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!