Hiking At Red Rock Canyon

Just ten miles west of Las Vegas is Red Rock Canyon, a gorgeous area in the mountains that offers plentiful opportunities for sightseeing, rock climbing, and hiking.  For this holiday weekend, our family continued an annual tradition: each year around this time, a waterfall forms at a certain point on one of the hiking trails, and we go to see it. 

We usually take the Lost Creek Children’s Discovery Trail (#8 on the page linked above), but today we took the adjacent Ice Box Canyon Trail (#12), after I failed to notice the sign clearly showing that this trail is twice as long and much more difficult than what we’re used to.  Also, it’s been ten degrees colder than usual for the last two weeks, and uncharacteristically rainy.  I thought this might make the waterfall stronger; I didn’t count on it covering half our trail in ice and snow. 

We expected to be hiking for about an hour and a half.  We ended up being out there for over three hours.  Although the younger kids got whiny at times when it got too slippery, everybody was fine and had a good time.  We’d never seen anybody take dogs hiking up there, but we saw several today, which was unfortunate, since the two preschoolers are both deathly afraid of dogs; their hysterical wailing made for some awkward moments. 

On the way in, we noticed a stunning sight up ahead: where the canyon walls on either side of us came closer together in the distance, another mountain face was visible in the small gap.  On it, a huge sheet of glistening ice was reflecting the afternoon sun and was practically glowing.  My wife snapped a great shot:

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When we realized we couldn’t scramble up any further (besides the fact that it was getting late and we were hungry), we stopped to enjoy the picnic lunch that my wonderful bride had packed for us. 

Next to the area where we’d stopped, one of the trail’s signature seasonal waterfalls was spilling down the cliff and into a little lagoon in a small reservoir next to us, down a slope that was overgrown with bushes, hiding the pool itself.  I took the camera and managed to get down the embankment.  The hardest part here was that I had our five month old baby strapped to my chest in one of those Snugli carriers.  At the bottom, I discovered a frozen palace of ice and snow.  I took this picture, which sadly turned out a little blurry:

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Two more views of the winter oasis I found, one of which has a clearer shot of the ice formation above:

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We came home with rosy cheeks, wet shoes, and a unique story to tell about how we spent our Valentine’s Day.