Lake MeadWith all those fancy fountains, bright lights and exciting shows, it’s easy to forget that one of the world’s largest man-made lakes sits in Las Vegas’ backyard. Thanks to Hoover Dam, millions of visitors to the valley can enjoy recreational activities aplenty.
Lake Mead National Recreational Area is home to more than a dozen lakeside campsites and RV parks. Run by the National Parks Service, the sites vary in price and amenities. If you’re really roughin’ it, Echo Bay Campground is a no-frills site offering splendid views of the northern tip of the lake for $20 a night. Campers in this area of the lake will enjoy easy access to Valley of Fire, St. Thomas ghost town and numerous hiking trails. Check the National Park Service’s webpage for more information on camping at Lake Mead.
When the sun is really shining, you want to be on the water. Businesses such as Lake Mead Marina offer kayak and paddle board rentals for the entire day starting at $90. The Black Canyon Water Trail, which launches at Hoover Dam and meanders through Black Canyon to the south, is officially designated as a National Water Trail by the Department of the Interior. Maverick Helicopters offers a rafting tour of this stretch of the Colorado River as part of a Grand Canyon excursion.
Red Rock CanyonLas Vegas hiking doesn’t get much better than the trails within Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The numerous trails of the park vary in length and difficulty. The park entrance fee of only $15 per vehicle grants visitors access to 20 different trails along a 13-mile scenic loop. World renowned for its rock climbing, the park employs a full-time “climbing staff” to answer visitors’ questions, recommend routes and provide directions.
Calico Hills trail is rated easy to moderate. The 2- to 6-mile loop boasts stunning views of the brilliant rock formations stained a vibrant red by the oxidized iron deposits. Hikers can expect a 1- to 4-hour round trip. Ice Box Canyon trail is another popular hike in the park. Perfect for a hot day in the desert, this canyon sees little sun during the day, resulting in much cooler temperatures. The 3-mile trail is considered moderate, but hikers should expect plenty of rock scrambling. Efforts are rewarded tenfold when the trail ends in a waterfall feeding a pair of crystal clear pools.
Mount CharlestonThe highest point of Clark County at nearly 12,000 feet above sea level, Mount Charleston and the surrounding Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest provide a pine-filled reprieve from the busy Las Vegas Strip. Some of the best hiking outside of Las Vegas can be found here. More than 10 trails and a half dozen campgrounds welcome visitors. More importantly, temperatures on the mountain average as much as 30 degrees lower than in the valley.
Mary Jane Falls is one of the more popular hiking trails in the area. With a round-trip of only 1.5-miles, hikers can spot plenty of local fauna, a variety of wild flowers and a pair of cascading waterfalls in a short amount of time. The trail is considered moderate, and hikers should come prepared with additional clothing, plenty of water and appropriate footwear. The falls flow year round but are most spectacular during spring months.
Springs PreserveOne of Las Vegas’ best kept secrets, Springs Preserve is a sprawling ode to the valley as it was before all the casinos arrived. Because of the area’s natural springs, it’s now dedicated to educating visitors on the culture, community, environmental stewardship and vibrant history of the Las Vegas Valley. Explore more than 3 miles of trails through the preserve where you’ll find rare plants, desert wildlife and archeological sites. The onsite butterfly habitat, sustainability gallery and Origen Museum are other great options when visiting Springs Preserve.
Paiute Golf ResortThere is no better time to golf in Las Vegas than right now, and the Paiute Indian Reservation just north of town boasts some of the nicest facilities you’ll find. One benefit of opening a golf course on tribal lands is the lack of municipal water restrictions. These fairways drink dromedary levels of water. Three 18-hole, Pete Dye-designed courses make up this massive facility just 30 minutes north of the Las Vegas Strip. Snow Mountain, Sun Mountain and Wolf are some of the longest tracks in the state–Wolf is the longest course in Nevada at a whopping 7,604 total yards. The secluded location affords golfers pristine mountain views in every direction and an almost eerie silence.
Grand Canyon Explorer
The best part of Maverick’s Grand Canyon Explorer tour, aside from the incredible views, is that guests enjoy the luxury of exploring this national park at their own pace. If you want to sit outside Bright Angel Lodge the whole time, you can. If you want to hike as much of the rim trail as possible, go for it.
After the initial 40-minute flight to the Grand Canyon's South Rim aboard Maverick's Beechcraft 1900D aircraft, your journey continues with ground transportation into the Grand Canyon National Park to enjoy the awe-inspiring vistas, panoramic overlooks and trails that can only be accessed from inside the park. The whole family will love exploring the historic Bright Angel Lodge, built in 1935, and Mather Point, which boasts some of the most inspiring views of the canyon. A gourmet box lunch will be served as you absorb the magnificence of the Grand Canyon and capture memories to last a lifetime.
While exploring the desert surrounding Las Vegas, always be sure to apply sunscreen regularly, wear a hat and sunglasses and drink plenty of water, even if you’re not thirsty. There’s plenty of excitement to be found just outside the city limits. This is what summer is for, so get out there! Happy trails, desert explorers!