Through My Lens

Exploring the World Through Photography

Category: Nevada

Red Rock Canyon Natural Area: How to Drive, Hike & Explore the Park

Red Rocks Canyon is the closest park to Las Vegas and a popular destination for hikers and outdoor lovers visiting the city. At around 30 minutes drive from downtown, the park…

Red Rocks Canyon is the closest park to Las Vegas and a popular destination for hikers and outdoor lovers visiting the city. At around 30 minutes drive from downtown, the park features a 13-mile scenic drive and dozens of hiking trails. Here is all the information so you can make the most of your time in Red Rock Canyon.

Details

  • Cost:$7

Getting There

From Las Vegas, you will head out on Highway 95 west till it ends and then continue on Highway 215 South. From here you will turn right on Highway 159, and it will take you out to the park loop.

Scenic Drive

If you only have a short time to visit this park, then it is best spent on the 13-mile scenic drive that takes you on a loop through the park. It is one way, so if you miss a spot, you would need to drive all the way back around to see it again. The drive is fantastic though, and you will want to take your time. As you make your way around it, there are multiple spots to pull out for hikes or viewpoints.

The Overlooks

There are two main overlooks in the park and one more on the outskirts of the park.

High Point Overlook

The main viewpoint is High Point Overlook, and it is located about halfway through the scenic drive. It has a small parking lot, and it lets you look out over the park from a beautiful vantage point.

It can be busy but wait for your turn if you want to check it out.

Red Rock Wash Overlook

This is the second viewpoint, which is located across from the main one but down the hill. It is worth pulling out at as it has some great views of the mountains, but it is not as spectacular as the first.

Red Rock Overlook

This viewpoint is technically located outside of the park. If you are wanting to see the park without taking the drive, then this is the best way to do it. This overlook really does give you a great view, especially of the red rocks in the Calico area.

The Hikes

I have only had a chance to hike a few of the park’s hikes, but here are the ones I have done.

Calico Tanks

This is the most popular trail in the park, and it is easy to see why when you do it. The 2.5-mile hike heads into and through a canyon which requires some scrambling, before eventually reaching a water basin and a view of the strip.

It is a great hike as it lets you really enjoy the views and the stark contrasts the park has to offer.

At the end, make sure you have your zoom lens or binoculars so you can zoom in on the Las Vegas Strip below you.

Turtle Peak

This hike leaves from the same area at Calico Tanks, and it heads up a no joke trail to the top of one of the area’s prominent peaks.

It is 5 miles round trip, but it is a tough five miles with a lot of elevation and some scrambling. It should not be undertaken without a lot of water, and it should be skipped in the heat of summer unless you start really early.

Petroglyphs Trail

This trail is a short tenth of a mile, and it leads you back to a rock overhang that has some petroglyphs on it.

While they are nothing like the ones you will see in Valley of the Fire State Park, they are still historic and preserved.

Waterfall

This 1-mile round trip hike takes you to a nice little seasonal waterfall. I have not seen it flowing more than a trickle, but it is a fun family friendly hike as there is shade and little bit of water at the end.

There is also an elevated trail that takes you over the stream crossing, but water is not often present.

Calico 1 & 2

This area is the most striking collection of red cliffs in the park. There are multiple viewpoints of the rocks you can pull out at, and there are some trails that take you down closer to them. It is one of those places that you need to stop at when you visit the park as the views are spectacular.

Road Views

I love taking road pictures when I make drives like this, and the best ones I found was at the corner of Calico Basin Road and Charleston. Right when you turn you will see the road winding out in front of you with the red rocks and Turtle Peak dead ahead. It is a great spot for a photo but be sure to watch for traffic.

As you can see, Red Rock Canyon is a great place to visit when you are in Las Vegas, I highly recommend you at least check out the scenic drive, even if you don’t want to hike, as it is worth the $7 entry fee. Let me know your favorite spot in the comments.

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Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada: Arches, Trails, Vistas & Rock Formations

While most people who visit Las Vegas are familiar with Red Rock Canyon, they are often not familiar with Valley of the Fire State Park, which in my opinion has…

While most people who visit Las Vegas are familiar with Red Rock Canyon, they are often not familiar with Valley of the Fire State Park, which in my opinion has a lot more unique stuff in it. This state park is located about an hour northeast of the city, and it is a fantastic place to spend a day. Here are all the spots I recommend you see while there.

Details

  • Cost:$10
  • Sunrise to sunset unless camping

Getting There

From Las Vegas you will get on the 15 North and head out of town. You are on this freeway for about 30 miles until you get off at exit 75, there is a sign that lets you know this is the exit for the park and for Lake Mead. You will head about 15 miles back into the hills on Valley of Fire Hwy until you finally make it to the park entrance. Here are the spots you can see from this entrance all the way to the east gate.

