Outdoor Adventures

 

Red Rock Canyon inspires at-risk teens to follow their dreams.

Nearly 13,000 students in the Clark County School District are referred to the Department of Juvenile Justice Services in a typical year. And half of those had a prior record, with most involving a felony or gross misdemeanor – often involving gang activity.

It’s a dismal picture that has motivated the Las Vegas Police Department to focus an increasing amount of resources and personnel to reach those in their early teens – and younger – before they step over the line into criminality and become one of nearly 12,000 gang members in the city .

“By engaging with youth in our community, it develops a trusting relationship. We can help kids make better choices to stay out of trouble and reduce juvenile crime,” explains Officer Glen Taylor of the department’s Office of Community Engagement.

Taylor oversees the Police Athletic League, working with scores of youth across a spectrum of sports including basketball, boxing and tennis. Now he and fellow officer Arnold Parker are leading a novel partnership with Friends of Red Rock Canyon and the Summerlin Rotary Club.

It’s called Outdoor Adventures, and for its inaugural school year, 12 young teens – six boys and six girls – have been chosen to participate in a series of nature hikes as well as work projects at Red Rock, including canyon cleanups, light-trail maintenance and graffiti removal.

“These teens may look up and see the Red Rocks in the distance, but they have no understanding, or even the imagination, to appreciate their natural wonder,” said Taylor. “We believe that exposing them to their beauty will widen horizons, while the work projects will teach them about teamwork and enhance their self-esteem.”

If the teens’ first weekend at Red Rock is any indication, Taylor’s aspiration will become reality.

Led by board members of Friends of Red Rock Canyon along with Taylor and Parker, the teens hiked along Discovery Trail and encountered a waterfall, along the way learning about the many varieties of cacti and viewing petroglyphs – remnants of ancient peoples who once lived there.

They hiked in brand new boots provided by REI as well as shirts, water bottles, knapsacks and other safety equipment financed by Friends, with a generous grant from the Summerlin Rotary Foundation.

The teens enjoyed both breakfast and a picnic lunch along the way. “That’s no small thing,” emphasized Taylor. “These kids miss many meals and almost surely depend on reduced price meals when they are at school.”  Nearly 70 percent of all students in Las Vegas qualify for subsidized meals.

Outdoor Adventures is a wonderful new initiative that is bound to alter the arc of these teens’ lives,” said Mike Levy, Summerlin Rotary’s president. “The club is very proud to participate. We already have a wonderful relationship with the Las Vegas Police Department, including our long commitment to cleaning Police Memorial Park, including landscaping and plantings.

Taylor, a 23-year police veteran, has lived in Las Vegas for 48 years. Parker was born and raised in the city.

“We are personally invested and committed to these young men and women, along with hundreds of others participating in PAL,” said Taylor. “We see the results of our work and the impact it has on their families, who are more inclined to trust law enforcement in their community.

“While PAL creates consistency in these teens’ lives and creates incentives to succeed in life, Outdoor Adventures goes beyond that because we are exposing them to a world they might never see or experience,” said Taylor.

“Some of the teens we accompanied at Red Rock never saw a cactus up close. They never encountered the kind of quiet they experienced along the trail,” he observed.

“They were meeting new people that are not ordinarily a part of their lives,” noted Rob Tuvell, a local Realtor and Friends’ board member who is liaison with the police department. “And we too were meeting and getting to know young people we might otherwise never meet.”

Taylor measures success of the department’s Community Engagement office by the number of at-risk youths that eventually attend college, enter the military and even join the police department.

But, to reach such heights, it takes a combination of experiences like Outdoor Adventures and mentors willing to contribute their experience and compassion.

“Not only was our first weekend adventure amazing because of such beautiful nature, but we also watched our youth socialize with each other as well as people they never met before,” he explained.

“Interacting with natural environments allows children to learn by doing and experiment with ideas. Plus being outside feels good. Being in nature enables children to run, jump, hop, skip, climb, roll, and shout, which relaxes, and reduces tension, anxiety, and restlessness.

