If you remove the infamous Las Vegas strip out of mind, you might find that this city and it’s surroundings are so much more than the bright lights and big city feel you get from nearly any mention in any publication, radio wave or TV broadcast when it comes to LV.
And while I truly believe if you are coming to Vegas, you must at least experience the new strip, old strip and even Fremont street – if your intentions are solely for some nights of debauchery then stay within those lanes but if you want to experience some true outdoor gems, skip Las Vegas Blvd and head for the desert & mountains!
The beauty of Vegas is that it’s super cheap. Everyone is vying for your precious dollar so you can snatch up a 4-Star hotel for next to nothing, grab your Turo (the AirBnB of car rentals) and head out of town, even 25 minutes NW of the city will take you to Red Rock Canyon – where you can feast your eyes upon colourful rock formations, drive the 13-mile scenic roadway or try your skills at hiking the several different trails – for all different skill sets – it’s noted at every turn out along the drive. Another 25 minutes beyond will take you to Mount Charleston where in the winter, you can ski & snowboard or rent a chalet and hang out à la Coors Light party in your own hot tub, Aspen style because the beauty of arid living is that the snow might be falling and blowing, but the cold bounces off the skin and if you’re from a humid part of the world (like me), life is a cake walk up in those mountains!
Drive a little further NE of Las Vegas, over an hour and slide into the Moapa Desert and the amazing Valley of Fire State Park where fire-red rock formations are all the rage and some great petroglyph and rock art are also there to greet you along the VOF’s scenic drive.
The thing about Nevada that many people miss when blinded by Las Vegas is that you are in the desert! The Mojave desert to be exact – and life has been going on here since the Dinosaurs – and they are fossils and museums and state parks to prove it. Another bonus of Las Vegas is the many bike paths available to the public, whether running through Pittman’s Wash (a tiny gorge running between residential neighbourhoods in Henderson) or going full steam on the River Mountain Loop which is 35 miles long and goes between Henderson (an LV suburb and Boulder City) even touching down around Lake Mead where you will find many an outdoor activity, all year round.
There is just so much stuff to do and trust me, I spent 6 months living in Vegas, right up until mid-February 2017 – I tried my best to do everything non-strip and I had been through some of these parts before on the ‘Not Your Mother’s Roadtrip‘ posts from last year…
If you want variety in your vacation touching on adventure, Las Vegas is for you. Short few hour drives from other famed cities, desert views, historical significances and so much bang for your buck that you’ll soon learn that the strip is the smallest piece of this absolutely beautiful equation.