Vegas outdoors

The best off-the-Strip, fresh-air adventures, from desert hikes to river paddles

Dusk

The desert comes alive at dusk in Red Rock Canyon.

Thomas J. Story

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  • Red Rock Canyon

    Just beyond the Red Rock Casino is the vast canyon that gave the resort its name.

PART I: DESERT ADVENTURES

RED ROCK CANYON NATIONAL CONSERVATION AREA

Wander past petrified sand dunes, waterfalls, and red-tailed hawks on a free guided hike with Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association, or explore on your own by car, foot, bike, or horseback. $5 per car; main entrance to the park is off State 159, 17 miles west of the Strip; www.nv.blm.gov/redrockcanyon or 702/515-5350.

Drive

Scenic Route. A one-way, 13-mile scenic loop provides many nice views of Red Rock Canyon.

Hike

Calico Tanks Trail. An easy 2.5-mile out-and-back scramble up about 450 feet to a stellar view of the canyon ― even a peek of the Vegas Strip in the distance.

La Madre Spring/White Rock Loop Trail. A diverse 6-mile loop through both open desert and piñon-juniper forests ― but it's the view of the valley on the north side of White Rock that really gets you.

Mountain bike

Badger Pass Loop. A Cottonwood Valley 6-mile single-track loop with some tricky maneuvering and moderate climbing. Catch nice views of the surrounding desert at Badger Pass. Park at the Late Night parking lot, off State 160, about 4 1/2 miles west of intersection with State 159; head south under highway via the tunnel.

Horseback riding

Awesome Adventures. An Old West-style horse ranch inside Spring Mountain Ranch State Park (see below). Head out for a sunrise tour in the crisp morning air followed by a picnic lunch, or ride into the sunset and enjoy a cowboy-style steak supper. 1 1/2-hour guided rides from $119; www.awesomeadventureguide.com or 800/519-2243.

 

 

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