How to Enjoy a Weekend of Las Vegas’ Secret Hiking Scene
When people think of Las Vegas, the neon-soaked Strip and jingling of slot machines come to mind. But step just outside the city and there’s a trove of natural gems to be discovered.
You can also do all these trips with your Bowlus as well. Do you feel ready for an adventure? Head an hour east to the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive. The 13-mile drive includes a smattering of hike-able trails and (depending on the time of year) an abundance of wildflowers. Be sure to take it slow, because the road is one way—if you miss something, you won’t be able to turn around.
Then, cruise up to Mount Charleston for a hike. You can stop at Kyle Canyon Picnic Area along the way for a lunch prepared in your Bowlus’ galley, and then head off to either Fletcher Canyon or Mary Jane Falls. Ponderosa pines, white fir, aspen and mountain mahogany abound. You may even spot the rare Mt. Charleston blue butterfly and since it’s usually about 20 degrees cooler on Mt. Charleston its the perfect spot to escape the desert heat.
When you’re ready for a change of scenery, there are 40,000 acres of Aztec Sandstone waiting for you at the Valley of Fire National Park. Camp at Atlatl Rock Campground is on of our favorites. Many of the sites have electric and water hookups. From there, follow the road north to the ancient petroglyphs of Atlatl Rock. Continuing along the road, you’ll come to the Petrified Logs Loops trailhead, where the remnants of 225 million-year-old trees are visible. Moving deeper into the park, you’ll find trailheads for Mouse’s Tank, a natural basin containing more prehistoric petroglyphs, and Rainbow Vista, which offers a panoramic view of the park. The unmarked but spellbinding Pink Canyon is also worth visiting (coordinates: 36°28’47” N 114°31’36” W). Finish your exploration with an easy hike to the the jaw-dropping Fire Wave. These 150-million-year-old sand dunes have hardened into red and white zebra-striped rocks.
Spend the night in the park, and head out the next morning to Lake Mead. The striking landscape is a complete change of scenery from the red rocks of the Valley. Explore Hoover Dam, cruise along the scenic North Road and keep your eyes open for bald eagles and desert bighorn sheep.