Bellagio's Botanical Gardens - Spring Celebration

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Carousel Horses
(Fig. 01)
This spring's exhibit was made up of 8,283 tulips, azaleas, hibiscus, lilies and other flowers, many stocked fresh every week, over 80,000 flowers in all for the season. All spread around a Dutch village full of bright primary colors. The exhibit includes a 20-foot tall windmill and a carousel (Figs. 01 & 04)) with dancing horses. The ceiling is adorned with dozens of hanging, hand-painted parasols (Fig. 06) openly saying spring is in the air. These thoughtfully arranged plants, flowers and trees are breathtakingly designed with minute attention to detail by 140 local, expert staff horticulturists, led by Andres Garcia, executive director of horticulture for the Conservatory who has worked with the Bellagio since 1998.
(Fig. 02)
This exhibit is just breathtaking. There are two ponds, one (Fig. 02 above) is next to the windmill and contains a 24-foot long stone bridge, and a huge mother swan and her two cygnets (made of 5,000 feathers and simulated fur). Another (Fig. 03 below) with a waterfall and a boat that appears to be just waiting to take on passengers and whisk them away to an afternoon of colorful serenity.
(Fig. 03)
Off in the distance, on the opposite side of the space is a spinning 11-foot tall carousel (Fig. 04). Weighing more than 8,600 pounds, this carnival favorite is adorned with 330 clear bulbs and is topped with colorful acrylic balloons with murals depicting Italian scenes. With seven horses freely bobbing up-and-down, waiting to take the imagination of a young child on a fantasyland adventure.
(Fig. 04)
To the rear, making its debut at Bellagio, is a 26-foot-tall windmill (Fig. 05) (36-feet tall with its blades) that weighs approximately 9,000 pounds. It lures visitors into a captivating garden surrounded by magnolia, weeping willow, bottle and plum trees.

(Fig. 05)
(Fig. 06)
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To view additional flower pictures of Delft Blue Hyacinth(Hyacinthus orientalis), Iceland Poppies (Papaver nudicaule), Eugene Chrysanthemum(Dendranthema x grandiflorum), Hybrid Lily (Lilium Red Planet), Tulips, and more, plus other shots from this exhibit, check out the slideshow below.

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Slideshow Description: The slideshow above contains 29 pictures that were taken at the Bellagio Conservatory’s 2012 Spring Celebration exhibit.

Old Spanish Trail - Armijo Route

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Destination:Old Spanish Trail.
Distance from Point of Origin: 26 miles.
Estimated (One Way) Travel Time: 40 minutes.
Directions: Head southwest on S Las Vegas Blvd go 1.7 miles and turn right onto Spring Mountain Rd. G .7 miles and turn left to merge onto I-15 South. Travel 5.5 miles and take exit 33 to merge onto NV-160 W/Blue Diamond Rd/SR-160 (aka Pahrump Highway) west toward Pahrump. Heading west on NV-160 go past NV-159, the turn to Red Rock Canyon.  The location of the historic marker for this portion of the Old Spanish Trail is at milepost 17, on the left side of NV-160. Turn left onto a dirt road just before the historic marker and drive about a half mile to the parking area.

General Description: Explored, in part, by Spanish explorers as early as the late 1500s, this historical trade route has often been called the most arduous pack mule caravan route in the history of America. The trail saw extensive use by pack trains from about 1830 until the mid-1850s. The map below outlines the trail from its beginnings, near Santa Fe New Mexico to its conclusion at Los Angles Plaza in California. Approximately 1,200 miles long, it ran through areas of high mountains, arid deserts, and deep canyons. During this period, Mexican and American traders took woolen goods west over the trail by mule train, and returned eastward with California mules and horses for the New Mexico and Missouri markets.

The following was taken from the historical marker found at this location – “This portion of the Old Spanish Trail was discovered in January, 1830, by Antonio Armijo during his first trip from Santa Fe to Los Angeles. The spring just north of this marker provided excellent water and fed meadows of luxuriant grass for draft animals. Two days were required to travel between Las Vegas and Mountain Springs Pass. The trip was broken at Cottonwood Springs, the site of Blue Diamond, where an early start was usually made in order to climb the pass by nightfall. Early travelers often referred to the area as Piute Springs, but the present title has been used for over a century. The altitude made Mountain Springs one of the favorite camping spots on the trail.

