Las Vegas shouldn’t exist.
Why would any sane person build a city in middle of a desert where summer temperatures regularly climb over 110 degrees F and annual rainfall hangs around 4 inches? Sure, it’s a great place for jackrabbits and rattlesnakes and scorpions and cacti and desert tortoises. Maybe even lonely miners, ladies of the evening, jet jockeys, crotchety cowmen, and aliens belong there.
But putting 1.8 million people into Las Vegas and the surrounding Clark County– what were they thinking? Everything has to be imported… and I mean everything including the ever-precious water for golf courses and tourists with bucks to toss. Cut off either one and Las Vegas is SOL. The city returns to the jackrabbits and LA sucks up any extra water from the Colorado River.
MONEY, of course, is the answer for the city’s existence– obscene amounts of it, like bundles and bundles and bundles. Mafia hit men joined together with Mormon bankers following World War II to build the Flamingo Casino and start milking the proverbial cash cow. This kicked off a spree of building pleasure palaces that continues even today, with each one being bigger and glitzier than the one before. The names and faces have changed, but the basic underlying purpose remains the same: separate tourists from their hard-earned cash, as quickly as possible.
Now I confess to liking a little glitter from time to time. A stroll down the Strip drops me into Venice, New York City, Paris or even a pyramid. While pale in comparison to the real thing, the moguls of Las Vegas have spent billions creating these make-believe worlds. And the price of admission is right: free. At least it is if you can avoid the multiple temptations. I can’t. I am sure there is a quarter video poker machine out there that will make me rich beyond my wildest dreams, or at least pay for dinner. Or, failing all of that, cover the tourist tax. (Remember here, however, that I also believe in UFOs.)
There comes that inevitable moment, however, when I have to escape the glitter, noise, and crowds for the wilderness. I have to return to my roots, to commune with nature. Luckily, it’s easy from Las Vegas. Last week I took you out to the Valley of Fire, a short hour drive away. Today we are going to visit Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, which is even closer, 30–45 minutes.
This gem sits on the edge of Las Vegas. An easy morning trip will get you there, around the park and back. The park features a one way, 13-mile drive with numerous turnouts. There are several hiking trails that crisscross the area. Many people also enjoy biking the route. I highly recommend starting your trip at the excellent visitor’s center.
Here are some views along the way.
NEXT BLOG: Hello Death Valley!
41 thoughts on “Escape from Las Vegas to the Red Rock Canyon… The Desert Series”
Interesting to read about Las Vegas. I was there once a couple years ago. When my husband and oldest son went on a 12-day Boy Scout hiking trip, I took the youngest (12 at the time) to Vegas. Seems fair, doesn’t it? My youngest is a talented magician, and it was a great chance for him to see some magic shows. He met Penn & Teller and Mac King. The trip was lots of fun, though I could do with out the endless booby cards… I’d like to go again and this time visit Red Rock Canyon. It looks gorgeous.
Few too many booby cards, eh Carrie. 🙂 That’s the seedy part of Vegas. As are the endless racks of cheap newspapers basically promoting the same thing. The shows can be great, however. Peggy and I always take in one or two and magicians are a favorite. Las Vegas has worked hard to become more of a family town, an expensive family town but no more than a trip to Disneyland.
I was watching some young people at a magic show when Peggy and I were there a few weeks ago, and they were enthralled. –Curt
Yep. I know they’re trying to family it up, or at least they were. They’ve got a ways to go still. 😉
Always will, I suspect, Carrie. It’s the nature of the town.
They say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
What happens in Red Rock Canyon, though, must be shared, like you just did.
Gorgeous scenery, which I also love very much, matched by your exquisite photos.
Thanks Evelyn. My guess is an awful lot has stayed in Las Vegas over the years. It’s like a huge playpen. I’ve been to Vegas many times over the years… it serves as my gateway to the Southwest. But it wasn’t until two years ago, I discovered Red Rock Canyon. And I am an outdoor kind of person.
The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce now promotes areas like Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire. But the casinos never did. Every hour you spend out exploring the countryside, is an hour you are not spending money in their establishments. 🙂 –Curt
I have long wanted to go to Vegas – how can you ignore something so completely outrageous. Now I would like to see both the wonders of Vegas and the wonders of the desert. Gorgeous rock formations, and flowers.
Both are definitely worth the trip… and that is close to a 60’s definition of trip, Alison. 🙂 Curt
You go to all the best places and take the best shots!!
Ahem . . . . . . . 🙂
Double Ahem… (grin)
We try… 🙂 But I think we have some pretty serious competition. As noted by Don and Alison. (grin)
Chuckle chuckle 🙂
Beautiful pictures. I rather like Las Vegas. We took many road trips to there because my mom liked to gamble 😛 and as an adult, I just find it fascinating. Red Rocks is truly spectacular and you both captured it in spades (pun intended).