“Researchers have found that outdoor play calms children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, which many of our kids have,” noted Taylor.  “Nature enhances a sense of peace, and often brings out nurturing qualities in children. Often, when involved in the nature, even boisterous, active children may slow down and learn to focus on being gentle.”

“After a succession of similar weekends running through next May, we truly hope they will have a far deeper appreciation of nature – and understand that their worlds can be so much bigger than the ones they have at home.”

The police department is very excited about the potential of Outdoor Adventures growing exponentially.

“We have the capacity to recruit many kids. But, it takes about $150 per youngster to equip them safely for hiking and working in Red Rock Canyon. That’s why we are so encouraged by the partnership with Friends and Rotary,” he said.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management – Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon was designated as Nevada’s first National Conservation Area.  Red Rock Canyon is located 17 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip on Charleston Boulevard/State Route 159.  The area is visited by more than two million people each year.

In marked contrast to a town geared to entertainment and gaming, Red Rock offers enticements of a different nature including a 13-mile scenic drive, miles of hiking trails, rock climbing, horseback riding, mountain biking, road biking, picnic areas, nature observing and visitor center with indoor and outdoor exhibits as well as a book store.

In 1990, special legislation supported by the Nevada congressional delegation, changed the status of the Red Rock Recreation Lands to a National Conservation Area, the seventh to be designated nationally.

This legislation provides the funding to protect and improve the area. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is enjoyed by the local population as well as visitors from the United States and many foreign countries. Two million visitors each year enjoy the spectacular desert landscape, climbing and hiking opportunities, and interpretive programs sponsored by the BLM.

The BLM is the largest administrator of public lands in the West. It adheres to the policy of multiple use, thereby providing recreational opportunities, protection for cultural sites, and the management of natural resources, including wildlife.

Visitor Center

A favorite stop at Red Rock is the visitor center. Not only it is a one-stop shop for getting tips on how to make the most of your visits, it’s a great place to learn more about Red Rock and the Mojave Desert and pick up a few souvenirs.

Outdoor Display PhotoThe LEED gold-certified visitor center is designed to encourage stewardship for public land by providing an outdoor experience that instills a sense of personal responsibility.

The majority of the innovative interpretive exhibits are outside with four themed elements:  earth, air, fire and water. If you are eager to see desert tortoises or learn more about Red Rock’s geology, head toward the Earth exhibit. Looking for a dust devil? Head to the air exhibit to create one yourself. Many people think this area is roasting hot in the summer; come to fire exhibit to learn about agave roasting pits. The water exhibit will remind you of how precious this resource is in the desert.

The indoor portion of the visitor center includes a reception desk staffed by helpful employees and volunteers who can answer your questions, a million dollar view of the Calico Hills, touch screen exhibits, classroom and gift shop.

When the original visitor center – which is now the administrative building – opened in 1982, about 20,000 people visited Red Rock each year. Now more than a million people a year visit the area. To address this issue, the Secretary of the Interior approved funds under the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act to build a new visitor center to provide enhanced visitor services to the increasing number of people who visit the National Conservation Area each year.

For Kids

Color Nevada Wild – A coloring book published by the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

Junior Ranger Red Rock Canyon – Program and activity book to learn about Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and become a Junior Ranger. (Please be patient during download, the file size is large.)

Junior Ranger Geology and Fossils – Activity book focusing on geology and fossils.

Junior Ranger Wild Horses and Burros – Activity book on how they became living symbols of the American West.

For Parents and Teachers

Below is a brief explanation of each link in the education pages. If you have any suggestions or ideas that you would like to submit, please feel free. We are always looking for lesson plans or materials to add to the site. The best address to send these materials to is ksorom@blm.gov

Educational Programs – This link provides information on classroom programs, field trips, or workshops made available by Red Rock Canyon and how to get information on them.

