Las Vegas the Great Outdoors: What to do other than gamble

I have been on some amazing hikes with my friends over the years.  Hiking in the Swiss alps (in the summer), Portland, Las Vegas, Utah, Wyoming, California, North Carolina and the list goes on.  The one thing they all have in common is peaceful.  There is something about being in nature that can bring you peace.

Have you ever travelled to a big city and wondered what is outside of it?  Now I live in Las Vegas, there is more to Las Vegas than casinos.  Not many people know that.  Whenever I am traveling home on a plane and someone finds out that I live in Las Vegas, they are surprised.  There are tons of things to do other than casinos:

Mt. Charleston
A short 30 to 45 minute drive you can be in the mountains with trees and the temperatures are about 10 to 20 degrees or more lower than in the Las Vegas valley.  There are tons of hiking and at least one backpacking trail.  One of my favorite hikes was big falls, it started out at Mary Jane falls and took off to the left before the switch backs.  Sadly the trail was wiped out a few years ago by an avalanche during the winter.  One of these days I will attempt to scramble the hike to see if there is a way to get back up there.

Backpacking trails are the North and South loop.  Same trail just depends on where you start.  I have been backpacking in Utah but not on Mt. Charleston so I cannot say how great this hike is.

Of course there is camping as well.  There are plenty of spots even if you go up at night to camp.  Of course for those that don't like to camp there is a lodge.  But who goes out in nature to stay at a lodge.

Lake Mead National Park
Lake Mead is a short 30 minutes drive from Las Vegas.  The lake if you can call it that now, is getting lower and lower each year.  All the white rock you see used to be under water.  It is a great place to cool off, there are a lot of water ways that connect to Lake Mead.

For those that want to hike there is a hike that goes from the Boulder City entrance of Lake Mead to the Hoover dam.  The first parking lot just before you enter Lake Mead is where you want to park and follow the dirty trail the goes around the lake.  The hike is called Railroad trail.  They used to this path when building the dam.  There are several dark caves to walk through, nothing dangerous since you can see end to end.  There are little bats that live in them though so don't be alarmed.  Don't bother them and they won't bother you.

Bootleg Canyon
Bootleg Canyon is located in Boulder City.  A cozy little town about 30 to 45 minutes away towards the lake.  Do not speed through Boulder City or you will get a ticket.  The cops do not play around there.  Bootleg Canyon is home to mountain biking and hiking.  I did a night hike in Bootleg Canyon one year and it took us to over look the Las Vegas valley.  We did this at night and it was a beautiful site. I wish I remembered the name of the hike.

Boulder City also has some great park activities every couple of weeks.  Art in the Park is a very popular one.  Or there is antiquing if you are into that.

Red Rock
Red Rock national park not Red Rock casino.  Turtle Head is a great hike, just make sure you are not afraid of heights when you go on this one.  You do go up a little high.  Ice Box canyon is another great hike.  You start out hiking in desert then you go into a cavern.  The temp drops about 10 degrees.  There are a few other hikes in Red Rock as well that are great to check out.

Yes there is a Wetlands in the Las Vegas valley.  It is a cool little place to go.  You see a lot of what grows here in the desert.  There are a bunch of little nature hikes to go on with the family.  It isn't big enough to spend an entire day there but great to spend a few hours.

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