Many people coming to Las Vegas stay in only in Las Vegas, and this is no surprise given the number of attractions that are here. You can however take tours to see some of the surrounding places of interest, and these are some of them.
The Grand Canyon – You can head to the Grand Canyon on a day tour from Las Vegas or take a helicopter tour from Las Vegas. The Grand Canyon in Arizona is about 4 ½ hour’s drive or 277 miles from Las Vegas – so a long drive or bus trip, but you will get to see the country on the way. The Grand Canyon is one of ‘the 7 wonders of the world’, and is a must see destination for many people. To go by coach, there are ticket sellers on the Strip or you can organise from your hotel, or go online. For a coach trip see www.canyontours.com . Due to the distance from Las Vegas many people choose to fly and there are a number of Helicopter Tour operators based in Las Vegas. See:-
Valley of Fire State Park – gets its name from the 150 million year old red sandstone rock formations that you see here. This State Park has a visitor center and inside the Park there are a number of Rock Art sites from the time that the Anasazi Pueblo Indian farmers lived here.
Lee Canyon – is located in the Humboldt-Toiabe National Forest and is a great place for hiking in the spring, summer and fall months. In winter you can also ski here.
Mount Charleston – is also in the Humboldt-Toiabe National Forest about 40 miles from Las Vegas with Mount Charleston rising to a height of 11,900 feet. In winter the tops of the mountain are covered in snow, with the last of the snow caps still apparent even in summer. The vegetation on the mountain changes as you head higher, leaving behind the dry hot desert on the valley floor. Lots of animals live here in the mountains, including Elk, wild mustang horses, mule deer and even big horn desert sheep, and you will pass by juniper, aspen, mahogany and ponderosa Pines that all grow here. This is a great place to go hiking, and if you want to stay, you can book a cabin at Mt Charleston Lodge (See www.mtcharlestonlodge.com Tel: (702) 872 5408 ) or stay at the Mount Charleston Resort (See www.mtcharlestonresort.com Tel: (702) 872 5500. These are both great places to stay, and a big contrast to the heat of Las Vegas. There are around 50 miles of trails to hike in and around Kyle Canyon and you can also ski here at Lee Canyon in winter – with the ski season being roughly November to April. (See www.skilasvegas.com )
Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area – The Park covers some 197,000 acres, and you can drive or ride a bike on 13 miles of scenic roads getting to see the desert or hike over some 30 miles of hiking trails. Deserts can be some of the most interesting landscapes, almost stripping away much of the colour, so that you see shapes, light effects and feel the power of the landscape upon you.
Spring Mountain Ranch State Park – is like an oasis in the desert. This ranch was once owned by Howard Hughes, and covers an area of 520 acres. A number of the Ranch buildings date back to 1864 including the sandstone cabin and a blacksmith shop, with more of the Ranch buildings built in the 1930’s. This Ranch is located off Blue Diamond Road, about 15 miles west of Las Vegas, and you can walk the trails in the Park or picnic here too. Being higher up at 3800 feet means it is cooler than the main Valley, and this enables a lot of different vegetation to grow here.
Hoover Dam – is about 24 miles from Las Vegas and was built by over 21,000 men between 1931 and 1936 during the Depression years. Some 112 workers died during its construction. Originally it called named the Boulder Bridge, but then renamed as the ‘Hoover Dam’ in honor of the 31st President of the United States, Herbert Hoover. The dam is 726 feet high, 660 feet thick and contains around 4.5 million cubic feet of concrete and built in Black Canyon spanning over the Colorado River. In 2010 the 2000 feet long Mike O’callaghan- Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge was built across Black Canyon, some 1500 feet south of the Dam wall. This creates a bi-pass to the Hoover Dam itself and is the longest arch bridge in the world. Tours to see Hoover Dam are operated from Las Vegas, or you can drive there.
Lake Mead Cruises – is a great way to see both the Hoover Dam itself and also the lake and lake shores. (See www.desertprincess.com Tel: (702) 294 6714). The Desert Princess is a 3 storey Paddle steamer, much like the ones on the Mississippi, and they have lunch and dinner cruises that take you around Lake Mead. To see and experience Lake Mead almost cradled inside the ridges and mountainous sides of the canyon, with the light of the sun creating its own pattern of light and shade is a magical experience.
When you think back to the early days of Las Vegas with the town struggling to survive in the desert, you have to applaud the tenacity, vision, determination and imagination of those people who foresaw that a city could be developed in the desert and flourish through gambling and entertainment.
Many people come to Vegas with a plan to win big on the tables. Some are high rollers, most are not. Some people make a lot of money. Other people lose a lot of money too.
The great thing about Las Vegas is that you don’t have to gamble. You can still have a fun time just enjoying the atmosphere, the lights, watching the people, shopping, eating, bar-hopping, taking a spa or enjoying the luxury of your hotel.
I hope you have a great time in Las Vegas, and that the information provided here will help you find the things that interest you most.