Take a day trip to experience another side of Las Vegas
Many travelers are drawn to the lights and excitement of Las Vegas, but too few are aware of the nearby natural wonders. Rugged mountains, canyons and deep desert valleys offer stunning scenery and myriad outdoor recreational opportunities. Below is a list of some of the most popular destinations in the immediate Las Vegas vicinity to explore on your next visit to Club de Soleil. Some are farther afield than others, but all are worth a visit if you have the time, inclination and a vehicle.
Mount Charleston (elevation 11,918 feet) is 35 miles from Las Vegas. At an average of 20 degrees cooler than Las Vegas, Mount Charleston is perfect for skiing, picnicking, hiking and horseback riding. In addition to year-round hotel accommodations and tours, full-service camping is also available from May through September. This is not your typical Las Vegas experience.
Grand Canyon in Arizona is approximately 300 miles from Las Vegas. Over millions of years the Colorado River has etched out this canyon that is one mile deep and 277 miles long. Sightseeing air tours can be booked almost every day of the year. You can also opt for a bus tour that takes you past Hoover Dam or simply drive there yourself.
Red Rock Canyon is just 15 miles west of Las Vegas. It is a scenic area of sandstone rock formations and desert with a 3,000-foot escarpment produced by a thrust fault. Red Rock Canyon has a 13-mile scenic loop and a variety of plant and animal life. If you like rock climbing and mountain biking you are sure to get your fill here.
Valley of Fire State Park is only 55 miles northwest of Las Vegas and comprises scenic landscapes, hidden canyons and unique red rock formations. Remains of ancient Native American civilizations can be viewed here, and a visitor center provides tourist information. The park is open to the public year-round.
Bryce Canyon is located 210 miles northeast of Las Vegas in southwestern Utah. The national park is home to some unique rock formations with imaginative names like Pink Cliffs, Silent City and Cathedral. You can watch the sun move across the formations and capture a natural light display that will stick with you forever.
Mojave National Preserve is only 60 miles southwest of Las Vegas. This 1.6-million-acre preserve, which protects one of the most diverse environments in the world, abounds with sand dunes, volcanic cinder cones, Joshua tree forests and mile-high mountains. Two visitor centers introduce you to the desert environment.
Zion National Park, 158 miles north of Las Vegas across the Utah border, is famous for its colorful sandstone canyons, hot rocky deserts and cool forested plateaus. Zion is the largest and most visited canyon in the park, and the views are amazing. Here, the Virgin River has carved a spectacular forge into the red and white sandstone. The 2,000- to 3,000-foot canyon walls loom high above the river and the tree- and grass-covered canyon floor.
Boulder City is just 30 miles east of the Las Vegas Strip on the way to Lake Mead. Built in the 1930s for the families of Hoover Dam construction workers, it is the only Nevada city that does not allow public gaming. Boulder City’s historic Old Town district is home to many quaint shops, several of which feature works by Native American jewelers.
Rhyolite is a well-preserved ghost town 120 miles north of Las Vegas near the small community of Beatty, Nev., which bills itself as the “Gateway to Death Valley.” Highlights of the area include ruins of the Potter General Store, Newton’s Grille, a school, several major banks, a house made entirely out of bottles and a railroad depot.
Bonnie Springs Ranch/Old Nevada lies about 20 miles west of Las Vegas near Red Rock Canyon. Bonnie Springs Ranch was built in the 1840s as a cattle ranch and watering hole. Here you can also visit Old Nevada, where tourists can witness a re-creation of an Old West town complete with gunfights, horseback riding, children’s petting zoo and mini-train rides. Bonnie Springs Ranch/Old Nevada is open to the public year-round.
Hoover Dam is an engineering marvel just 35 miles southeast of Las Vegas. Formerly named Boulder Dam, this historic man-made creation tamed the mighty Colorado River and created North America’s largest manmade lake, Lake Mead. Take the tour down into the depths of this concrete structure and imagine what went into the construction. It is mammoth, and there is very little chance that you will not be impressed.
Lake Mead National Recreational Area is just 25 miles from Las Vegas at its closest point. With more than 550 miles of shoreline, Lake Mead Recreational Area offers outdoor enthusiasts year-round opportunities for swimming, water skiing, camping, boating, fishing, tours and cruises. A popular activity is renting a houseboat and floating around for a few days.