Armijo’s return journey marked the first time a caravan made a round trip between Santa Fe and Los Angeles, and the governor of New Mexico trumpeted this fact immediately to his superiors in Mexico City. There was finally a land link between these two regions; no longer was Santa Fe so land locked, because California provided access to foreign markets via her seaports.  In 2001, the section of the Trail that runs across Nevada from the Arizona border to California (known as the “Old Spanish Trail-Mormon Road Historic District”) was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Special Attraction or Points of Interest: Besides knowing that you are probably walking in the steps of hundreds, if not thousands of pioneers that helped early settlers turn the west into what it is today, there are great desert vistas and spectacular views of the the Wilson Cliffs inside the Red Rock National Conservation Area and the eastern cliffs of  the Mount Potosi range to the west.
Primary Activity: Hiking.
Secondary Activities: Photographing.

Elevation: 4,270 feet.
Best Time To Visit: Available for visitation and hiking year round, the best time to make this hike would be in the cooler months of Fall, Winter and Spring.
Difficulty: Easy. Most of the terrain here is flat easy walking.
Facilities: None.
Estimated Round-trip Time: 3-4 hours.
For more info on the Amrijo Route and the Old Spanish Trail: and

Old Spanish Trail Notes: The entire Spanish Trail ran between Santa Fe and Los Angeles over a circuitous 1,200 mile northward-looping course traversing six modern day states; New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and California. Between 1829 and 1848 it was the main corridor through the Southwest for traders, trappers, horse dealers, Indians and slavers. Woven woolen goods were shipped west from Mexico and California mules and horses were shipped east for the New Mexico and Missouri markets. After 1848 Mormon pioneers developed the western portion of the trail for wagon travel between Salt Lake City and southern California. Las Vegas was eventually settled as a way station and supply point on this vitally important route as were the towns of San Bernardino, Saint George and Cedar City. The route from the Muddy River, north of Overton, southwest to Las Vegas and beyond was one of the toughest and driest stretches of the trail, and would have been nearly impossible without the discovery of Las Vegas's springs and the water resources at Spring Mountain Ranch and Cottonwood Spring. The trail then heads west, following State 160 towards Pahrump Valley.  After topping out at the Mountain Springs Summit at 5,502 feet, the trail turns left off of Rt 160, onto the Old Spanish Trail Highway, which leads west to Tecopa California and on to Barstow, San Bernardino and Los Angeles. (Click on map below to enlarge)

Armijo Trail Notes: I pieced together the following information after viewing numerous Internet sites pertaining to the Armijo Trail. Knowledge of Armijo’s trip was brought to the attention of historians after the publishing of his journal in 1954. Though many of his journal entries appeared somewhat cryptic, a careful reading of them, combined with a familiarity with the topography of the region they traveled, made it possible to retrace the route of this historic undertaking. It appears that Armijo's caravan, between 31 and 60 men depending upon what account you read, left Santa Fe New Mexico and traveled north to Abiquiu (now Albuquerque). Heading west from Abiquiu, they traveled  down Largo Canyon, crossed the San Juan, Animas, and La Plata Rivers (in New Mexico) and reached the Mancos River (in Colorado) south of what is now Mesa Verde National Park. After descending the Mancos River Canyon and crossing the San Juan River for a second time, they traversed Navajo Indian country to the Colorado River with the aid of a Navajo guide. They crossed the Colorado at one of its most famous places, known today as the “Crossing of the Fathers.” The historic crossing was named for the Spanish Fathers Domínguez and Escalante after their November 1776 crossing of the river. Traveling further west, the group reached the Virgin River near St. George, Utah. After ascending the Santa Clara River, they re-joined the Virgin at Littlefield, Arizona and followed it to its junction with the Colorado River. From that point they traveled down the Colorado to Vegas Wash east of Henderson, Nevada. Exiting from here to the west is where it gets a little sketchy. Though generally credited with the establishment of the southern route of the Old Spanish Trail across the Mojave Desert from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, the exact route is under question. They most likely stopped at the Vegas Springs for water (now the Springs Preserve) and then continued in a southern direction towards Jean before heading west towards Goodsprings and on to Sandy Valley and the southern tip of Death Valley, finally catching up with the main route into Tecopa California.