Teacher Resources – This link provides teachers with information and resources about Red Rock Canyon the surrounding area and general teaching aids.

Hands on the Land – This link will direct you to a national network of field classrooms and agency resources to connect students, teachers, families, and volunteers with public lands and waterways.

Volunteers

Volunteering is an American tradition that has made immeasurable contributions to communities, organizations, and individuals throughout the country.

Your contribution of time and energy will help us to protect the magnificent natural and cultural areas entrusted to us, and you’ll go home with a sense of pride at having participated in something worthwhile.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a part of your public land to help take care of and cherish.

Individuals, families, and organized groups are welcome to volunteer. Many opportunities are available for persons who are beginners to the highly skilled professional as well as opportunities for short term and long term commitments. Volunteering at Red Rock Canyon can be challenging and rewarding.

What are the benefits?

  • You get to meet new people with the same interests.
  • You get to learn about the desert environment so close to the city that we live.
  • Free training on subjects such as geology, plant, animals, and native peoples.
  • Best of all you get to play outside.
  • BLM volunteers have the same benefits as federal government employees for compensation for work-related injuries and tort claims protection. Although volunteers contribute their services without pay, they may deduct out-of-pocket expenses on income tax returns within the limits set by tax laws. Deductions can include car mileage, meals and lodging expenses incurred as a result of volunteer work.

The only areas which prohibit volunteers are law enforcement, fire suppression, and participating on special use flights.

A few volunteer opportunity examples are:

  • Information Desk
  • Tortoise Habitat Monitor
  • Trail Monitor
  • Natural Resource Team
  • Landscape Team

If you have an interest in volunteering your time and expertise to Red Rock Canyon we would like to encourage you to fill out the Volunteer Application form and send it to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area; C/O Cal Howell, HCR 33 Box 5500, Las Vegas, NV 89161.

For more information about these or other volunteer opportunities please contact our volunteer coordinator at 702-515-5350.

Become a Friend of Red Rock Canyon.

While you always can volunteer directly with BLM, becoming a Friend means you hundreds of members and enjoy many benefits – from friendships to invitations to special events to even discounts at the gift shop at the visitor center.

Learn more about becoming a member. Click here.

Get your custom Red Rock Canyon license plates. Click here.

 

Bonnie Springs Ranch

Originally built in 1843 as a stopover for the wagon trains going to California along the Old Spanish Trail, Bonnie Springs Ranch lies in the heart Nevada’s iconic Red Rock Canyon. Only a half hour from the Las Vegas Strip, Bonnie Springs serves the desert community as a reprieve from the bustle of the city and recalls the West’s quieter, scenic past.

general-fremontIn 1846, General Fremont (en route to California) stopped at what is now Bonnie Springs Ranch to gear up for his trip through Death Valley and established the site’s significance. It was not until 1952, under the provision of Bonnie McGaugh and Al Levinson, that the ranch saw substantial renovation and resuscitation before opening to the public as a tourist attraction in 1958. Stables, a petting zoo, and a restaurant soon followed, and construction on Old Town, a reproduction of an 1880s mining community and the prime attraction at Bonnie Springs, opened in 1974 with the complement of a functioning saloon, shops, a wax museum, a wedding chapel, a replica schoolhouse, and daily performances/reenactments honoring the Old West. The ranch subsequently added a full-sized event arena, now the first site visitors see upon entering the property, that has hosted numerous rodeos and equestrian events. Today the grounds represent a delight for locals and tourists alike (as well as a few filmmakers).

Often called “an oasis in the desert” where you can stop for a cool drink of spring water, Bonnie Springs commits to servicing the Las Vegas area and remains the only opportunity for travelers seeking lodging, dining, and gambling in Red Rock Canyon. Our fine dinner house and quaint cocktail lounge ensure that all our guests stay comfortable, while our motel offers standard suites, larger rooms with full fireplaces, and themed rooms with Jacuzzi tubs.

