Wet And Dry
Seasons In Ice Box Canyon
Ice Box Canyon is a
decent place to hike. It offers countless photo opportunities. You should
prepared to take advantage of them. If you only want to take in the sights
at Red Rock, this is a great place to do it. The trail to the 'head' of
the canyon is moderate but it has its moments on the strenuous scale.
If you lose the trail, it is always possible to use the stream or stream
bed as your
guide. The water runs in the spring. How late it runs depends on snowfall and the
generosity of spring rains.
When there is water, things look more spectacular
here. This set of photos is from a 4 year period up to as late as this
winter. After seeing how lush the place was in the spring and then to see
the place without water it was noticed that the difference between seasons
at this canyon are a bit more substantial than at the other spring fed
canyons in Red Rock valley.
The first photo from July 2001, has the magnified inset so the same
area can be compared to the March 2003 photo, right after the fortuitous
sequence of snowfall, then rain the night before.
This is all a good example of how time of year and timing change what you
are looking at in the Red Rock canyons.
The canyons in the Red Rock valley each have their own
There are several tracts that are set aside for study in these
because of the diversity and uniqueness of the species found in them.
It is evident everywhere that unique combinations of soil, environment,
access to water, orientation - that is how much sunlight a place can get -
all work together with the special type of isolation that the Spring
Mountains have to produce more unique species than almost anywhere else in
Ice box Canyon is one of the best examples of a unique microenvironment in
The reward for hiking to the head of the stream and canyon is a
spectacular pool that is fed by an ever thinning tongue of water in this
May 1999 photo. The scale here is deceptive. From the water at the bottom
to the ledge above where the trickle starts is about a dozen meters or 35
to 40 feet. A person would be roughly the size of mouse pointer on that
Some people climb up to the ledge. Realizing that it would take at least
an hour or two for the rescue helicopter to get here and that I really
hate pain, has kept me from trying.
Approaching that ledge from the north seems like a good idea until you
realize that this way could actually be more dangerous.
It can be done going up the left side very carefully. That's how the
others do it. Some of them don't even look like fools so it must be safe
if you are careful. Next spring, maybe I'll lose my caution and go up
there. It has to be done. Photos from there will prove either that one is
crazy or knows how to deal with a tricky situation.
The stark contrast with the summer photo below, taken in June 2001, can
barely be recognized as the same place.
The stream is completely gone. The delicate plants that you were sure
could not exist without this stream, seem to hibernate in the summer
As the seasons change not only does the water dry up but the sun will
reach and not reach places that before were either sheltered or
unsheltered from it.
The effect is actually very dramatic in Ice Box Canyon. Some places fall
under a deep, dry shadow in the summer. Others are parched to a blinding