05/03/2012 Trip Notes: This was my second visit in a year to the Old Spanish Trail with the rock-hounds from the Henderson Heritage Park Senior Facility. The mountain scenery here can be quite beautiful, but because I have already have quite a few shots taken on previous visits, I spent the majority of my time trying to locate a route to the two mines located near the base of the Potosi Range. After checking this location when I got home, it appears that I was about 2-1/2 short of the mines.
Mt Potosi Mine MapBased upon today’s hike, it looks like the van can make it in about 1-1/2 miles in from the main road (Rt 160). The intersection of the two dirt roads shown in the middle of the above picture is in the upper right-hand corner of the map on the right. The location of the two mines (the Dawn Mine and the Ninety-Nine Mine) appear to be roughly a two mile hike from this point. (Click the map to enlarge)

The landscape picture above the map was taken looking due west towards the Potosi Mountain Range. This ridgeline can be seen along the left-hand edge of the map above. The picture below was taken from the same vantage point as the landscape shot above, by merely turning 90-degrees and looking back down the road that I hiked up. from the base of the Cottonwood Valley.

Though the landscape still showed the signs of a relatively warm, dry winter, with little to no rain, I did find a few signs of spring (shown below) along the various washes that paralleled my hike up the road.
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04/21/2011 Trip Notes: I hiked the Old Spanish Trail at milepost 17 on NV-160 as part of a daytrip with the rock hounds from the Heritage Park Senior Facility.

Realizing that it is still early spring, I was still quite surprised to see how green the overall area appeared. I was able to view several desert plants and wild flowers in full bloom (above) and found grasses and lichen (below) growing of many of the rocks in the wash that ran parallel with the trail.
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As you follow the trail south, the view west across the desert floor provides a great view of the eastern cliffs of Mount Potosi, which turned out to be the second stop on our journey. If you look closely at the far ridge just left of center in the above picture, you can just barely make out the half dozen radio towers located at the very top of the mountain. (Click to enlarge the crop at the right to better see the towers)

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Slideshow Description: The slideshow above contains 28 pictures that were taken while hiking along the Old Spanish Trail in Las Vegas.


Lovell Canyon Hike

E-P1110268On Thursday (04/26/2012) I hiked to Lovell Canyon with the  rock-hounds from the Henderson Heritage Park’s Senior Facility. Even though the day was windy and shrouded in rain threatening clouds, it was still in the 70’s and ended without us getting wet. I added pictures from today’s hike to the post description of our previous hikes to this location. Click this link to read about and view pictures from today’s hike …. Lovell Canyon Trail.


Lovell Summit Road, Spring Mountains

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This page last updated on 10/04/2017
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(Fig. 01)
04/26/2012 Trip Notes: Today’s trip to Lovell Canyon with the rock-hounds from the Henderson Heritage Park’s Senior Facility was shrouded in low hanging clouds and threatening rain as evidenced by the picture in (Fig. 01) above. The good news being that we ended the day with no rain to dampen our hiking experience. Having hiked the Lovell Canyon Trail more than once, a couple of us decided to hike to the top of Lovell Summit Road. After a couple of miles, Buster and I decided to hike down into a small stream bed that seemed to be following the road, while Blake continued up the road to what he later described as some awesome vistas. As Buster and I hiked downhill we were presented with a variety of vegetation that was fed by this small stream. It was very unlikely that those in the group that hiked the Lovell Canyon Trail ever saw any of the color that we were able to observe walking this stream. In addition to the surrounding trees, there were moss covered rocks ((Fig. 02), several large patches of clover (Fig. 03), small flowering plants (Figs. 04 & 06), as well as wild grasses and numerous cactus (Fig. 05). Unfortunately, about halfway down the running water in this small stream disappeared as it continued underground.
(Fig. 02)
(Fig. 03)
(Fig. 04)
(Fig. 05)
(Fig. 06)
Just before reaching the main parking area, we found a trail that headed south up the side of a small mountain that provided great views of Lovell Canyon (Fig. 07), the Torino Ranch (Fig. 08) and the ensuing valley that lies east of the main trail. Unfortunately, the overcast day and cloud cover prevented me from capturing any really good pictures. On our way out of the area we stopped at one of the Lovell Canyon Road pull-offs that is an extremely popular spot for skeet shooting and target practice. Though this spot is somewhat “trashed” from all of the debris left behind by disrespectful shooters, it still offers some spectacular views. The picture in (Fig. 09) is a shot of our van looking southwest.
(Fig. 07)
(Fig. 08)
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(Fig. 09)


