For as long as humans have crossed the Black Rock Desert they have aimed for the desert’s namesake, the dark rock point that marks the trail and an important water source.
A piece of the Oceanic Plate with a series of volcanic island chains eventually collided with and accreted to the western edge of the North American Plate. This newly attached land contained volcanic rocks inter-laced with oceanic sediments, such as the black limestone of the Black Rock. These rocks now make up or underlie much of northwestern Nevada, including the Black Rock, Pine Forest, and Jackson Ranges. The Black Rock itself, the namesake of the desert, is a piece of an ancient island chain.
From Friends of the Black Rock/High Rock geology page
“To some who hurry along Nevada highways, the country through which they pass seems almost barren of life. But to those who know it, the desert is the home of a myriad of living things—animals and plants capable of solving their problems of survival in intensely interesting ways.” ~Sessions S. Wheeler, The Nevada Desert.
Happy weekend! We hope you’re able to get out and enjoy a gorgeous evening glow. The November evening when this photo was taken was a gorgeous one.
by Daniel Montero
Gold Strike Canyon, outside of Henderson, Nevada and very near to Hoover Dam (downstream of it) is a great hike through a narrow, steep walled canyon down to a collection of hot pools right on the Colorado River. The canyon is stunning in and of itself, the pools are beautiful with the river nearly right alongside. The hike has some challenging sections, with ropes in place to help prevent falls, but it is a popular destination with solo hikers, bathers, families exploring, and more sharing the trail.
As always, follow guides, do your research, use common sense, and err on the side of caution before bathing anywhere, especially anywhere wild.
The Warner Mountains in extreme northeastern California and south central Oregon form the boundary to the basin and range and the Great Basin. They are very ramp-shaped, with their eastern face (see here), being very steep and cliff-faced, while their western slopes are steep, yes, but much more gradual, wooded, and human friendly. This view is of Patterson Peak, the second highest peak in the range.
For quite some time I had been yearning, aching really, to camp out in the solitude of the Black Rock Desert on a cold, winter night--preferably on the playa. I love the feeling of a freezing cold desert night and the luxury of climbing into a nice, warm sleeping bag to melt the cold away. Breathing in the crisp, clean, crystalline air.
The weekend of January 20th was time to feed my desire. We headed up to the desert on Saturday afternoon and we just beat the setting sun to our camp spot on the western edge of the playa. The desert was just as I prefer it, not a soul in sight, other than some small birds flitting about in the greasewoods on the margin of our camp.
The playa was mostly dry, cracked in it's usual branching, quilted pattern. It felt so good to be in the presence of this expansive, dry lake bed all alone. The solitude was immense. We pulled out our chairs and just sat, soaking in the vast scenery and the deep silence that surrounded us. As the sun started to sink low in the western sky, we went for a walk along the dunes on the periphery. We then headed toward the center of the playa where we enjoyed and played on the smooth, flat surface which was renewed by last years lake.
Black Rock Desert Slideshow:
The sun soon hit the ridge of the Granite Mountains which begun the evening light show. Starting with the golden evening light on the desert floor. The eastern sky then turned to a deep rich blue, while the western sky shown bright with the flaming colors of the setting sun. The northeastern sky then faded into lavender, wild rose, pink and salmon hues The last of the sunlight creeped up along the hill and mountain sides to our east. creating a violet alpenglow which slowly faded into gray, then night was upon us.
It was supposed to be a stormy night, but the skies opened up and gave us an amazing star show. Stargazing in winter is wonderful due to sky transparency, which is best during the winter months because cold air has less capacity to hold moisture, With less moisture, the air of course is drier, making it much clearer than in summer months when the sky appears hazier due to a higher moisture content--Tips to winter stargazing
We enjoyed the stars, built a fire, savored some hot drinks, then climbed into our cozy, warm sleeping bags and relished the night!
For today’s mountain spotlight, staying very close to home in Reno, Nevada. Rattlesnake Mountain is a small volcanic cone set directly south of the airport and is part of the Huffaker Hills. There is a park with walking trail up Alexander Lake Road (accessed near McCarran and Longley). It is a hidden treasure amidst the city bustle.
Looking west from Bishop Peak in the Pine Forest Range. What a luxury all of the open space we have!
This winter has been a fairly cold one. we've seen iced over streams and creeks in many of the canyons we've explored. Unfortunately, though, the snow has been very light. Hopefully the coming weeks and months will bring us good amounts of the fluffy, cold stuff.
Our fingers are crossed!
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The Basin and Range Project
We love the Basin and Range region and work to promote appreciation and respect for the area. We encourage all users to learn about, play in and protect this amazing resource.
We currently focus primarily on issues in the Nevada region of the Basin and Range, but are looking to expand soon.