Las Vegas — my hometown. There is no place like it in the world.
Where else can you walk down the street drinking a day-glow, yard-tall cocktail, taking in the sights of New York, Paris, and Venice while peddlers shove flyers for escorts and strippers in your hand?
And for the classier crowd, there’s a high-end dining scene on par with New York, Paris, and LA (though street food and casual culture are still catching up but doing so quickly in Downtown Las Vegas). And finally, our unrivaled shows and casinos, the great tourist equalizers – everyone goes, and everyone gambles.
But what many visitors don’t know, and locals are happy to keep a secret, is that Las Vegas is a serious outdoor town. It’s brimming with hikers, climbers, skiers, and mountaineers of all stripes.
The mountains, the desert, the outdoors – it’s these that define Vegas for me and what I miss the most about living here. Within an hour of town, you’ve got:
- Red Rock Canyon for great short hikes and a wide variety of climbing routes, just 25 minutes from the heart of the city and a world away (and don’t forget to take the long way back into the city, making a pit stop at the biker hangout Mountain Springs Saloon for a beer, BBQ, people watching, and live music on the weekends)
- Mount Charleston for a major workout (highest peak in Southern Nevada!), vastly cooler summer temps, solitude, a 10,000ish year-old bristle cone pine forest, and a killer 360 view (and plenty of other, shorter trails if you’re still feeling the effects of the previous evening – two of my favorites are Mary Jane Falls and Cathedral Rock)
- Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort for skiing 45 minutes outside of Las Vegas – really! Not a lot of runs. Go early.
- Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada’s oldest and largest state park, for Mars-like scenery, petrified wood, and 3,000 year-old Indian petroglyphs
- Lake Mead National Recreation Area for all manner of water sports – a great way to spend a hot desert day
And if you’re up for a little overnight trip, check out Zion National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Death Valley National Park, and the Grand Canyon. And those are just a few of my favorites. Plus world class skiing in Northern Nevada, Utah, and California.
So, if you need a reminder that you are actually living on planet earth, take a few hours and get outside the city. A little fresh air will do you good.
Peace, love, and happiness –
P.S. The mountain man in these photos is none other than my dad. He taught me everything I know.