Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada

Valley of Fire State Park is 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas off Interstate 15.

Unlike the day before, I took my time in the morning. I even ordered a room service. I wasn’t going to be having a real meal until dinner so I savored it.

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The bacon stare

Valley of Fire Hwy was peaceful. Make sure you have plenty of gas before getting on this highway though. As soon as we entered in to the park, I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed even with my high expectation. I drove to the visitor center to use the restroom and to finalize the plan for the day.

When I walked out of the restroom, there was a crowd gathered east of the visitor center. A herd of bighorn sheep was slowly migrating! They were beautiful. I got Xena out of the car, put the leash on and grabbed the camera as fast as I could and walked over to that side. Of course, Xena wanted to stop and sniff and pee after being in the car for an hour. By the time we made to that side, the herd had moved on and they were too far for me to get a good photo for you guys.

One man got unnecessarily close to the animals. I understand he wants a great photo but what if someone did that to you and your family? The herd blended in so well with the background. They are in the center of the photo. Hopefully, you can see them.

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I decided to check out the trails on Mouse’s Tank Rd first then see. But first, we explored the interesting rock formations surrounding the visitor center and took some fun pictures.

From the visitor center, I took Mouse’s Tank Rd then began our adventure.

I did not expect the trails to be that much different from each other since they are on the same side of the park. I figured we would check out a couple of them then move on to another part of the park. Well, we spent all day on this one road and we had a blast!! All these hikes are easy to follow and short in distance (less than 2 miles).

First Hike:  Petroglyph Canyon Trail (a.k.a. Mouse’s Tank Trail)

  • Out and back
  • Terrain:  Sandy
  • Big picnic area with additional parking across from the trailhead
  • Difficulty:  Easy (kid-friendly)

We shared the trail with a senior hiking tour group. I guessed they were in their 70s and older. So awesome! They had a guide who explained the history of the place and pointed out petroglyphs along the trail.

Valley of Fire State Park contains ancient, petrified trees and petroglyphs dating back to 2,500 years. It really is a geologic wonderland! If you love geology and natural history like me, you would love Valley of Fire!

 

Next Hike:  Rainbow Vista & Fire Canyon Lookout

  • Out and back
  • Terrain:  Sandy/rocky
  • Difficulty:  Moderate
  • Rainbow Vista:  A panoramic view of multi-colored sandstone.

Although it’s a short hike and mostly flat, I rated this hike moderate just because of the last bit of steep climbing to the Rainbow Vista. Like the name, Rainbow Vista was very colorful. According to the sign, we were looking at 150 million years of time since the dinosaurs walked on earth. This untouched colorful wilderness was an amazing view to take in.

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Fire Canyon Lookout trail requires a bit of scrambling and rock climbing but it’s very doable. We climbed up to one of the rocks with a great view point and had a lunch break.

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Click here for video

 

Next Hike:  Fire Wave

  • Out and back
  • Terrain:  Dirt/sandy/rock
  • Difficulty:  Easy (kid-friendly)

Fire Wave is a must see when you visit. When you google “Valley of Fire images”, most of the pictures you see are from here. There is no steep incline or decline to mention. Just watch your steps as the rocks can be slippery with loose sand. Take your time and enjoy the stunning view.

Click here for video

 

Final Hike:  White Dome

  • Loop
  • Terrain:  Sandy/dirt/rocky
  • Difficulty:  Moderate
  • There is a small picnic area with benches near the parking lot.

This is the last stop on Mouse Tank Road and I think it was my favorite. The sandy trail began at the end of the cul de sac with a short ascent. The ascent of the hill was rewarded by an extensive view of what was ahead. Many people, who were not comfortable with hiking, enjoyed the views from here and turned around. We hiked down to the canyon.

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Looking back up

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Click here for video

 

Valley of Fire was what I expected and more!!! Not only bright red Aztec sandstone nestled in gray and tan limestone mountains is eye catching but it’s from the Jurassic period. How cool is that! I was sad that I only had one day to explore. These photos don’t do it justice so head over to our Facebook Page for more videos!

Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  2.20.17
  • Daily-use fee:  $10/vehicle for non-Nevada residents
  • There are two campgrounds and all campsites are first come, first served with fee
  • Pets are not allowed in the visitor center

Never Stop Exploring

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Red Rock Canyon in Nevada

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is 17 miles west of Las Vegas.

I made a PB&J sandwich for lunch from the room then packed our food for the day as I planned on spending all day at Red Rock Canyon. I picked up a soy latte from Starbucks at the hotel on my way out. I could have eaten my breakfast in the room I guess but I was too eager to start the day.

