Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

with 26 comments

Four years ago today we visited the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area on the west side of Las Vegas, Nevada. We arrived in the morning, when clouds still hung over the mountains.

Note the yuccas in the second picture. I believe they’re young Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia).

And notice the cholla cactus that looks like a running stick figure in the third picture.

The first three views don’t seem to support the name Red Rock, so here’s a picture that does.

Instead of a quotation today, let’s have an English vocabulary question. A mailman delivers mail. A fisherman catches fish. A fireman puts out fires. A salesman sells things. What does a henchman do?

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 25, 2020 at 4:37 AM

26 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. It looks like early morning is a good time to visit this wild area. I like your stick figure fantasy.


    October 25, 2020 at 5:16 AM

    • Fantasy? You mean that stick figure wasn’t really running? Oh world of disillusion! Speaking of which, as wild as the area looks, tour buses and cars had already poured in there by the time we arrived, and visitors were swarming in various places. As was often the case on this trip, I sometimes had to take pains to exclude people from my pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 25, 2020 at 7:06 AM

  2. I see your stick figure as a cowboy on his horse. He’s even wearing a ten-gallon hat. Maybe he’s someone’s henchman, out horsing around.

    The landscape’s stark, but beautiful. The yuccas in the second photo appear to be windblown; at least they’re tending in the same direction as the clouds. It may just be their growth pattern. If it were really windy, I’d expect to see more dust being blown up. As for the red rocks, I see that even in their crevices a few brave plants are willing to give growth a try.


    October 25, 2020 at 6:11 AM

    • I’m glad the henchman henched his way—ten-gallons-worth of the way, at that—into your comment. The yuccas do seem to have been subjected to wind, which wouldn’t surprise me out there in such a wide open mountainous region, though I don’t remember any wind that morning. I also focused on the green plants that provide a color contrast with the red rocks in the last pictures. There’s almost nowhere in nature that plants don’t find a way to grow in.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 25, 2020 at 7:15 AM

  3. I found the same cowboy on a horse wearing a ten-gallon hat, that Linda saw! How funny. That was my favorite of the four images. I was really taken in by the flow of the foothills – change of plant life, shadows, color and texture. I got sidetracked for way longer than I should have… your images keep me from getting out to start morning chores!


    October 25, 2020 at 6:58 AM

    • You’re from Nebraska and she’s from the neighboring state of Iowa, so maybe there’s something in the water in that central part of the country that the two of you drank in childhood that predisposed you to see things the same way. Well, all right, maybe that’s not the reason. Given that the third picture is your favorite, we can say that it wasn’t a chore for you to look at it, even if it kept you from your real chores.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 25, 2020 at 8:23 AM

  4. This is a desolate yet beautiful landscape. You chose a good time to visit the park when only a few tourists come to visit these mountains.

    Peter Klopp

    October 25, 2020 at 9:01 AM

    • As is almost always the case, I took pains to make the place look fully natural in my photographs. The reality was different. By the time we’d eaten breakfast, checked out of our hotel, and arrived at Red Rock, tour buses and cars had already poured in there and visitors were swarming in various places. This national conservation area is only 20 minutes away from downtown Las Vegas, and even less from the western parts of the city. Fortunately the fact that this is a conservation area means that the suburbs can’t encroach on that land.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 25, 2020 at 9:39 AM

  5. Run, Cholla, Run! I love the textures in the rock.
    In the 2nd shot, the Joshua trees seem to be bowing toward the mountain.

    Robert Parker

    October 25, 2020 at 9:13 AM

    • You might say that through my photographs I metaphorically also bowed in homage to the mountains. When it comes to rock textures, this place had its share, though the Valley of Fire, which we also visited using Las Vegas as a base, and which yesterday’s post featured, had many more textured rocks.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 25, 2020 at 9:42 AM

  6. The landscape and vegetation seem fantastic, Steve, as if taken on a different planet.
    We might have had touched on this point before, if memory serves me right, but we have Red Rock Canyon Open Space in Colorado Springs. It’s not quite as otherworldly: https://redrockcanyonopenspace.org/gallery/


    October 25, 2020 at 12:10 PM

    • Utah does have an other-worldliness about it. The first time I ever saw it was from an airplane going from Texas to California in the mid-1990s. The formations that I glimpsed down below intrigued me so much that I decided I’d have to go back and see the state from the ground. A couple of years later we flew to Salt Lake City and rented a car. On that trip we hit the other four national parks in Utah, so in 2016 Zion was a must-see.

      I remember Red Rock Canyon Open Space quite well. On our first day in Colorado Springs in 2017 we drove up there late in the afternoon and found lots of people arriving for a concert. We went back the next morning so we could see the rocks without the crowd. In the one post I did about Red Rock Canyon Open Space, I even linked to the same website you just linked to:


      Steve Schwartzman

      October 25, 2020 at 6:37 PM

  7. I love the mountains shrouded in the clouds! It looks like there’s a giant fossil of an ancient arthropod in that rock. 😀 Do you see what I see?


    October 26, 2020 at 10:14 AM

    • I didn’t, but if you’re referring to the light area in the second picture’s mountain, I think I do now.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 26, 2020 at 10:43 AM

  8. It’s fun to see these, Steve. I just happened to be looking at Vegas and Valley of Fire photos yesterday. I miss the desert! I love the effects of those clouds in the first two photos, and the perfect placement of the yuccas in the third one, a beautiful composition.


    October 28, 2020 at 2:05 PM

    • Then this Nevada post is good timing. I miss the desert, too. If not for the pandemic, I’m pretty sure we’d have traipsed through some desert or other this year, even if only on our way somewhere else. Come on, vaccine!

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 28, 2020 at 2:44 PM

      • Yes, we probably would have gone somewhere southwest in the fall or winter. Gee, at least Vancouver! But no, and they’re dealing with bad outbreaks now too. It’s going to feel strange when we can finally travel.


        November 11, 2020 at 7:10 PM

        • Since my previous comment Pfizer and BioNTech have announced a 90% success rate with their vaccine. Maybe we’re finally beginning the way back to normal.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 12, 2020 at 8:50 AM

  9. Nice foregrounds on 2 & 3. I especially like the arrangement and composition in 3.


    October 31, 2020 at 1:13 PM

    • I agree with you. Those plants in #3 were so considerate to arrange themselves that way. What fun to have been in your general part of the country for a change.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 31, 2020 at 1:27 PM

  10. […] us four years ago today, though actually we’d seen our first Joshua trees two weeks earlier in Nevada, and then in […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: