination point along this road. The pictures below are some of the views that Blake (my hiking partner) and I shared while hiking this two mile stretch (green dashed line noted as Rainbow Garden Rd. on the map above. The first picture below is of a small pass that we hiked thru that led to a wide valley between two long ridges. The last picture in this series was taken on our return while standing in the center of the picture below, looking in the opposite direction. If you click the last picture to enlarge it, you can see Lake Mead in the upper right-hand corner.
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Wednesday

Mosaic Mirror Tiled Chinese Horse & Dale Chihuly Sculpture

Chinese Horse
This beautiful mosaic tiled Chinese horse stands majestically inside the lobby of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino. More than eight feet tall, it is comprised of thousands of hand applied mirrored tiles less than a 1/2 inch square. The 18-foot high ceiling directly above this exquisite horse is a 2,000 square foot coffer filled with the most extraordinary glass sculpture, a chandelier called Fiori di Como by the world famous sculptor Dale Chihuly. This ceiling sculpture is composed of over 2,000 hand-blown glass flowers.
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Posts for February 2012

Listed by Month - Category -Title:

February Posts:
Art & Sculpture - Mosaic Mirror Tiled Chinese Horse & Dale Chihuly Sculpture
Collage - A Mid-winter's Spring
Daytrip (Update) - Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail
Daytrip (Update) - Mike O'Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge 
Petroglyphs & Pictographs - Petroglyphs at Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area
Daytrip - Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area
Daytrip - Sandy Valley Road
Collage - Year of the Dragon
Daytrip - Spirit Mountain Wilderness Area
Daytrip - Bridge Canyon Wilderness Area
Rock-hounds - Spotlight on Bill Terrance
Daytrip - Lava Butte and Rainbow Gardens

Spotlight on Bill Terrance

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What can we say about our esteemed driver and tour guide, Bill Terrance. From his friendly early morning greetings, to his along the route commentary, to pointing out of the best hiking trails, to knowing all of the closest bathroom stops, Bill does it all. On his own time, Bill usually visits each of our destinations to ensure that he can find the best way in and out. Even though we have been ‘stuck’ a few times, in both snow and sand, he never panics and always manages to get us back home safely. We are all lucky to have him as our weekly driver.
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A Mid-winter’s Spring

Bellagio Dragon Flowers
Even though we try to make it down the the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio for each of their seasonal displays, perhaps none is more rewarding than a mid-winter’s visit when the outside temperatures can get down to the upper thirties and low forties at night with cloud filled days that appear cool and gloomy. The vibrancy of beautiful flowers and waterfalls can always bring a feeling of warmth and joy to any visitor.

Year of the Dragon

Yr of the Dragon
Bellagio’s Conservatory and Botanical Gardens started the new year off with an exhibit celebrating the Chinese New Year titled “Year of the Dragon”. This was the first time we visited one of their exhibits at night and found it to be a whole new experience. The special lighting that they had on these displays was just breathtaking.