Vegas baby! What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas! We all know the clichéd sayings and even more clichéd activities. Not to say that a “typical” Las Vegas weekend is not a great time, it is. However, there is another side to Vegas and greater Nevada as well that is very much worth exploring. Away from the Strip and the lights and the shows and casino tables lives a world for the adventurous traveler. Here I will talk about some of the best places to check out if you love the outdoors.
Just under an hour northeast of the Strip is a 46,000-acre state park to discover. There are amazing desert landscapes to take in with miles of red rock formations. It is what you think of as “outside Vegas” from the movies (probably because more than a few movies have been shot here). There are great hiking and rock climbing as well. The picture you take will be amazing!
If you leave your Casino Hotel and head due west, you will run right into the Red Rocks Canyon National Conservation Area. You can drive, hike or bike through the Red Rocks Canyon and follow the sky that looks as though it goes on forever. There is a great visitor’s center with tons of info about the Canyon and what to do. There is also an amazing amount of wildlife to see.
On the opposite side of the city lies Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Billing itself as America’s most diverse National Recreation Area, there truly is so much you can do at Lake Mead. There are 1.5 million acres of mountain region around Lake Mead and you can hike, climb, fish, boat, cycle or camp your way through it. There is even free Wi-Fi at the campgrounds for those of you who don’t want to be TOO disconnected.
Just past Red Rocks Canyon lies the 11,916 foot Mount Charleston. The mountain offers all the climbing and hiking of other parks in the Las Vegas area but is also snow-capped so they offer skiing for more than half the year as well. Slide down the slopes while looking down onto Las Vegas below. It is a truly unique and beautiful experience.
One of the modern architectural marvels of the modern world, the Hoover Dam is a must-see attraction when you go to Las Vegas. The Dam is located on the border of Nevada and Arizona and it impounds Lake Mead. Built in the 1930s the Dam provides power for residents of Nevada, Arizona, and California and is visited by over 1 million people a year. It is truly awe-inspiring to see what man can create to harness the power of nature and that is why the Hoover Dam is so popular.
So yes, next time you are in Las Vegas I’m sure you will gamble and party (it IS a lot of fun!) but you should also consider getting away from the crowds and out into nature. Nevada is home to some of the most interesting, beautiful and varied outdoor activities in America and you should definitely check some of them out!
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