White Owl Canyon Hike

{Click on any image to view full size, then use the back button on your browser to return to this page}
This page last updated on 01/25/2020
(Fig. 01)
Directions: This hike is located along Lakeshore Drive in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, about 30 minutes southeast of Las Vegas. From the intersection of Highway 93/95 and Lake Mead Parkway, drive east on Lake Mead Parkway over the hills to the park entrance station. Then continue east on what is now Lakeshore Road. You will shortly pass the intersection with Northshore Road. Continue on Lakeshore Road east and south for 3.8 miles to 33 Hole Road. Turn left and drive east on the access road towards the lake and picnic areas. 33 Hole Road leads to three scenic overlooks, each with a different name. Turn left towards Three-Island Overlook and drive into the parking lot at the end of the road. Park here, this is the trailhead.

Description of Area: From the trailhead, the route runs past a few trailhead signs by the west-most picnic table. From here you are presented with a view of the flats looking toward the western most edge of Lake Mead. Directly in front of you, a loosely graveled the trail heads down over the side a of the very steep hill, down to the flats below.  The flats are a now-dry lake bed. Referring to the pictures in (Fig. 02) you can see how the area below the hill was once covered with water from the lake twenty years ago. Today the route continues west through saltcedar thickets following use-trails that lead onto north-facing hillsides. Following the contour around, the route passes a bit of a point and turns southwest into what is known as White Owl Canyon. 25 years ago, the water from the lake nearly reached the mouth of owl canyon. The narrows of the canyon were cut into solid rock by flowing water. The rock here is a type of conglomerate formed from ancient alluvial fan deposits (Fig. 09). When alluvial fan deposits consolidate to become conglomerate rock, geologist call it "fanglomerate" rock, combining the terms "alluvial fan" and "conglomerate."
SIDE NOTE: As of Sunday, January 26, 2020 at 6:00:00 PM the level of Lake Mead is 134.90 Feet. The level is 134.90 feet below full pool of 1,229.00 (MSL - Mean Sea Level: The average level of the ocean's surface, calculated as the arithmetical mean of hourly tide levels taken over an extended period and used as the standard for determining terrestrial and atmospheric elevations and ocean depths.)        Click here to read the full side note titled  20 Year Drought & Water Levels at Lake Mead
(Fig. 02) Made by Bob Croke
(Fig. 03)
(Fig. 04)
(Fig. 05)
(Fig. 06)
(Fig. 07)
Hike Notes Continued:  After continuing on the flats, the route continues west through saltcedar thickets following use-trails that lead onto north-facing hillsides and then turns southwest into White Owl Canyon. Before long, the walls steepen and become deep as the route enters the first narrows area (Fig. 08), which is about 1/4-mile long. This size of this canyon is quite impressive. As we began winding our way through the narrows, we looked for the big splashes of "white wash" high on the rock walls. The white wash is Barn Owl poop. Lower in the canyon, small patches of bird poop reveal the presence of smaller birds, probably Rock Wrens and Say's Phoebes. Beneath the white wash (Fig. 11) produced by the owls, we looked for owl pellets (Fig. 12). These are oblong clumps of bone and fir that were regurgitated by owls. The pellets usually are 2- 3 inches long by about 1-inch in diameter. Pellets are coughed up, not pooped out, so they are relatively clean and safe to pick up and examine. Barn owls eat their prey entire without ripping it apart, so they consume everything, including the indigestible parts. They can't pass the indigestible parts, so they cough them up and spit them out. Often large leg and arm bones are evident on the surface, and skulls and jaws are easy to see. The owls here eat lots of desert woodrats and kangaroo rats. About the only thing of interest was a nest higher on one of the walls. We assumed that it was an owl nest (Fig. 13). Just beyond the last of the white wash on the rock walls, the narrow canyon opens abruptly just below Lakeshore Road. A culvert runs under the road (Figs. 14 & 15), which provides easy access to the other side of the road. On our return, the view in (Fig. 16) is of the flatbed area as you exit the canyon. All in all there wasn't anything really outstanding except for the beautiful narrow canyon. We didn't expect to see an owl. Don't even know if they still any longer inhabit the canyon. Just another local hike off our list of hikes around Las Vegas. Just another beautiful day enjoying hiking, good friends and fellowship.

(Fig. 08)
(Fig. 09)
(Fig. 10)

(Fig. 11) Click to enlarge and view the owl (white) poop 

(Fig. 12)
(Fig. 13) See owls nest
(Fig. 14) View from the other side of Lakeshore drive
(Fig. 15) Culvert under Lakeshore Drive

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.