Sure, we’ve got a vivid mob history, luxurious resorts and a smorgasbord of gambling options. However, living in Vegas is about so much more than that. I agree that it’s a “Disneyland for Adults,” but not for the same reasons advertised in your favorite blockbuster comedy. To me, it’s all about our backyard…
Surrounding Las Vegas is a vast playground for incredible experiences. I’m sure you’re familiar with Red Rock and Mount Charleston, but I’d like to put the spotlight on a few other gems (one or two you might not even know about). Here are (what I believe to be) the top three day trips from Las Vegas. Enjoy!
#3 – Spring Mountain Ranch State Park
Located in the expansive Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Spring Mountain Ranch State Park offers a year-round retreat for thousands of visitors from all over the world. The 520-acre destination has been a favorite stop for people for at least a thousand years – including the Paiute Indians; and, later on, mountain men and pioneers. This is due to the many springs that provided water and attracted food sources.
While the temperature can reach the triple digits during the summer months, it’s definitely worth a visit every season, as the beauty transforms throughout the year. While you’re there, be sure to stop at the Ranch House, where you’ll learn about the various characters associated with Spring Mountain Ranch State Park. Howard Hughes is just one of the many people who owned it. The best time to visit is year-round. For more information, click here. Don’t forget your camera!
Tip: Check out one of the many amazing productions at Super Summer Theatre, which takes place at the park from June through September.
Interesting Fact: You know the famous Krupp diamond? Well, before it belonged to glamour queen Elizabeth Taylor, it was owned by Vera Krupp – one of the former owners of what is now known as Spring Mountain Ranch.
Approximate Distance from Las Vegas: 15 Miles W
#2 – Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge
Most of us are familiar with man-made Lake Mead, but did you know that just an hour and a half drive away is a natural lake in the middle of the desert? Meaning “Valley of Shining Water” in the Paiute language, Pahranagat provides a refreshing sanctuary for a plethora of wild life. Over 200 diverse species of birds migrate to the area throughout the year. Visit in January and you’ll likely see a Bald Eagle.
From nature walks to birding, camping to non-motor boating, a variety of fun can be had at the 5,380-acre Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge. Plan to spend a day there, as the marsh and lake area is like nothing you’ve seen in Las Vegas. The best time to visit is fall, winter and spring. For more information, click here. Don’t forget your camera!
Tip: Pick up lunch to-go at the gas station/grocery store in nearby Alamo, Nevada. (Sorry, I can’t remember the name of the place – but you can’t miss it!)
Interesting Fact: It was here that I went from smitten to head-over-heels in love with photography.
Approximate Distance from Las Vegas: 70 Miles N
#1 – Valley of Fire
If you think the Grand Canyon is one of the most magnificent sights in the Southwest, you might want to think again. Nevada’s oldest and largest state park, Valley of Fire, features dreamy sandstone formations and whimsical sand dunes that date back over 150 million years. If you visit when the light is reflecting at just the right angle, the landscape will put on a fire-like spectacle that can only be described as otherworldly. Don’t want to miss nature’s magnificent show? Make a day of it!
With hiking trails, a generous collection of 3,000 year old petroglyphs, jaw-dropping sights and a must-see Visitor’s Center, Valley of Fire offers something for everyone. The best time to visit is late fall, winter or spring. Stay away during the summer months, as the temperatures are extreme. For more information, click here. Don’t forget your camera!
Tip: Bring and drink plenty of water (and if you think you’ve drank enough, drink more!)
Interesting Fact: The majority of the outside Mars scenes from the film, Total Recall, were filmed at Valley of Fire.
Approximate Distance from Las Vegas: 60 Miles NE
Be sure to check out these three awesome places, conveniently located near Vegas. And, stay tuned for some more recommendations… coming soon!
(Oh, yeah! And, if you’ve been to any of these places, please share your tips in the comments below.)