Hit a royal flush, huh? Or at least a full house. 🙂 –Curt
I love wandering in cities, but Las Vegas holds no attractions. Maybe I’m just reluctant to be separated from my cash. Love the stone formations, more great 3D shapes for sculptors.
Las Vegas lacks the charm of more classical cities but it is definitely a fantasy land of the first order. From that perspective, it is worth a visit, Hilary.
The stone formations are part of a different world… much more reflective of what the Southwest has to offer. –Curt
I have never been to Vegas.. glitz & glamour has never appealed to me however Red Rock Canyon is right up my alley..Beautiful place, really beautiful!!
That it is… Quite beautiful. Outside of the glitz and glamour, the fantasy of Las Vegas can be interesting. Curt
Now you put it like that, it does seem strange that the place exists at all.
On the other hand, the desert is kind of pretty.
Kind of like LA. LOL Why do we insist on building cities in the desert?
And isn’t the desert striking? Wait till you see Death Valley. Up next. –Curt
Wow, once again, gorgeous scenery outside Las Vegas. Thanks for sharing.
Death Valley up next. 🙂
You lucky devil!
Part of the intrigue of this area is certainly the contrasts! Peggy
Moving from a man-made fantasy world to a nature made fantasy world, Peggy. 🙂
Thanks for introducing me to Las Vegas. Although the original is prettier, Venice, Las Vegas style complete with fake sky and a singing gondolier, isn’t bad 🙂
It’s a pretty fancy place. And the gondoliers actually had good singing voices. 🙂 –Curt
Little Mr. T enjoyed the jackrabbit (woah!) and the tortoise. That was neat you caught sight of the latter, Curt. Your shot of Venice is just beautiful. I can do without anything Vegas. lol Too gaudy for my taste.
Gaudy it is, D. I also video taped the tortoise. And boy was he slow! 🙂
Ha ha ha. He ain’t famous for his speed for nothin’.
Lovely photos Curt 🙂 And didn’t you get a close up of that adorable rabbit 🙂
Vegas is definitely an assault on the senses, Curt. We first went there on a whim many, many years ago. We wandered the streets saying things like “golly,” eating 25 cent giant hotdogs, and spending a few quarters on a video poker game. But I like your solution – head to red rock canyon. Truly beautiful. 🙂 ~Terri
Don’t think you would find any $.25 hot dogs in Vegas now, Terri. 🙂 $10 is what you pay for the most inexpensive meals unless you head for the fast food joints. You can still get into Red Rock Canyon for seven bucks, however! And for free if you have a National parks pass. –Curt
Hi! Your view of Las Vegas mirrors mine, but since I’ve moved to another unsupportable desert city I’ve also had a curiosity. Generally speaking households in Phoenix use less water for yards and the newer homes are more energy efficient than what was made where I lived before so maybe, just ever so maybe, we desert scavengers are providing other areas of the country with more air and water and space to enjoy. Perhaps the real issue is–why wasn’t/isn’t more birth control around? Unfortunately after all, as you pointed out, Las Vegas was founded by Mormons in part probably because they needed to put their rampant number of children somewhere! And really we desert dwellers have a perverse appreciation for wandering jack rabbits, turtles, coyotes living in our neighborhoods on golf courses, roadrunners, and scorpions. We even hold night party celebrations for scorpions to see them. (I’d put a smiley face here, but I haven’t figured out how to do that on WordPress.) Could I be saving the forests for posterity by living in the desert? Can I use that rationalization? Please?
I noticed that San Diego is approaching the place where it might recycle sewer water as drinking water once it is processed. At a minimum it can be recycled for agriculture. Gradually we are getting much smarter about water use, albeit kicking and screaming.
Maybe we can find a solution to water use in addition to conservation. If so, living in the desert makes sense from the perspective of land use, solar power and wind power. Desalinization of ocean water will certainly help when we find a less expensive way of doing it.
BTW, I just read an article that scorpions are florescent under black light. If you had a black light it should add to the party atmosphere. 🙂
Those twin cactus flowers are spying on me and saying, “We spy with our flowery eyes that you are waaaay behind in reading Curt’s stories…”
Wise cacti. LOL
Nice post! Las Vegas does, surprizingly, have some genuinely wonderful things to see and hike and explore outside the city. Thank goodness. I am pretty sure I did not see the visitor’s center for Red Rock Canyon in the two times I went there. In my memory it’s pretty desolate, with a campground and a few trails. Well that settles it, I have to go back and find what I missed.