When most people hear the words ‘Las Vegas’, their minds conjure images of the bright lights and the big city; in particular, the iconic Strip, with its palatial hotels and casinos, glittering billboards, gambling tables and crowded nightclubs where you can party into the small hours.
But the truth is that the area surrounding Las Vegas is just as much of a mecca for hikers and outdoor adventurers. In fact, Las Vegas boasts some truly awe-inspiring scenery, rugged landscapes, and hiking trails and rock climbs of varying levels of difficulty.
If you are a keen hiker, or if you just love taking the opportunity to immerse yourself in nature and recharge your batteries, read on to discover some of the most breath-taking sites to visit while you’re in Las Vegas.
Explore Red Rock Canyon
Situated just 17 miles from the bright lights and bustle of the Vegas Strip, you will find the wild majesty of Red Rock Canyon.
The two destinations couldn’t seem further apart, but they are easily accessible from one another, so it won’t be long before you are surrounded by the rugged canyons, ramparts, gullies and rock chimneys that characterize this remarkable landscape.
During your time in Red Rock, you can go on a scenic drive, or explore the canyons on foot or via bike. There are plenty of hiking trails to choose from, some more challenging than others.
If you are keen to view the region’s ancient rock art, you can take the easy 30-minute Petroglyph trail, which brings you up close and personal with the Native American petroglyphs etched into a rock wall. These images are believed to be at least 800 years old and provide a fascinating window into the past.
Venture Into The Valley Of Fire
Consisting of 40,000 acres of red Aztec sandstone, interspersed with more somber grey and brown limestone, the Valley of Fire is a popular geographical and cultural attraction.
Not only will you find an array of fascinating geological features, but you will also be able to admire centuries-old petroglyphs left etched into the rock by both the Basketmaker culture and the Pueblo who first inhabited this land centuries ago. You should also look out for legendary geological features such as the Mouse Tank, named after a Southern Paiute, Little Mouse, who tried to evade capture by hiding in the canyon after murdering two prospectors.
As well as exploring the hills and canyons under your own steam, the national parks offers a range of events for you to take part in throughout the year. These include nature talks and astrological events, including full moon hikes and even meteor viewings.
Take A Trip To Death Valley
If you don’t mind taking a two-hour drive, you can pay a visit to one of the world’s most awe-inspiring locations, renowned for its searing heat, twisted rock formations, billion-year-old stone, and unique species of wildlife.
Of course, if you’re planning an excursion to Death Valley, then you need to make sure you come prepared. Bring plenty of water, as the temperatures here in summer can easily reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. You will also need to wear appropriate clothing, including hats to shield your head from the blazing sun.
While you are exploring the Valley, be sure to check out some of its most remarkable features, such as the mysteriously moving stones at Racetrack Playa, and the Devil’s Golf Course (which isn’t a real golf course at all, but an astounding geographical phenomenon). You can also marvel at the volcanic crater of Ubehebe, and drink in the spectacular sunset views from Zabriskie Point.
This may surprise you, given the arid nature of the landscapes here, but Death Valley is home to an array of fauna and flora – so if you’re a keen birdwatcher or just love searching for wildlife or unusual plant specimens, this is a great place to indulge your passion. Be sure to watch out for desert bighorn sheep nimbly ascending the slopes, as well as kangaroo rats and, of course, both coyotes and road runners.
While Las Vegas is undeniably a fun place to visit if you want to enjoy world-class entertainment, the thrill of a gamble, and luxurious accommodation, it can also offer a window to some of America’s most unspoilt and majestic landscapes. So, if you are keen to explore the wild beauty of the arid canyons, soaring cliffs and history-etched hills surrounding Sin City, it’s time to start planning your perfect trip. The hardest part will be choosing which unforgettable natural attraction to visit first.