When we entered the Conservation Area, I let Xena out of the car for a quick photo. At first she was happy but that changed quickly when we heard shotguns. There must have been a shooting range very close by. Xena could not get back in the car fast enough.

Red Rock Canyon is managed by the Bureau of Land Management as part of its National Landscape Conservation System and it accepts the America the Beautiful annual pass. Although all the trails were open, the ranger warned me about the soft condition of the trails due to the recent rain storm. The park had to close midday the day before due to the heavy rain and strong wind.

I planned only one day for the Red Rock so I picked a couple trails to get a taste of the park. It was overcast and the temperature was in the upper 50s. As long as the wind doesn’t pick up more, it was a great condition for hikes.

Hike #1:  Moenkopi Loop

  • Total distance:  2.1 miles
  • Elevation gain:  149 ft (starting elevation:  3,698 ft)

Park at the visitor center. This easy 2-mile round trip hike is kid-friendly, educational and a great way to see the entire park. If you like natural history and geology like me, you will enjoy this little hike. The trailhead is at the west of the visitor center at the end of the 911 Memorial.

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When the trail splits, we went straight and did the loop clockwise. But you can go to either direction since it’s a loop. There will be signs to guide you and the trail is wide open. What a view, right?

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Is it lunch time yet?

Hike #2:  White Rock

  • Total distance:  6.7 miles
  • Elevation gain:  963 ft (starting elevation:  4,529 ft)

I planned on checking out the Calico Tank Trail on our way to White Rock trail but the parking area was packed and overflowing to the Scenic Loop Drive. There is no better Jamie repellent than the crowd. 😉 So I kept on driving and reached the White Rock lower parking lot off the Scenic Drive. You know how sometimes unexpected detours happen and make the hike better than if your plan wasn’t interrupted? That didn’t happened on that day. I parked further than I needed to and missed a critical turn so we ended up walking on the Scenic Loop Drive 2nd half of the hike. I saw parked cars at the lower parking lot and assumed that the upper parking lot near the trailhead was full so I parked at the lower parking. Wrong. This parking area was for people who just wanted to stop and take photos and move on to the next viewpoint spot. It does have a great view.

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We began our hike on White Rock Mountain Rd. I planned on doing the White Rock out and back but I saw the sign for White Rock Loop 6 miles at the trailhead. Instantly, I decided to do the loop. Who doesn’t like a loop, right? I followed the sign for Keystone Thrust and White Rock Loop. If you want to do this clockwise, look for a trailhead to the west of the information board.

The trail was busy in the beginning with tourists but after we passed the split to the Keystone Thrust, we were alone and it felt remote. The trail began on an incline. There was no steep incline or decline to mention though. I loved the rugged sandstone of Red Rock Canyon.

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We would go for like 30 minutes and see no one. I don’t need to see people for hours or even days but as soon as I don’t have the cell phone reception, I feel uneasy. Yes, I am one of those people who get anxious when my cell phone battery level drops below 65%. When I started to wonder if we were still on the trail, someone would come from the other direction.

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The terrain became more rocky and there were many big cacti along the trail.

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After this hike, I had to remove 4 half inch long cactus thorns from the top of her paws with a tweezer. 🤕 First I tried it with my fingers and it kept cutting off. The tweezer pulled those stinkers out with no problem.

At the La Madre Spring trail junction, we turn left. In hindsight, I should’ve turned us around and returned to the trailhead (out and back) at this point because the best part of this hike was over for us. La Madre Spring trail had more traffic and Xena did not like the gravel road. It was hard for her to walk. I felt bad for her.

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We left the La Madre Spring Wilderness and got on Rocky Gap Road. Walking on the pavement and looking out for oncoming traffic isn’t hiking! Long story short, I missed a trail that we were supposed to pick up after the Willow Spring Picnic area. I looked around but didn’t see it. I should have created a route on mapmyhike.com and loaded to my phone. I thought there would be signs. So we ended up walking back to the car via roads, Rocky Gap Road then Scenic Loop Drive. At least Scenic Loop Drive is one way road and I only had to watch out for the oncoming traffic. I saw some people walking on Rocky Gap Road but no one was as lost as we were to walk on Scenic Loop Drive. LOL. Sigh..

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I was going to stay at the park until the sunset but that didn’t happen. When we got back to the car around 3:30 pm, we were cold, thirsty and tired. After sharing a coconut water and some snacks, Xena wanted to go in the car. While I was loading the car, she was already dozing off.

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I thought to plan better for the next day. I was really excited about visiting Valley of Fire State Park and didn’t want to cut that trip short.

Red Rock Canyon is beautiful! Next time, I will definitely plan a longer trip to explore the parts of the park we didn’t get to see on this trip. Already can’t wait! For videos from this day, go to our Facebook page!

