Red Cliffs, red ants


We’re in Red Rocks country this week, and when we hit our limit on the work we were doing,* we decided on an outing. First we thought we’d head to a swimming hole we had heard about out past Toquerville.

The sign warned us of extremely rough roads; our web source warned us to make sure our spare tire was in good shape, and estimated more than a thirty-minute drive from the point the road forked. Our experience for the first few miles impressed upon us that while we were making slow progress in a forward direction, we were getting plenty of extreme up-and-down travel as we lumbered over rocks and into holes.

The turnaround point on our aborted trip to the swimming hole

The turnaround point on our aborted trip to the swimming hole

Sitting as I was in the not-very-extended cab of a small pickup, and suffering as I am from some bruised ribs,† any jostling was an invitation to yelp with pain. I decided I would be the designated party pooper, and suggested that we abandon the trek in favor of Plan B.

Our Loquita is a shade-loving plant. Mission in Tucson will be interesting!

Our Loquita is a shade-loving plant.

And Plan B was impressive, and much closer to us than the unattainable swimming hole. El Guapo’s mom lived here in Leeds for many years, but as we’ve usually visited in July, when temps routinely climb past 110 F (43 C), exploring the great outdoors hasn’t looked all that enticing. Now we know what we’ve been missing.

If you take the Leeds exit off I-15 and head down past Harrisburg (Wikipedia calls this a ghost town, but that appears to be an exaggeration), and turn right under the freeway, you very soon come to Red Cliffs National Conservation Area.



You’ll recall that Plan A involved a swimming hole, so our attire ran in the swimsuit/flip flops direction. At Red Cliffs we did manage to find a little stream to stick our feet into, but hiking was clearly the order of the day.


No problem, we thought, until we noticed that the ants scurrying to and fro carrying burdens several times their size were not black but red. If you’ve never had the experience of being bitten by a red ant, may your luck continue.

We were not to be deterred, but we did keep our feet moving, hoping that this would make it harder for a red ant to get up the tiny side of our inadequate footwear and onto our unprotected feet.

The scenery was stunning; I regret that I probably did not give it the attention it deserved because I kept looking down to see whether I had taken on any passengers that were likely to begin biting. Happily, El Guapo got some good pictures.








Though we took onboard a fair amount of fine red sand, we managed to avoid being bitten by any red ants, for which we were grateful.

I’m thinking about the possibility of getting back there with reasonable shoes, reasonable temperatures (fall, winter, spring, or perhaps dawn), and plenty of time to explore. Something to look forward to, definitely.

*We’ve been making arrangements for the closing up of my mom-in-law’s house and dealing with various possessions, as she has moved in with El Guapo’s sister in Oregon.

†Backstory for bruised ribs coming in a future post.

[Images: El Guapo]

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