5 Great Escapes From The LAS VEGAS STRIP
“I didn’t know you were a gambler.” A question I hear even after living in Las Vegas for 15 years. Well, I am not a gambler-in fact I see the inside of a casino only rarely and when I do it is usually with visitors who have a desire to experience what most people think of when they think of Las Vegas.
So why do I live here? One of the reasons is that within a day’s drive of Las Vegas lay 5 unique areas that provide connection and inspiration. Areas that will provide a great break from the high life of the casinos and get you outdoors for some smoke free air that will clear your head and inspire you in the days ahead.
Valley of Fire
Just 45 minutes north of Las Vegas lays a beautiful and spiritual valley that features fantastic geological formations highlighted in red that will inspire and wow. This is a State Park at the northern tip of Lake Mead that shouldn’t be missed. While you can see fantastic naturally painted scenes from the road that winds through the park, the most peaceful and spiritual spots require a bit of walking. There are a variety of trails that will take you a bit deeper into the park like Mouse’s Track or Atlati Rock and offer you peaceful serene spots to feel the energy that comes from nature. There is a lot to see so plan on spending the day. Directions: Travel north on Interstate 15 to exit 75 then proceed east on Valley of Fire Highway. About an hour drive.
This wonderful spot lies across the Colorado River in Arizona below Hoover Dam and just an hour from the central strip. The river, the canyon, the bridge and the dam demonstrate the power and glory of mother nature and man’s ability to live in harmony with it. Willow Beach is a boat landing and marina where all forms of watercraft are available for rent or private craft can be launched. To feel the power and peace and serenity of the free flowing Colorado River a kayak or canoe are the best choices. If speed is more important to you then a variety of motor driven boats are available as well. Raft trips are also available for those seeking guidance while on the river. Go up-river against the current and you will reach a spot just below the dam that will provide a view of man meeting nature as you view first the bridge and just above it the dam. Head downriver to find a variety of beaches that are great for a picnic or some peaceful time watching the river. For the adventurous, travel downriver to reach Lake Mohave created by Davis Dam.
China Ranch Date Farm
On the way to Death Valley via the Old Spanish Trail Highway and Death Valley Road this oasis in the middle of the desert near Tecopa, CA will surprise you. A short and delightful 2 hour drive from the central strip it is a trip worth taking. Here Vonola Modine planted a date grove from seed in the 1920’s near the Amargosa River. A small museum is open to the public featuring exhibits honoring past inhabitants including artifacts from Indian sites, and pioneer families. Hiking, birding and ecotourism are all available in this desert oasis. An inspiring location that demonstrates how man fits with nature and how with a bit of water, man can create a sparkling oasis.
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refugee
On a different route towards Death Valley is Ash Meadows is home for at least 26 endemic species of plants and animals including the pup fish and 3 other animals and 1 plant that are on the endangered species list. The meadows and pools are created by more than 30 seeps and springs sourced from a giant aquifer that runs more than 100 miles north. Wander the wooden paths and look into the clear waters while viewing the variety of birds that frequent the refugee. A truly inspiring location that shows us that life adapts to any circumstance. Take route 160 to Pahrump, NV then turn on to S Spring Meadows Rd. It is about a 1 hour and 45minute drive.
Just 45 minutes from the central strip area lies a superb look at Nevada’s mining past, Nelson, NV. Originally founded as Eldorado by the Spanish in 1775 when gold was first discovered it was transformed in the mid 1800’s by the establishment of the Techatticup mining camp and eventually became Nelson. History says that this was a raucous and wild town during it’s early days led by disputes over mine ownership. It became a haven for outlaws and those attempting to hide from the law. The town suffered devastation from a 1974 flood yet part of the original structures still exist including the general store, restaurant and museum where you can view artifacts and photos of the early years. Tours of the abandoned mines and outbuildings are available but you are free to wander on your own if that is your desire. Some say that the town is haunted and there are a variety of stories of how the tail of an aircraft sticking up from the ground got there (truth is that it was planted there as part of the set for the filming of “3,000 Miles from Graceland”). After viewing the town, head east on the road down to the Colorado River for a hike along its banks. History combined with the peace of the river will provide a deep sense of connection to nature and our past. To get there: Take US 95 south about 10 miles then take road 165 east through Eldorado Canyon to Nelson.