Ask just about anyone what Las Vegas is known for, and the vast majority of responses will be its world-famous Strip. But Las Vegas has much more to offer than neon-lit evenings spent gambling at its casinos or dining at top-of-the-line restaurants.
Las Vegas is near many of the most spectacular state and national parks in the United States that are a treat for anyone who loves playing in the great outdoors. The best thing about these magical places is that, in most cases, they’re all within one hour of the Las Vegas Strip, making them as accessible as they are beautiful. Read on to learn a little bit more about these natural wonders.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a 195,819-acre park located less than 20 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip. As you might guess from its name, the conservation area is best known for its dramatic red and orange sandstone formations that provide a visually delightful contrast to the beige soil of the Mojave Desert. Due to its scenic beauty, the conservation area is a favorite stop for photographers, wildlife enthusiasts, and fossil hunters. There are numerous hiking trails of various lengths and degrees of difficulty, or you can see the highlights from the comfort of your car by following the 13-mile scenic loop.
Valley of Fire State Park, the oldest and largest of its kind in Nevada, boasts unforgettable sandstone formations that look like they’re from another planet. The best known of these is Elephant Rock, an arch that can be seen from the Valley of Fire Highway that cuts through the nearly 42,000-acre park. Like Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire State Park has a wealth of native plants and animals you can see, including cholla cactuses, coyotes, kit foxes, and black tailed jackrabbits. Valley of Fire State Park is only an hour’s drive from the Las Vegas Strip, making it an ideal day trip from Polo Towers.
Photo by: Joseph Rossbach – Website: Click here
Yes, you’re reading that correctly; there’s a lake in the desert. Lake Mead is an artificial lake that is about 40 miles east of Las Vegas. The intersection of the sparse rocky desert terrain with the deep blue waters of the lake is striking, which may be why the area is popular with photographers, hikers, and those looking for a great spot to have a picnic. Not only that, but Lake Mead is a spectacular place to go swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing, activities you may not necessarily associate with the desert. If all that isn’t enough for you, there is a scenic driving route that takes you through colorful mountains, valleys, and canyons.
Escape the desert heat in Mt. Charleston, a small community located high in the Spring Mountains about 40 miles west of Las Vegas. In fact, Mt. Charleston is typically 20 degrees colder than Las Vegas, and during the winter there’s often enough snow to go snowshoeing and sledding. Mt. Charleston is the staging point for exploring two canyons, Lee and Kyle, that are part of the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area. In the summer, you can explore 51 miles of hiking trails that take you through pine forests to waterfalls, the tops of mountains, and canyons.
Where to Stay:
Polo Towers is located in the heart of the famous Las Vegas Strip. Check out the bright lights from your private balcony, slide into the rooftop pool or work out at the state-of-the-art fitness center. Turn up the music on the surround-sound speakers in your suite, as you get ready to open the door to Vegas.