Instead of spending your time in air conditioned casinos and hotels, take to the great outdoors in Las Vegas.
Instead of spending your time in air conditioned casinos and hotels, take to the great outdoors in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas has established itself as an international party city, renowned for its gambling, shopping and dining. But the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas won’t last forever, so it’s a good thing that the Grand Canyon and other beautiful natural features like mountains, rivers and lakes are located close by. Once you’ve had your fill of air conditioned casinos and hotels, head to the great outdoors and take part in one of these outdoor activities in Las Vegas.

Kayaking

Just a mere 40 minute drive from the Strip, the Colorado River winds its way through the Grand Canyon and spills out over the Hoover Dam. Most people are familiar with the standard tours of the dam, which allow visitors to go underground to see the electricity generators up close, but not many people get to see the dam from the river’s perspective. Evolution Expeditions offers tours for beginners and experienced kayakers that launch below Hoover Dam and follow the course of the stream through the river canyon, stopping halfway for a hike to desert hot springs.

Info: Evolution Expeditions, 10300 W. Charleston Blvd. #13, Las Vegas, NV 89135

Ballooning

Fly high and get one of the most gorgeous views of Las Vegas with a hot air balloon ride. Lasting for approximately one hour, you’ll float over the hustle and bustle of the Strip while getting 360 degree views of Red Rock Canyon, the majestic Red Rock Mountains and local suburbs. One you’ve landed safely, you’ll receive a traditional champagne toast and light hors d’oeuvres.

Info: D&R Balloons, 6760 Buckskin Ave., Las Vegas, NV 89108

Golfing

Located just outside the city in suburban Summerlin, Angel Park Golf Club, designed by the infamous golf legend Arnold Palmer, offers guests 36 breathtaking holes and beautiful vistas of the Las Vegas Valley and Red Rock Canyon desert. Take to the green on the Cloud Nine course, which is illuminated at night by flood lights, making it a perfect way to spend those hot summer nights.

Info: 100 S. Rampart Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89136

Hiking

It’s no secret that Las Vegas is located smack dab in the middle of the desert, which can lend itself to an interesting landscape. Why not get out there and explore on an invigorating hike? Drive an hour northeast of the Strip to Valley of Fire State Park, the oldest state park in Nevada, where you’ll run across rock formations with names like White Domes, Arch Rock and the Mouse’s Tank. If you’re lucky, you’ll even stumble across some rocks inscribed with ancient Native American petroglyphs. The best times to hike are early morning and late afternoon, where you just might be able to snap a photograph of the sun rising or setting over the rock formations, although the park is open 24 hours for convenience.

Info: 29450 Valley of Fire Road, Overton, NV 89040

Cycling

If you’re a trail enthusiast, head 30 minutes west of the Strip to Red Rock Canyon and view the multicolored sandstone bluffs up close. The nearly 196,000-acre park offers more than 30 miles of hiking trails, rock climbing, horseback riding and picnic areas, and you might also stumble across seasonal waterfall oases and wildlife. Hop on a bicycle and tour the park’s spectacular 13-mile scenic drive either by renting bicycles or signing up for a guided tour of the canyon that includes one-way van shuttle service.

Info: State Route 159, Las Vegas, NV 89161

Zip lining

Check out the zip line in downtown Las Vegas on the Fremont Street Experience if you want to stay in the city, but if you’re looking for a little more adventure, head just a few miles out of town to Boulder City, where the rugged terrain of Bootleg Canyon waits to be explored. You’ll take a short truck ride up the mountain followed by a leisurely hike and then get ready to soar over the canyon at up to 50 miles per hour on a series of zip lines, the longest of which is half a mile.

Info: BC Flightlines, 1512 Industrial Road, Boulder City, NV 89005

Skiing and Snowboarding

If you never thought you could go skiing in the desert, think again. Roughly an hour’s drive northwest of the Strip, you’ll find the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort, which is perfect for beginners and intermediate skiers. Located nearly 2,600 meters above sea level, the lodge rents ski and snowboard equipment and sells day passes for winter sports enthusiasts who want to try their hand at shredding on 11 different trails. There’s also a terrain park and pipe for snowboarders.

Info: 6725 Lee Canyon Road, Las Vegas, NV 89124

Photo credit: iStockphoto/jalala

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