The words Las Vegas conjure up images of glitz, glam and gambling. But in reality, an outside world awaits. Las Vegas easily caters to outdoor enthusiasts, families, and to those who just want to discover and enjoy its nearby scenic desert landscape. Here are just a few things Las Vegas offers.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
For those who love to hike, rock climb and experience the desert nature; Red Rock Conservation Area is the place for you. This impressive state park is located about 15 miles off the Las Vegas Strip, and will leave you breathless with its 3,000 foot high red rock formations. Its highest point is the La Madre Mountain, standing at 8,154 feet. The park’s vibrant, unique red color comes naturally from the iron oxide in the rock.
Within the park lies a 13-mile scenic loop that is popular for biking, leisurely car drives, and Harley rides. There are plenty of stopping points along the way for selfies and unforgettable family pictures against the gorgeous backdrop. The Red Rock Area offers something for everyone whether you want to hike, go horseback riding, rock climbing, biking, motorcycle riding or camping during the designated season.
The Visitor’s Center is worth the stop and features different exhibits that will teach your family the history of the area. The kids can also pick up a map to find the various hiking trails. You will have the chance to see an assortment of wildlife (the park is home to more than 200 species!) including burros, rabbits, eagles, mountain lions and coyotes.
But if you are a culture buff like me, make sure to check out the Willow Springs area that houses authentic and original Indian handprints and petroglyphs throughout. During the summer season, be sure to carry plenty of water as the temperature can exceed 105ºF most days. But your family should exercise caution. Always be on the lookout for rattlesnakes and flash flooding that can occur in the off trail areas without warning. Above all, have fun and enjoy the beautiful landscape of the one and only Red Rock.
Head up to the Northwest area of the city where the Las Vegas locals go to escape the summer heat or hit the snow for some winter sports. Mount Charleston is the beautiful green (or snowcapped mountain in winter months) escape from the desert. Situated roughly 45 minutes off The Las Vegas Strip, Mount Charleston will offer you activities for all seasons. The summer months bring plenty of outstanding campgrounds to pitch a tent and go explore, but there are also plenty of glamping opportunities for those seeking creature comforts.
The Mount Charleston Resort offers lodging for a few nights to enjoy a comfy bed and a hot meal in the restaurant. There’s also a bar and lounge area where parents can stop for their favorite cocktail. They offer different packages ranging from a romance package to a ski and snow option.
Ready for a hike on Mount Charleston? There are several hiking trails to enjoy during good weather that lead to some of my favorite scenic stops like Mary Jane Falls. In the winter,head up to Lee Canyon to go tubing, snowboarding or skiing. While Mount Charleston could be a day trip from Las Vegas, I would recommend you stay at least one night to really enjoy it and be able to relax.
Valley of Fire and Lake Mead Recreational Area
Head about an hour from the Las Vegas Strip along the North East part of the valley to find the absolutely stunning Valley of Fire.
It’s easy to see where this unique area gets its name. Show the kids the rock formations that seem to be on fire while reflecting the sun’s rays. This is my family’s favorite place to hop on a motorcycle and spend the day riding. The rock formations and array of colors make for some wonderful snapshots. I promise you, the scenery is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before!
Stop by the Visitor’s Center with convenient restrooms, maps of campgrounds, RV parking areas, trails and other areas. There’s also a petrified wood yard and places to see Indian petroglyphs dating back 3,000 years, and a range of wildlife including foxes, roadrunners and black tailed jackrabbits. There are endless places to set up camp, stop for a picnic, go hiking and take pictures!
As you exit the park, take the opportunity to drive along the entire stretch of Lake Mead’s scenic route to make your way to the adorable town of Boulder City. The Lake Mead region is perfect for the water junkie — jet skiing, boating, fishing, camping on the beach and water tubing and all of it right behind the famous Hoover Dam! There are places nearby where you can rent any equipment you might need to make for a memorable weekend. Remember to bring a tub of sunscreen and plenty of water.
Las Vegas does have a crazy and lively reputation, but it also has a laid back, scenic and outdoor adventurous side too. Need a family-friendly hotel in Las Vegas?
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