Lake Mead National Recreation AreaLas Vegas News Bureau

By Merle Rosenstein

In Vegas hipsters can party like rock stars, shop ‘til they drop, or dance the night away at hot new night clubs. And what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Unless partiers prefer to take a break from the neon haze and head outside city limits to explore red rocks, climb limestone formations or relax on a sheltered cove. Just a short drive from Vegas, nature lovers can see high desert flora and fauna or hop on an RV to traverse the rough desert terrain. And history buffs will marvel at the engineering excellence of the Hoover Dam.  

Red Rock Canyon State Park
Just 12 kilometres outside of Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon, part of the Mojave Desert, offers unsurpassed beauty with towering cliffs, thundering waterfalls, rocky red terrain and exotic desert wildlife. A popular spot for tourists, Red Rock Canyon hosts 1.2 million visitors a year. A total of 10,000 years of history can be witnessed on a 21-kilometre scenic loop past Indian roasting pits, “handprints” and pictographs.

This amazing park is home to about 200 different animals including burros, rabbits, coyotes, bighorn sheep, red tailed hawks, golden eagles, hummingbirds and even a few wild horses, bobcats and mountain lions.
Besides hiking, other popular activities in Red Rock Canyon are climbing, running and horseback riding. A visitor centre documents the history, geography, and the animal and plant life in the park and describes each of 19 hiking trails.

A few miles south of Red Rock Canyon is Bonnie Springs – Old Nevada, a reproduction of an 1880s Western mining town, and Spring Mountain Ranch State Park. Bonnie Springs Ranch, built in 1843 as a stopover for wagon trains travelling to California, offers horseback riding in Red Rock Canyon, and has a hotel, a quaint restaurant and a petting zoo.

CactusNevada Commission On TourismValley Of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire State Park, 88 kilometres northeast of Las Vegas and 10 kilometres from Lake Mead, boasts amazing red sandstone rock formations created by ancient sand dunes, and lifting, faulting and erosion of the terrain over time. The Basket Maker people and the Anasazi Pueblo farmers used the area for hunting and religious ceremonies as early as 300 B.C.

Activities in the park include hiking, camping and picnics. Favourite formations are Atlatl Rock, Arch Rock, Elephant Rock, Fire Canyon/Silica Dome, Seven Sisters and White Domes. Several species of cactus, creosote and brittle bushes dot the dry landscape. Desert iguanas and Gila monsters crawl among the plants. Desert-banded geckos, collared lizards, and chuckwallas lurk among the rocks. Ground squirrels, coyotes, bighorn sheep, roadrunners and white tailed antelope are just some of the animals that call the Valley of Fire home.  

Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Lake Mead National Recreation Area is a haven for boaters, kayakers, water hounds and water skiers. Created by the Hoover Dam and the Colorado River, the sheer size of Lake Mead and Lake Mohave boggles the mind. Boaters take advantage of sheltered coves, flooded canyons and clean beaches, while hikers, wildlife photographers and sightseers revel in the awe-inspiring scenery and variety of hiking trails. Cruises are available on a paddle wheeler to and from Hoover Dam. There are also campgrounds, boat and jet-ski rental services, hotels, restaurants, beaches and four marinas.

Hoover DamLas Vegas News BureauHoover Dam
Just 56 kilometres from Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, an engineering showpiece between Nevada and Arizona, was completed in 1936, two years ahead of schedule, by a team of 200 engineers and 7,000 workers, under difficult conditions. The dam, named after the 31st president of the United States, Herbert Hoover, helped to contain run-off from the Colorado River as it made its way towards the Gulf of California and directed water to the agricultural areas of California and Arizona. The dam also produced much needed electrical power. An elevator ride allows visitors to view the inner-workings of the Dam.

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