Las Vegas, beyond the Strip

For a new spin on Sin City, hit desert wilderness by day, and enjoy spas and indulgent meals at night

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From red-rock hound to jet-setter

We grab a cup of coffee and a couch in the lobby, and stare through the doors tinted fire-engine red at a view of fountains, non-native palms, and surrounding construction that will soon create an urban center, complete with residences and shops. We meet up with David Bert, the adventure activities guide who'd steered us to the kayak trip, so he can show us around Red Rock Canyon, the national conservation area he's long considered home.

"Are you ready to get spanked?" he asks. I'm startled, but then quickly realize it's only innocuous hiking-speak. We tell him we'd prefer to take it easy, after yesterday's invigorating paddle. He whisks us 15 minutes from the resort, yet seemingly worlds away, to Sandstone Quarry. I'm surrounded by yellow sandstone cliffs, ruins of an agave-roasting pit, and crazy red rock formations. I ponder how these pancake layers came to be.

"People come here for the whole what-happens-here-stays-here thing," says David. "I tell them, 'Take a bunch of photos, show your friends! Spend a few bucks on a horseback ride and actually get your money's worth ― you'll blow a whole lot more at the blackjack tables.'?"




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