Moon Rocks Field Trip

Entering Moon Rocks

The best part of home schooling is the field trips! A couple of days ago, we met up with a bunch of home school friends and drove out to Moon Rocks, the popular name for the Hungry Valley Recreation Area. It’s a large open area with a variety of roads and trails in the high desert terrain. Moon Rocks gets its name from the large granite formation rising up in the desert. Granite is a common igneous rock that cooled from magma deep underground at a slow enough rate for crystals to form, big enough to be seen without a microscope. This doesn’t feel anything like the granite your kitchen counter is made of. It’s porous and rough, making it easy to climb, and easy to cut and scrape climbers. Long pants, climbing gloves, closed toe shoes, a hat and water are the bare essentials. It’s a popular place to climb, explore and ride all types of off road vehicles. Entrance and camping is free, but there are no services, water or shade so it’s basically, bring your own everything!

Painted Moon Rocks
Painted Moon Rocks

These concentric rings of reddish-brown to yellowish-brown are iron-oxide staining. They are called “liesegang bands” and show the path of water infiltrating the rocks. As it oxidizes the iron contained in the darker minerals makes the rocks look painted.

Driving directions:

From Reno, NV take Pyramid Hwy (445) north through Spanish Springs. You’ll pass the Shoe Tree on the right. According to, shoe trees may be the greatest embodiment of the American Spirit you can find on the highway (free of admission charge, anyway). A shoe tree starts with one dreamer, tossing his or her old footwear into a tree. It usually ends there, unseen and neglected by others. But on rare occasions, that first pair of shoes triggers a shoe tossing cascade. Soon, teens, moms, dads and grandparents are permanently inscribing messages of love, greetings and life accomplishments and tossing their old sneakers into the tree.

Shoe Tree
Shoe Tree

Continue north on 445 8 miles past Spanish Springs to Winnemucca Ranch Rd. You’ll see a sign for the Horse Motel on the left.

Horse Motel
Horse Motel

Turn Left on Winnemucca Ranch Rd. and follow 5 miles until the road becomes a dirt road. Follow one more mile to the entrance on the left.

Sign to Moon Rocks
Entrance Sign to Moon Rocks

Moon Rocks will be 1/2 to 1 mile on your right hand side. Parking is wide open. Just watch out for loose sand.

Exploring Moon Rocks
Exploring Moon Rocks

Moon Rocks is a natural, free play land for all ages. The parents and kids all enjoyed climbing and exploring. My son and I found piles of bullet casings, which was like finding a treasure for him. Yes, Nevada is the wild west so you never know what you’ll find.

Bullet Casings
Bullet Casings

Another parent caught a lizard! One of the kids relentlessly cuddled it and had it tamed in no time. She was hoping to keep the blue bellied lizard as her new pet.

Lizard Belly at Moon Rocks
Western Fence Lizard

Her mom was saying no, but I have a feeling they now are the proud owners of a lizard that can live up to 5 years:)

Moon Rocks Lizard
Tamed Lizard

Those who didn’t wear gloves and long pants suffered cuts and scrapes. Thankfully, one of the parents had a first aid kit.


Nurse to the Rescue
Nursing wounds at Moon Rocks

A group of successful climbers conquered this craggy rock formation.

Defeating Moon Rocks
Defeating Moon Rocks

Besides climbing and exploring, we were sure to take a look around at the spectacular views as we made our way through the rocks.

View from Moon Rocks
View from Moon Rocks

If you’re looking for a fun, free place to take your kids, this is the place. You should have seen the looks on these kids’ faces when we pulled up to the parking area. Once out of the car, they all took off running as if the rocks were calling to them. We once went during a holiday weekend last spring and it was even better (if you don’t mind crowds). There were hundreds of campers! As we climbed around the rocks, we watched ATVs, dune buggies and trucks ride all over the rocks. It was like a free show.

Moon Rocks
Rounded Moon Rocks

If you live in the Reno, NV area or are just visiting, be sure to visit Moon Rocks. If you’re heading up to Pyramid Lake, this is a fun stop. The trip back to town has incredible views of Mt. Rose.

Mt. Rose






























Animal Ark Field Trip

Spectacular View from Animal Ark Reno NV

Homeschool field trips are always an adventure and this one was no different. My youngest son, Chase, is home schooled here in Reno, NV. The NNHS (Northern Nevada Home School) group is very active. The parents plan several field trips and get togethers every week that we can pick and choose from. Check out their site at for more info. The other day we went on a field trip to the Animal Ark – a non-profit wildlife sanctuary and education center. They provide a safe haven for injured, abandoned and otherwise non-releasable wildlife. It’s located in north Reno about 30-45 minutes from town. You can check them out at

Mountain Lion in a Tree at Animal Ark

Living in Reno, there’s always a chance of running into a mountain lion while hiking or just while walking your dogs around the neighborhood. I never knew they could climb trees! They are the most deadly animals in Northern Nevada and seeing this made them seem even more terrifying than I already thought they were. Hearing that the reason he was in the tree was because he was scared because a school bus had just pulled into the parking lot did make me feel a little bit better. Glad to know there’s SOMETHING mountain lions are afraid of.

Healthiest Raccoon Ever!

On a lighter note, their resident raccoon was very playful and put on a great show for us. This was his famous raccoon yoga pose. He started by standing on his hind legs, bending at the waste and putting his head through his legs. As you can see, his feet never left the ground. He was just as comfortable as could be just grabbing the fence above and hanging out. Quite the character!

White Fox

This little guy was so adorable. We all wanted to take him home. According to Animal Ark, he was sold on Craigslist twice before being surrendered to them. Several of the animals who now call Animal Ark their home started out as family pets. Apparently, fox are terrible pets. You can’t house train them and they chew EVERYTHING!


When we arrived at the jaguar enclosure, he was just relaxing and calmly watching us. This photo of the jaguar was taken just minutes after he rushed the glass viewing booth in attack mode with mouth wide open. We were told there’s an Animal Ark trainer he’s not particularly fond of and she happened to walk by while we were there. That was probably his big thrill for the day – and ours too.

Canada Lynx

To me the lynx is such an exotic, mysterious animal. It’s face looks like one of the characters in Cats the musical with it’s tiny, pointed ears and beard. The lynx’s body seems too big for it’s head. The feet alone are just enormous compared with other cats the same size. The tail is naturally bobbed. I don’t remember what this animal’s background is but seeing him made the trip. There is another Lynx at Animal Ark as well that is bigger than this one, but he is shy and stayed in the back of his enclosure, where this one walked right by us several times.


Animal Ark has four wolves. There is an older, one-eyed male whose sister died just around the time three baby wolves were sent to them. There are twins (this is one of them) and a black one named Shadow. The twins are submissive to the older male, so they alternate days in the large enclosure. Then the one-eyed male and Shadow take their turn together since they seem to get along. Wolves don’t live in the wild in Nevada. Although the state has been tracking one lone wolf that recently has entered through either California or Oregon.


Something Nevada does have plenty of are coyotes. In fact, the day after we visited Animal Ark, we saw one sauntering through our neighborhood in the middle of the day. They usually come around at night and we can hear them howling. As you can see, the wolf and the coyote look very similar.

There were several other types of animals such as bears, cheeta, owls, hawks, a vulture, turtles, etc. This is just a sample of what you’ll see if you visit. Spring is a great time to visit Animal Ark. The weather is cool/cold, all of the animals are out and about and there are no bad odors like their might be during the warmer times of year. If you decide to go, picnic lunches are recommended since there isn’t a restaurant for miles. Wear good walking shoes because you’ll be walking a lot on gravel paths. For those unable to walk, they have golf carts available for a donation.