I am not a good beach vacationer. Although I like the idea of relaxing on a beach (especially when it’s winter 6/12 months in Wisconsin!), I am waaaay too antsy to stay in one place very long. When I travel, I like to stay busy. I think it’s mostly because I want to try to see EVERYTHING when I’m somewhere new. I do accept the fact that I most likely won’t be able to walk down every street and visit every shop though, and that I’ll have to come back sometime (darn!).
You would think someone who wants to see everything would have her schedule planned meticulously down to the minute. That’s not me either though. I might plan a few excursions ahead of time, but typically I don’t plan much before I even get there. I like to immerse myself by simply exploring (reads: by doing a LOT of walking). For example, take the day I walked more than 10 miles up and down the Las Vegas strip in flip flops, got blisters all over, and then had to run 5 miles the next day! That’s another story, though.
This particular day trip to Red Rock Canyon outside of Las Vegas was somewhat spontaneous. I was in Vegas in February for WPPI, a big conference for professional wedding and portrait photographers. Most of my days were filled with photography classes and short sight-seeing trips in the city. But I had one free day at the end of the week, and thanks to the suggestions of a few friends on Facebook, I had my sight set on Red Rock. The idea of hiking at the end of a long week of classes and city slicking was especially appealing! This was only the second time I’ve been in the desert, and the first time I ever explored it like this. I got a little taste of it the day before at a styled wedding shoot with some of my fellow photogs — but Red Rock was unlike anything I’ve explored before!
I didn’t have a car and didn’t have a hiking buddy, so I ended up taking an Uber to Red Rock. I’ve explored a few places by myself, and although it can be slightly intimidating, I highly recommend it once in a while. I find it gives me a chance to breathe, to think about my life and my goals, and to just work on being present.
Here are a few tips – from my experience – if you want to take the trip to Red Rock too:
- If you take an Uber or Lyft, have them drop you off before the payment windows. You’ll still have to walk by the payment window to pay though. I took my Uber right up to the window, and I was able to get out of the car right there and pay. But if the Uber drives you past the payment window, you will have to pay for the car (because you can drive through the park too!). It was only $5 for me to walk through. It was another $15 to drive through to get dropped off.
- To get an Uber or Lyft back, officials there said I would have to walk back out to the payment window area to access the WiFi. There are signs all over that say cell service is almost nonexistent. I must have gotten lucky because I was able to get decent cell service in the park (I have Verizon), but another woman there had to borrow my phone to make a call because she had none.
- Stop in the visitor center before you hike, especially if you need extra supplies. The visitor center is a decent walk from the the red Calico rocks. This is less significant if you have a car, because you can park right by the Calico Trails (where I hiked), but the park workers advised me it was about a 30 minute walk from the visitor center (and bathrooms!) to the Calico Trails. The desert can be dangerously dry, so I bought some extra water and gatorade, and some $12 sunglasses, before I started.
- To get to the Calico Trails, there’s a path that starts to the left of the visitor center (The Moenkopi Loop). If you follow that path behind the visitor center, you’ll eventually cross a road and end up at the Calico Trails. It’s pretty obvious when you get there 🙂 I hiked up and down the paths and on the rocks, and it was simply breathtaking. There were enough people around that I felt safe if anything happened to me, but the crowds were small enough for it to feel like I was alone (Keep in mind, I went in February). If you look closely in some of these pictures, you might be able to spot some rock climbers (actual rock climbers — not just me climbing on rocks) way in the background — My arms were sore just watching them!
If you like to stay active, take pretty pictures, or take a peaceful break from the city, I highly recommend visiting Red Rock! Even if you don’t want to hike, you can drive through the park for beautiful views, more pretty pictures, and some sweet selfies! Check out some of my favorite photos from my trip — Actually a combination of edited photos from my phone and my DSLR. Can you spot the differences? And I promise, I actually did hike!