It has been two weeks since I got back from my 8-day long vacation in Las Vegas and this has been a wonderful experience. As opposed to what is popularly shown in movies, Vegas has a lot more to offer than just casinos and strip clubs.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those people who hate gambling. I played and lost more than my fair share in Las Vegas (I will be back seeking revenge some day soon) but there is so much more to the place than just what is advertised on billboards. Yes, there are gorgeous women who instantly made me hate everything about myself, but in addition to all the glitz and glamour, there is a quaint beauty to the city and its surroundings.
So, here is a list of places I recommend APART from the usual places to visit in Vegas!
1. Red Rock Canyon
Located about 24 miles away from the Las Vegas strip, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area showcases beautiful and ever changing landscape. If you take the 13-mile scenic drive, you are guaranteed to be enthralled by the different colors strewn across mountains and hills. If you are a hike enthusiast, then you are in for a treat. There are a lot of hikes and trails of different difficulty levels. Also, make sure you take a look at the visitor’s center. I wanted to spend the entire day there – you have the opportunity to learn so much about the flora and fauna and general conditions at Red Rock.
2. Death Valley
Death Valley is a must-see if you are in Vegas. Although, it is farther away from the city, about a 4 hour drive, it is well worth its time. We thought of visiting all the scenic spots in Death Valley in a day, but that was quite an ambitious thing to hope for. You need to camp for at least 3 days if you wish to soak in all of Death Valley. But if you have only one day to spend in Death Valley, then I would probably do the following:
a. Dante’s View – This is a viewpoint that showcases the haunted beauty of Death Valley.
b. Zabriskie Point – It is yet another viewpoint located to the east of Death Valley. You can see how the lava, ash and rivers have moulded the landscape into a beautiful array of colors.
c. Sailing Stones – Although I did not go here myself due to lack of time and good transport (it is be advisable to travel to this place by Jeep or a vehicle with hard tires), I would always pick this as my first choice of place to visit in Death Valley. These rocks seem to have traveled from one place to another over time and the reason behind this phenomenon was a mystery up until now where scientists think the rocks move because of a thin layer of ice formed underneath the rocks.
d. Badwater Basin – There are so many reasons to visit the Badwater Basin. It is the lowest point in North America, you can see salt deposits all around you and is full of eerie stories of hikers who died due to dehydration in this arid and extremely hot area.
If you do have some time left after visiting these places, you can also visit Artist’s palette, Devil’s golf course and Golden Canyon. There are many hike trails here as well.
3. Hoover Dam
A 50-minute drive from the strip, Hoover Dam caught my attention as an engineering marvel. The ideal time to visit the dam would be around sunset, also called the golden hour. You also are on the border of Nevada and Arizona so you keep shifting between different time zones!
4. Mount Charleston
What surprises me a lot about Mount Charleston is that despite being relatively close to the city, it had an altogether different weather pattern. There was snow only in about a 2 to 3 mile radius from the mountain. Once you cross that, you are back to Vegas and it’s cold yet sunny weather. This is a popular skiing destination and is great for spending time with family.
5. Lake Mead
Although I was pressed for time and did not get a chance to see a lot of Lake Mead, I was very impressed by what I saw here. There is a lot of aquatic life to see around the harbor and if you are as lucky as we were, you will also see a coyote!! Yes, we saw a coyote which circled our car at least 10 times, staring at us with its inquisitive golden eyes.
Make sure you don’t miss out on these! Gambling is fun and all, but this is one hell of an experience too. You see nature at its best and that can never be a disappointment.