An Outdoor Adventure to Cure that Hangover

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Guest Post: Easy Hiking Trails

As Easy Hiker never tires of saying, a city trip need not be just about shopping and sight-seeing. Outdoor adventures can be had to spice up your holidays, as Cathy and Randy found out in their recent stay in Sin City. Here, she tells us in her great guest post.

The Hangover Hike

"Hikers on the Hangover Hike in Red Rock Canyon near Las Vegas"

The excesses of Las Vegas can take a toll on the fittest of us. So how do you balance the late nights and too much food, drink and gambling with healthy activities when you’re in Sin City? Here’s a rejuvenating place that is unknown to many visitors to Las Vegas.

Exercising, breathing in fresh air and enjoying the spectacular scenery of the Mojave Desert is the perfect way to purge the toxins and temporarily avoid the temptations back in Las Vegas.

On a recent trip, we drove 15 miles west of downtown Las Vegas to enjoy a refreshing change of pace from the Strip. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a beautiful spot with a one-way, 13 mile scenic drive, 19 hiking trails and a first-class Visitor Center.

We started out at the Visitor Center, complete with geological exhibits, park information, gift shop and picture windows to give you a panoramic view of the area you’re about to explore.

Temperatures at Red Rock Canyon run about 10F degrees cooler than downtown Las Vegas, which is a nice change if you’ve been pounding the hot pavement on the Strip. It was about 80F degrees when we took our hike at mid-day.

There are trails for all levels of fitness – Easy, Moderate, Strenuous and combinations of those. Recovering from a late night out, we decided to take a moderate 2.5 mile trail named Calico Tanks which is accessed from the Sandstone Quarry parking lot. "A rock climber on a Hangover Hike in Red Rock Canyon Nevada"

The full route of what I like to call the Hangover Hike can take about 2 hours. The parking lot was packed with vehicles, but we were able to find a place quite quickly. Early mornings would probably be less crowded.

The Calico Tanks Trail has somewhat uneven terrain, winds through a wash (a dry creek bed), and climbs up to 450 ft along the way. It offers diversity of scenery, interesting rock formations, and changing views of the valley — as far as Las Vegas at one point. I liked how the trail meandered very naturally through the wash and vegetation.

Soon after starting out, we came across someone scaling a rock face. I’m not a rock climber, but this looks like a great place to do it and then be rewarded with stunning vistas at the top.

There are other spots where the rocks were fun to climb around on and safe enough for most people, including children (under supervision).

"Randy on the Hangover Hike in Las Vegas" Among other foliage, you’ll see Yucca, Joshua and Cottonwood trees. The desert has an amazing variety of vegetation that is striking against the colorful and unusual rocks.

Although the peak season for desert flowers is in March and April, along the path were some lovely plants and flowers.

It’s a popular trail, so we saw other hikers along the way, but still enjoyed the trail’s remote feel. I also saw leashed dogs on the trail (clean-up bags provided at the parking lot).

Need a rest? Take a few minutes to sit on the rocks to hydrate, relax and enjoy the peacefulness. But be careful around shrubs and rocks in case rattlesnakes and scorpions are hiding.

You might spot other wildlife such as lizards, jackrabbits, roadrunners, wild horses and coyotes However, our only animal sightings were at the Visitor Center, where a desert tortoise (possibly the park’s special resident, Mojave Max) was resting outside, and where there is a large lizard sculpture.

I’ll definitely put Red Rock Canyon on my agenda for future trips to Las Vegas. This Hangover Hike is a fun, convenient and healthy complement to the decadence of the Strip.

Get more information here: The Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association

Cathy Sweeney shares her perspectives, experiences and ideas reflecting a lifelong passion for travel on her blog, Traveling with Sweeney. She hopes to inspire people to consider new destinations, learn something different about a familiar place, or reminisce about their own travel experiences. She has traveled extensively in North America, the Caribbean and Europe, and is looking forward to much more traveling throughout the world. A Chicago native, she now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Follow her on  Facebook and Twitter.

14 comments to An Outdoor Adventure to Cure that Hangover

  • Tara

    Thank you for the post! I went on the hike ten years ago and this read is excellent reminder how good it was!

  • Interesting to know. I give you credit for hiking after a hang over. Although with the possibility of seeing as much as what you described (I love spotting animals), my hungover head might be motivated to do a hike.

  • We love the Vegas Strip and the surrounding neighborhoods as well. The Red Rock Canyon is not to be missed and Michael does a great job describing the hikes available. 15 miles may sound like a short or long distance depending on who’s point of view it is, but I can tell you the Red Rock area is like being far, far away from the world-famous “Strip” no matter whose odometer one is using!

  • Hi Eliz — thanks for the comment and the information. It can be a little confusing for us outsiders when trying to define specific locations in or near large metro areas. At Red Rock Canyon you certainly feel like you’re far from downtown Vegas.

    Mt, Charleston sounds great. Would love to try the skiing there!

  • Eliz @ Las Vegas Press Club

    Red Rock IS part of Vegas…actually Clark County. It is at the far west part of Clark County. If you want to get technical the Strip is not in Las Vegas…most don’t realize that. The actual city is a small area. But even what us locals call Vegas encompasses a large area. Our population is 2 million now and spread throughout the Vegas Valley.

    If you do want to hike outside the city Valley of Fire is absolutely gorgeous and only about a 40 minute drive from the Strip. Mt Charleston is about 45 minutes away and the temperatures drop drastically. Great trails and snow skiing. You wouldn’t think that in the middle of the Mohave desert there would be snow. But it is June now and I can still see snow on Mt. Charleston…and it’s 110 degrees here in the city.

    Got a little carried away but I love the hiking and rock climbing here along with the beautiful scenery. So glad you enjoyed your time in our great city.

    Thanks for the great post and photos!

  • Thanks for the comments! I was so glad that our friends knew about Red Rock Canyon. Happy to hear that some of you will be putting it on your agendas.

    Leigh and Abby — You’re so right about the Southwest U.S. — so many beautiful places.

    Eileen — If you’re not quite into hiking, you’ll still love the scenery along the scenic drive. Gorgeous!

  • Love the mountains of that area. Hiking, maybe not. Viewing absolutely.

  • I haven’t been hiking when I’ve been to Vegas, but I’ve heard there is great hiking nearby and this is proof of that. If I ever make to to Vegas again, this is on my list. I can’t believe it’s so close!

  • Yay! Always happy to see people enjoying the gorgeous nature in my part of the world. :) I am from New Mexico, live in Las Vegas and was just at a ranch near the Grand Canyon last night. The Southwest is so stunning.

  • My bad, John. Cathy didn’t mean to imply that Red Rock County was part of Las Vegas. I added the Las Vegas bit. Cathy wrote the more original one, The Hangover Hike, which will now stay as the title of the piece. Thanks for dropping by.

  • Good place to know about. I have always used Vegas as the gateway to two of my other favourite National Parks – Zion and Death Valley. Next time I have an extra few hours I’ll be sure to check this hike out.

  • Great advice! I’ve been to Vegas countless times and never thought of going hiking there. Beautiful photography too :)

  • Cathy, I suppose on a USA scale, 15 miles is right on the doorstep, but to a European like myself that is a good part of a day’s hike. 15 miles away from the centre of Brussels is no longer Brussels. That said the title got me wondering. I will say that I am glad to have read your post and viewed the photos.
    Perhaps it’s just me; I don’t see the world as a series of cities. I’m probably wrong to have this view as 70% or something like that of the world’s population lives in a city. Including me as I write this comment.

  • Spectacular country! Much more me than the temptations of the casinos and hotels…

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