We have a wide variety of animals, both native and non-native, for you to see in our zoo including our beautiful wolves and even Australian emus and wallabies. Access is included with admission to Old Town.

We also maintain on the grounds a large stable of horses for your riding pleasure and offer pony rides for the kids. Visitors can embark upon guided trail rides, group rides, and even horseback weddings for the adventurous.

As Red Rock Canyon’s “best kept secret”, Bonnie Springs Ranch remains an establishment and recreation area committed to serving visitors from all over the world (or just a car ride away). Additionally, the site serves as part of our western museum project to preserve the memory and aesthetics of a bygone era.

Restaurant

The World Famous Bonnie Springs Ranch Restaurant and Bar is known to be the best food and fun in the Red Rock Canyon area…and that is not just because it is the only restaurant and bar in Red Rock Canyon!

The Bonnie Springs Ranch Restaurant has been popular with locals and visitors alike since opening in 1964. The decor may be a bit quirky, but that is part of the charm that ties the ranch to Nevada’s Old West history. The food is fresh and delicious and our extensive menu offers simple traditional dishes to meet everyone’s dining tastes at every meal. From omelets and potato skins to Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches, hot pies, and our peerless burgers, the restaurant can accommodate any appetite. Our staff is awesome and everyone at our establishment cares about treating you and your family right.

Old Town

The prime attraction and visitor center at Bonnie Springs Ranch, the Old Town contains all the facilities and conveniences necessary to enjoy a stay near Red Rock Canyon.

The Wild West is still as wild as ever in Bonnie Springs Ranch’s Old Nevada Town, a replica of an authentic 1880s mining town. Bonnie Springs Ranch was founded in 1843 as a stop for wagon trains headed to California along the Old Spanish Trail and endures as a tourism and recreation center. The Old Town, opened in 1974, revisits the site’s history and closely follows the layout of traditional 19th century western towns to allow the visitor to  experience Nevada (and Red Rock Canyon) as it once was. The spirit of the era lives on in the live entertainment (performed Wednesday through Sunday), as audiences are treated to recreated gunfights, melodramas, and hangings, and the Nevadan artifacts displayed throughout Old Town as part of the Old West Museum.

As seen on Ghost Adventures (season 4, episode 11), the ranch has left visitors stricken with stories of paranormal activity throughout the years. From ghoulish school children to reanimated wax figures, rumors persist as to the haunting of Bonnie Springs and the Opera House in particular. Appropriately, the entire Old Town area is refitted as a haunted house and zombie turf during October as part of “Bonnie Screams”.

The restaurant is open daily from 9am to 9pm! We are busy serving up the best burgers, chicken, and ribs in the West. Try our famous authentic bison burger! We have live entertainment Friday and Saturday nights and stay open a little later.

The site includes among its buildings: restaurant, gift shops/general store, stamp mill, photo gallery, schoolhouse, wax museum (accessible during tours), blacksmith’s shop, mine, shooting gallery, opera house, petting zoochapel, and saloon(available for larger parties and serviced by catering).

  • Shows, Shops & Snacks
  • Live performances and gunfights in the street
  • Black & White Photos
  • Convention & Banquet facilities
  • Weddings

 

Horseback Riding

Start your day the cowboy way, with an early morning ride or any of our 1 hour trail rides. First come first serve; no reservation required. You must sign in 30 minutes before your scheduled ride at the main bar in the restaurant. To book a reservation for one of our specialty rides, contact the office at least 24 hours in advance. Email info@bonniesprings.com or call (702) 875-4191.

Horseback Riding is $60.00 per person for a one hour guided trail ride. 

View our full horseback riding options and prices.  Click here. CIS RRStables2017

Burro, bonnie springs ranch, red rock canyonThe Red Rock Riding Stables:

  • Guided trail rides by horseback
  • Pony rides
  • Specialty & group rides
  • Horseback weddings
  • Horse boarding facilities

Horseback Riding requirements:

  • No one under 6 years of age.
  • No one over 250lbs.
  • No open toed shoes.
  • No double riding.

