In a city known for continuously pumping out more electricity than most small countries, it’s nice to know Las Vegas has an au naturale trump card that doesn’t require a power cord: the sun-drenched desert, and it’s located just a half hour from the bravado of the Strip. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite Las Vegas desert adventures for your next vacation.
Awesome outdoor activities!
That great big body of water shimmering in the desert isn’t a mirage. It’s Lake Mead, the largest man-made lake and reservoir in the United States. Approximately 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, Lake Mead National Recreational Area is home to three of America’s four desert ecosystems: Mojave, Great Basin and Sonoran. With 1.5 million acres to explore, this outdoor playground is an adventurer’s dream. Even better, it’s open 24 hours per day, 365 days a year with an almost limitless variety of recreational pursuits.
Among the more popular adventures is kayaking. The cool, clear, shallow waters of Lake Mead make it easy for beginners to enjoy a fun-filled day paddling and navigating through the backdrop of majestic mountains. Try a traditional sit down kayak or be daring and go feet first on a stand-up paddleboard. It’s the most fun you can have on two feet while standing on top of the water.
Seasoned kayak paddlers can opt for a float in the Black Canyon. These self-guided, go-at-your-own-pace excursions are perfect for families and groups. Please be aware that Black Canyon contains moving flat water. While these are not whitewater conditions, this excursion is definitely not for beginners. Paddlers must have confidence in their abilities to handle a kayak.
Kayak rentals are available at Evolution Expeditions and Awesome Adventures. Rentals include all the equipment you’ll need for a day at the lake: kayak, life vest, paddles, dry bag for your gear, paddle float and bilge pump to remove water from your vessel.
Head into the boundless valley
The most enduring State Park in Nevada is the Valley of Fire. Replete with unmatched beauty that includes unique red rock formations, vibrant colors painted across the sky, saguaro cactus rising above the sand, spectacular petrified wood, ancient rock dwellings and wildlife galore, it’s picture perfect in the desert—so bring your camera. And your sense of adventure!
Go horseback riding
These days, the Wild West is a bit more mild than wild. But you can still pretend to be a cowboy or cowgirl in Eldorado Canyon. Horseback riding tours will take you across honest-to-goodness dust-covered trails and into silver mining towns. You’ll see the Colorado River from your saddle as you cross the rocky terrain of a once-lawless land. Most horseback riding tours last about two hours. This is an authentic Old West experience—which means you’ll be out in the sun. Be sure to wear sun block, a hat to protect your head and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Now get out there and ride off into the sunset with memories that last a lifetime.
Hiking opportunities are plentiful. A walk in the desert will take you through slot canyons, over narrow washes and, quite possibly, bring you face to face with roaming big horn sheep. You’ll also find American Indians petroglyphs (symbols) dotting the erosion-sculpted landscape. These cultural symbols etched onto rocks date back more than 3,000 years and are on display like pieces of Southwestern art in an alfresco gallery.
Ride all-terrain vehicles
Cruising the desert sands in an ATV promises to deliver rugged thrills and awesome beauty. Put it four-wheel drive and get ready for exhilarating fun on four wheels.
Ride in a hot air balloon
Looking for an all-new perspective of the desert landscape? Drift over the Nevada Desert wildlife and plants on an adventure that will take your vacation to new heights.
Come back to the big city
When it’s time to dust off them britches and kick off your boots, Bluegreen Club 36™ is a fine place to hang your hat. The villas are comfortable. The kitchens include modern appliances, cookware and utensils in case you’ve tired of buffets. You can relax on the sundeck or order a massage there, beside the indoor pool on in your villa. Shops, restaurants and even a liquor store are onsite. Besides that, the resort is s a short drive (or an ambitious but easily doable walk) down Tropicana Boulevard from the strip. Whether your vacation goal is to experience the great outdoors just beyond the strip or the larger-than-life activity most often associated with Las Vegas, you have countless great options where to spend your days—and a pretty good one for your overnights, too.