Good to Know:

Never stop exploring! Xo

Friendship Bell

The Korean Bell of Friendship was a gift from South Korea to the United States in 1976 to further the friendship and trust between the two nations. The bell, which weighs 17 tons, was cast in Korea then shipped to the U.S. The pavilion which houses the bell was constructed by Korean craftsmen in the traditional Korean architectural style with a blue tile roof over a period of ten months. As a Korean American, the intricacy of the bell and the beautifully colorful detailed pavilion wasn’t new to me. However, to see it on the American soil, practically in my neighborhood, warmed my heart and I felt proud of the craftsmanship. If you are ever near San Pedro, you should definitely pay a visit.

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Friendship Bell 1

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The bell is rung by a huge wooden stick.

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It sits on a hilltop where you can enjoy the stunning views of the Los Angeles Harbor and bay.

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Good to Know:

  • Location:  3601 S Gaffey Street, San Pedro, CA 90731
  • Ceremony Ringing’s Occur 5 Times Each Year:
    ·     July – INDEPENDENCE DAY
    ·     August- KOREAN INDEPENDENCE DAY (8/15)
    ·     September – CONSTITUTION DAY (9/17)
    ·     December – NEW YEAR’S EVE
    ·     January – KOREAN AMERICAN DAY (1/13)
  • Park is free. More info

xoxo~

 

Beautiful Morning at Terranea

It was a clear beautiful morning. I was working on a Christmas gift for mom and dad. 2016 family calendar with our pictures. Ok, mostly Xena’s pictures but my sister contributed a couple of her pictures as well. I gathered our stuff and got in to the car. Off we go. Destination: Terranea Resort.

We started our walk from Pelican Cove Park.

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There were already a couple of people there with their cameras to capture the sunrise. Sunsets are romantic and sunrises are inspiring and motivational. We should experience both in our lives.

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We had our photo shoot session.

Then continued on the trail.

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The quiet morning stroll was therapeutic. We took our time and explored.

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Path to Terranea Cove.

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This is where you get to appreciate the earth and its long history.

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You see how the soil horizons do not match up. A clear evidence of earthquakes. I just love looking at soil structure, color and texture. Nerd alert.

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You might recognize the following picture from my previous post. It was here in the Terranea Cove I found the magical dog. 🙂

Magical dog

Good to know:

  • Hike date:  11.22.15
  • Out and back, total distance less than 3 miles
  • Ample free parking at Pelican Cove Park
  • Terranea resort is pet-friendly with a fee. Pet Fee is $150 per stay to cover cleaning charges to the guest room upon departure. Click here for their pet policy.
  • Located at Terranea Resort, Nelson’s is a dog-friendly restaurant.

 

Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures

~ Lovell Drachman

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Happy Hiking!

Abalone Cove Trails

Last month, I wanted to do a hike with ocean view so I drove to Abalone Cove Shoreline Park. I checked the tide schedule early in the morning and planned my day around it to make sure we can walk down to the cove. We reached at the parking lot around 9am.

Via de Campo Trail – I love seeing families hiking with their little children. It brings me back childhood memories.

The morning air was fresh and the view was breathtaking.

View of Abalone Cove from Abalone Cove Trail

Sea Dahlia Trail

Beach was widen due to low tides and the ocean was still pulling out exposing tide pools. Always check the tide schedule beforehand for your safety. We walked to right underneath the Portuguese Point where there was still shade. Soon, all of this area would be exposed to the sun.

After I found a nice flat rock to sit on, Xena found nice kids to tag along. They were gentle and sweet to each other. The kids would spot something in the tide pools every other second and shout, “Look what I found!” Xena would go and look. Xena knows “look”. They gently opened their palms and showed to her shells and little crabs and let her sniff. It was hilarious and so cute!! I swear my heart melted. The kids’ dad and I enjoyed watching their interaction.

After exploring tide pools, I hiked up to the Portuguese Point to check out the view. Even though there was a fence, it was too cliff-y for me so I walked 20 feet away from the fence and kept Xena on my side closely.

Portuguese Point Loop Trail

Sacred Cove

Sea Dahlia Trail

This park is relatively close to my place so I don’t know why it took me so long to get out there. Next time, I plan to include the adjacent Sacred Cove in the itinerary. I look forward to going back!

Good to know:

  • Hike date:  11.7.15
  • Distance: < 3 miles
  • Out and back
  • Parking: First 30 Minutes FREE
    30 Minutes to 2 Hours $6
    Over 2 Hours $12
    Seniors 62+ and Handicapped are FREE year-round
  • Restrooms available at the park

Happy Hiking!