Sunrise at Red Rock Canyon


The desert is an amazing place. We moved to Las Vegas, Nevada in May, 2013, and stayed there for two years. The time we spent there was a dichotomy between a miserable lack of social interaction and euphoric desert beauty.

On a few occasions, we cruised out to Red Rock Canyon to watch the sunrise. Red Rock Canyon is a national conservation area located on the Western outskirts of Las Vegas. The mountains tower above the park, and if you are not familiar with desert mountains, the views can be breathtaking.

Getting to the park for the sunrise can be crazy – we would often leave later than we had planned, meaning we’d have to race to get there in time. No big deal, right? Well, state road 160 typically has no lights, and few other drivers on the road at the time, which would make the 20 minute drive a little creepy. And then of course, there’s the danger of native burros!

We often saw signs warning us not to feed the wild burros, and we laughed – really? WILD BURROS?? We NEVER saw one. Until we did. One morning on our way home from watching the sunrise, we saw three of them. And knowing they really did exist made the pre-dawn race to Red Rock a little more treacherous!

The park opened at 6am. Because Las Vegas is the Easternmost city on Pacific time, it meant that the sun rose earlier there. And even if we got to the park at 6am, it would take another 15-20 minutes to get to the valley view scenic overlook.

Once we got there, though, the view was amazing, as this photo shows. As with every photo, it does nothing to represent the true beauty. There was an orange color in the sky over the horizon that I had never seen before, and I burned through about 10 pictures before I realized that the camera would never get it right.

In this photo, the camera is looking East over the Las Vegas valley. The bright set of lights just left of center is the South Point Casino. If you could look around the shadow of rocks on the left side of the photo, you would see the Las Vegas Strip, and even further left from that is Downtown Las Vegas (aka Fremont Street). The white lights at the bottom of the picture are actually other cars driving through the park.

We would spend an hour or two watching the sun rise in perfect calm and silence. It was a bit of magic that you wouldn’t expect outside of the buzz and bustle of the Las Vegas Strip!

One thought on “Sunrise at Red Rock Canyon”

  1. Thank you for sharing that “magic” with Paula and I when we visited. And yes – the race to the valley was a bit of an adrenalin rush! 🙂 Glad you are back to blogging Matt.

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