As summer races towards the Las Vegas valley, we were eager to take advantage of the most temperate days of Spring. We headed out to Red Rock to do some more geo-caching. This time there were two families, and 6 total kids on this trek. Last time, we searched for several geo-caches near the Lost Creek trail (down near Willow Springs). This time, after some careful map-study and referencing our geo-caching app on our android phone, we decided to head to Sandstone Quarry. This particular spot (the third parking area on the scenic loop) is abundant with geo-caches. Additionally, the sharply rising terrain and numerous ravines and plateaus add considerable challenge to those in search of caches – it’s now a three-dimensional puzzle with altitude and terrain playing a big part of how you choose your route to the cache.
With the pleasant weather (upper 70′s and a light overcast), the parking lot at Sandstone Quarry was full and we had to park a few hundred yards beyond the turnout. We saddled up, with camelbaks on the kids and a baby backpack on my back (to carry our one-year-old). I quickly selected my geo-caching app on my mobile phone (coupled to its accurate GPS receiver), and selected the closest geo-cache from the list that was saved to my phone… and off we went.
One thing to consider if you choose to go geo-caching at Red Rock Canyon — much of the park is without cell-phone signal (CDMA or GSM carriers) and if you are using a geo-caching app on your mobile phone like we did, you will not be able to reference any of the caches (because you will need to access the internet). However, most geo-caching apps give you the option to save the cache details (coordinates, hints, descriptions, etc.) directly to your phone giving you the ability to view the caches even without cellphone signal. Previous to this trip, we had saved all the geo-caches at Red Rock and Mt. Charleston directly to our phone.
Our mobile phone app displayed a large compass showing both direction and distance to the first cache. We headed off to a gently rising hill, following the straight-line bearing of the compass. As we got to the top we looked straight ahead to a large rock formation and estimated based on our compass reading that the cache was located high up on the side of the rock face. The best part of geo-caching at Red Rock, and specifically at Sandstone Quarry is that you have to factor in all the ravines, drop-offs, and steep rock faces when figuring out the best way to maneuver towards the cache coordinates. Although your GPS will tell you which way to go and how far, a straight line may not be the best path if that line takes you off of a steep cliff or up a sheer rock face.
The kids loved it because today’s adventure involved scrambling over rocks, climbing short rock faces, and traversing over ledges and rocky outcrops — all while searching for the hidden cache (which we presumed would be filled with wonderful mementos and trinkets. To the kids this was like a real-live treasure hunt and we were closing in on the hidden booty! After overshooting the cache and climbing up above its hiding spot, we backtracked, intensified the search and eventually found the first cache of the day! The kids were jubilant, even if the only treasures in the box were small and commonplace – to the kids, it was as if they had found a fistful of gold doubloons!
We paused for a moment and then decided to press on to the next geo-cache. It was not more than a few hundred meters away, but there was no direct line from where we were to the next cache – we would once more have to navigate across the rocky ledge, descend down the ravine, climb the short hill, then walk across the dry riverbed on our way to the back side of the quarry and the next cache. Eventually, we would find the second cache and the kids rejoiced! After that, the kids ventured down into the area covered in soft sandstone-eroded white sand – powdery like a beach. This sandy area was surrounded by towering rock formations offering ample opportunity for the kids to explore and climb. After some time exploring this area, we headed back to the parked vehicles and drove back into town – a successful day of geo-caching accomplished!