Thursday, October 23, 2014

Christmas Pass and Grapevine Canyon Hike…

It was just a short 70 mile drive south from Las Vegas to our next destination, Cal-Nev-Ari RV Park in Cal-Nev-Ari, Nevada.  We discussed what an interesting name for a town it was and in reading about it we discovered that the town was created in the mid-1960s by a couple who acquired a section of land from the U.S. government (640 acres) and then began to develop an airport based community. Today, the Kidwell Airport and a bustling town of about 250 people along with a market and a casino call this area home. Why are we here? Well I wanted to visit here for three reasons… One I don’t like to travel far, two it is only $11.00 for full hook ups with Passport America and three, there is a cool hike I wanted to do nearby.


The park itself is a typical desert park with dirt/gravel sites but has mostly pull through sites which are quite spacious. There is also nice views afar of some desert mountains making this a quiet peaceful place to park on the cheap for a day or two. Once we set up and ate lunch we planned our route to our hike in the Grapevine Canyon near Laughlin Nevada.

The route we chose to take was the Christmas Tree Pass Road about 2.5 miles south of the park. True to its name there were several trees all along the road decorated with garlands and ornaments. This dirt road requires four wheel drive and high clearance according to the website but it sounded like it would be okay for our four wheel drive CRV with only average clearance. I once owned a nice 1974 Jeep CJ-5 and drove a lot in the back country so with my experience I hoped it would be a passable road.

Christmas Tree Pass Road is 16.5 miles long and loops over to highway 163 just out side of Laughlin. For the first 6 to 7 miles the road was in excellent condition. Then the next mile or two, while still in good shape,  required a slower speed to navigate through. Then we entered a very scenic stretch of the Lake Mead Recreation Area but the road became a little sketchy where we had to drive even slower while paying attention to the high rocks and ruts as well as some deeper sandy spots. We continued on knowing we could always turn back if needed.

The desert landscape along this part of the road was really cool as the rock outcroppings here were really scenic. We stopped several times to take photos and to take in the beauty of this desert landscape. About two miles short of 163 we turned off on a spur road to Grapevine Canyon. Less than a tenth of a mile down  the road we found the trailhead to the canyon.

This turned out to be a short hike for us but allowed us time to explore the mouth of the canyon to immerse in the petroglyphs reported to be in the area. About a 1/3 of a mile down the deep sandy creek bottom we found the canyon entrance. Wow… there were a lot of petroglyphs here. Mostly those of the type which are hard to discern what the artist had intended to draw. However, I was on a mission to find a stone with some petroglyphs of big horn sheep that I had read about prior to our visit. To see the petroglyphs on the photos below simply click on the image to enlarge it.

It took some rock scrambling but we did eventually find the large stone with the big horn sheep etched into them and it was really, really cool! I imagined myself in the time these petroglyphs were drawn trying to put myself into that slice of history and tried to visualize what the artist may have been thinking at the time. Yes I know that this may have been drawn by early native American graffiti artists or by those under the influence of hallucinogens such as Jimsonweed or Peyote but nonetheless I found it enjoyable to revert back in time and wonder...

Sharon, although also glad to see the petroglyphs spent more time amongst the various species of yucca and cacti. She asked me to identify what she found and most I could identify for her but some were ones we will have to research later. We found some extremely colorful insects and quite an interesting butterfly along the trail. I later identified the above butterfly as the Great Purple Hairstreak, quite a beauty…

Before we knew it, we had spent a couple of hours just enjoying such a short hike.  I am glad we decided to come here as we both had a great day in the desert…


  1. I've stayed at Cal-Nev-Ari! They almost didn't let me because it was a 55 and older park and I was only 50 at the time. I saw an incredible meteor shower the night I was there also.

    Wow, that butterfly is incredible! And it looks like it was a stunning day also.

  2. You are much more adventuresome than we are, my John hates those white knuckle drives. I love that butterfly too!

  3. Sounds like it was a cool ride ... can't wait to see petroglyphs myself!

  4. Awesome pictures! We discovered your blog a few weeks ago and enjoyed your posts on southern Utah. We will be heading there in a few weeks and found the information every useful!