Hiking the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail

As the holidays were drawing to a close and the prospect of a return to real life began to sink in, my family and I decided it was time for some fresh air. Off we went to Boulder City, where we hiked a portion of the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail.

We accessed the trail near the Alan Bible Visitor Center, located just off US-93. Hemenway Park and downtown Boulder City are a short drive away. At the trailhead, you’ll find a parking lot, restrooms, and a dirt path that leads you up a slight hill. Here you will find a large metal gate. Walk through the gate, and you’re on your way to beautiful views of Lake Mead and impressively large railroad tunnels. (You can also access the trail from the Hoover Dam parking garage.)

Originally, the railroad system helped in the construction of Hoover Dam. Once the dam was completed in 1935, the railroad had served its purpose. It was used sporadically until 1961, and the tracks were removed in 1962.

Along the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail, Boulder City.

A tunnel along the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail. Boulder City, NV | Image by Sarah Vernetti

This trail does not form a loop, so keep in mind that you will be retracing your steps when you return to your car. Even though the railroad tunnel trail is wide and flat, hikers and bicyclists should use caution. There is no guardrail on the side of the trail and the drop-off can be pretty steep in some places.

Along the way, you’ll find plenty of places to take photos of Lake Mead. You’ll also see a few informational signs and benches if you want to sit for a while and enjoy the scenery.

View of Lake Mead from the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail. Boulder City, NV

An impressive view of Lake Mead | Image by Sarah Vernetti

The first of the railroad tunnels is located about one mile into the hike. The size of the tunnels is pretty impressive. One of the informational signs along the way explains that the tunnels are over 20 feet tall and have been reinforced in recent years to add stability. The second tunnel comes soon after the first. The entire trail consists of five tunnels and is 3.7 miles one-way.

Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail, Boulder City, NV

The tunnels are over 20 feet high and 300 feet in length. | Image by Sarah Vernetti

Be on the look-out for a dose of history while you hike. You’ll see several huge concrete plugs off to the side of the trail that were used in the construction of Hoover Dam and were left behind. A small plaque explains the function of the plugs and includes a picture of them when they were still in use.

When we visited the trail on a weekend afternoon, we saw several other hikers. Helicopters on their way to Hoover Dam and Lake Mead zipped by overhead, and we could hear highway noise in the distance. This is not an isolated nature hike full of peace and solitude. However, it is fascinating and worth a visit.

For a trail map and information on the railroad’s history, visit the National Park Service online.

Safe travels!

Recent Twitter-Sized Fiction: Nanoism, 7×20, and Cuento

Lately, I’ve become obsessed with very, very, very short fiction, stories so succinct that they conform to Twitter’s 140-character limit. I like the challenge of squeezing as much story as possible into a small space. Plus, it’s kind of freeing to know that if a story doesn’t work out or gets rejected it will be easier to move on and try again. For me, bidding a fond farewell to a failed story and accepting that it is destined to be nothing more than a file on my computer is easier when the story is Twitter-sized.

Another advantage to writing super-short fiction is that the entire process moves along faster. With many Twitter-fiction publications, the response time is very reasonable, and the time from acceptance to publication is days or weeks rather than months. Twitter-fiction is great for those of us who hate waiting.

In recent weeks, my Twitter-fiction has appeared at Nanoism, 7×20, and Cuento.

I’m excited about my story at Nanoism (#628), since it took me a few attempts to get an acceptance there. You really should take a look at their archives. You’ll find some great stories. I’m honored to have my flash fiction in such good company.

You’ll also find my stories at 7×20 and Cuento, two places that have been kind enough to publish my work in the past. Here are two recent examples:

For a more thorough round-up of my super-short, Twitter-sized fiction, stop by my portfolio.

Happy writing, everyone!

Flash Fiction: “Best of 2014″ at Nailpolish Stories

I’m honored that my flash fiction, “Gray Area,” was selected for the Best of 2014 issue at Nailpolish Stories!

If you’re not familiar with Nailpolish Stories, it’s an online flash fiction publication that features stories of exactly 25 words, the titles of which are the names of nail polish colors. Writing in such a short format is a challenge, but I enjoy boiling down a story to it’s most essential elements. After all, in the world of flash fiction, less is more.

As 2014 winds down, I’m proud to say that my fiction is forthcoming in the following publications: 300 Days of Sun, Black Denim Lit, Eunoia Review, Vending Machine Press, and others. And I’m already looking forward to another year of writing adventures!

