Hidden Oasis

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, just a short drive west of Las Vegas, is popular with hikers, mountain climbers and bikers. What many outdoor enthusiasts may not know about are the seasonal waterfalls. These hidden spectacles are a sight not often seen in the desert, and with the heavy winter snows melting, this an excellent time of year to visit.

The easiest waterfall to find is also one of the most spectacular. The Lost Creek hiking trail is popular with children, dogs and photographers with an easy hike of less than a mile. The path follows a twisting ravine through a tunnel of small trees and natural stone steps. Ascending into the ravine, walk under an overhanging rock to reveal a large box canyon filled with boulders, weathered from the cascading 30-foot waterfall above. Also known as Children’s Discovery, this tiny stream is an excellent example of how life thrives in the desert when water is present.

Another waterfall is located outside the scenic loop, three miles south of the park exit on State Road 159. First Creek Canyon is a moderately difficult three-mile trail. The first mile across flat desert leads to a valley between two mountains. A small creek snakes its way down a ravine, creating a series of crystal clear pools and small waterfalls from the snowmelt in the mountains. There are plenty of unmarked paths leading to beautiful photographic spots, but the trail increases in difficulty the farther into the canyon you go. An amazing amount of wildlife lives in this area, and the best time to witness it is before the stream dries up in summer.

Ice Box Canyon, Calico Tanks and Pine Creek Canyon are just a few of the trails at Red Rock that are transformed when the water flows.

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Lucius Blanchard Degree: University of North Carolina, 1968 Office: 4488 S. Pecos Road, 436-1001; 630 S. Rancho Drive, Suite E, 258-1001; 2851 Business Park Court, Suite 120, 360-2100; LVSCC.com. Board certification: Internal Medicine and dermatology. Robert Bernard Strimling Degree: University of Miami, 1990. Years practicing in Las Vegas: 15.

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