In Nevada, revisiting Valley of Fire State Park stunned us with rainbow rock patterns. Driving 3 hours north reaches Cathedral Gorge State Park, whose subtle mauve-colored formations shone best at golden sunset.
Below is Kaolin Wash. Starting 150+ million years ago, great shifting sand dunes during the age of dinosaurs were compressed, uplifting, faulted, and eroded to form the colorful sandstone formations in Valley of Fire State Park.
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2021 April 19-20: Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
The park adjoins Lake Mead National Recreation Area at the Virgin River confluence, at an elevation of 2000 to 2600 feet, 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Park entry from Interstate 15 passes through the Moapa Indian Reservation.
Above: View from Rainbow Vista, in Valley of Fire State Park.
Fire Wave + Kaolin Wash + White Domes Trail loop hike
A delightful 3.5-mile spectacle-shaped loop (with 450 feet of gain and loss) starts at Park Turnout #3, goes to the Fire Wave, proceeds along the Seven Wonders Trail through Kaolin Wash, completes the White Domes Trail Loop back to the movie set remains, repeats a quarter mile of Kaolin Wash, turns north on Seven Wonders Trail past Thunderstorm Arch, and returns to Park Turnout #3.
Below, we explore the Fire Wave in Valley of Fire State Park:
Above and next seven images below: Kaolin Wash
Below: Hikers on the White Domes Loop Trail.
Above: Orange pattern on white sandstone on the White Domes Loop Trail
Above: Thunderstorm Arch is a short side trip from Seven Wonders Trail.
Gallery show: “Nevada: Valley of Fire State Park” all images from 2021, 2011, 1999, 1995
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2021 April 20-21: Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada
Million-year-old lake sediments have eroded into fantastic mud castles at Cathedral Gorge State Park, near Panaca, Nevada.
Above: A mud castle traps a tumbleweed in Cathedral Gorge State Park.
Above: Inside a slot canyon at the Moon Caves in Cathedral Gorge State Park. This image was HDR-stitched from two photos to increase the dynamic range from light to dark with low noise.
The stone water tower was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s but is no longer in use, in Cathedral Gorge State Park.
Above: Sunset colors clouds above mud towers in Cathedral Gorge State Park.
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Gallery show: “Nevada: Cathedral Gorge State Park; Hickison Petroglyphs” all images from 2021, 2019, 1999
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Check out Tom’s Southwest USA articles: Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada.
Our complete trip itinerary 2021 Mar 21-April 22
In brief: Seattle > Chico family visit > Lake Tahoe > snowy Mono Lake > Bishop > Mojave NSP > Joshua Tree NP > Mecca Wilderness > Palm Springs > Hualapai Mountain Park > Grand Canyon rafting for 16 days > Valley of Fire SP > Cathedral Gorge SP > Seattle
In more detail:
- Mar 21 Sun: depart Seattle.
- Mar 22 Mon: visit family in Chico.
- Mar 23 Tues: On Highway 32, we tour the Big Chico Creek Environmental Reserve (BCCER) to adopt acres for the Dempsey Endowment in Memory of David P. Dempsey. Our group includes family members, CSUC president Gayle Hutchinson, and BCCER staff.
- Mar 24 Wed: Finally, my first visit to Dad & Mom’s senior living apartment since 15 months ago, isolated by the pandemic!
- Mar 25 Thurs: drive from California’s Central Valley via Tahoe and snowy Mono Lake to a friend’s house at Round Valley, near Bishop.
[Read Tom’s article covering “2021 March: California desert: Kelso Dunes, Joshua Tree NP, Mecca Wilderness, Indian Canyons.”]
- Mar 26 Fri: spectacular snowy Sierra peaks and warm Death Valley on drive to Kelso Dunes Trailhead Campground in Mojave National Preserve, to meet with nephew Griff & friend Marianna.
- Mar 27 Sat: Kelso Dunes was a fun hike in Mojave National Preserve. Drive to Joshua Tree NP. Check in spontaneously at Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground (which had many available sites despite the big weekend traffic), a refreshing oasis with delightful duck pond. We drove the Park Boulevard loop counterclockwise, which was crowded on this spring weekend. We weren’t expecting the long lines of cars backing up the Park’s entrance and every available parking lot, until we remembered that this was the weekend of Palm Sunday and accessible as a day trip from the populous Los Angeles area. We admired a huge Parry’s nolina, Mojave mound cacti with red buds, and other natural botanical wonders. We walked to the dry Barker Dam on a warm afternoon (2.6 mi round trip lollipop-shaped loop, 110 ft gain.
- Mar 28 Sun: 49 Palms Canyon Trail. The dense Cholla Garden is vibrant yellow. Drive south to camp overnight in BLM Dispersed Campsite along Painted Canyon Road with nice sunset view of badlands, albeit somewhat scarred by ORVs and litter.
- Mar 29 Mon: Mecca Wilderness Area: Ladder Canyon and Painted Canyon Loop Trail. Drive to Lake Cahuilla Veterans Regional Park Campground for night 1 of 2.
- Mar 30 Tues: Hike the Palm Canyon Trail to Indian Potrero Trail to Stone Pools, and loop back via Victor Trail. We do laundry in La Quinta. Stay at Lake Cahuilla Veterans Regional Park Campground for night 2 of 2.
- Mar 31: drive 4 hrs to the nice Hualapai Mountain Park Campground, on a paved road 14 miles south of Kingman. The 42 degrees F low overnight was warmer than expected at this 6300-foot altitude.
- April 1: In Hualapai Mountain Park, we hiked East Potato Patch Loop Trail for 2.6 miles with 700 feet gain to pleasant views of surrounding desert, but ice on a cliff ledge turned us back. In Flagstaff, we stayed at Woody Mountain Campground for 2 nights.
[Read Tom’s article covering “2021 April: rafting Grand Canyon 226 gorgeous miles, Arizona.”]
- April 2: Due to April temperatures in Flagstaff expected to be in the 20s degrees F overnight, we winterize our RV. We attend the Arizona Raft Adventures (AZRA) meeting at 7pm in preparation for boating 16 days.
- April 3-18: With Arizona Raft Adventures (AZRA), we boated for 16 days covering 226 miles by raft and dory down the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park!
[You are currently reading the article that covers “2021 April: Nevada: Valley of Fire & Cathedral Gorge State Parks.”]
- April 19: Drive to Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, where we claim the last campsite in Arch Rock Campground around 4:00pm (first come, first served).
- April 20: Starting just after sunrise at Valley of Fire State Park Turnout #3, we walked a great 3.5-mile spectacle-shaped loop (with 450 feet of gain and loss): first to the Fire Wave, then along the Seven Wonders Trail through Kaolin Wash, then around the complete White Domes Trail Loop back to the movie set remains, then repeat a quarter mile of Kaolin Wash, then turn north on Seven Wonders Trail past Thunderstorm Arch, and then return to the parking lot at Park Turnout #3. Drive to Cathedral Gorge State Park Campground. Sunset walk 2.5 mi to Moon Caves, etc.
- April 21: Cathedral Gorge State Park: 2.75 mile loop walk in morning, mauve formations. Stay at Farewell Bend SP Campground, Oregon.
- April 22: Drive to Seattle.