Nevada Desert

In the days before the first European colonists arrived,
the Nevada desert was the home of the Ancient Pueblos (also known as the Anasazi).

But before the Pueblos colonized the region,
it was shaped by natural forces.

Water, winds and tectonic movements molded the land,
carving gorges and canyons in the earth and pushing mountains up.

Join me on a visit to one of the most beautiful places in North America.

Nevada Desert
Sunrise
As the sun rises over the desert, temperatures shift from about 50F (10C) to a sweltering 110F (43C).

 
Nevada Desert
Around 150 million years ago, this area was covered in pines and enjoyed a temperate climate.

 
Nevada Desert
Nowadays, it is a desert that is dry for the majority of the year. The top soil seems to flake after the brief, rare instances of rain.

 
Nevada Desert
It is clear to see that nature is quite the artist - carving the rock as if it were clay, while painting the desert in hues of browns and oranges.

 
Nevada Desert
Life
But this seemingly-dead land is actually the home of many animals, like this chuckwalla - the second-biggest lizard in the United States.

 
Nevada Desert
The Antelope Ground Squirrels are also permanent residents of the Valley of Fire. These tiny rodents are surprisingly resilient to hyperthermia and can survive body heat of 104F (40C).

 
Nevada Desert
The Desert Big Horn Sheep are also permanent residents, often seen resting in the shade of trees and caves during the hottest times of the day. These amazing animals can lose 30% of their body weight in liquids and still survive, and unlike other mammals - their body temperature can fluctuate several degrees to deal with the extreme temperature changes in the desert.

 
Nevada Desert
Colors and Shapes
Occasional water flow and constant winds blast these rocks, carving holes and arches through them, a process that has taken place over millions of years.

 
Nevada Desert
When tectonic plates moved in the past, big chunks of rock were pushed out of the ground. Rain and wind smoothed their surface, forming them into wonderful shapes, while revealing ancient layers of different soil compositions.

 
Nevada Desert
The different compositions of materials give the rocks their unique colors, painting the desert in strange, wonderful patterns.

 
Nevada Desert
The red rocks are rich in oxidized iron (rust), the black rocks are usually rich in manganese.

 
Nevada Desert
Known as "Crazy Hill", the different colors of this small hill show just how diverse the mineral deposits are in this desert.

 
Nevada Desert
Water
Water is the rarest, most prized resource in the desert. It forms a small temporary oasis, which quickly dissipates in the heat of the day.

 
Nevada Desert
As water flows, it slowly erodes the rocks, carving gorges and canyons.

 
Nevada Desert
The canyons become riverbeds, encouraging the water to carve deeper in the ground. During the rainy season, these passes can be extremely dangerous due to flash-floods.

 
Nevada Desert
But during the dry season, they make for a spectacular hiking location, with views that almost feel alien.

 
Nevada Desert
In some cases, floodwater "digs" caves in the sandstone walls, forming amazing shapes like the ones seen below.

 
Nevada Desert
Petroglyphs
The native inhabitants of the land - the Pueblos, left many petroglyphs along the walls in various parts of the desert.

 
Nevada Desert
The glyphs are thought to be part of their religious traditions, but could possibly be their way of teaching their history to new generations.

 
Nevada Desert

 
Nevada Desert
Pictured above: the last rays of light, peeking between the formation of "Elephant Rock".

 
Nevada Desert
Night
The desert is a natural deterrent for human habitation, leading to very low levels of light pollution. This leads to a spectacularly clear night-sky, where the splendor of the universe is visible again.