Saturday, February 13, 2010

Rock your world.....

ROCK your world..........
Despite the reputation of rocks being as dull as, well, rocks, their dazzling colors, intriguing shapes and sense of challenge or discovery can be Mother Nature at her most alluring. Sedimentary, metamorphic, igneous or molten, rocks exert an irresistible force that drives some of us to climb them, collect them and let them transport us back in time. Whether you're an adventurer, romantic or rock hound, these West Coast destinations will help you get in touch with your inner geologist.

-- 1. Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas The fiery red boulders of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area - just 17 miles from Las Vegas' flashing neon canyons - rise from the flat Mojave Desert. Hike these multistory rock formations or take the scenic drive to panoramic views of the Spring Mountain Range. 17 miles west of downtown Las Vegas on Charleston Boulevard/Highway 159, Las Vegas. (702) 242-2576.
2. Drakesbad, California
Molten rock deep in the Earth is the source of steaming water and bubbling mud at Devils Kitchen and Boiling Springs Lake in the heart of Lassen Volcanic National Park. Both are a short walk from Drakesbad Guest Ranch, where the swimming pool is, of course, geothermal heated. Drakesbad Guest Ranch.
3. Agate Beach, Trinidad (Humboldt County)
Winter storms toss thousands of agates, valued for their natural luminescent beauty, onto this narrow strip of sand. After filling your pockets, don't miss the agate collection at the park visitor center. Access to the beach is from the day use area of Big Lagoon County Park. 4150 Patrick's Point Dr., Trinidad.
4. E. Hadley Stuart Jr. Hall of Gems and Minerals, Los Angeles
While not exactly a hidden gem (it's in the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County near downtown), it is one of the most significant gem and mineral collections west of the Smithsonian. The 150,000 specimens, including 50 meteorites, represent half the Earth's known mineral species.
5. Rock City, Mount Diablo State Park..
While it's hardly remote, you could be on another world among the sandstone formations. Climb Sentinel Rock or head up the 6.25-mile Trail Through Time, where signs guide you through 190 million years of geologic history. Diablo Road, off Interstate 680 to North Gate Road, Danville.