Although well-heeled (and not-so-well-heeled) patrons of Las Vegas nightlife sometimes take limouside rides to places outside of theClark County that are not family attractions, we're recommending that you take your car (or rent one) to visit some of the sterling natural attractions within an easy drive of the city.
Firtst, if you haven't seen the Grand Canyon in Arizona, a visit there is a must because Las Vegas is only 277 miles away and an easy day's drive. Much closer scenic attractions include Lake Mead and Hoover Dam which holds the lake back. Take the Hoover Dam tour and drive around the lake to take in the desert scenery and camping possibilities. Red Rock Conservation Area has hiking and climbing experiences, as well as an auto tour.
To Lake Mead
The north end of Lake Mead offers a fascinating
day-trip through the Moapa Valley. In 1864, Mormons settled
this area along the Muddy River. Their town was named St.
Thomas. Later, Overton, Logandale and Kaolin sprang to life.
Lake Mead was formed by the waters backed up from the Hoover
Dam, and both St. Thomas and Kaolin succumbed to the
The Lost City Museum is located in Overton,
containing collections from Pueblo Indian cultures that
existed in the valley long before the Mormons arrived.
Moapa, north of Glendale, is an old railroad town with many
Along this same route is the Valley of Fire.
Formed from shifting sand dunes over millions of years, this
is a stark area full of brush and desert wildlife. The state
park has picnic areas. One of the striking scenes along this
route is the Overton arm of Lake Mead. This bay of deep blue
water offers boating, water-skiing, fishing, and relaxing in
a marina restaurant. There are picnic parks along the arm,
and an RV park is located at the marina.
To get there, drive west from Las Vegas on the Boulder
Highway (Hwys. 93/95) and turn north onto Lake Mead Drive
(Hwy. 169), at Henderson. Drive north along the shore of
Lake Mead past Valley of Fire State Park to Overton. Drive
to Glendale and return to the city via I-15, or continue on
Hwy. 168 (beside the Muddy River) and return to Las Vegas
via Highway 93 South and Interstate 15.
To Red Rock Canyon
A half-hour's drive west from Las Vegas, The Red
Rock Canyon Conservation Area offers superb geological
views and opportunities for hiking and scenic touring. About
65 million years ago a strong earthquake rumbled under the
southern Nevada desert, and two of the earth's plates
collided with such force that part of one plate was shoved
up over much younger sandstone formations. The result is the
Keystone Thrust Fault -- part of which is seen at Red Rock
Canyon, a spectacular piece of geology, 20 miles west of Las
The conservation area, administered by the Bureau of Land
Management, offers many opportunities for walking nature
trails along the cliff face or hiking through narrow canyons
to desert springs where bighorn sheep and other wildlife are
seen. A modern visitor center overlooks the recreation area,
with information on the geology and wildlife of the
You will enjoy taking a 13-mile loop drive through the
preserve. The paved, one-way road begins next to the visitor
center and heads along the Calico Hills, with two pulloffs
offering vistas of the crossed-bedded Aztec sandstone. There
are short trails to the rock face from each of the vista
points. A good place to stop and walk to the base of the
sandstone is at the Sandstone Quarry parking lot (about one
third of the way along the drive). Here, huge blocks of
stone provide evidence of the extensive quarrying that took
place in the early 1900s.
Picnic sites are located at two of the springs in the
area: Willow Spring and Red Spring. There are more pulloffs
along the route, providing views of wooded canyons and
desert washes (at Icebox Canyon, Pine Creek Canyon, and Red
Rock Wash). Flash floods occur following downpours, and you
should be wary of crossing low places when the water is
Red Rock Canyon Trails
There are several short hikes that provide diversions
along the loop drive. Icebox Canyon features a maintained
trail for almost a mile. The end of the canyon (called
Icebox because it's cool in the shade there) is reached by
continuing on over the rocks. Another popular trail leads
into Pine Creek Canyon. This 2-mile round trip leads to the
ruin of an old homestead situated near a creek and tall
This page: 4 of 7
Las Vegas - The
Day Trips from Las
Concerts & Ongoing
Around Town - Special