Moving On

After a week of driveway camping, eating too much, drinking too much, and just generally hanging around with family, it was time to move on after Christmas. But not too far. We decided that a return visit to Valley of Fire State Park was in order, as we knew it would get us moving – hiking and biking after a week where exercise was non-existent.

Good fortune was on our side, as we lucked into what is probably the best campsite in the Park, nestled into the sandy red soil beneath the giant rock we affectionately called The Poodle.20171229_155230179151433.jpg Our site was deep, and surrounded by high red walls. It was perfect. 20171230_092734612134748.jpgThis campground is a delight, especially for kids (of all ages), as the rough red rocks are tailor-made for scrambling about. In every crevice there’s somebody nosing around, waving to people on the ground while hollering at someone on the next rock over. It’s a great spot.

I’ll just post a few photos from our four days there, as we wandered around the trails. 20171229_1242361898826488.jpg20171230_104112164286959.jpg20171230_170624374818339.jpgSome of the clearest, most pristine petroglyphs we have encountered anywhere are in this Park.20180101_193837587276156.jpg But, the best treat came on our third day, when we had special visitors.

Valley of Fire is located at the very NW end of the Lake Mead Recreation area, which protects the Hoover Dam watershed. When the Lake was initially filled, the little town of St. Thomas was flooded. Now that the water levels are near historic lows, this ghost town is above water again. So, we decided to explore.

St. Thomas has an interesting history. It was originally settled by Mormons, who thought they were still inside the Utah border. Nope. After several years, Nevada officials found the settlement, and demanded payment of three years of back taxes. The settlers refused, and returned to Salt Lake City, after burning their crops and homes to the ground. In the 1880s, new settlers arrived, and the town reached a population of about 500 before being abandoned in the 1930s. The last homeowner left in a rowboat in 1938, as the Lake waters were lapping at his doorstep.

It’s a curious place. There are still a few foundations that are mostly intact, and wooden fenceposts from long-gone trees are still lined up along borders that are now filled with scrub. 20171231_1106501504321873.jpg20171231_1100511069464526.jpgI’m amazed that they are still solid after years of being submerged. Cisterns, many so deep that I couldn’t see the bottom, have been covered with rebar to keep anyone from falling in. The tall structure is the remains of the ice cream parlor.

It’s unfathomable to me that this was all covered up by more than 60 feet of water at one time. There’s no part of the Lake within several miles of this site anymore and it sure doesn’t seem likely that Lake Mead will ever have this much water in it again. (It has now been about 120 days since the last rainfall in Las Vegas). Lots to ponder.

The Lake Mead Recreation Area is dotted with campgrounds and marinas along the shoreline, and we decided to search out a new one for a night’s stay. So, here we are at Callville Bay, a gorgeous, sparsely populated campground. Like many other spots here, the bottom of the original boat ramp now ends far from the edge of the Lake.20180101_122501574909932.jpgIt’s a pleasant place to hang out for a day, with a few scrabbly trails to wander.20180101_140252421434952.jpgDid anyone see the Supermoon last night? By the time it was high enough to see over the hills, it wasn’t so super any more, but still bright enough to keep the campground well-lit last night. My cell phone camera sure isn’t up to the task of a good photo, but I’ll close with this, anyway.20180101_170237966171379.jpg

15 thoughts on “Moving On

  1. Happy New Year Judy!

    I loved seeing the bighorn sheep, I tend to forget that they live that far south, as I’ve only seen them in the northern Rockies.

    I also loved the rock formations from around your first campsite. I would think that the campsite would offer protection from the wind, and I’m sure that there was at least some wind while you were there.

    The ghost town being exposed after decades under water is also something that I’d like to see in person, but from what I’ve heard, that area is very crowded in the summer, and also very hot.


    • Happy New Year to you too, Jerry.

      Being so close to the bighorns was a treat. We’ve seen them several times in our travels, but only from a distance. We had quite a stare-down going with them for awhile. Then, all of the sudden, they clatter away and are gone. It was a perfect moment.

      You’re right about it being too hot to enjoy in the summer out here. The sign at the campground refers to ‘seasonal closures’, and I’m thinking that it probably is a summer issue, not winter, as we are accustomed to. Temps in Vegas are regularly over 100, and there just isn’t much shelter. It would be a long, nasty trek down the trail to St. Thomas, for sure.

      We are really enjoying the camping out here right now. The weather is perfect, and it has been surprisingly calm – great for having a campfire while we have dinner (we always eat outside). Other than one idiot who ran his construction-type generator all night (still going as I type this), it has been amazingly quiet. Cycling to Hoover Dam again today – never get tired of seeing that!

      Take care. Hope the cold is releasing it’s grip a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Heading out to San Diego but on the return trip taking a break from camping and staying with friends in Mesa from Jan 26-Feb 5. Only 11 miles from T@bazona, maybe a day trip is in order!


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