Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Nevada Backroads–Caliente

Caliente MountainsLeaving Las Vegas, we traveled northeast on I-15 for a short time then turned north on US 93.  For many miles, the terrain resembled a lunar landscape, but after 60 miles we entered the Pahranagat Valley, a spring-fed ribbon of green grass and lakes.  We visited here last October and wrote about it here.  We were impressed with the area around Caliente, and decided to spend a few days at Young’s RV Park and explore the area.  Caliente Train DepotCaliente is a town of about 1300 that was once a major division line of the railroad, and where ranches furnished hay for the mining camps north of town.  Although no longer a major rail terminal, the most imposing building in town, the train depot, remains and is used as the community center and library.  Downtown CalienteThere’s a small downtown area, a few scattered businesses, and a quiet neighborhood of row houses built for railroad workers.  All of this is surrounded by tall, colorful mountains.  We wondered why the Hot Springs Motel, that advertised mineral spring baths in each room, was boarded up and closed.  It seems that it was owned by the  Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS)  and used by the self-proclaimed prophet Warren Jeffs to perform wedding of teen age girls to older men of the sect.  You can read about it here.

A few short miles from Caliente is the entrance to Rainbow Canyon, a 20-mile drive through a wonderland of multi-colored rocks, towering cliffs, and a Cottonwood lined stream. At the entrance, there are ranches with fields of Alfalfa, but the canyon soon narrows with just a few wide spots that are home to ranches. At each turn in the road, the rock formations and colors seemed to change:Rainbow Canyon1

Rainbow Canyon 6

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Rainbow Canyon 4At the end of the drive, the canyon widens and the road disappears:Rainbow Canyon End

In the evening, the setting sun turned the canyon walls into brilliant colors.  Driving along a wide, open area in the road,  we were surprised by a small herd of wild horses being pushed across the road in front of us by a white stallion. Unfortunately, they didn’t wait until I could grab the camera, but at least we could admire the changing colors of the rocks high above us:Rainbow Canyon2

Rainbow Canyon3

On another day, we visited Kershaw-Ryan State Park, located in a side canyon just inside Rainbow Canyon. The beauty is amazing, and the facilities are far beyond what we’d expected in a location so far from large cities. The park, a former ranch built next to a spring, has a wading pool, volleyball court, picnic area, hiking trails, and even a Koi pond. All this surrounded by towering canyon walls covered in wild grape vines and shaded by large cottonwoods. The staff plants over 500 flowers in the spring, and there’s a nice, no-hookup campground below. clip_image010

Finally, we’ll leave with this picture of a Long-eared Owl, settled into the crook of a tree, probably getting ready for her young:

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We’ve more to tell you about this area, so check back soon!

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