Pictorial Highlight: Red Rock Canyon State Park

So I’ve missed a couple weeks of my Pictorial Highlights, and for that I apologize (“NOBODY GIVES A SHIT!” I hear somebody in the “audience” shout), but my life has been in a period of major upheaval and transition–now I should be back on track though, better than ever!

Red Rock Canyon State Park is located in the northwestern Mojave Desert; it is just a little bit east of the lower end of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  It is truly a wondrous place, not just for its spectacular geogical features and textures and colors, but also for the way it seems to just spring up out of nowhere.  Driving either north or south on Highway 14, you’re in the middle of the sprawling, seemingly endless desert.  Then you round a bend and suddenly you’re surrounded by these stunning cliffs and rocks and hills and bizarre, twisted, sand-and-rain-whipped formations that take your breath away; it’s like you entered a wormhole and spontaneously popped out on Mars.  That’s how different and strange and wondrous it is.  There are also many, many plants and wildflowers (in the spring) and nonhuman animals, some of whom you will see featured here.  Without further    adieu–sit back and enjoy!!



I climbed up to this ridge, probably 80-100 feet above the desert floor–notice the tent for perspective!

I love the solitary Joshua Tree, straddling on the narrow ridgetop the steep, steep edges on either side.

More Joshua Trees, as the sun drops below the horizon and makes one final brilliant flare.

I could only see the dark silhouettes here, so I set up my tripod and the aperture stayed open for a good 8 (!) seconds to capture a couple magical shots.

I love that there were some stars captured, too!



This is where the trail started; you can actually see these formations in the background of the early archeological dig scene in Jurassic Park.

I passed by one stunning geological feature after another…

I even was fortunate enough to see this gorgeous, fascinating lil guy, a southern desert horned lizard:

Incredible! Look out those bitchin horns, and how marvelously his skin tonation and spotting matches the sand and pebbles; a brilliant display of evolution.

But the best was still yet to come; I was almost to the end of the line on this 2-mile trail that ended here:

I turned around, blown away by the scenery, but disappointed that I hadn’t seen any birds of prey.  But then I spotted motion out of the corner of my eye, someone flying.  I scrambled up some rocks leading to the canyon wall.  I crouched.  Waited patiently.  And after a few minutes of silence, I was rewarded with one of the more amazing, beautiful things I’ve ever seen–a mother great horned owl and her two young offspring!!

The mama! She was VERY watchful of me, making sure I wasn’t there to hurt her babies. (sorry for the grainy picture quality, but owls don’t let you get too close in the desert, and I didn’t have a great telephoto lens at the time)

I LOVE owls; raptors in general are some of my favorite animals, and owls are among my very favorite.  Their wings have evolved a feature whereby their flight is almost silent–you don’t hear their wings flapping.  An incredible swooping predator.  Here’s mama in flight:

So very majestic.



S/he was already a (tentative) flyer, but adorably awkward and clumsy still.

I still have never seen a golden eagle, but these were the first wild owls I ever remember seeing, and it was extremely memorable indeed.  I very much hope you enjoyed this week’s Pictorial!  Next week, we’ll head farther south in the Mojave Desert…
















4 thoughts on “Pictorial Highlight: Red Rock Canyon State Park

  1. malejones

    I love the pics of the desert at night and especially the owl pics! Owls are so amazing, they totally fascinate me. Regal and beautiful while still intensely badass! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. TheRewildWest Post author

      “Regal and beautiful while still intensely badass.” YES!! Exactly–what a perfect way to pithily quantify the uniqueness of owls! You should be a writer or something 😉


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