Added a New Subject Category

E-P1060746As many times as I have visited the town of Cold Creek, Nevada, I almost always seem to come away with some new pictures of the many wild horses that one can find grazing there. Today I decided to create a new subject category titled, “Wild Horses” to act as a depository for some of the better pictures that I have captured of these beautiful animals over the past couple of years. Check it out … Wild Horses at Cold Creek


Bowl of Fire - Summary Page

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This page last updated on 04/16/2018
(Fig. 01)

Destination: Bowl of Fire.
Distance from Point of Origin: 56 miles.
Estimated (One Way) Travel Time: One hour and 30 minutes.
Directions: The location for this hike is northeast of Las Vegas along Northshore Road in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. From the Stratosphere Casino head northeast on Las Vegas Blvd about 3 miles and turn right to merge onto US-93/95. Go 12.5 miles and Merge onto NV-564 E/W Lake Mead Pkwy via Exit 61B. Heading east on NV-564 (Lake Mead Blvd) go over the mountains to the park entrance station. Pay the entrance fee ($5 per car or an annual pass), and proceed to the T-intersection with Northshore Road (NV Rt 167) and Lakeshore Road (NV Rt 166). Bear left and drive north on Northshore Road (NV 167) for 18 miles, approximately .2 miles past mile marker 18 (see map below) to a roadside trashcan pullout on the left side of the road; this is the Northshore Road trailhead. The Bowl of Fire is to the northwest, but your view is blocked by a low ridge immediately northwest of the pullout.  Note: Along the way, at Mile Marker 16 (see map below), you can also take the unpaved Callville Wash North Road (Road 94) starts up Callville Wash. In a 4WD vehicle, drive up the sandy Road 94 for about 1.8 miles*. Avoid places where you see that other drivers were stuck in the sand. The road passes to the south of a small mountain that is capped with wildly-folded sedimentary layers, and shortly arrives at the mouth of a large wash that comes in from the north. This is just past the first place in the wash where you can look north and see red sandstone outcrops. Stop at the mouth of this side-wash and Park here; this is the Road 94 trailhead. *With all its twists and turns this ends up being nearly twice as long as the “as the crow flies” distance of 1.8 miles.
General Description: Located within the boundaries of the Lake Mead NRA, the Bowl of Fire also lies within the 48,000-acre Muddy Mountains Wilderness Area. Similar to the Valley of Fire, this is an area of brilliant-red Jurassic-Age sandstone outcrops surrounded by gray limestone mountains. Most of the Aztec sandstone in the Bowl of Fire is dark red and heavily eroded, with less common outcrops in paler shades of yellow, pink and orange. Similar also are its many formations with small arches, bowl-shaped cavities, petrified dunes and small pinnacles. The dark pink sandstone is most common and generally forms the uppermost parts of the region, though there is a line of red cliffs that rises higher to the northeast. These outcrops are separated by open land of sand dunes and dry washes, some of which are lined by patches of very nice, smooth, banded sandstone.
Geologic History: Despite the name, fire had nothing to do with the area's formation. These petrified sand dunes are from the age of the dinosaurs, between 65 million and 250 million years ago. Oxidized iron in the rock, locally called Aztec sandstone, create the vast array of bright reds and oranges that you see. The lighter buff-colored limestone rock, which in some places was pushed up by 'thrust faulting', dates back to 500 million years.
Special Attraction or Points of Interest: Though difficult to find, looking for and finding interesting formations, similar to some of those found at Valley of Fire such ‘Elephant Rock’, can make for some nice picture taking. Generally speaking, it is a just a place to wander amongst a wonderland of jumbled piles of red sandstone; a place to go and just hike about with no particular destination. Sparse vegetation includes the occasional large barrel cacti (ferocactus acanthodes), the very spiny cotton top cactus (echinocactus polycephalus), the spineless beavertail (opuntia basilaris) plus a small selection of flowers and shrubs, including the brightly colored indigo bush (mostly visible in the spring).
Primary Activity: Hiking.
Secondary Activities: Photographing and Rock-hounding.

