In the spring, the desert around Las Vegas can erupt with a riot of colors and forms during the wildflower bloom. Every spring brings at least a few flowers, but in a good year, the desert can be carpeted with flowers. Good and bad years depend on rain, and the best flowers occur during years when there was several inches of rain during the preceding fall. It is always worth getting outdoors during March and April to take a look, but in years when there was good rain during October and November, don't miss it. When visiting the desert it is not often the quantity of blooms, but more often the quality. You might have to look a little closer, walk a little more and look among the rocks to find the treasures but I can promise you it will be worth the effort. This year I decided to focus on the Valley of Fire; these are a few of my finds. I hope you enjoy.
The weather has been nice out here in Las Vegas, so I thought I would do a day trip to the Valley of Fire to check out the scenery and spring flowers. The Valley of Fire derives its name from red sandstone formations, formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of dinosaurs, 150 million years ago. Complex uplifting and faulting of the region, followed by extensive erosion, have created the present landscape. Other important rock formations include limestones, shales, and conglomerates. Prehistoric users of the Valley of Fire included the Basket Maker people and later the Anasazi Pueblo farmers from the nearby fertile Moapa Valley. The span of approximate occupation has been dated from 300 BCE to 1150 CE. Their visits probably involved hunting, food gathering, and religious ceremonies, although scarcity of water would have limited the length of their stay. Fine examples of rock art left by these ancient peoples can be found at several sites within the park.
The Mojave desert surrounds Las Vegas and extends almost all the way to Los Angeles. Even though most visitors to Las Vegas are interested in gambling, restaurants and shows, there is a beautiful natural world just outside the city limits. The Mojave desert is named after the Mojave Indians who met explorer Father Francis Garces in 1776 after he successfully crossed the Mojave desert. Mojave tribal peoples were concentrated along the Colorado River and the Mojave trail was their main trading route. Other intrepid explorers would follow Garces, including Jedediah Smith in 1826 and John Fremont in 1844.