 

 

Phone: 702-875-4191 | facebook.com/bonniesprings LIKE US! | Text “bonniesprings” to 902

Spring Mountain Ranch

Sprawling and splendid, Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is adjacent to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and has been used historically as a working ranch and a luxury retreat by a string of colorful owners, including German actress Vera Krupp and millionaire Howard Hughes.

Today visitors can explore some of the oldest buildings in Nevada, a 1860s blacksmith shop, the Sandstone Cabin that was home to the founding family and the ranch house. Hiking trails throughout the park, in addition to tree-shaded picnic sites with tables and grills, make day trips to the park a family favorite. And, every year Super Summer Theatre offers a variety of outdoor shows to enjoy.

FACILITIES & AMENITIES

Group Use Area: A group use area is available by reservation for groups of up to 200 people. Please contact the park office for more information or to make a reservation.

Picnicking/Day Use: Tree-shaded picnic sites offer tables, grills and restrooms.

Main Ranch House: Visitors will find information about the ranch and surrounding areas and can take a self-guided tour of the ranch house interior. Park volunteers are available to answer questions.

Guided Tours: Call the park for information on guided tours.

Living History Programs: Living history programs bring the past back to life for a brief moment, giving visitors an opportunity to view life at the ranch as it might have been. These programs, which began in 1992, include costumed role playing, demonstrations and re-enactments of historic events.

Each spring and fall a series of living history programs are presented depicting the lives of early settlers such as Bill Williams, Jim Wilson, Olive Lake and other prominent Las Vegas pioneers. Programs are presented in the first person as seen through the eyes of the character, or are narrated descriptions of events in the lives of early pioneers. Demonstrations of pioneering skills are also presented, and visitors are encouraged to participate.

Super Summer Theater: Cultural events are put on by Super Summer Theater every May through September. View the performance calendar and get ticket information by visiting www.supersummertheatre.org or calling (702) 579-7529.

Programs: Information about program scheduling may be obtained from either park staff or kiosks. Upon request, special presentations can be arranged for groups.

Hours: Park hours vary by season.

  • June, July & August: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • September: 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • October: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • November, December, January & February: 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • March & April: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • May: 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.

FIELD NOTES

Drive on established roadways.

  • Park in designated areas.
  • Pets are welcome, but they must be kept on a leash of not more than six feet in length.
  • Removing, disturbing or damaging any historic structure, artifact, rock, plant life, fossil or other feature is prohibited. State and federal laws protect this area and its resources.
  • Dispose of litter in appropriate receptacles.
  • Observe closed areas and all signs.
  • Do not climb trees – the trees are more than 400 years old.
  • Visitors are responsible for knowing all park rules and regulations in effect. Detailed rules and regulations are posted at the park or may be obtained from any Park Ranger.
  • Trails close one hour prior to park closing. Stay on trails.
  • View the Spring Mountain Ranch Commercial/Recreational Photography Information Sheet
  • Those with developmental and/or physical limitations are invited to enjoy all of the recreational activities of Nevada State Parks. If you would like to request additional support or accommodations, please call Nevada State Parks at (775) 684-2770. We continually seek ways to provide recreational opportunities for people of all abilities and welcome any suggestions you may have.
  • View a list of frequently asked questions.

