The ringing slots, gaming tables and flashing lights of The Strip can leave you with a case of casino overload. But near Vegas are spots where you can recharge and relax. No, we’re not talking about the spa at your hotel. Instead, head for big outdoors. Here are three places to take in the scenery and get some exercise.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
About 20 miles west of The Strip on Nevada State Highway 159
What to do: Hike or take a scenic drive
Red Rock Canyon is visited by 2.5 million people per year, and caters to every level of exertion. Gaze through the picture windows at the air-conditioned visitors center or hike nearly 2,000 feet up Turtlehead Peak. Visitors typically drive the 13 miles of the canyon’s one-way scenic drive, stopping at some or all of the seven developed parking areas for short hikes or photos.
Calico Hills, has the most vivid of the blazing sandstone that gives Red Rock its name. But it’s also the stop with all those people you saw on The Strip the previous night.
Keep driving and the crowds will thin. You can’t backtrack, but if you miss a turnoff or decide to save the indoor-outdoor visitors center for last, your $15 admission receipt allows same-day return.
At least one hike, talk, or other event is usually scheduled each day. For a calendar, check redrockcanyonlv.org.
1644 Boulder City Parkway, Boulder City, Nevada
What to Do: Take a zip line, mountain bike, picnic and hike
FlightLinez Bootleg Canyon’s three-hour adventure combines four zip lines that pass through the canyon over sparse desert vistas while mountain bikers crisscross the trails below. It’s named for bootleggers who took the long way around the guard gate into dry Boulder City during the construction of the Hoover Dam. The cost is around $160, with van transport from the Excalibur Hotel and Casino. Thrill seekers mingle with those enjoying Bootleg Canyon Park’s calmer pursuits of hiking, picnicking, and taking photos alongside large tortoise and scorpion sculptures.
Clark County Wetlands Park
7050 Wetlands Park Lane, Las Vegas, Nevada
What to do: Hike and bike, and walk your dog
Although Mount Charleston and Red Rock Canyon remain the most popular side trips from The Strip, repeat visitors might want to explore the surreal tranquility of less-visited Clark County Wetlands Park, which harnessed treated wastewater and urban runoff into a 210-acre nature preserve with 3 miles of paved pedestrian paths (dogs and bikes are allowed on the surrounding 14 miles of loop trails).