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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : What a Mormon does in Las Vegas (a photo essay) » What a Mormon does in Las Vegas (a photo essay)

What a Mormon does in Las Vegas (a photo essay)

Susan M - January 25, 2007

Thanks to everybody who made suggestions for my trip. I had a blast.

I was in Vegas with my husband, who went for the snowboard/ski industry trade show. We stayed at the Luxor. He went to the trade show all day Monday. I went to Red Rocks and the Valley of Fire. He went to the trade show all day Tuesday. I went to the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort. We saw Tom Jones perform Tuesday night. And Wednesday my husband ditched the trade show and went to Red Rocks with me.

I never used to like the desert. But I think living in southern Cali has given me an appreciation for the ugly brown mountains. (I was used to the beautiful green mountains of Washington.) But going to Red Rocks and the Valley of Fire really made me love the desert.

Red Rocks is the most incredible place (above). Except for the Valley of Fire, which is even more amazing (below).

Red Rocks is about half an hour west of the Vegas strip. There’s a scenic drive you follow, which is about 13 miles long, with places to stop and hike.

There’s little Joshua trees everywhere, many of which were in a fire years ago, so they’re all black and charred. They’re starting to come back from it, though (below).

The different colors in the rocks at Red Rocks is really striking.

In the picture below, you can see two rock climbers. Gives you a sense of the scale.

A few of the hiking trails have ancient petroglyphs and petrographs on the rocks. No one knows for sure what they mean or what they were for. It makes sense to me that they’re some sort of sign about the area—”water sources here,” “good hunting grounds,” etc.

When my husband and I were hiking up around one area, the trail was very narrow at times, with big flat stones forming stairs to climb up. At one point I turned from taking a picture, and all I could see was a gigantic rock right in my way—a couple feet taller than I. I said, “We’re supposed to climb this thing?!” and my husband pointed to my right, where the trail obviously continued—around the rock, complete with a fence rail and everything. We haven’t stopped laughing about that for days now.

At one point we saw a fox, sunning himself on a rock. His eyes were squinted, and he looked like he was luxuriating in the heat of the sun.

Red Rocks is really an amazing place:

But the Valley of Fire is even more so. It’s about an hour drive from Vegas, to the Northeast. The street leading out to it is a narrow winding road. It’s so worth the trip. It’s a big National Park that includes Lake Mead, with campgrounds. You can camp right in the middle of these giant red stones:

The colors and shapes are just stunning.

There’s a hiking trail there with petroglyphs that is one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. It’s in a small crevice with giant rocks on either side.

The rocks have all kinds of crevices and holes in them, some large enough to crawl into. The area used to be a hideout for a trouble-making Indian. You can just imagine him living there, hanging out by all these rocks.

About the Old Mormon Fort in Las Vegas—the first permanent settlers in the valley were LDS missionaries. I went to the fort, expecting to be greeted by missionaries, but it’s a state park, and not church-ran, as far as I could tell. There’s an old adobe building and parts of the fort still standing. Not much to look at but I found it interesting.

I want to thank those who suggested I visit the Valley of Fire, I don’t think I would’ve heard about it otherwise. It’s one of those rare places on earth that I feel an almost spiritual connection to.

I feel like I discovered a new part of myself there. I can’t wait to go back. And I never thought I’d say that of Vegas!


  1. Well, let me be the first to congratulate you on nice pics. Looks like a good time.

    Comment by Peter — January 25, 2007 @ 9:52 am

  2. I’m glad you got to enjoy such a wonderful place. Valley of Fire is a place I’ve been going back to dozens of times since early childhood. My wife and I stayed a night there on our honeymoon. To help my sons know why I love Nevada I took them there, and it’s their favorite place in the state. A couple nitpicks: Valley of Fire is a Nevada state park, not part of the nearby Lake Mead National Recreation Area. And Red Rock is singular not plural.

    Comment by John Mansfield — January 25, 2007 @ 10:16 am

  3. Haha, thanks for the corrections. I only knew when you drive into the Valley of Fire you can also get to Lake Mead. I didn’t make it that far, I really want to get back there and explore more of it.

    Comment by Susan M — January 25, 2007 @ 10:59 am

  4. I was scrolling through the photos kind of quickly and forgot that your captions were describing the picture below and not the picture above… With that in mind, go look at the caption about the fox on the rock squinting his eyes and imagine my surprise at your forwardness…

    Comment by Ryan — January 25, 2007 @ 12:57 pm

  5. This is awesome. Thanks for sharing all your pictures! Now I know where to go and what to do the next time we find ourselves needing to stay in Las Vegas again –and it will keep my kids away from the strip!

    Comment by Cheryl — January 25, 2007 @ 2:13 pm

  6. I hope you read the extract from my great-great-great grandfather’s journal at the old Mormon Fort.

    Quiz at 11.

    Comment by Mark B. — January 25, 2007 @ 4:56 pm

  7. How do you center your face when aiming the camera at yourself like that?

    I still can’t seem to manage a decent self-photo that doesn’t have my forehead peeking out of a corner.

    Comment by Seth R. — January 25, 2007 @ 5:36 pm

  8. I don’t have much trouble getting myself in the frame, it’s getting what I want in the background there that is hard. Usually takes a few tries. But I’m pretty good at aiming my camera without looking through the viewfinder (or at the lcd screen).

    Mark, what’s your ancestor’s name? Don’t remember a journal but I did read about some of the pioneers.

    Comment by Susan M — January 25, 2007 @ 5:51 pm

  9. love the valley of fire, i once made a detour through there and was glad i went. thanks for the pix.

    Comment by mike d. — January 25, 2007 @ 7:12 pm

  10. Lorenzo Brown.

    Comment by Mark B. — January 26, 2007 @ 7:14 am

  11. but did you win any money? ;)

    Comment by Phouchg — January 26, 2007 @ 6:19 pm

  12. [...] I already posted about my trip to Vegas a couple weeks ago and the petroglyphs that ancient people made that we saw there: [...]

    Pingback by Nine Moons » Blog Archive : “Please bless that we have a good day today… » “Please bless that we have a good day today… — February 9, 2007 @ 9:03 am

  13. [...] Yet there are places where I feel closer to God. Places that make me marvel and give me a sense of eternity, and my place in it. One of those places is Red Rock and the Valley of Fire, near Vegas, which I’ve already posted about here. [...]

    Pingback by Nine Moons » Blog Archive : A Church Not Made With Hands » A Church Not Made With Hands — April 13, 2007 @ 11:50 am

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