NATURAL RESOURCES/CLIMATE

Because of the higher elevation, the ranch offers a diverse opportunity for plant study. Four plant communities are represented: Desert scrub, Black brush, Pinyon-Juniper and Riparian. Plants typical of the desert, as well as woodlands, can be seen. With adequate rainfall the spring brings a burst of wildflowers. Common species sighted are desert marigold, globe mallow, brittlebush, Joshua tree, Mohave Yucca and Indigo bush. Animal life is diverse, but nocturnal, so many species go unseen. Typical desert animals include a variety of lizards and snakes, antelope ground squirrels, jackrabbits, cotton tails, kit fox, coyote and wild burros. Higher elevation species include rock squirrel, badger, mule deer and bighorn sheep. (READ MORE)


HISTORY OF SPRING MOUNTAIN STATE PARK – Established in 1973

Rich archaeological sites provide much information about early cultures that inhabited the area around today’s Spring Mountain Ranch.  Evidence has shown that man has been in the region for at least 10,000 years.  The many springs in these mountains provided water for the southern Paiute and later brought mountain men and early settlers to the area. The park was a 528-acre oasis originally developed into a combination working ranch and luxurious retreat by a string of owners who have given the area a long and colorful history. Past owners of the ranch include Chester Lauck of the comedy team “Lum & Abner,” German actress Vera Krupp and millionaire Howard Hughes. (READ MORE)

PARK FEES

 

Day use entrance fee:  $10.00 per vehicle

Bike in:  $2.00 per bike

Helping Students Visit Red Rock Canyon

Thank you for your interest in applying for a transportation grant from Friends of Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas. The Friends organization works closely with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to underwrite Clark County School District (CCSD) transportation costs for educational field trips.

Grant applications for the 2017-2018 school year will be accepted only from August 14, 2017 through April 6, 2018. You can download a PDF file of the Application & Instructions here:

Transportation Grant Guidelines and Application

Or you can download our new Transportation Grant Guidelines and Fillable Application.

Required Workshop Training

Completion of a BLM Sponsored Workshop is required as part of the Bus Grant program and to take students/groups on trails at Red Rock Canyon. You must complete one of these workshops and have your field trip scheduled and approved by the BLM before you are eligible to apply for a Bus Grant. Click on the links, below for more information about the workshops.

Environmental Education Program Application Guidelines.

Explore the Great Outdoors Workshop. Tentative 2017 dates are: September 2, October 14, and November 4.

Biology at Red Rock Canyon. Tentative 2017 dates are: September 16, and October 28.

Archaeology at Red Rock Canyon. Tentative date is December 2, 2017.

Contact Kate Sorom at 702-515-5353 with questions. CCSD teachers may register via Pathlore, keyword 2275. Non CCSD teachers may register by calling the CCSD PDE office at 702-799-1921

Before Your Visit

Please read:

Environmental Education Program Procedures and Safety.

REI’s Back Pack Check List

REI, a major sponsor of Friends of Red Rock Canyon, provides this handy check list for campers, hikers and climbers who enjoy the Red Rocks

Friends thank REI for all their support.

REI’s check list is your tried-and-true guide to packing smart. The list is intentionally comprehensive so don’t forget anything important.

To locate a nearby REI, click here.

THE 10 ESSENTIALS

Navigation

  • Map (with protective cover)
  • Compass
  • GPS (optional)
  • Altimeter (optional

Sun Protection

  • Sunscreen
  • Lip Balm
  • Sunglasses

Insulation

  • Jacket
  • Vest
  • Pants
  • Gloves
  • Hat (see clothing)

Illumination

  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Extra batteries

First-Aid Supplies

  • First-aid Kit

Fire

  • Matches or lighter
  • Waterproof container
  • Fire starter (for emergency survival fire)

 

 

Repair Kit and Tools

  • Knife or multi-tool
  • Repair kits for stove, mattress
  • Duct tape strips

Nutrition

  • Extra day’s supply of food

Hydration

  • Water bottles or hydration reservoirs
  • Water filter or other treatment system

Emergency Shelter

  • Tent
  • Tarp
  • Bivy
  • Reflective blanket

 