Beehives

Beehives are the first point of interest you will get to, and these rocks can be seen from the parking lot. It’s a quick 5 minute stop to see rocks that really do look like massive beehives.

Arch Rock

This is another 5 minute stop, as the small arch can be seen from the road and it is not really that impressive at only 10 feet or so tall. You can hike around this area if you want to though as there are a lot of fun rock formations and boulders.

Atlatl Rock

Atlatl Rock is one of the best stops in the park for fantastic examples of petroglyphs. The stone has amazing rock art about 40 feet off the ground.

The park has built a set of stairs to take you all the way up to the art.

It is one of the best-preserved petroglyphs I have personally seen.

Petrified Logs

This short quarter mile trail takes you to a series of four petrified logs. The logs are from millions of years ago, and they are protected with small gates.

Mouse’s Tank

Mouse’s tank is named for an outlaw that used the area as a hideout back in the late 1800s. The small pool is located about 3/4ths of a mile from the parking lot.

On the trail, you will pass many great examples of petroglyphs so keep your eyes peeled. I found this to be one of the most fun trails in the park as it seems like you are on a scavenger hunt to locate the rock art.

Rainbow Vista

We never actually found the vista point on this trail as it was hard to follow, but we did find some beautiful multicolored sandstone.

Also, you can get some great views down into Fire Canyon here as well.

Silica Dome

The stop for silica dome is an excellent viewpoint for both the dome itself and fire canyon. You can hike to the dome from here, but even if you don’t want to do that, it’s still an excellent spot for a panoramic view.

Fire Wave

Fire Wave is the most popular hike in the park and for good measure. It is about a mile and a half round trip and it takes you to a unique rock formation that looks like a red wave, much like the more famous wave in Arizona.

The trail is beautiful as it heads downhill and then crosses over a large selection of red rocks before getting to the eventual wave. Go early though as this one has no shade at all.

White Dome

The rock formations here are massive and white, unlike there red counterparts throughout the park.

The 1.25-mile trail heads through the middle of the rocks and past an old filming location.

From here it leads into a small slot canyon, which is really fun to see if you haven’t been through one before.

The trail then just heads back up to the parking lot completing the loop.

Balancing Rock

This rock can be seen from the road outside of the visitors center. You can walk to it from the visitors center, or you can just see it from the parking lot or road.

Visitors Center

A great spot to stop and learn more about the area and the recommended hikes.

Seven Sisters

The seven sisters are a set of seven rocks jutting out from right next to the road. There are picnic benches here that you can relax at or you can just take a few photos of the rocks from one of the pullouts as well.

Elephant Rock Trail

Right next to the east entrance station, there is a trail that takes you to the famous elephant rock. This rock does look like an elephant, and it is pretty fun to see for the whole family.

As you can tell, there is enough here for a full day of adventure. If you are looking to get out of Vegas and explore the surrounding area then this is a great spot. I wouldn’t recommend a visit in the summer though as it can be incredibly hot and there is not a lot of shade. Let me know if I left off one of your favorite spots in the comments.

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Bonsai Rock in Lake Tahoe: How to Find and Photograph the Bonsai Tree

If you have seen photos of Lake Tahoe then you have no doubt witnessed the famous Bonsai Tree that seems to grow out of a large rock. This picturesque site…

If you have seen photos of Lake Tahoe then you have no doubt witnessed the famous Bonsai Tree that seems to grow out of a large rock. This picturesque site is one that is very easy to get to but hard to find if you don’t know where to look. If you want to visit it, you can find out all the information below.

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Details

  • Half mile round trip
  • Parking Location: (Google Maps – Bonsai Rock and you will find it), it is approximately around this spot “NV-28, New Washoe City, NV 89704”

Getting There

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The easiest way to get there is to leave from Sand Harbor State Park and head South. In exactly one mile (watch the odometer) you will see a small turnout where you can park your car. From here you should be able to see the beach below and the tree, which is about a tenth of a mile back on the road.

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There are many paths to get down and some are steeper than others. I went during the winter and it was pretty slippery so I would recommend taking your time when you hike down.

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When you reach the bottom, you will be able to photograph the tree from a bunch of different angles. This is one of the unique things about this spot as most famous photo spots are only really viewed one way. Here are some pictures I took of the different angles.

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This spot is best viewed at sunset when the sun showers all sorts of colors on the rock from behind. I went in the winter during a storm, so I saw it when the snow was falling. It was cool for me but not great for photos. That being said I was one of the only people there so it is was worth it.

