When someone says Vegas, I’m sure you automatically think glitz, glam and gambling but an outside world awaits. Las Vegas easily caters to outdoor enthusiasts and to those who just want to discover and enjoy scenic desert landscape. Get beyond the traffic jams of the city and out into the open where you can breath a sigh of relief: Nothing but open roads from here.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
For those of you who love to hike, rock climb and experience the desert nature Red Rock Conservation Area is the place for you. This state park is located about 15 miles off the Las Vegas Strip and will leave you breathless with its 3,000 foot high red rock formations (The highest point being La Madre Mountain, standing at 8,154 feet). The vibrant, unique red color comes naturally from the iron oxide in the rock. Within the park is a 13 mile scenic loop that is popular for biking, slow drives in the car and Harley riding. There are plenty of stopping points along the way for selfies and unforgettable family pictures. The Red Rock Area offers something for everyone whether you want to hike, go horse back riding, rock climbing, biking, motorcycle riding or camping during the designated season. The Visitor’s Center is well worth a look as they have different exhibits that will teach you the history of the area and offer maps that show the various hiking trails. You will have the chance to see an assortment of wildlife (as the park is home to more than 200 species!) including burros, rabbits, eagles, mountain lions and coyotes. If you are a culture buff like me make sure to check out the Willow Springs area which contains authentic and original Indian handprints and petroglyphs through out. During the summer season be sure to carry plenty of water as the temperature can exceed 105 degrees most days. Always be on the look out for rattlesnakes and flash flooding that can occur in the off trail areas without warning. Above all, have fun and enjoy the beautiful landscape of the one and only Red Rock.
Moving up to the Northwest area of the city is where the locals go to escape the summer heat or hit the snow for some winter sports. Mount Charleston is the beautiful green (or in winter, white) escape from the desert. About 45 minutes off The Strip it will offer you activities for all seasons. During the summer you will find plenty of outstanding camp grounds to pitch a tent and go explore but if glamping is more your style you’re in luck! There is a resort on the mountain where you can stay for a couple nights and enjoy a comfy bed and a hot meal in the restaurant. You will also find a bar and lounge area where you can have your favorite cocktail. They offer different packages ranging from a romance package to a ski and snow one. There are several hiking trails to be enjoyed during good weather that lead to rich scenic areas, such as Mary Jane Falls. In the winter you can head up to Lee Canyon to go tubing, snowboarding or skiing. It could be a day trip but I would really recommend you stay at least one night to really enjoy it and be able to relax.
Valleyof Fire and Lake Mead Recreational Area
Moving along to the North East part of the valley if you go about an hour off The Strip you will find the absolutely stunning Valley of Fire. This area gets it’s unique name from the way the rock formations seem to be on fire as they reflect the sun’s rays. This is our favorite place to hop on a motorcycle and spend the day riding. The rock formations and array of colors make for some wonderful snapshots. I promise you, the scenery is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. There is a Visitor’s Center that has facilities for you to use, maps of camp grounds and RV parking areas, trails and other areas such as the petrified wood yard and places to see Indian petroglyphs that date back up to 3,000 years. There is also a range of wildlife including foxes, roadrunners and black tailed jack rabbits. There are endless places to set up camp, stop for a picnic, go hiking and take pictures! As you exit the park you will have the opportunity to take the Lake Mead scenic route and find yourself driving along the entire stretch of Lake Mead and end up in the adorable town of Boulder City. The Lake Mead region is perfect for the water junkie – jet skiing, boating, fishing, camping on the beach and water tubing and all of it right behind the famous Hoover Dam! There are places nearby where you can rent any equipment you might need to make for a memorable weekend. Remember to bring a tub of sunscreen and plenty of water.