Many years ago some of the rock formations were given names by some imaginative persons. Some of the names demonstrate how things have changed since. Right along the road through the park is this rock labeled 'China Boy'.
I would call it 'Big Giant Head', but even that dates me with the reference to one of my favorite TV shows Third Rock from the Sun.
We drove up to the viewpoint at the end of the road for our first look at the magnificent scenery. This picture does not even begin to do it justice.
We decided to follow tradition and name our own rock formation. Who else thinks this looks like a dog - maybe an earless dog?
We decided to take a short hike since we haven't hiked in a long time. We headed out on the Echo Canyon loop, highlighted here, which is a total of 3.3 miles.
On our way down Echo Canyon trail, we were sidetracked by this bouquet of claret cup cactus. I've never seen one bloom so profusely.
Soon the trail led us right in among the rocks, some of which look a bit unsafe.
We passed between towering walls . . .
And right into the heart of the canyon.
Sometimes we all need a little support from our friends.
After descending 450 feet into the canyon, we continued our loop by switching to the Hailstone trail - an easy hike along the base of the cliffs. This section gains only 70 feet in elevation in .8 of a mile.
The rest of the climb out was on the .7 mile Ed Riggs trail and the .2 mile connector back to the trail head. Both were very clean trails - it's like they sweep any stray rocks off the trail. I thought this yucca determinedly growing in a rock crevasse was worth a picture.
This loop and the hike from the Echo Canyon trail head down to the visitors center are probably the two most popular. There is a bus that will take you to the top and enable you to do that mostly-downhill, one-way hike. This was a good warm up for us. Coming up is my 7.3 mile hike which I did a couple of days later.
Oh, and for all of you boondockers out there, we found a great spot in the national forest outside of the park. Just before the entrance, turn on Pinery Canyon Road and drive 5.5 miles down a dusty, but good gravel road. The coordinates are 31.96914, -109.32171. One warning, though, we had no phone or internet service there.