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After taking the photos you want, head back up one of the trails to the road and walk it carefully back to your car. All in all, this is a great spot in the Lake Tahoe and one that you really should go to for photography.

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Neon Museum in Las Vegas at Night

If you are looking for something truly unique to do in Las Vegas then look no further then the Neon Museum on the North side of Fremont St. This museum…

If you are looking for something truly unique to do in Las Vegas then look no further then the Neon Museum on the North side of Fremont St. This museum has what is called the Neon Boneyard which houses dozens of old neon lights from the history of Las Vegas itself. There are lots of tours throughout the day, so there is always a tour that will fit your schedule, but make sure to book in advance as it fills fast. Here is all the info:

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Details

  • $25
  • 1 hour tour
  • Location: 770 N Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89101

After arriving ten minutes before the tour was to start, I checked in and took some time to browse the museum store. The tour started and the tour guide went over all the rules, took us past the bathroom and then we set out on the tour. During the tour you must stay by the guide at all times, so if you need to use the bathroom or leave for any reason they must have someone escort you.

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The boneyard itself is pretty impressive with tons of historic neon signs all along the small pathway.

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The tour lasts for about an hour and during that time you will be walking a few feet then stopping to learn about all of the different signs. The signs itself are impressive and the history of each is as well. I wouldn’t want to spoil what you will learn on the tour but here are a few pictures.

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Also, I found it interesting to learn that Neon itself glows red and Aragon glows blue. In order to get other colors in these lights they have to powder coat the inside in a way that mixes with the color wheel to form the right color. Thus yellow powder coat and Aragon would make a green light.

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The area is broken into a few different sections: the downtown section, motel row, small business section and strip properties.

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I really liked the skull from treasure island as it was massive. If you look at in Google Maps from above you are in for a surprise as well.

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I also liked the Stardust sign as it was classic Vegas and it is one of the last signs you see on your tour.

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Lastly, there was a fun crazy shirt neon sign with a unique history that was fun to learn about.

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I will say that even though it is awesome at night with a few of the neon lights actually lit up, I think I would prefer it during the day as it would have a more apocalyptic – Fallout 4 type look. The lights themselves are mostly lit up by spotlight, not the neon signs so that makes them not as cool at night.

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The oldest sign they have is one from 1933 for a cocktails spot on the strip.

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As you can see this is a really unique experience that you should try while in Vegas. I would love to hear what you think in the comments.

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Chimney Beach in Lake Tahoe, Nevada

I love finding strange / unique spots to explore on my travel, so when I saw a picture of Chimney Beach on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe I knew…

I love finding strange / unique spots to explore on my travel, so when I saw a picture of Chimney Beach on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe I knew that I needed to check it out. I have been able to find literally no information online about it but I am guessing that it was at one time a house on the beach and now is just a chimney, smart deduction right? That being said it a fascinating spot to explore and one of the most beautiful lake side beaches I have ever been to.

Chimney Beach-8

Details

  • 1.5 miles round trip to the beach
  • 250 feet of elevation

First off, this is a popular area, so you want to make sure you get here early if you are hoping to get a spot in the very small parking lot. I went at around 5PM on a weekday for sunset so I was able to easily find a spot. 

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From the parking lot you will want to take the trail down past the bathroom which has a sign for Chimney Beach. From here the trail forms one large switchback on its way down to the water. This is why the trail ends up being around a mile and a half because it goes away from Chimney Beach for a while before heading back.

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When you reach the bottom of the switch back you will see the sign for Secret Cove (I have heard this is a clothing optional beach) one way and Chimney Beach the other. I am sure that Secret Cove is beautiful as well but I had my sights set on Chimney Beach.

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The path now just continues around the water line before you see the chimney popping up in the distance. 

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You can head down to the sand and walk along that or you can head inward into the forest area and cross the small bridge before heading up the stairs and being dropped out behind the chimney.

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From this vantage point it is very surreal to see the chimney sitting on such a beautiful beach. It’s reminds me of one of those movies where humans go pretty much extinct and you just see remnants of their ways of life.

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I took a lot of pictures as it was a unique spot and there were only 15-20 other people there enjoying the beach with us.

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Also, there were a couple big smooth rocks that were sitting about 7 feet out in the water, I waded out to photograph these as well since the water was so clear and pretty. 

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All in all this is a fantastic spot in Lake Tahoe, probably one of my favorites in the entire area. I would highly recommend you check it out and make sure to get there early or late to avoid the rush. Let me know what your favorite Lake Tahoe beach is in the comments below.

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