West winds, east winds, winds from the north and winds from the south sculpt goblins and goblin abodes. In one outcropping there is a whale. Another wind sculpture fashions a frog, and yet another contours a buck-toothed monster.
Nature’s creations seem to watch as bipeds dressed in yellow jackets peruse the Redstone perimeter. The yellow jackets peak and poke, creep and crawl among the crags and crevices. They nose around with large black eyepieces that emit a buzz of clicks at one place — they move a few feet — buzz, click, buzz, click.
The one-eyed, buck-toothed monster watches over his domain. The black-eyed gargantuan frog looks on, almost in boredom. The vermilion land-whale perches, mouth agape over a sandstone morsel ready to be devoured.
For eons, these creatures have grown from a speck of sand to the sienna goblins of today. Their visages change with each season: always evolving, weathering, fluting, grooving and striating. They lie within their swale, surrounded by Cambrian knolls. Father wind’s abrasive passage scours their Jurassic surfaces to the sheen of a dark desert varnish.
The bipeds seem to evolve, too. Centuries ago they walked through the sagey plain, leaving precious Paiute petroglyphs on the goblins’ sandstone sides. Another era brought them on horseback, recording with graphite and parchment. Today, the bipeds speed by in shiny contraptions on their asphalt trail, occasionally slowing down long enough to peek and poke, buzz and click around the goblins’ fringe, amidst the abodes of Redstone.
The Redstone goblins continue to evolve; every trivial portion of sand weathers them with wind and age. The goblins have seen it all through the ages. They watch and wait. They are the palette for Father Wind and Mother Sun.
They await your visit. They invite you to take the short walking trail around their perimeter, anxious to enjoy your quiet chatter as you muse among their confines. What sandstone creature will your imagination conjure? What living creature will emerge from the cool, dark crevice of its home? Come see what awaits you, but reverentially. They have much to teach you, but you must listen quietly to hear their counsel in the wind.
A little (very little) geology: The history beneath (and above) Redstone. Southern Nevada’s red stone is made of Aztec sandstone. Millions of years ago the Southwest was one large desert of dunes, from Utah and Idaho to Arizona and New Mexico, with what is now Nevada right in the middle.
Boulder City’s backyard, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, is home to the same ancient sandstone as that which graces the Grand Canyon and Colorado Plateau. On the geologic time line, our red sandstone is much younger than the limestone that caps many red rock formations in our backyard. One big thrust by Mother Earth and the greenish limestone pushes itself through, and peaks above, the red rock.
Sandstone is just what its name implies. It is sand cemented together to form a stone-hard surface. The sedimentary accumulation of dunes of sand, silt and clay were buried millions of years ago by additional, younger sediment. In the process, the sandstone was bonded together through mineralization.
The specific combination of the sediment and the mineral composition determines the color of the resulting sandstone, which can range from a buffy cream to deep red. The sandstone of our region contains significant amounts of iron oxide that gives us the deep reds of the Aztec sandstone.
Redstone is an easy hour and a half hour drive from Boulder City along the Lakeshore Road. A short walking trail allows easy access to the diversity of Mother Nature’s sculptural talents with a short American with Disabilities Act-accessible trail to picnic tables nestled within the Redstone grotto.
Remember, it took millions of years for nature to create Redstone. The desert varnish is delicate; do not “leave your mark” on the stones. Petroglyphs are rare and need to be preserved. Every step you take is within the home of our desert neighbors (lizards, birds and four-legged fauna). Please respect their home.
Cat Trico has been a resident of Boulder City since 2003 and is a past president of the Senior Center and co-founder of the Decker Lake Wetlands Preserve. As an author and editor, she contributed to “Rights, Responsibilities, and Relationships” for youth. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.