Why Las Vegas should be on your outdoor destination list

Why Las Vegas should be on your outdoor destination list

Glitz and glamor and gambling— it’s what comes to mind when thinking of the man-made spectacle known as Las Vegas. For some, though, it’s a central landing station for outdoor adventure.

Did that last statement catch you by surprise? Here’s what outdoor enthusiasts can do just miles from the Las Vegas Strip:

Hiking

Area: Spring Mountains

Miles from the Strip: 45

@JessicaFjerstad says: Head to Mary Jane Falls for a nice break from the Las Vegas hustle. Its moderate assent makes it easier for lower level hikers and the waterfall summit is spectacular. If you head there in the spring (now!) the snow melt means the falls should be flowing well.

Area: Red Rock Canyon

Miles from the Strip: 27

@cdnrockiesgirl says: Turtle Mountain and Calico Tanks, hikes both in located in Red Rock Canyon, are super fun with the latter being the less strenuous of the two. Both start at the Turtle Mountain trailhead. My favorite of the two — Calico Tanks — isn’t so much about the destination as it is about the hike in, since the “tank” at the end is not super impressive (well, the tank might be impressive after it’s rained and filled with water!). The hike traverses through lots of variation in the landscape, including a popular climbing area, beside boulders, in a wash, and requires scrambling over sandstone. You won’t get bored! It’s just short enough to be a half day hike, too, if you’re a quick hiker!

Climbing:

Area: Red Rock Canyon

Miles from the Strip: 27

@LowGravityAscnt says: When I was a budding sport leader I visited this area and found tons of beginner and moderate sport routes. For those who climb harder, there was a limitless number of sport routes past the moderate level. Beside sport climbing, there are some seriously classic multi-pitch trad and bouldering, too.

@calipidder says: The bouldering in Red Rock Canyon is fantastic: the quality of the rock at the Kraft boulders is amazing! I enjoyed it here because it has easy access, easy warm ups, and classic problems with lots of options for a low-grade climber like me. Plus, I love the rock; its solid sandstone is so good. I love it all!

Mountain Biking:

Area: Bootleg Canyon

Miles from the Strip: 20

@jordanhmay says: There are plenty of mountain biking trails for all levels — everything from flowy, technical singletrack to downhill gnar. With it being only 20 min from Vegas, Bootleg is easy enough to go ride for a day then head back to the strip. My favorite cross-country trails out there are East and West Legs and Mother Trail. They offer “fast and fun” without requiring a ton of technical ability. Remember it’s Nevada, so avoid going in the middle of the summer if you can!

Area: Blue Diamond (in Red Rock Canyon)

Miles from the Strip: 18

The 10 mile round-trip loop trail has a bit of everything when it comes to mountain biking, but at a easier level. Try your tires out on its rock gardens and get in a few small drops along this singletrack trail. Of the ride, @photo_john says: It’s not as advanced as Bootleg (see above) —it’s much mellower — but it’s beautiful. And there are wild donkeys! Just be sure to bring spare tubes, which are mandatory for all Vegas riding — there are lots of sharp-edged rocks. And cacti, too.

Mountain biking around Las Vegas

Skiing/Snowboarding

Area: Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort 

Miles from the Strip: 56

@oshie says: Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort is a good place to come get your quick fix on the slopes especially once you’re tired of the usual humdrum of the casinos. Although the resort is small, we never felt crowded or had to wait too long on the lift line. They only have 2 chairs: Chair 1 to take you to the West slopes and Chair 2 to the East slopes where you can also find the terrain park area. All in all, if you’re staying on the Strip, it’s only an hour’s drive away…if you’re coming up in the winter season, bring along your skis and snowboards!

Kayaking

Area:  Black Canyon

Miles from the Strip: 28

If you’re into a leisurely go at kayaking, you can take advantage of this canyon’s Class I rating which stretches on for thirty miles. Starting just below Hoover Dam, there are several put-ins and take-outs for shorter trip options, or pack some food and gear with you and do the whole thing. The scenery along the river and surrounding wilderness area (should you decide to do some side-hikes) includes 2,000’ vertical rock walls, mining remains, wildlife and petroglyphs.

Swimming

Area: Lake Mead

Miles from the Strip: 42

Skip the hotel pool; this desert oasis is the place to cool down. Its chilled waters tempt water-lovers with a respite from Nevada’s hot, dry air and the sandy beaches offer soft spots between the area’s red rock formations — great for perfecting your sandcastle-building skills between laps in the water. With 247 square miles of play area, you can enjoy a few days of the lake without seeing the same view twice.

References:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ARed_Rock_Canyon_road_sign.jpg

About the Author

Sunset

Gina Begin

Although she’s a Florida girl, exploration called her away after the final bell of her high school career. Over the years, she has been consumed with skiing, climbing, kayaking, mountain biking and getting lost on back roads. When she's not playing the part of a photojournalist, Gina can be found collaborating with women worldwide through her nonprofit, Outdoor Women's Alliance, and working to improve her outdoor skills and wilderness safety certifications.