10 Hikes And Sights Outside Las Vegas
By Andrew Belonsky
It would be criminal to visit Las Vegas and not venture into Nevada's naturally indiscriminate landscape. Auburn deserts stretch into sprightly forests that then melt into sprawling sand dunes. Bighorn sheep, natural springs and Joshua trees speckle the landscape, enveloping you in natural beauty and making you forget you're only a quick drive from one of the brightest, brashest man made strips in the world.
Here are ten outdoor adventures for those hoping to get away from the glitz, glam and games.
First, Lake Mead.
Created by the stonewall that is the Hoover Dam, this man made reservoir has the capacity to grow to 112-mile long. It is an awesome site and remains the quintessential symbol of man's cooperation with, rather than conquest of, nature, and at only 24-miles outside Vegas, this is the locals' go-to spot for boating, fishing and escaping the scorching summer sun.
There are hikes, like the well maintained River Mountains Loop and the more untamed Grapevine Canyon Trail that leads to ancient petroglyphs, but those are best traversed in the cooler spring or fall months. Physical activity in 120 degree heat is not advised.
There's also a strip of sand located near Overton down North Shore Road that's become a de facto nude gay beach, though rangers are known to give out tickets, so strip at your own risk. Clothed or not, you should check out Lake Mead before it's gone. Climate scientists worry that drought may push it below its minimum elevation level by 2017, and that the entire thing could be history by 2050.