Hiking the Red Rock Canyon Trails

Nothing contrasts the glitz and fireworks of the Las Vegas Strip quite like its neighbor, the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. A 33-minute commute of only 22.7 miles from Polo Towers to the Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center will transport you from the bright lights of the Strip to the majestic beauty of sandstone formations in the Mojave Desert.

There’s hardly a better day trip from Las Vegas than to visit Red Rock Canyon.


Red Rock Canyon has 195,819 acres of natural beauty, just begging all those high rollers in Vegas to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. 26 hikes and trails have been mapped out for hikers to explore the vast geologic formations all throughout the canyon. If you think the desert sounds boring or bland, then you haven’t seen Red Rock Canyon!

“The unique geologic features, plants and animals of Red Rock represent some of the best examples of the Mojave Desert.”

Iron oxide causes the “red, orange, and brown-colored rocks” in the area. The iron concretions and limestone add their own stories to the natural history of the canyon. Even dinosaur tracks can still be seen in the Aztec Sandstone – at three different sites still being investigated by researchers.

Red Rock Canyon is full of wildlife and plants, like the beautiful Crimson Columbine, a red and yellow flower, and the Joshua Tree. The animals that make their home here are something to behold, and include the Chorus Frog, with his black stripe across his eyes, and the Sagebrush Lizard, with his stripes and spots that blend in well with his surroundings. Check out this select list of plants and wildlife.

Hikers can get up close to see interesting petroglyphs and pictographs left behind by past civilizations that lived or passed through the canyon. The hiking trails like Calico Tanks and Ice Box Canyon give hikers exposure to the geology, waterfalls, and open desert of the area. To help you in choosing your trails, this guide gives valuable information, such as distance, average time, and difficulty.

But not all of us are hikers. For those less inclined to climb boulders and scramble up a mountain, the Scenic Loop is a great alternative. Whether riding in a car or on a bicycle, this one-way road has many scenic overlooks and trailheads for you to explore.

“Reaching the park is a breeze and much can be seen from a 13-mile long Scenic Drive. Several trails depart from the Scenic Drive allowing visitors to explore rugged canyon and unique rock formation.”

Where to Stay

Spacious, well-appointed rooms and an ideal location in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip make Polo Towers the place to stay during your next trip to Vegas. The resort is just steps away from fantastic restaurants and world-class casinos, including the MGM Grand and Caesars Palace, and within driving distance of stunning national parks and all the outdoor adventure you can handle. Once you’ve had your fill of Las Vegas for the day, take in the city’s neon lights from Polo Towers’ rooftop pool and spa or sneak in a workout at the on-site fitness center. Make your next Las Vegas vacation unforgettable at Polo Towers.

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A Day in the Underwater Museum

Wherever there is water, underneath the surface awaits a fascinating world to those who seek it. The Caribbean Sea is full of old tales of shipwrecks, pirate lore, and natural coral reefs. But it’s only in the Mexican Caribbean, near Cancún, that you’ll find the largest underwater museum in the world.

Cancún Underwater Museum (Museo Subacuático de Arte or MUSA) was founded in 2009 by Roberto Díaz Abraham, Jaime González Cano (Director of the National Marine Park), and Jason deCaires Taylor (British sculptor). Taylor sculpted over 500 figures made of pH neutral clay/concrete. The founders hoped to see coral, lobsters, and tropical fish make a home in and around the sculptures.caribbean sea,

“The Museo Subacuático de Arte, located off the coast of Isla Mujeres in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, is the world’s largest underwater museum. Composed of over 500 life-sized sculptures, MUSA offers incredible displays hidden 28 feet below the ocean’s surface. That means that the only way it can be explored is by diving or snorkeling.”

Their vision was to create a sanctuary for marine life to thrive and invite snorkelers and scuba divers to see them up close – diverting divers from the precious natural coral reefs nearby.

“The exhibitions were designed to draw tourists away from local reefs that were being damaged by snorkelers.”

Over the years, Taylor has added his own unique inspirations to the collection, all while thinking of marine life. Some of his creations, such as “Resurrection” or “The Banker”, are social commentary on today’s thinking and politics. Others, such as a Volkswagen Beetle, were placed to make a welcoming environment for crustaceans.

