When I visited Las Vegas for the first time, the Bellagio wasn’t finished yet. Some quick computing – yes, that was 1998. And yes, the Bellagio sits on the site of the former Dunes.
Since then a lot of hotels have gone up at and near The Strip. To name just a few: Mandalay Bay, Palazzo, The Palms, Paris, South Point, Wynn, The Venetian. A lot of older hotels have vanished too, to make room for something newer, larger, more spectacular. The same goes for all of Las Vegas – developments sprang up everywhere; every year there were more houses. especially during the last five years more and more subdivisions crept into the desert and closer to the mountains.
Still, one can leave all that behind and transport oneself into (nearly) untouched landscapes. Just 17 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip there is no more glitter and glamor, no noise, no hordes of people, this very short drive takes one to the conservation area of Red Rock Canyon. There again one has several choices, one can take the scenic drive, stop somewhere and take a hike or turn right shortly before arriving at the visitor’s center and go to Calico Basin Red Springs.
Having been to both the Red Rock National Park and the Calico Basin, I somehow prefer the latter. On driving up to the site one sees houses totally unlike the cookie cutter monstrosities left and right of the highway up to this area:
Even though the structures look quite tiny, actually they are not; they just appear so small against the backdrop of the undisturbed, massive environment.
Then comes the first surprise:
Green? In the Mojave Desert? Oh, it gets even better:
Red Springs is indeed an oasis, with three springs carrying water all year round, turning the barren looking land into this island of green.
One might wonder how such a tiny amount of water can keep a whole oasis alive – but that’s all that is needed, some water, constantly flowing, to turn the desert into a small paradise.
The difference can be seen here from top of the ridge dividing the oasis from the surrounding desert:
This is truly an oasis to recover from the glittering city a few miles away.