2019  HIKING, ULTRA-WALKING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

Superstition Mountains at sunset, from Lost Dutchman State Park in Arizona

 

   
 
Runtrails' Web Journal
 
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   DAY TRIP TO VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK, p. 2

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 9

 
 

Continued from the previous page.

FIRE CANYON

About midway along White Domes Road is a paved spur called Fire Canyon Road. It goes about three quarters of a mile east to an overlook and large parking area with 360-degree views that include the deep red sandstone in Fire Canyon and the unique geological features of Silica Dome. Interpretive panels explain what you can see.

Above and below:  If your screen is big enough, you might see a man in these photos
who gives some perspective to the size of the nearby canyons and rocks.

 


Off-white Silica Dome is in contrast to the deep red sandstone near it.


View to the east with some water that may be part of Lake Mead.

PETROGLYPH CANYON AKA MOUSE'S TANK

This was my second time and Jim's first time to hike this easy trail out-and-back for three quarters of a mile through a sandy wash in a canyon with walls full of ancient petroglyphs.

I saw even more rock art today than the first time I hiked the trail solo three years ago, thanks to some extra pairs of eyes -- Jim and another man we met.


Jim and Casey near the trailhead; the pavement only lasts about 100 feet, then it's all sand.

The petroglyphs aren't as concentrated as those at AtlAtl Rock near the campground of the same name but there are a lot of them in this canyon and they are fun to spot.

If you've got kids or competitive adults in your group, see who can find the most figures!

Take your time here and look all around to find them. Hint: most of them are on the rocks and walls along the north side of the trail -- to your left as you're walking in, and on your right as you're coming back out.

Above:  I put the red dot above some symbols, which you can see more clearly below.

Most of the rocks and walls in this canyon are deep red with enough dark "desert varnish" on them for many petroglyphs to still be visible 2,500 years later.

Some of the rock art has disappeared over the years because of weathering and pieces of rock falling off. Various Native American tribes have lived in this canyon since approximately 500 BCE when the Basket Makers drew these petroglyphs; it's amazing that so many have survived as long as they have.

Although some curious folks like to climb the rocks in this canyon to get a better look at the petroglyphs it's not a good idea, primarily because feet and hands can ruin the prehistoric artwork. People on the rocks also ruin the view for other visitors, especially if they are taking photographs.

I've seen people walking on the rock below but I got these pictures with my zoom lens from the trail:

Above and below:  This large rock is chock FULL of petroglyphs; some are shown below.

The next two photos illustrate why it's important to look UP -- and closely -- when you see desert varnish 20-30 feet above the trail because many times you can spot rock art up there. Much of it has disappeared already from the rock face below, unfortunately.

Note the little hands under the red dot I added in the detailed photo below; they are a common symbol that can mean either an artist's signature . . . or death. 

 

Here's a photo from another rock face with lots of petroglyphs:

The Petroglyph Trail has some soft, deep sand and some rocks to maneuver over or around. It's not wheelchair accessible but it's rated "easy." It's flat except for the steps down from the parking area.

This canyon is mostly exposed to the sun during mid-day so on a hot day, try to get there early enough for the trail to be more shaded by the rock walls. The farther you are back in the canyon, where it's more narrow, the more shade there is:


Jim and Casey are in some shade as we're walking back out from the tank.

The only water is in the "tank" at the end of the trail and it's not potable -- or easily accessed. You can barely see the water in the shade in this photo:

VALLEY OF FIRE VISITOR CENTER

The visitor center (shown below) is located several miles inside the park from either the east or west entrance, at the intersection with White Domes Road. The building definitely blends in with its surroundings:

We went to the visitor center before venturing back White Domes Road so we could find out more about the road closure.

We also went to the visitor center a second time when we returned to the main road so Jim could see the exhibits inside before we left the park. We had a nice surprise that time when about a dozen bighorn sheep crossed the road right in front of us.

 

 

Most of them started grazing between the main road and the parking area below the visitor center. One stayed on the far side of the road and another wandered around closer to the visitor center:

 

Since I've already seen the exhibits inside, I stayed outside and took pictures of the sheep until Jim came back out.

We drove past the Seven Sisters rock formations, old stone cabins, petrified logs, and Elephant Rock on our way out Valley of Fire Road to the east gate. I've shown photos of these features in the 2016 journal. Jim wasn't interested in stopping at any of them today.

Then we drove south on Northshore Road through part of Lake Mead National Recreation Area and back to Nellis AFB. I'll show pictures in a subsequent entry of that part of Northshore Road and farther south along the lake near Hoover Dam.

Next entry:  touring Hoover Dam

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Casey-Girl, and Holly-Pup

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2019 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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