Beyond the 10 ESSENTIALS

  • Backpack
  • Daypack or summit pack
  • Pack cover
  • Tent, tarp or bivy sack with stakes and guylines
  • Tent-pol repair sleeve
  • Footprint
  • Sleeping bag
  • Stuff sack or compression sack
  • Sleeping pad
  • Pillow or stuffable pillow case
  • Whistle
  • Multifunctional watch with altimeter
  • Ice axe
  • Meals
  • Energy food (bars, gels, chews, trail mix)
  • Energy beverages or drink mixes
  • Stove
  • Fuel
  • Cook set with pot grabber
  • Dishes or bowls
  • Utensils
  • Cups
  • Bear canister
  • Nylon cord (50 feet)
  • Backup water treatment
  • Collapsible sink or container
  • Packable lantern

 

Clothing for Warm Weather

  • Wicking T-shirt
  • Wicking underwear
  • Quick-drying pants or short
  • Long-sleeve shirt
  • Sun-shielding hat
  • Bandana or Buff

 

Clothing for Cold Weather

  • Wicking long-sleeve T-shirt
  • Wicking long underwear
  • Hat, cap, skullcap, balaclava or headband
  • Rainwear
  • Fleece jacket or vest, and pants

 

Footwear and Personal Items

  • Hiking boots or hiking shoes suited to terrain
  • Socks
  • Gaiters
  • Sandals for fording and in camp
  • Camera or helmet cam
  • Extra memory cards
  • Binoculars
  • Permits
  • Route description or guidebook
  • Field guide; star identifier
  • Outdoor journal and pen or pencil
  • Credit card
  • Small amount of cash
  • Earplugs
  • Eye Shade
  • Toilet paper
  • Sanitation trowel
  • Hand sensitizer
  • Insect repellant
  • Bear Spray
  • Biodegradable soap and shower bag
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Cell phone/satellite communicator/2-way radio
  • Personal locator beacon
  • Post-hike snacks, water, towel, clothing change
  • Trip itinerary left with friend and under car seat

A Matter of Interpretation – The Beauty and Mystery of Red Rock Canyon

… there are those days that I get out of my car and I can smell the cliff rose and see the sun shine on the sandstone escarpment and realize that I am very blessed to come to work every day and experience the beauty that surrounds me.

 

So, what does Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Interpretive Ranger Kate Sorom do on her day
off?

Take a two-and-a-half mile walk in the Calico Hills led by Friends’ President Tom Lisby, demonstrating that Red Rock Canyon represents more than a job; it’s a passion.

A passion that she always wants to share with visitors – especially young people.

A Las Vegas native, Kate grew up as a ‘city kid,’ but one whose parents frequently took the family camping on Mount Charleston and at Beaver Dam State Park on the Nevada-Utah border. “I have always loved nature, and the idea of being a park ranger began when I was very little,” she
recalls.

She entered the University of Nevada, Las Vegas as an education major, thinking she would become a teacher. “But, I really wanted to be outside and teach in a different way. I just didn’t know how to go about it at the time.”

After getting married, Kate and her husband packed up for Reno where she graduated from the University of Nevada with a degree in Natural Resource Science, focusing on forestry and range management.

“Trees and cows,” she jokes.

“Growing up in Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon was always a place I thought would be neat to work at. In high school, I went to the new Visitor’s Center to talk with a Bureau of Land Management official. “How can I work here?” I asked her. Ten years later, that same official became Kate’s boss.

During those intervening 10 years, Kate worked summers at Nevada state parks as a seasonal aide. “This was a good start to becoming a Park Ranger, learning people skills, meeting
visitors from all over the world.”

After graduation, she returned to Las Vegas and worked with the Red Rock Canyon Interpretative
Association, now part of the Southern Nevada Conservancy. Two years later, Kate was hired for a permanent part-time position by BLM.

“Being an interpretative ranger is being a “Jack of all trades and master of none,” she explains.
‘I meet people from all over the world and get to introduce them to my Mojave Desert home – and
specifically Red Rock Canyon.

“I get to do this by having general conversations, setting up interpretive table tops with hands-on
items and information, leading guided hikes and presenting at community events.”

