Photographs on Beaten Paths: Red Rock Canyon

April 25, 2019 by Darren Clarke

Red Rock Cayon is located about 20-minutes outside Las Vegas in the Mojave Desert. Now, I could rhyme a bunch of stuff from Wikipedia right now about Shale and Aztec Sandstone, about the fossilized remains of ancient sea life metamorphosed into limestone but taking pictures has always been for me largely about not having to explain or intellectualize or in any way limit the awe I feel in simply laying eyes on the world, of simply being someplace.


I do love dusk in the desert though, I can tell you that. It has a smoky, lavender, quality which, when I think about, is very similar to the colour of the favourite T-Shirt I ever had.

The t-shirt was given to me to wear after a long night out in the late 90’s. I had ended the evening crashed on the couch at my friend Dave “Georgio” Gonzalez’s place and in the morning he provided me with a T-Shirt to wear to work. The shirt colour at large was that same elusive, violet, smokiness that imbued the horizon as my rental car and I made our way down Sahara Avenue (being stopped at seemingly every red light) out deeper into the desert.

On the front of the t-shirt were illustrations and names for every type of cloud possible- Cumulous, stratus, stratocumulus, cirrocumulus, altocumulus, nimbostratus, cirrus, etc.

I told Dave that it was clearly the coolest shirt ever. Being Dave he insisted I keep it straight away, “It’s yours.”


The morning quiet of Red Rock Canyon is as ethereal at the Mojave Desert’s breaking light. It’s not dense and heavy like Southern Ontario’s spring/summer mornings can be, rather it is a blank canvas for movement and sound to colour easily. ve158Within this weightless world, its’ edges rubbed up with the light of the rising sun, my favourite moment on this excursion would happen.  I had wandered down a gravelly trail steeped in shade that wove through the caramel coloured rock region of the canyon.  In the distance a young woman approached, moving nimbly and easily, along the path. As we passed she said simply, soft words floating upon the cool morning air, “Good morning.”

And sometimes the best things in life are that simple, like a glass of water. I guess the thing about being greeted by a beautiful woman though is that, unlike water, you can live longer than four days without it but every day is way harder than it needs to be.


That was pretty much it. A low-key little trek in the desert. Lots of pictures of rocks.