Out of Town Tips
Located about 40 minutes from Las Vegas, Mount Charleston sits within Toiyabe National Forest and is sometimes referred to as Spring Mountain. One of the state's highest mountains, it offers an abundance of recreation. In winter, snow skiing is a top draw; when the weather warms, hiking trails become incredibly popular. Camping and picnicking are also prominent, and folks have been known to encounter wild horses and elk when they're taking advantage of the terrain's natural beauty. Off State Rte 157, Spring Mountain National Recreation Area, Mount Charleston, NV - 702-872-7098.
30 miles South East of Las Vegas is one of the most popular excursions from Las Vegas. Hoover Dam is visited by 2,000 to 3,000 people daily. Hoover Dam is an engineering and architectural marvel, and it changed the Southwest forever. Without it, you wouldn't even be going to Vegas. Kids may get a little bored, unless they like machinery or just plain big things. Obviously, if you are staying at Lake Mead, a visit is a must. Wear comfortable shoes; the tour involves quite a bit of walking & try to take the tour in the morning to beat the desert heat and the really big crowds.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Under the auspices of the National Park Service, 1.5-million-acre Lake Mead National Recreation Area was created in 1936 around Lake Mead (the reservoir lake that is the result of the construction of Hoover Dam). Before the lakes emerged, this desert region was brutally hot, dry, and rugged -- unfit for human habitation. Today, it's one of the nation's most popular playgrounds, attracting about 9 million visitors annually. Its 550-mile shoreline, backed by spectacular cliff and canyon scenery, forms a perfect setting for a wide variety of watersports and desert hiking. The Alan Bible Visitor Center, 4 miles northeast of Boulder City on U.S. 93 at NV 166 (tel. 702/293-8990), can provide information on all area activities and services. You can pick up trail maps and brochures. Lake Mead has scenic drives, accommodations, ranger-guided hikes, naturalist programs and lectures, bird-watching, canoeing, camping, lakeside RV parks, and picnic facilities. It's open daily from 8:30am to 4:30
Red Rock Canyon
Red Rock Canyon is 19 miles West of Las Vegas if you need a break from the casinos of Vegas, with their windowless, claustrophobic, noisy interiors, Red Rock Canyon is balm for your overstimulated soul. You can drive the panoramic 13-mile Scenic Drive (daily 7am-dusk) or explore it in more depth on foot, making it perfect for both athletes and armchair types. There are many interesting sights and trail heads along the drive itself.
The geological history of these ancient stones goes back some 600 million years. Over eons, the forces of nature have formed Red Rock's sandstone monoliths into arches, natural bridges, and massive sculptures painted in a stunning palette of gray-white limestone and dolomite, black mineral deposits, and oxidized minerals in earth-toned sienna hues ranging from pink to crimson and burgundy. Orange and green lichens add further contrast, as do spring-fed areas of lush foliage. Cliffs cut by deep canyons tower 2,000 feet above the valley floor.
Red Rock's valley is home to more than 45 species of mammals, about 100 species of birds, 30 reptiles and amphibians, and an abundance of plant life.
The easiest thing to do is to drive the 13-mile scenic loop ($5 per-vehicle fee to pay). It really is a loop, and it only goes one way, so once you start, you are committed to driving the whole thing. You can stop the car to admire a number of fabulous views and sights along the way, or have a picnic, or take a walk or hike. The best way to really see the canyon is by hiking.
Biking is another option; riding a bicycle would be a tremendous way to travel the loop. There are also terrific off-road mountain-biking trails, with levels from amateur to expert.
Valley of Fire State Park
60 miles North East of Las Vegas stretching for hundreds of miles around Las Vegas in every direction is a seemingly lifeless tundra of vivid reddish earth, shaped by time, climate, and subterranean upheavals into majestic canyons, cliffs, and ridges.
The 36,000-acre Valley of Fire State Park typifies the mountainous red Mojave Desert. It derives its name from the brilliant sandstone formations that were created 150 million years ago by a great shifting of sand and that continue to be shaped by the geologic processes of wind and water erosion. These are rock formations like you'll never see anywhere else. It is a natural wonder that must be seen to be appreciated.
