Las Vegas, the great outdoors?
By Dani Olorenshaw
Are you that outdoorsy type that prefers the mountains over the malls? Do you cringe at the artificial and oversized? Then Sin City is definitely not for you… or is it? Let’s face it, Las Vegas is not the town that usually attracts the “outdoorsy” types. If you are like most and believe the dry Mojave desert has nothing to offer past the lights and excitement of The Strip, I am here to tell you this couldn’t be further from the truth! Having grown up among the lush forests and breathtaking seasides of the great Northwest I too had my doubts about living in Sin City, but when an employment opportunity brought me here over a decade ago what I discovered was a glorious oasis full of endless adventures. Let me help you get out there and on your way with a few of my favorite day trip excursions…
Red Rock Canyon
Nevada’s first National Conservation Area protects almost 200,000 acres of sandstone cliffs, Limestone Mountains and open desert. A 13 mile long scenic drive offers stunning vistas and over 30 miles of hiking trails, Ice Box Canyon being one of my favorites. The Conservation Area also includes world class rock climbing, as well as mountain bike and horseback trails.
Only 30 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, but a world away in atmosphere! Enjoy hiking and skiing high in the majestic mountain surroundings of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. After a day of snow play don’t forget to visit the Mt. Charleston Lodge for one of their famous Hot Toddies!
Boating on Lake Mead
With more than 290 square miles of waterway to navigate, you can enjoy the thrill of open water or relax in one of the many private coves with rocky cliffs and sandy beaches. Created by containment of the Colorado River at the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead provides you with a memorable day on the water in a majestic desert setting. Boat rentals available at Las Vegas Boat Harbor.
Forty-five minutes from the Las Vegas Nevada Strip is a Kayaker’s paradise. The Black Canyon Water Trail is a 12 mile stretch along the Colorado River which begins directly below the Hoover Dam and is loaded with dramatic desert landscapes, narrow slot canyons, and some seriously awesome hot springs. Highlights include Emerald Cave, Nevada Hot Springs, and Boy Scout Canyon.
Spring Mountain Ranch
Not only are we in one of the world’s greatest deserts, but Nevada also has the nation’s darkest skies, making it the perfect environment for some of the most amazing stargazing in the nation. You might be surprised how bright the stars are just 20 miles from the Las Vegas Strip. Enjoy a ranger-led hike to the starlit-heights of Sandstone Canyon. You’ll glimpse what creatures come out at night and see how moonlight transforms Spring Mountain Ranch.
Valley of Fire
Nevada’s oldest and largest state park the Valley of Fire covers more than 40,000 acres and is most known for it’s magnificent display of red sandstone formations. Ancient trees and early man are represented throughout the park by areas of petrified wood and 3,000-year-old Indian petroglyphs. Popular activities include camping, hiking, picnicking and photography. The park also offers a full-scale visitor center.