More than just a glittery city or a simple stop to start or finish a road trip in the parks of the American West, Las Vegas is also a great base to get to grips with the state of Nevada. Here are eight ideas for getaways around Sin City.
Seven Magic Mountains
Just nine miles south of Las Vegas, Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone's art installation is an amazing sight to see rising from the expanse of the desert. A colossal, colourful group of huge, teetering rock formations defy gravity to resemble totems. These seven ' artificial mountains ' appear in a straight line or as a cluster, depending on the viewing angle. The result is stunning and fits perfectly into the desert landscape.
Pioneer Saloon, Goodsprings
With over a century of service to its credit, the Pioneer Saloon in the ghost town of Goodsprings, about 30 miles from the Strip, is Nevada's oldest saloon and the beating heart of this small, close-knit community. A place full of soul and history, which exudes the Wild West of yesteryear and the old mining towns. Soak up the bullet holes, original poker tables and ancient newspaper clippings. Miners and cowboys were replaced with passing bikers and visitors, curious to learn about the history of the place from the locals or heading off on a buggy ride through the never-ending desert .
Red Rock Canyon
The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is just 30 miles west of the Strip and offers a striking contrast to the bright lights of Sin City. The beauty of the desert with its unspoiled wilderness appears in all its glory. The ochre-coloured rock formations, sparse vegetation and wildlife of Nevada are the perfect combination for a fantastic outing.
Embedded in the Black Mountains, not far from the town of Boulder City, the Hoover Dam, officially opened in 1935, overlooks the Colorado River and controls the flow of this powerful river to supply water to the city of Las Vegas (located about 30 miles away) and electricity to Nevada, Arizona and California. The structure is impressive, measuring a staggering 1,200 feet long at the top and over 650 feet at the base, and 45 feet wide at the top and 650 feet wide at the base!
At the Arizona-Nevada border, Lake Mead is the largest man-made lake in the country, and it is also the nation's largest reservoir of water, created by the construction of the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River. It supplies Las Vegas with water (located 30 miles away). While the 550 miles of shoreline is the perfect spot for swimming, boat trips and water skiing, the rapid drying out of the lake is now of concern to specialists.
Halfway between Vegas and the Hoover Dam, just outside Boulder City, Bootleg Canyon is renowned for two outdoor activities. Firstly, its mountain bike trails - almost 37 miles in total, some well suited for beginners, others more challenging for experienced cyclists. It also features an exhilarating zipline. At an incredible 8,000ft above the ground, soar along four zip lines running in succession with speeds reaching 50 miles per hour, against the backdrop of the stunning Las Vegas Valley, Lake Mead and the vastness of the Mojave desert. It offers intense experiences for those wild-at-heart thrill-seekers.
Fly over the Grand Canyon
There's an enjoyable three-hour drive between Las Vegas and the western part of the Grand Canyon. To save time and enjoy the unique experience of flying over the canyon, head towards Boulder City again, where helicopters and planes with panoramic windows take off. Several loops and flight lengths are offered, and there's even the opportunity to land inside the canyon. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and even more breathtaking at the end of the day when the sun goes down and ignites the rock.
Valley of Fire
North of Lake Mead and about 60 miles from Las Vegas in the Mojave Desert, the Valley of Fire State Park is Nevada's oldest state park. Explore the eroded array of ochre rock formations, petrified trees and sand dunes that date back more than 150 million years ago. This magnificent desert may look familiar, as it has been the backdrop for many famous films throughout the years.
Cover picture ; Maverick Helicopters