There is a $5-per-vehicle admission charge to the park, regardless of how many people you cram inside.
Plan on spending a minimum of an hour in the park, though you can spend a great deal more time. It can get very hot in there (there is nothing to relieve the sun beating down on all that red
150 miles North of Las Vegas. Take the drive from Vegas out to the "E. T. Highway," where folks were spotting aliens years before it became fashionable. This is about a 150-mile trip one-way, so it's probably not something to do on a whim, but even for non-alien buffs, it can be a long, strange and oddly illuminating trip indeed.
Area 51 is a secret military facility, containing a large air base that the government will not discuss. The site was selected in the mid-1950s for the testing of the U2 spy plane and is supposedly the current testing ground for "black budget" aircraft before their public acknowledgment.
Mind you, the only thing alien you are guaranteed to see is the landscape. Only fans of desert topography will find the scenery attractive. It's a desolate area, but that's part of the inexplicable charm. Don't come looking for monuments, historical markers, or good shopping with a few exceptions, there's a whole lot of nothing out there.
All we know for sure is that you turn down one of the most well-maintained dirt roads you will ever encounter, drive a few miles, and come upon a fence with a sign that warns you against going any farther in the utmost of strict terms (though the language has been toned down from "use of deadly force authorized" to threats of fines and jail time).
Be sure to fill your tank before you head out, as there are few opportunities to do so once you leave Vegas. If you'll be doing this drive in the heat of the summer, bring water, for your car and yourself. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for little green men.
Usually, tourists visiting Las Vegas don't drive 300 miles to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon, but dozens of sightseeing tours depart from the city daily.
If you’ve had enough gambling for one day, or just need a break from the Vegas strip, maybe it’s time to grab a Grand Canyon tour from Las Vegas. There’s a brand new feature there that is not for those with a fear of heights – the Grand Canyon Skywalk is a horseshoe shaped open air walkway that extends over the edge of the canyon complete with a glass floor, allowing visitors a towering view into the valley over a mile below them. The only thing standing between them and certain death is ninety tons of toughened glass and reinforced steel cantilevered over the rim’s edge. The Grand Canyon Skywalk stretches 70 feet over the lip, letting 120 visitors at a time gawk at the canyon floor, taking in the warm Arizona sun (the Grand Canyon glass bridge closes at dusk) while contemplating one of the greatest natural wonders in all of America.
The Skywalk is built at Eagle Point in the Grand Canyon West section of the national park, the most visited area of the entire canyon. There is a three level visitor’s center attached to the Grand Canyon Skywalk, featuring a rooftop café that overlooks the entire structure, while below there is a museum, a movie theater and a lounge inside, as well as a few restaurants and bars.
Bonnie Springs Ranch/Old Nevada
About 24 miles W of Las Vegas, 5 miles past Red Rock Canyon. Bonnie Springs Ranch/Old Nevada is a kind of Wild West theme park with accommodations and a restaurant. If you're traveling with kids, a day or overnight trip to Bonnie Springs is recommended, but it is surprisingly appealing for adults, too. It could even be a romantic getaway, as it offers horseback riding, gorgeous mountain vistas, proximity to Red Rock Canyon, and temperatures 5° to 10° cooler than on the Strip.
If you're driving, a trip to Bonnie Springs Ranch can be combined easily with a day trip to Red Rock Canyon; it is about 5 miles farther on. But you can also stay overnight.
You can wander the town (it's only about a block long), taking peeps into well-replicated places of business, such as a blacksmith shop, a working mill, a saloon, and an old-fashioned general store (cum gift shop) and museum that has a potpourri of items from the Old West and Old Las Vegas: antique gaming tables and slot machines
At Bonnie Springs Ranch there are several things to do here free of charge, and it's right next door to Old Nevada. It's quite a pretty place, in a funky, Western kind of way, and in season, there are tons of flowers everywhere, including honeysuckle and roses. The main attraction is the small petting zoo on the premises.