Hiking Near Vegas: Red Rock Canyon and Zion National Park
Editor’s Note: Think you know all there is to know about Las Vegas? Read our Vegas series this week as we celebrate a city that continues to reinvent itself year after year.
As the resident green traveler for The Window Seat, I’m always looking for ways to incorporate more outdoor adventures into my work trips and vacations. And believe it or not, Las Vegas has some incredible hiking right nearby. Whether you plan to skip The Strip entirely or enjoy the best of both worlds, Sin City offers some world-class outdoor adventures.
Distance: 20 minutes by car
Activities: Hiking, climbing, camping, and biking
The closest quality hiking to the Las Vegas Strip is Red Rock Canyon. The easiest way to reach the area is to rent a car at the airport so tacking this adventure onto the beginning of your trip is probably the way to go.
Once you reach the park, stop at the visitor center and talk to the knowledgeable staff on hand. When I visited recently, I requested a rigorous hike and they pointed my group in the direction of Turtlehead Peak. We scrambled up the sandstone rock and were treated to incredible views of the entire area after a few hours.
After your hike, be sure to complete the scenic loop and see the full beauty of the area. Red Rock is the perfect day-trip for anyone needing some fresh air while visiting the Strip.
Distance: 3 hours by car
Activities: Hiking, horseback riding, climbing, cycling, bird watching, and camping
Featuring soaring rock formations and narrow canyons, Zion National Park is one of the most stunning national parks in the entire U.S. collection. And the word is out so be sure to plan this adventure ahead. The parking lot at Zion Canyon Visitor Center fills up by mid-morning so if you’re doing a day-trip from Las Vegas arrive early.
If you have a little more time, you can also stay in the nearby town of Springdale. From there, you can hop the free shuttle to the park. Once the Springdale Shuttle arrives at the visitor center, you can transfer to the Zion Canyon Shuttle, which makes eight stops within the park. The shuttle is free and a much greener way to see the park. (They estimate it replaces 5,000 cars in the park annually!) But be careful–the shuttle only runs April-October, during the park’s peak season.
The main attraction at Zion is the hike to Angels Landing–and for good reason. This four-hour trek is only for seasoned hikers and features 21 precarious switchbacks called Walter’s Wiggles. However the views from the top of Zion Canyon are well worth the effort.
By Diliff GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Not sure Angels Landing is your cup of tea? Here’s the Zion National Park hiking map. There are plenty of wonderful trails at every level to choose from.
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My name: Alison Presley
Nickname: Presbo, because I'm good police.
How I earn my keep: I'm the manager of Travelocity's Travel for Good program. Visit Travel for Good to learn more about our green travel and voluntourism initiatives!
What kind of traveler am I: I'm an intrepid food explorer. I usually starve myself on the plane (not that that's too hard to do) so that the moment my toes touch foreign soil I'm ready to sample new and exciting cuisine. I like to dine everywhere from hole-in-the-wall local secrets to Michelin Guide gems. Cannelés, poi, boiled peanuts, oxtail soup, poutine--there's no stopping this adventurous palate.
Greatest travel lesson I've learned: It doesn't cost a lot of money to do good. Offsetting your carbon impact only adds a few bucks to your trip, green hotels are very affordable, and volunteering locally during your vacation is a great way to give back and learn about the culture.