Friday, April 26, 2013

Las Vegas: More Than Just Casinos

When people think of Las Vegas, the first thing that usually comes to mind is gambling. Most people travel to Las Vegas because of the gaming industry and some of the most memorable casinos in the world are on the Las Vegas Strip in the heart of the city. While there are amazing places to win and lose significant amounts of money, Las Vegas and the nearby areas are home to many other activities that are even more memorable than those inside of the casinos.

Hiking at Red Rocks

Interestingly, Las Vegas is home to some amazing hiking. While it may seem like Las Vegas is built on a flat desert terrain, there are outcroppings of rocks and land forms that offer scenic views and challenging hikes. One of those areas is the Red Rocks Canyon on the outskirts of Vegas. The canyon is about 20 miles away from The Strip and it is well worth the drive and any traffic you may encounter along the way. Red Rocks has a scenic loop drive that is a favorite for cyclists. The loop also has several parking areas where visitors can hike into the canyon; some of the hikes are quick and take hikers right to the scenic spot, while others are several hours long and require advance planning. There is a small fee to get into the park and there is a useful visitors’ center.

Floating Black Canyon

Another amazing place to spend a day is in Black Canyon on the Colorado River. With advance planning, you can arrange to spend a day on a kayak or on a tour boat on the Black Canyon section of the Colorado River. Each day, a small number of kayakers are allowed to put their kayaks into the water at the base of the Hoover Dam. They then float down the river for several miles until they reach what is called Willow Beach. Kayakers are encouraged to stop at a few locations along the way to explore and enjoy the hot springs that dot the area. This memorable trip includes historic locations, like an old cat walk and gauging station. It also provides the opportunity to see wildlife like birds, fish, and few other canyon dwelling creatures.

Extraterrestrials and Nuclear Bombs

There are few other kitschy tourist sites to visit while in Vegas. They include Highway Route 375, which is legendary as a road with frequent extra-terrestrial sightings. There have been so many along this little two-lane highway that locals dubbed it Extraterrestrial Highway. If you are really in the market for 1950’s, Cold War “kitsch” then it would be worth your time to see the Atomic Testing Museum.

Hoover Dam and Boulder City

If you are amazed by what man can do, visit Hoover Dam. The view from the top is much different than the view from the bottom. There is also a new bridge called the Hoover Dam Bypass that was built because of the high demands to protect the Hoover Dam. People no longer can drive their cars across the dam. The bridge is impressive due to the feats of engineering that went into designing and building this large bridge. The nearby Boulder City is an interesting place to stop and learn about the men who lived there while they helped build the dam in the 1930s.

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