When people think of Las Vegas, they imagine the famous strip, where the majority of the casinos, hotels, restaurants, shows, iconic buildings, flashing lights and other attractions are located. Technically, the Las Vegas Strip is located in the towns of Paradise and Winchester, but colloquially they tend to call it all Las Vegas.
But did you know that there is a lot of beautiful nature surrounding the “city of sin”? This is especially true if you are willing to drive a couple of hours in either direction. Besides the deserts, there are lakes, rivers, mountains, national parks, valleys, and canyons – including the Grand Canyon. Besides, you can just play the casino games online at a place like InstaCasino any time and place you like – no need to travel for that! Instead, here are a few highlights of Nevada’s outdoors destinations.
Red Rock Canyon
Immediately west of Las Vegas, and thus easy to get to, is the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. This area is known for its magnificent red rock formations and the Keystone Thrust, which is a set of sandstone walls that are perfect for hiking. There’s plenty of trails, as well as spots for rock climbing. The one-way round that loops around the entire area is popular for cycling – and is mostly downhill. Also check out the “western ghost town” Bonnie Springs.
Lake Mead and the Colorado River
On the other side of the casino city, you’ll find a great lake called Lake Mead, along with a large chunk of the Colorado River. The lake was created when Hoover Dam was constructed in the 1930s and these days it’s a popular spot for swimming and cruising. At the base of the dam, you can rent a kayak, paddle down the river and end with a hike to the hot springs.
Valley of Fire
Slightly north of Lake Mead, and northeast of Las Vegas, you’ll find the Valley of Fire State Park. The unique landscapes and famous rock formations have been created by over 150 million years of erosion. You can also find traces of prehistoric civilizations, locations recognizable from movies, such as the Mars scenes from Total Recall, and scorching temperatures in the summer.
While Mt Charleston is “only” the fourth highest peak in Nevada at 3,632m, it is the closest one to Las Vegas – just under an hour from the casinos on the strip, from where you can even spot the mountain. This also makes the most popular peak to visit, with its resorts, 200 campsites, 150 picnic areas and spectacular views. In the winter, you can even go skiing or snowboarding on the mountain.
This is just scratching the surface, as Nevada has many amazing sights to see and places to visit. So, if you want a break from the craps tables, slot machines and other casino games in Las Vegas, you know that you have plenty of options – all with beautiful scenery, fresh air and challenging/fun activities.