Encompassing 40,000 acres of sweeping red sandstone outside Las Vegas, it's not hard to see how Valley of Fire State Park got its name.
Just a few miles past the Nevada state line lies the deserted mining town of Rhyolite. An early-20th century gold rush sprang up a settlement of nearly 5,000 in this Mojave Desert locale over the course of a couple years. When mine productivity and economic stability began to falter, the population plummeted, leaving the town in ruins barely a decade later.
Abandoned shafts and tunnels abound in the surrounding hills, shrouded in chainlink barriers and foreboding signage. Along the main street, the last remaining structures include a schoolhouse, bank, rail depot, and a curious house with walls built from myriad glass bottles. Near the entrance, plaster-cast ghost sculptures facelessly beckon visitors upon the windswept moonscape.
With all the talk of the supermoon, I trekked up Cowles to catch the moon coming up. Although a layer of smoke across the eastern horizon obscured much of the moonrise itself, the sunset was well worth it in and of itself.