Her favorite role is as Environmental Education Facilitator, arranging school field trips and
teacher workshops. “During the last school year, Red Rock Canyon hosted 190 field trips for 9,658
students and 10 workshops for 177 teachers,” she noted.

There are two field trip opportunities in Red Rock Canyon. One is led by rangers and the other
by teachers, who guide students on one of four recommended trails for a nature walk and place-based learning activities, explained Kate.

Ranger-led trips are based on student grade levels and are tied directly with their school curricula
to help teachers meet their classroom requirements. “We try to be a tool in their toolbox to help
teachers meet their educational goals for their students,” said Kate.

“Another program I facilitate is the Naturalist Educator volunteer opportunity. This program
trains assistant hike leaders, tabletop interpreters and hike leaders. There are a number of requirements for each of the positions, the most popular being the assistant hike leader.” she explained.

“A good number of students who come to Red Rock Canyon on field trips have never been here
before. This is a new experience for them, and sometimes new experiences can be scary and exciting at the same time.

“Some are experiencing the landscape of Red Rock Canyon, the flora and fauna, for the first
time. They are learning that as visitors you need to be on your best behavior as you would be when
others come to their homes. That’s because this is the home of rabbits, lizards, birds, flowers and
much more.

“Many time students say they will come back to visit with their parents or siblings, and we hope
that they do. But mostly, we have planted a seed; and hopefully it grows, molding that student into
a good steward as an adult and a caretaker of our public lands,” said Kate.

As a naturalist and interpreter, Kate often works with Friends of Red Rock Canyon through its
generous transportation grant program that she emphasizes has “contributed greatly” to getting students here.

“Many schools cannot afford or budget even minimal off-site field trips, leaving teachers to find
alternate ways to get students out to experience the areas in which they live. Many students and
their families don’t travel far from “civilization”because they may not have the means to do so,”
she noted.

“Public transportation does not extend past city limits, leaving much of the public land areas such
as Red Rock Canyon out of reach for them to experience on their own. But, Friends of Red Rock
approved funding for 60 buses during the last school year. That’s almost a third of the number
of field trips that came out. Without that funding,these students would not have had the opportunity to experience Red Rock Canyon.”

Kate has had some kind of relationship with Friends since she started working at Red Rock
Canyon 23 years ago.

“The organization and its volunteers have always been willing to help when needed. As all the
Friends know, our common mission is to preserve, conserve and protect the canyon for current
and future generations; not only the human kind, but also the critter and flowery kind” she said.
“Friends of Red Rock Canyon as an organization and its members make that happen every day and I am so grateful for what they do directly for me and for the entire conservation area.”

Finding resources always is a challenge, especially in an era of budget constraints, but one program
– Every Kid in a Park, launched in 2015 by the U.S. Department of Interior, has allowed Kate
to increase outreach especially to fourth graders.

The program allows them and their parents to visit public lands without paying a fee.
“I have been able to go into the schools and share information on our Nevada State mammal,
the Desert Bighorn Sheep.

One such visit inspired the 4th grade class at Garehime Elementary to make a proposal to a Las Vegas City Councilman that Las Vegas have its own city animal. These fourth graders, soon to be fifth graders, will make their proposal to the Las Vegas City Council in September. “

Through the program, Red Rock Canyon and Sloan Canyon National Conservation Areas have
issued more than 8,000 free passes. That presents more than 20 percent of Clark County School
District’s fourth-grade population.

“Many days, I take working at Red Rock Canyon for granted, I think about what I have to do
for the day, how much I need to get done,” Kate confesses. “But then, there are those days that I get
out of my car and I can smell the cliff rose and see the sun shine on the sandstone escarpment and realize that I am very blessed to come to work every day and experience the beauty that surrounds me.

“The day is always better at Red Rock Canyon.”

Even on a particular Sunday when she is officially off work, but volunteering as Tom Lisby’s assistant trail leader, sharing the Calico Hills with a new group of amazed visitors.