Only 30 minutes west of the casinos in Las Vegas, Rocky Gap Road will take you on an adrenaline-charged, heart-pumping ride over one of the most beautiful snow-capped mountains to rise out of the Mojave Desert.

We'd heard this part of the BLM's Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area off Highway 159 is a good place to see wild burros, desert bighorn sheep, and wild horses, so we stopped at the visitor center, looking for a 4x4 route. We found Rocky Gap Road. A yellow road sign read: "Not a maintained road. Travel at own risk." I shifted into four-wheel drive.

The air became cooler as we started up the mountain, and we saw a greater variety of plants. The gray, limestone formation of White Rock Mountain was directly ahead of us and yellow sandstone mountains were on our left. We passed the sign for the White Rock Trail as it started north toward the mountain. While White Rock is rumored to be the best place to see desert bighorn sheep in the area, today we wanted to see where Rocky Gap Road would lead.

After about 10 minutes, the peace and solitude of the area started to do its work. We were alone. The road got narrow and rougher as we climbed higher and the sand on the side of the road and the road surface changed from yellow to red and then brown. It has snow-capped peaks, beautiful red rock cliffs covered with juniper and pinion pine, and comes complete with switchbacks that forced us to back and fill. A Jeep or other short-wheelbase vehicle can sometimes make the sharp turns found in most switchbacks, but our F-350 couldn't turn quickly enough. I had to steer into the curve as far as I could and then back up to complete the turn.