Elevation: 2,000 – 2,300 feet
Best Time To Visit: Available for visitation and hiking year round, the best time to make this hike would be in the cooler months of Fall, Winter and Spring.
Difficulty: With an elevation gain of between 200 and 400 feet, depending upon where you go, this is a moderate hike as long as you stay in the washes and on the trails and in the washes that dissect the sandstone outcrops. However, hiking up some of the outcrops can be inviting; so if you decide to climb on the rocks be sure to watch your step.
Facilities: None.
Estimated Round-trip Time: Six hours or more depending upon whether you have a 4WD vehicle and how much hiking you have to do.
More info on the Redstone Loop Trail: Bowl of Fire

(Fig. 02)

05/17/2016 Trip Notes: Today I made my third visit to the Bowl of Fire. On this hike I was accompanied by Blake Smith, Bob Croke and Ron Ziance. The weather was so threatening that we almost cancelled this hike. Unfortunately, even though it never did rain, the dismal overcast prevented us from obtaining any really good pictures. We started today's hike, the yellow line in (Fig. 02), at the trailhead located at the 18.2 mile marker on Northshore Drive. After reading about and viewing pictures of previous hikes to this location below, click the following link to view this new page ... Bowl of Fire - Trip Notes for 05/17/2016.

05/08/2013 Trip Notes: Today the rock-hounds from the Henderson’s Heritage Park Senior Facility made another visit to the MM16 area along Lake Mead's Northshore Drive. While most hiked to the Anniversary Narrows, Harvey Smith and I hiked to the Bowl of Fire. Because I had so many pictures for this hike, I created a separate update page. After reading about and viewing pictures of our first hike to this location on this page, click the following link to view this new page ... Bowl of Fire - Trip Notes for 05/08/2013.

04/16/2012 Trip Notes: I took this hike with my fellow hiking friend Harvey Smith. To cut down on hiking time, we drove his 4WD truck up the Callville Wash. Because the base of the wash is 25-50 feet below the plateau above, it is very hard to determine where you are at any point in time. As a result, we actually drove more than a mile beyond what we had predetermined to be the starting point of our hike. Though we had a great day and got some beautiful pictures, further research has shown that had we gone further up the wash we may have actually gotten to an even more spectacular area. (Click on and enlarge the Google Earth shot below) Looks like we may have to make a return trip on another day.
Bowl of Fire Google Earth Map
Below are just a handful of the many beautiful shots we captured on this hike. The top shot was taken looking due west through a natural arch we found in one of the several red sandstone monoliths scattered throughout the valley. The wide view in the middle picture was taken looking due east in the opposite direction. As you can tell from this picture and the bottom two, the valley floor is quite uneven and crisscrossed with a series of rough, craggily, wash-like gullies.
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As many of you know, I’m always looking for rock structures that strike my imagination and show a resemblance to some other type of know thing. Upon first glance of the light colored sandstone outcrop in the center of the picture below, I immediately recognized the long ‘snout’ of a crocodile, leading back up to the ‘bump’ of its brow and eyeball socket. OK, maybe it’s just me.
Though there was not an abundance of wild flowers on todays hike, between the wash and here we did come across a couple that were worth capturing. Unfortunately, the beavertail cacti, thought showing signs of starting, were not quite yet in bloom. Below is a grouping of some shots of wild flowers and Harvey and myself enjoying the beautiful views this area provided.
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If you click this last picture to enlarge and look closely, you will be able to see a sliver of Lake Mead in off in the distance near the center of the photo with its commonly recognized ‘white bathtub ring’.

Play a Slide Show
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Note: Every attempt is made to provide accurate information, but occasionally depictions are inaccurate by error of mapping, navigation or cataloging. The information on this site is provided without any warranty, express or implied, and is for informational and historical purposes only.