Late Winter in the Mojave Desert, a Splendid Journey: Part II – Willow Beach, Red Rock Canyon and the Gardens at the Bellagio

A few years back in late winter, I decided to head south to Las Vegas. It had been a cold, rainy fall and winter in Portland. But, the trip wasn’t so much to visit a casino as it was to enjoy the Mojave Desert before the brutal summer heat set in.

My good friend Dan, the world’s best tour guide, had worked up some outings for us. The first was a visit to the Redstone area near Lake Meade.

Then, it was a two-day trip to Death Valley which was wonderful at this time of the year. Although, I wouldn’t want to visit in the middle of summer. Some of the places we visited were 20 Mule Team Canyon, Zabrinski Point, Golden Canyon, Artist Palette, Devil’s Golf Course, Badwater, Salt Creek, Furnace Creek, Sand Dunes, Keane Wonder Mine, Mosaic Canyon, Ubehebe Crater and Scotty’s Castle.

After returning from the Death Valley trip, I walked through some of the casinos in Las Vegas. One of the most memorable was the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio. The flowers were spectacular.

Before returning to Portland, I spent several days hiking in the nearby area. First was Willow Bay above Lake Meade. And finally, Red Rocks Canyon.

It made for a great vacation.

The following are photos of the Willow Beach area and Red Rock Canyon on stormy days, and the Gardens at the Bellagio.


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  1. A nice trip and some spectacular photos, John.

    We did cross Death Vally during the summer heat (120 degrees) during my foolish college years. Four guys in a VW bus that simply stopped running when the gas in the fuel pump reached a boil. Could do nothing but wait for it to cool down enough for the engine to run during the night. 🥴

    You seem to be enjoying your retirement. Congrats!


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    • I had a similar experience. Driving across Death Valley on my own, the fuel gauge suddenly went to zero. It was over 100 degrees. After checking for a fuel leak, and finding none, I continued driving. Thankfully it turned out to be a broken fuel gauge, but I sweated all the way until finding a gas station many miles down the road.

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