Thanks for stopping by, happy new year, and safe travels. See you in 2015.

White Domes Trail: Valley of Fire

Who would have thought the coolest hike at Valley of Fire would be the one without bright red rocks?

My family and I were due for a visit to Valley of Fire. Fall and spring are the best times to go, for obvious weather-related reasons, and I always look forward to climbing on rocks, taking photos, and marveling at the fact that I now live in the desert rather than the plains.

Detail, Valley of Fire

Detail along the White Domes Loop, Valley of Fire | Image by Sarah Vernetti

On previous trips, we had hiked the Mouse’s Tank trail, marveled at the beehive rock formations, and climbed the stairs to check out the petroglyphs on Atlatl Rock. In an attempt to try something new at a park that we’d visited many times, I did some research and decided that the White Domes Loop would be a good fit: an hour of hiking round-trip and home to plenty of interesting geology. Plus, it was located in a part of the park that we had yet to explore.

To get to the White Domes trailhead, drive toward the northern part of the park. You’ll find parking, restrooms, and picnic tables near the beginning of the trail. Right away, it becomes apparent why this is called “White Domes,” since the rocks look very different from the bright red that encompasses the rest of Valley of Fire.

Trailhead: White Domes. Valley of Fire

Trailhead: White Domes, Valley of Fire | Image by Sarah Vernetti

The majority of the trail is sand-covered. There are a few places where it is unclear which way the trail leads, but luckily there are signs to help guide the way.

White Dome Trail, Valley of Fire

A slot canyon along the White Domes Trail, Valley of Fire | Image by Sarah Vernetti

Remains of a movie set along the White Domes Trail, Valley of Fire

Remains of a movie set along the White Domes Trail, Valley of Fire | Image by Sarah Vernetti

Along the way, the trail will take you through a slot canyon. You’ll also find the remains of a structure that was used as a movie set in the 1960’s. A nearby sign indicates that the fragment is left over from the filming of The Professionals. The rock formations are fascinating, and the caves and crevices look like they could be home to Sand People on Tatooine. (Sorry, had to throw a Star Wars reference in there somewhere. It was either that or The Hills Have Eyes.)

Valley of Fire, White Domes Trail

Colorful rock formations line the trail | Image by Sarah Vernetti

Toward the end of the hike, the White Domes Loop provides a beautiful desert vista, which is the perfect place for a few photos.

A beautiful vista at Valley of Fire | Image by Sarah Vernetti

As with all other trails, the normal words of caution apply at White Domes Loop: arrive prepared with water, a map, snacks, good walking/hiking shoes, sunscreen, etc.

For more information about Valley of Fire, drop by the official Nevada State Parks website.

Happy trails!

Fall: recent traveling, writing, and reading

A quarterly update…

Travel

Fall is my favorite time of year to travel, but it’s also the busiest for me and my family. It’s hard to get away while we’re adjusting to the new school-year schedule. However, we did find time to head to St. Louis and central Illinois for a long weekend. We have visited St. Louis many, many times, but this trip featured an added bonus in the form of a Pearl Jam concert. Not a bad way to spend a Friday night in the Midwest.

Writing

I had the opportunity to write travel and lifestyle articles for a couple of local publications this fall. Although fiction-writing is something I really enjoy, it’s always nice to return to my travel-writing roots.

Speaking of fiction, I was lucky enough to have a few stories published recently, including “A Broad Spectrum,” which you can check out at The Las Vegan, and “Inspired by Botticelli’s Primavera,” which appeared in the September issue of Foliate Oak. I also wrote a couple of super-short microfiction pieces for Cuento Magazine and 7×20. After dealing with a bit of writer’s block in late September, I’m happily picking up the pace again this month.

Reading

I finally, finally read The Hunger Games. I might be the last soul on Earth to read the first book of the trilogy, but better late than never. In fact, I enjoyed it enough that I’ve started reading the second book, Catching Fire. And, of course, I’ve been reading lots of short fiction.

Happy Fall!

Ever wonder what it’s like to live in Las Vegas? You might be surprised. Be sure to check out my recent article in BLVDS Magazine. I had the opportunity to talk with talented people who have relocated to Las Vegas from around the world.

You can read the article here, or you can pick up the September/October 2014 issue the next time you’re out and about in Las Vegas.