Vegas’ best kept secrets less than an hour from “the Strip”
By Jeff Hartman
Photos by Jeff Hartman
When I first came to Las Vegas, I wasn’t too impressed. All I knew of Nevada at the time were casinos, hotels, and a lot of concrete. I am an “outdoors” guy and love to ski, bike, and hike so I really had no desire to come back.
But after living in the city for a month for World Next Door, I discovered an entirely different side of Las Vegas. I found breathtaking scenery — an adventure seeker’s dream — all within an hour drive of the strip. Who would have thought?
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area: 23 miles from the Strip
Yes, there are red rocks in this canyon, but there is a lot more to this stunning slice of the Mojave Desert. Located just a few miles beyond the Vegas suburbs, Red Rock Canyon is a mecca for climbing, hiking, and camping. A 15 mile scenic bike route loops through the canyon. If you can get through the 5-mile uphill climb to start out, you’ll be rewarded with an exhilarating 1000’ drop back to the visitor’s center.
Valley of Fire State Park: 45 miles from the Strip
Valley of Fire State Park got its name from the stunning glow of the rocks as the sun sets in the evenings. Temperatures can reach up to 120 degrees during the summer. Short hikes are marked for visitors to see unique geologic formations and the 3000-year old Anasazi Indian petroglyphs. The park’s roads have been scenic backgrounds to numerous car commercials and movies, including Total Recall, Star Trek, and Transformers.
Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resorts: 40 miles from the Strip
What if I told you that you could ski on 240 inches of snow just an hour’s drive from the Las Vegas strip? Well, it’s true! The Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort is located just 30 miles northwest of the strip (as the crow flies). The highest ski run starts at 9,370’ and has a vertical drop of 3100’.
Hoover Dam: 30 miles from the Strip
One of the greatest feats of engineering of its time, the Hoover Dam was built in an effort to harness the mighty and unpredictable Colorado River to bring water and energy to the West. Built during the great depression, the dam was a source of employment to over 5,000 people, a deathbed for 154, and a symbol of hope for America. At its completion in 1935, it rose 726’ above the river and was the main passage for vehicles traveling between Arizona and Nevada until a bypass was built in 2010.
Lake Mead: 24 miles from the Strip
What would you say if I told you that you could sunbathe on a beautiful sandy beach overlooking teal blue water just 30 minutes off the strip? Well, you can at Lake Mead! The construction of the Hoover Dam in 1935 created America’s largest reservoir and one of its most popular playgrounds. Despite its steadily sinking water levels, Lake Mead is the mecca for water activities such as kayaking, water skiing, fishing, and swimming.