Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features an astronaut view of the bright rocks and deep canyons of the Mojave Desert in southern Nevada.
The Muddy and Virgin Rivers are visible in the photo, carrying water across the desert to Lake Mead reservoir.
The Muddy River, which flows through Moapa Valley, is bordered by agricultural fields and towns. By contrast, Virgin River, is bordered by dark vegetation.
Both of the rivers empty into the northern part of Lake Mead – known as the Overton Arm – which ultimately merges with the Colorado River to the south.
The reddish orange rocks near the center of the photo represent the Valley of Fire State Park, which is located approximately 40 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
At sunset, valley outcrops made of bright, rust-colored Aztec sandstone appear to be on fire. This sandstone formed from ancient sand dune fields dating back to the Jurassic Period.
According to NASA, significant archaeological artifacts have been found throughout Moapa Valley, with some dating back to 300 BCE. During that time, the region was occupied by Anasazi Native Americans, hunter-gatherers who built pueblo villages.
The southern part of the Moapa River Indian Reservation is also visible in this photograph, which was captured by an astronaut onboard the International Space Station.
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory