Friday, July 4, 2008

Cathedral Rock Trail in the Spring Mountains

Cathedral Rock Trail in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area west of Las Vegas is a short (1.4 miles one way) trail through a forest of ponderosa pines and white firs and a stand of quaking aspen. Halfway up is a waterfall of three falls that may dry up during summer, but still had enough refreshing water trickling down at the end of June this year. The trail offers spectacular views of Echo Cliffs (see picture), an eroding uplifted limestone formation. Crinoids, brachiopods, horn corals and other fossils from an ancient, warm shallow sea, which existed here over 100 million years ago, have been found in the area. In case you are searching for fossils in the rocks, be careful and stay away from the vertical cliffs. Enjoy the view from the Cathedral Rock summit into Kyle Canyon and onto the surrounding mountains.

Trailheads: Cathedral Rock Trail Parking right off State Route 157 or Cathedral Rock Picnic Area.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Pupfish in Ash Meadows warm water springs

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge has 30 warm water seeps and springs that are home to endemic fish species. The picture shows a pupfish of the Point of Rocks Springs. The various springs are connected by trails and dirt roads. The refuge protects endemic animals including two pupfish species and endemic plants. The endangered fish rely upon algae, which you can see at the bottom of the springs and streams, as a food source and as a place to lay their eggs. Entering the springs is strictly forbidden, since it would destroy the fragile algae. However, you may lay down at some edge and closely watch the unique life in the water.