There’s nothing quite like Las Vegas; that, I have to admit. But, the strip get’s real old real quick. To shake up your itinerary, there’s a natural gem less than 20 miles away from the strip I recently checked out that’s worth a visit: Red Rock Canyon. If you’re looking for a break from the casinos and gluttony of the strip, this is the breath of fresh air to revitalize you.
A few weeks ago, I was sent to Vegas for work, and it was my first time in town over 21, and it turns out I have very mixed feelings about Vegas. On one hand, I love the idea of a place set up to be a playground for adults. Anything goes. Indulgence. A town built to promote hedonism. Eat, drink, gamble and be married (in a little chapel by an Elvis impersonator – as the mood struck the couple I saw doing just that…).
On the other hand, the massive hotels that charge guests on an a la carte basis is the tip of the rip-off iceberg in town. Want internet? That will be $20 per day. Want to hit the gym to work off those extra boozing calories from last night? Oh, that will be another $25 per day. Restaurants are ultra expensive for mediocre quality, in many cases.
Gaudy. Greedy. Grimey. Burnt out. Girls for sale. Male strippers as a long-standing joke novelty.
This is the city that truly never sleeps. A giant never-ending bachelor/bachelorette party.
Sure, it’s fun…in small doses. It’s also these qualities that make the desert even more refreshing.
No matter your level of love or disdain for Sin City, if you find yourself needing a freeing, budget-friendly escape from town, Red Rock Canyon is a day trip worth the $7 entry fee (per car).
We were lucky enough to pay a visit over President’s Day weekend – and because of the National Holiday, entry was free!
It’s an easy 30 minute drive from the strip, and is nature’s playground with no shortage of breathtaking views, desert flora and fauna and some pretty brilliant sunbathing spots (or sun napping in my case – holy sunburn batman!).
What are some fun activities to take advantage of at Red Rock Canyon?
- Rock climbing
- An easy stroll, taking in the views
But don’t expect to share your adventure on Twitter or Instagram right away, there’s absolutely no service out there….and it’s so refreshing!
No cell service. No problem.
The rocks are a popular spot for climbers from near and far; and since there are many different types of formations, the park is perfect for all skill levels. As we walked along the bright red rocks, we saw experienced climbers, working their way up very large, very sheer rock faces. We also came across an instructor working with some small kids who were able to fly up the rock walls. What a cool thing to learn as a kid!
I love how un-guided this park is. In a world where we are led along by instructional signs to tell us where to go, following the railings, relying on our smartphones to tell us where to go and the most efficient way of getting there, it’s really quite refreshing to just get lost and figure it out without any guidance. In the canyon, there are trails, but they can be hard to follow. People can navigate their own route in many cases to get to the highest point, or to get to a ledge that looks like it might hold an astounding view. You can make an afternoon out of it, or easily stay the entire day enjoying the views, sunshine, lizards, and just getting out into nature.
A true day of play that you can’t find anywhere in the city of Vegas, and it only requires a set of wheels and $7.
My Top 3 recommendations if you’re planning a trip to Red Rock Canyon:
- Take a picnic or some snacks. When you’re having your ‘Into the Wild’ moment, it’s easy to walk further and further out (and further away from your car…) where you’re sure to end up hungry.
- Wear good shoes. You might just intend to stroll around and take some photos. You’ll regret not wearing sturdier shoes to go exploring once you see how magnificent the canyon really is.
- Take some sunscreen. I’m happy I did, even in early February.
Since the East Coast has been bombarded by extreme winter weather lately, my trip to Vegas was definitely a blast, but Red Rock’s sunny 80F days were absolutely the cherry on top of my trip to Nevada. Next time you’re around the strip and need an escape from your escape, get out to Red Rock Canyon, for sure!