Monday, December 26, 2016

Rainbow Gardens - 12/26/16

Lava Butte in Rainbow Gardens

Canyon in Rainbow Gardens

Finger of Lake Las Vegas

View up Lava Butte Wash from Trailhead
 Rainbow Gardens is the name given to the colorful area surrounding Lava Butte. This area can be accessed with high clearance vehicles on the other side of the steep dark colored mountain of rock. The Northshore Road side of Lava Butte, however, can only be accessed by hiking in through the Lake Mead NRA. The Lava Butte Wash Trailhead is located near mile marker 2 of the highway. If you are traveling toward Lakeshore Road from Lake Mead Boulevard, you will cross a culvert with a guardrail then park at the next turnout on the right. Twenty hikers arrived here and parked as efficiently as possible in the small space!

Hiking up Lava Butte Wash
 We started by hiking up the wash that led in the direction of Lava Butte.

Turning toward Rainbow Gardens
 The sandy wash was still wet from recent heavy rains. This made it easier to hike.

Old Mining Junk along Trail

Mining Junk Area
 We traveled up the wash until we started seeing some junk leftover by early miners. We took a right turn into a short side canyon with a rusted barrel at its end. Up until now, the pace was quick and we waited here for the last hikers to arrive. Next, we turned to the left and climbed the hill. At the top, there is an old trail/road where we turned to the right. This trail took us on up to a ridge covered with small rocks embedded in the soft dirt. All around us, color danced in our eyes.

Lava Butte in Rainbow Gardens
 On the ridge, we continued climbing a short way until we found the small trail that would drop us down into the canyon on the other side of the ridge.

Climbing up toward top of Canyon
 This was our high point of today's route. Up ahead, Lava Butte towered over us.

Dropping into Rainbow Gardens Canyon

View Back to Drop Area
 The small canyon beyond the ridge was the main destination for this hike. The walls are made with different elements and minerals in the dirt. This combination made the trip down through the walls very colorful. There is a faint trail that travels through the wash but many portions of the trail have uneven footing. We hiked down through the canyon at a moderate pace with at least two hikers stopping for several photos.

Descending through the Rainbow
 The view behind us showed Lava Butte centered in the small canyon much of the time.

Various Views of the Canyon
 At one point, we stopped and talked about the striations in the mudstone on the sides of the canyon.

Mudstone Strata

 Next, we came to the entrance of a small side box canyon that ends in a dry fall grotto. We all took a look see and found the canyon floor to be quite muddy. On down, the old ladder leaning up on the side of the canyon was found around the corner. From there, we continued down to junction with a wide graded road that had a large pipe/hose running down through it. This area belongs to Lake Las Vegas but construction here has been halted for several years. We turned left and followed this road out to a finger of Lake Las Vegas. We sat here to have a snack break with a beautiful water view.

Visit to Grotto
 After our break, we retraced our steps back to the canyon/graded road junction and turned right into the canyon.

An Old Well-Made Ladder
 We hiked back up the canyon until we came to the first canyon exit to the right.

Hiking Out to Lake Las Vegas

A Finger of Land in the Finger of Lake
 Following this wash/trail, we reached our previous place where we ran into a lot of mining junk. After one last gathering, we headed down Lava Butte Wash taking all the shortcuts we could through the wash. (This always makes the hike a little more interesting!) Finally, we reached the cars at the trailhead. It had been a beautiful day on the cool side.

6 miles; 500 feet elevation gain; 3.25 hours

Returning to the Canyon

Junctioning with the Canyon in Rainbow Gardens

Last Gathering before Hiking Out Wash

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