Top 5 Ways to Experience Natural Beauty in Las Vegas
When visiting Las Vegas, it’s easy to get hypnotized by the glow of the neon lights and never leave the Strip. But just a few miles beyond the palatial casinos lies another side to Las Vegas, a land full of natural beauty. It’s well worth the time and effort to plan a trip to one if these spectacular sides to your itinerary.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
An easy drive from the Strip, the sites and sounds of Red Rock Canyon are worlds away from the glitz and glamour found in the casinos. As you approach Red Rock, the towering cliffs you usually view from a distance reveal themselves in all their Technicolor glory. Entry to the park is just $7 per car. Once inside, you can relax and enjoy the 13 mike scenic driving loop from the air conditioned comfort of your car, or try hiking one of the well marked trailheads, which are rated by level of difficulty. Either way, be on the lookout for local wildlife, including burros, bighorn sheep, wild horses, and golden eagles. If you don’t have a car, consider arranging a tour, as a lack of cell service within the canyon makes arranging transportation difficult.
Hoover Dam Bypass
The historic Hoover Dam is just 45 minutes outside of Las Vegas. History buffs will enjoy the visitor’s center and Dam tour. Those looking for a more active peek at the inner workings can book a kayak tour down the Colorado River, which launches just below the Dam. Tours include kayaking, a scenic canyon hike, and convenient shuttle service to and from your strip hotel. A limit number of slots are available each day, so book ahead if you are interested in this one of a kind experience.
Bordering Hoover Dam, Lake Mead is one of the largest manmade lakes in the world. It was created when the Hoover Dam stopped up the Colorado River in the 1930’s. A literal oasis in the desert, Lake Mead is the place to go for a fresh water swim or sunset sightseeing cruises. Adventure seekers can hike or bike the nearby 3.7-mile Historic Tunnel Trail. The trail, built to haul supplies to the Hoover Dam construction site, takes you through 5 tunnels as you take in the spectacular lake and desert view.
Valley of Fire State Park
About an hour northeast of the city, in the Mojave Desert, colorful sandstone rock formations make the Valley of Fire one of Las Vegas’ most unique destinations. The Valley of Fire gets it’s name not because of the desert heat, but because it appears to be on fire when reflecting the sun’s rays. Take the 18 miles of road within the park to see bizarre rock formations, such as the famous and often photographed Rainbow Vista. Park rangers lead free guided tours, pointing out the 3,000 year old Native American petroglyphs.
Snowing on your desert vacation? It’s possible! Just an hour’s drive north brings a significant drop in temperature in the summer and snow in the winter. Winter visitors can try out their ski or snowboarding skills on trails perfect for beginners. When the snow melts, those visiting Mount. Charleston can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding. Summer visitors will love the respite from the heat and the abundant wildflowers.
So step away from the poker table and hold off on that next round. A visit to one of Las Vegas natural wonders is sure to be a highlight of your next trip to Sin City.
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