White Rock Loop (Nevada) 18-Jan-2019

Allegiant Airlines now offers direct service between Medford, Oregon and Las Vegas, Nevada. We decided to give this low-cost airline a try so we could do some hiking in the Las Vegas vicinity. Our flights were great and the tickets cheap but they charge extra for everything else, so “low-cost” can quickly lose its “low” component. Still, they replaced four days of driving with two hours of flying so we think it was worth it. This is also the quick way to reach Death Valley, another favorite hiking location.

For our first hike near Las Vegas, we went with the popular White Rock Loop (6.4 miles; 1,100 feet of gain) in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area due west of downtown Las Vegas. We worried that this Bureau of Land Management (BLM) area might have been affected by the idiotic federal shutdown but, since this area collects its own operating fees, it was open. We did the loop counter-clockwise from the White Rock Spring Trailhead, so we’d have morning light of the colorful rock formations. We descended southwest on the Willow Springs Trail, visited White Rock Spring, and continued on down to the Willow Springs Trailhead. A short walk up unpaved Rocky Gap Road brought us to the La Madre Springs Trail, which we were on briefly until we could branch off on the continuation of the loop trail inside the La Madre Mountain Wilderness. That trail looped us back to the trailhead past a small intermittent creek (which had water in it thanks to rainstorms in the days before we arrived). The hike and the weather were both perfect, with clouds coming and going to enhance the sky. And, yes, some of the rocks are almost unbelievably red!

Along the Willow Springs Trail in the morning
White Rock Spring
Along the Willow Springs Trail
Along the Willow Springs Trail
Nearing the Willow Springs Trailhead, with La Madre Mountain on the horizon
On the Rocky Gap Road
Clouds over the La Madre Springs Trail
Continuing on the loop trail
Wispy clouds swept over us as we hiked
Clouds and red rocks
Clouds over La Madre Mountain
The intermittent creek that feeds White Rock Spring
Descending to the trailhead, with Turtlehead Peak in the distance

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