Bowl of Fire – Nevada

We spent the night in Las Vegas, doing the tourist thing and taking our grandson Gauge to the Tournament of Kings show at the Excalibur. Today was supposed to be the warmest day of our trip (70f) so Vicki and Gauge stayed at the hotel to swim, after sleeping in. Bowl of Fire is located in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, off the Northshore Road, just south of the Muddy Mountains Wilderness area. You can park along Northshore Road and hike in, or drive part way there along Callville Wash, then hike in. I chose to drive part way there, since that would cut about 1/2 hour off my time. It took about 1 1/2 hours to drive there and hike in.

Blue-green sandstone along the wash, while walking in.

Photograph of blue-green sandstone near Bowl of Fire
Blue-Green Sandstone on the trail to Bowl of Fire

There are a lot of options on which way to go once you’ve hiked to the bottom of the bowl. There are several faint trails, and I had to backtrack more than once. At one point, I ended up on the top of the cliff face in the center of the photo. There were fresh beds and scat from bighorn sheep that I saw when I was up there. It looked like a good bedding spot to keep an eye on the bowl below.

Photograph of the View into Bowl of Fire, Lake Mead NRA, Nevada
View into Bowl of Fire, Lake Mead NRA, Nevada

The Muddy Mountains thrust fault pushed the limestone conglomerate, which are 300 million years old, over the red sandstone which is only 180 million years old. Conglomerate looks like loosely bound concrete. Imagine the first people to ponder this and wonder what they thought. Later geological studies showed that the limestone conglomerate here traveled more than 50 miles along the thrust!

Photograph of conglomerate from the Muddy Mountains, on top of the Sandstone in Bowl of Fire
Conglomerate and Sandstone

I had read that the Windstone Arch in Valley of Fire had broken from erosion or was damaged by vandalism. I thought maybe I could find something here similar to it. There are a lot of small arches in the Bowl of Fire, and there must have been dozens that I did not see. Before the sun got too high, the light would reflect off a ridge next to it and make the walls glow.

Photograph of sandstone arches in Bowl of Fire
Sandstone Arches
Eroded Pillar in Bowl of Fire, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada
Eroded Pillar in Bowl of Fire, Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Gorilla Rock, Bowl of Fire
Gorilla Rock, I made that one up.
Photograph of an Eroded Hole in Bowl of Fire
The start of another Arch.

Notice the crack in the overhanging rock, it appears the supporting rock used to be part of an arch, but it was eroded away, until the overhang shifted downward.

Photograph of a broken arch, but still supported, Bowl of Fire, Nevada
Broken, But Still Supported

This boulder is precariously perched on a small supporting pillar.

Photograph of a rock held up precariously by a thin stem of sandstone
Precariously Balanced

One of the draws that leads to the drop-offs shown in the first photograph. There were broken off chunks of tan and red sandstone that had tumbled down the hill from the upper pillar. Mixed among them were slabs of reddish orange sandstone that had fallen from the ridge on the right.

Photograph of Swirled and Variegated Sandstone Boulders
Swirled and Variegated Sandstone Boulders, Bowl of Fire

I enjoyed the reflected glow on the sandstone from the reflected light on the ridge to the right.

Photograph of and Arch and Small Cave, Reflected Glow, Bowl of Fire, Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Reflected Glow, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada

Different layers erode at different rates. The desert varnish, which is dark red/brown colored, in the upper right is likely over 2000 years old.

Photograph of an Eroded Sandstone Cliff, Bowl of Fire, Lake Mead NRA
Eroded Sandstone Cliff, Bowl of Fire, Lake Mead NRA

It was time to head back to Las Vegas, I promised Vicki and Gauge that I would meet them at the pool.

Previous post: Valley of Fire State Park

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