Our last leg of the road trip was to drive back to Las Vegas from Page.
As we spent the whole morning in Antelope Canyon we then drove the afternoon on Hwy 9 through Zion National Park. We entered through East entrance and first noted the different color in the road pavement. The hills also had several colors in them. There are some tunnels on the way and steep serpentine road down to the Zion Canyon. We happened to be by the river during dusk and got view the last sun rays over the mountains from bridge over North Fork Virgin River. This time we did not have time to spend in the park, just passing by. The brochure did show many interesting trails and even a shuttle bus driving the otherwise closed scenic road in the canyon. Something for the next visit then 🙂
We stopped for the night in a hotel in Mesquite and then visited Valley of Fire State Park (entered from East Entrance) the next day before getting back to Las Vegas. It is a really nice park just approximately one hour drive from Las Vegas so it can also be visited on a day/half day trip from there. This park is also not that commonly known destination. When entering the park there wasn’t any open pay booths so the entrance fee was left in an envelope to a mailbox (soon after a ranger came to empty the box). Just next to the entrance was the Elephant Rock, an arched rock that looks like a sitting elephant when you climb higher on the hill.
Next we continued directly to Parking lot P3 to take the trail to Fire Wave. The trail is a sandy path (sand goes everywhere) and takes about one hour. It was very windy day causing the sand to fly with the gusts. Well worth the hike. Fire Wave was beautiful with its different stripes and the hills behind were very colorful. I have not seen this kind of rock coloring and stripes anywhere before.
This time in Las Vegas we stayed in Stratosphere hotel at the other end of the Strip. This was quite far from the other resorts (longer walking distance to everywhere) but otherwise very nice hotel and casino. Of course we went to the top of the tower the very first evening to see the crazy amusement rides on top of it (I did not dare to try as I am afraid of heights) and admire the view over the city. The hotel casino had everything one might need inside (restaurants, shops, gambling, amusement park rides, pool etc.) so really there would have been no reason for anyone to leave. However there was still some places around Vegas that we wanted to see and couple of days before our flight home.
We did a half day trip to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area just outside of Las Vegas. It was only 30 min drive from the Strip and had a 13-mile scenic drive around it. It was Saturday when we visited the park and though the weather was very windy and cloudy there were many families enjoying time outdoors climbing the rocks, having picnic in park or just walking around.
We also did one more day trip towards Death Valley. I had heard that there are many abandoned (ghost) towns around this area and really wanted to visit one. So we took the I-95 through Beatty to Rhyolite Ghost Town. I had high expectations of the place and images in my head of this western style empty town. In reality however it was only few walls left in some buildings scattered along the main town road and a closed up old Casino/Saloon with abandoned railroad wagon at the end of it. It was quickly looked through.
We continued towards the state line and noted a dirt road with sign for Leadfield Ghost Town. We thought that this might be more what I was imagining and turned to the road. This was one-way road so no turning back. After a while driving to more and more mountainous scenery the road got really bad. Good thing that our rental had four-wheel drive because otherwise I am not sure we would have made it across the mountains. There were huge holes on the road as well as soft sand in some parts. The nature and scenery though was picturesque. When we finally arrived in the ghost town it really was only three rusted shacks far apart. However the feel was very different from Rhyolite as this was in the middle of nowhere and you could see the closed up mineshafts around the town. There were only very few other cars and adventurous people taking the same road (so not the common tourist road).
Continuing the drive towards Death Valley the road declined to the bottom of Titus Canyon. Actually the road was the dried up river bottom and you still could see where the water had flown earlier in the year and years ago. This trip took us the whole day and after getting out of Titus Canyon we still had over two hour drive back to Las Vegas.