When people think of Las Vegas, they often think of the strip and the summer heat. However, there’s a lot of outdoor beauty near this city that goes beyond the city lights. Nature has been described as the cheapest medicine. It can serve as a great relief to students, as well as a great way to stay active in college. Here are 7 of my favorite opportunities to enjoy the outdoors that Vegas has to offer!
1. Mount Charleston
Deserts can have trees too! Heading up north, Mt. Charleston holds various hiking trails and provides a national forest for the wildlife and its visitors. It can be around 20 degrees cooler due to the higher elevations, which makes it perfect to escape the summer heat. In the winter, though, many people go to play in the snow. They offer equipment rentals and lessons for activities such as skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and tubing.
2. Red Rock Canyon
The red shades of this desert landscape offer one of the most beautiful scenic drives! Just a few miles west of Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon also offers trails that are popular for picnics, bike rides, hiking, or simply snapping photographs of the red sandstone peaks. There, you can also find seasonal waterfalls at Ice Box Canyon. This is one of my personal favorite hiking spots in Vegas.
3. Lake Mead
A lake? In a desert? Although it may come as a surprise to many, Las Vegas has many opportunities for water sports and activities. Lake Mead is the largest man-made lake in America and offers countless activities, like paddle-boarding, boating, kayaking, and other water sports. This lake is also where you can find Nelson’s Landing, a very popular cliff jumping spot. It borders the Hoover Dam which lies on the border of Nevada and Arizona and is another wonderful sight to see.
4. Black Canyon
You can enjoy a 30-mile water trail of the Colorado River at Black Canyon near the Hoover Dam. Kayaking in this trail allows people to explore the numerous hot springs, caves, beaches, and areas of solitude. It is definitely one of the most peaceful and unique ways to enjoy the desert wilderness.
5. Grand Canyon
Planning a way to see one of the seven natural wonders of the world is worth the trip. Although this is farther than the other places listed, this is a must-see location with glorious views. There is plenty to do besides sightseeing, like hiking, river running, or biking. There are helicopter rides from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon that can cut down the time of your journey while showing you a sky-high perspective of the scenic views along the way.
6. Zion National Park
Zion is only a two and a half-hour drive from Vegas and has one of the most beautiful, and strenuous, hikes through land and rivers. However, there are also easier hiking trails for those who are not up for the challenge. It has a mix of different ecosystems that creates an amazing view. I would definitely recommend staying there for more than a day as there are so many things it has to offer!
7. Outdoor Adventures at UNLV
Luckily, you don’t have to go to or search for these outdoor locations alone. UNLV’s Campus Recreational Services offers outdoor trips throughout the year for students and visitors. They also have workshops and equipment rentals available. These trips are often at a low, discounted price for UNLV students, and sometimes they’re free! Definitely check out this on-campus resource as a way to explore the desert outdoors, develop new skills, and make new friends.
Valeria Aguilera, Junior
High School: Desert Oasis High School
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada