Beyond all the glamour, gambling, glitz and gaudiness of Las Vegas is some truly awesome natural beauty.
In stark contrast to Sin City, only about 20 kilometres away from the famous lights of the Strip, lies stunning Red Rock Canyon. When I first arrived at this popular hiking area in a remote section of the Mojave Desert, I was sure the huge striped rock formations in front of me were something out of a Hollywood movie set. Now, I’m no geologist, but I really was amazed by this beautiful area that simply doesn’t look real.
Because Red Rock is now designated a natural conservation area, there is a $3.50 fee to enter the canyon, but believe me, it’s a bargain at 10 times the price. I set out to hike through giant red rocks as tall as skyscrapers, and soon realized it could take days to see just a fraction of them. These million-year-old rocks have a rich history, having first attracted native American tribes hundreds of years ago, due to a natural supply of water.
The desert wildlife is also abundant, and all around if you know what to look for. After climbing to the top of one formation, I looked out to see a couple of desert bighorn sheep scaling a steep rock face. A half hour later, I spied two wild burros resting in the shade.
This area may be one of the best kept secrets of Vegas, but more and more people are discovering it. The parking lot at the foot of the mountains was full when I arrived, and I passed dozens of other hikers along the way. As I took in all this natural wonder, it was mind boggling to remember that just a 20-minute drive away were thousands of people gambling, drinking and gorging themselves in multiple cheap buffets in the heart of the strip.
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Also, it’s a lot cheaper than dropping a couple of hundred bucks in the slots.