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Moapa to Valley of Fire State Park to Overton

St. George Jeepers Trail Report - March 14, 2017

Nine Jeeps met at the Mesquite, Nevada, Chevron on this crystal clear, pleasant morning. We traveled south on Interstate 15 to the Happy Valley Road south of Moapa. The run today was led by Gus Peterson.

Below, Gus Peterson advises the responsible segment of the Jeepers to be sure to have their affairs in order before today's run.

Traveling up the Happy Valley Road we advanced to the view of the bowl from California Ridge. The only disappointment the whole day was at this location one of the Jeepers fell on the rocks and severely lacerated her arm. Unfortunately, she had to leave the trail ride and go for emergency treatment.

There are two very tall communication towers in this area. Each tower has a minimum of 30 guy wires securing the towers.

"The Bowl" from California Ridge.

After leaving the Bowl we retraced our route back west toward I-15.

Below, I-15 between Las Vegas and St. George and its steady day and night stream of traffic.

On the Moapa Rideabout Trail.

Barrel cactus were prolific along sections of the trail.

A steep, loose gravel climb up the ridge.

Doing the "Jeep Wave."

Making our way up and out of the winding wash.

Below are photos taken at the "White Star #2 Mine" in Weiser Valley, coordinates 36.67611 -114.56278. Gypsum anhydrite deposits are documented. Gypsum anhydrite is present at a grade sufficient to have a strong effect on the economics of an excavation project. It may even be viable as the only commodity mined. This deposit has operated in the past as a production mine but was closed at the time we visited. Mica is easily observed in the area.

After lunch at the White Star #2 mine we proceeded on down Weiser Valley and eventually past the Matterhorn Trail.

Talus slope showing trails most likely made by desert bighorn sheep.

View looking toward the west and the Sheep Range Mountains. 

A section of the Nevada Valley of Fire State Park.

We passed another gypsum mine, the Georgia Pacific Gypsum Quarry. It's an open pit strip mine, not nearly as interesting as the White Star excavations.

The fun continues. Approaching an obstacle that made the drivers appreciate oversized tires and chassis lift. Gus Peterson directs Paul Christensen over the step.

Below, Kevin Keller directs his Jeep down as Jay Malinowski drives.

Some very interesting geology observed along the trail.

The so-called "turtle rock".

We drove on down through some fascinating red rock formations and turned off the main trail to visit the Logandale Trail System petroglyphs.

Petroglyph that "may" indicate an animal being eaten, perhaps by a bear?

Petroglyph that "may" illustrate an animal giving birth.

Interesting petroglyph that seems to show that the individual lost his head.

Graffiti, although the date looks like 1721 is more likely 1921.

Two fine looking desert bighorn rams observed off the trail.

Then on to the Overton ridge trail "from hell" that runs along a scenic ridge into the Overton Wash and finally down into Overton.

Vistas looking down into the Valley of Fire State Park. This section of trail was particularly exciting due to the "blue sky" summits where it was often almost impossible to tell if the trail went straight, left or right.

A gathering of seven very nice desert bighorn rams. In a few months during rut they won't be so buddy-buddy.

Information acquired from the Logandale Trails System (LTS) website

Animals

"The LTS offers possibilities for visitors to see rare and unique species of animals.

    • The desert tortoise is a federally listed threatened species that depends on the desert scrub of the LTS for its habitat.
    • Chuckwallas, listed as a BLM Sensitive Species, are frequently found in the same habitats as the desert tortoise. These lizards have a peculiar way of defending themselves— they fill their bellies with air to make it difficult for predators to remove them from the crevices where they live.
    • The Gila monster, also a BLM Sensitive Species, is the only poisonous lizard found in North America.
    • Nevada’s state animal and a BLM Sensitive Species, the desert bighorn sheep, uses the LTS as a cool- weather range. During cooler months, visitors to the LTS can often spot herds on rock outcrops and see their tracks on the ground. (Photos of some magnificent rams spotted on the run were included above.)
    • Bald and golden eagles have been identified in the LTS.
    • Gambel’s Quail, a Nevada protected species, uses the LTS as habitat.

Rare plants

Visitors to the LTS can also find several rare plant species: the three-cornered milkvetch,

the Las Vegas bear poppy,

the two-toned beardtongue,

and you may identify the sticky buckwheat.

The milkvetch, beardtongue, and sticky buckwheat are located near the Boot Trail, the main trail in the LTS. These plants are most visible in spring when they bloom.

Although not a single plant species, cryptobiotic soils are visibly present in the LTS. These delicate plant structures forming the crust of the soil are important for the health of the desert ecosystem since they provide nutrients to the soil and limit erosion.

Several plants found in the LTS are traditionally used by American Indians. The Moapa Band of Paiutes, descendents of previous inhabitants of the LTS, still use many plants found in the LTS for traditional purposes.

History and Culture

History and Culture The LTS is the former home of the Virgin Anasazi, a culture that mysteriously left the area around 1150 CE (Current Era). Other groups came before and after the Anasazi, leaving evidence of their presence in the area. If careful, visitors to LTS can spot rock art, pueblo foundations, and artifacts that indicate the former presence of these cultures. Due to the subtle and sometimes hidden nature of the resources, most visitors pass them by without knowing they exist. Several petroglyph sites are in recesses of rock formations.

The drawings that can be seen on rocks in the LTS are petroglyphs (American Indian rock drawings). The images are pecked into the darkened, desert varnished surface of the sandstone to reveal the lighter rock beneath. Prehistorians tell us that most of the petroglyphs at this site were carved thousands of years ago. More precise dating of the petroglyphs is still under development. Petroglyphs are not unique to this region. In fact, they can be found on every continent except Antarctica. They form a unique part of our human heritage.

We know from historic accounts of indigenous peoples throughout the world that the creation of petroglyphs was an element in the practice of religion. Some commemorate an experience with the supernatural. The designs incorporate traditional elements from hunting religions, animal ceremonialism, and mythology. Rock art served as a portal to power - accessing the supernatural agents responsible for world renewal and ensuring continuation of life-giving elements: rain, food (plants and animals) and health. Petroglyphs have deep cultural and religious significance to the present-day Southern Paiute and other Indian tribes, who believe them to be sacred and imbued with the power of their ancestors. Often they served as maps.

There is also evidence of more recent history, sign of the efforts to develop the Moapa Valley in the 19th and 20th centuries." (Perhaps the graffiti pictured above is representative of this.)

Submitted by Bud Sanders