“The main goal of the museum is preservation, so the clay promotes marine growth to form a complex structure inhabited and colonized by various forms of marine life.”

The Underwater Museum is divided into two galleries: Salon Manchones and Salon Nizuc. Scuba diving is the recommended way to see Salon Manchones. Snorkeling works, too, but the statues are about 30 feet below the surface. Several snorkelers mentioned they were disappointed with visibility on a windy day because the sand on the ocean floor was stirred up, making it difficult to see the statues from so far away.

Snorkeling, glass bottom boats, or the Jungle Tour are the three ways to see Salon Nizuc. No scuba diving allowed here because it is too shallow.

MUSA is not the only underwater museum in the world, but it is the biggest. When you’re in Cancún, it’s an attraction you don’t want to miss. Even if you’re not scuba-certified, it’s a great way to spend the day at this beach destination.

Where to Stay

Club Regina Cancun is a beach resort located in Mexico’s premier vacation destination, nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Nichupte Lagoon. The location brings ancient and contemporary Cancun to your vacation experience. This destination offers seaside views of naturally turquoise waters; perfect for waterskiing, diving and snorkeling. The resort amenities include an on-site restaurant and bar, and a sparkling swimming pool.

 

Happy Independence day, dear Mexico!

Celebrating in Puerto Vallarta!

Every free nation can trace its independence back to a significant moment in history. For Mexico, that moment is September 16, 1810, when Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla uttered the Cry for Independence (Grito de Dolores or El Grito). Rallying his countrymen to fight against the Spaniards, Hidalgo, a Catholic priest, helped start a revolution that led to Mexican independence almost 11 years later.

That famous moment is commemorated every year on Independence Day all throughout Mexico. Every city brings out its decorations, fireworks, officials, and its own twist or local flavor of how to celebrate the holiday. But some things are consistent in every town. On September 15, at 11:00 p.m., the mayor of the city comes out on the balcony of the town hall carrying the Mexican flag, rings a bell, and then recites the traditional speech that ends with “¡Viva México!” (“Long Live Mexico!”). Thus begins the Fiestas Patrias (national holidays).

“The main event of Fiestas Patrias is a party in the street, overflowing with authentic food stalls, live music and folk dancing until the mayor’s Proclamation of Independence at 11pm. Fireworks soon follow, as clubs and bars across town keep things lively all night – and into morning.”

Puerto Vallarta is one of the best places to join in the national celebration. There’s food everywhere, including some tasty recipes that are saved for special occasions, like Chiles en Nogada. The Taco Fair (Feria del Taco) has to be one of the highlights of the festivities, “as the best taquerias in town serve their succulent creations with a myriad of fillings (fish, shrimp, carne asada, pollo, al pastor, chorizo, etc) and homemade salsas.” Last year’s Taco Fair was a big success at the Lazaro Cardenas Park.

Vallarta Food Tours guarantees visitors to Vallarta City will eat like a local for three hours. Join their food tour to taste authentic Mexican fare like traditional ceviche tostadas, mole enchiladas, and a jalapeño margarita.

“One of Vallarta Food Tours’ favorite ways to celebrate is do our own Vallarta city walking food tour and hit one of the many local restaurants featuring Mexico’s exquisite cuisine.”

Whether you come to Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, Cancun, Oaxaca or any other Mexican town to celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day, you are bound to experience incredible cultural displays of dancing, music, arts, crafts, fireworks, local celebrities, and of course food.

At our Inizio Restaurants at our Club Regina resorts, our chefs prepare a special holiday menu for our guests. Make sure to ask each resort for details if you are visiting!

Where to Stay

Club Regina Puerto Vallarta offers comfortable amenities, on-site dining, and easy beach access right in the exclusive Marina Vallarta.

Villa Vera Puerto Vallarta is located near the restaurants and bars of the exclusive Marina Vallarta just a few miles from Puerto Vallarta’s beaches and best attractions.

 

Exploring Whistler’s Valley Trail

In 1982, architect Tom Barratt and other city planners created Whistler’s Valley Trail to give people of all ages a place for recreation and a great way to see Whistler, British Columbia. What started as a trail in the immediate areas around Meadow Park and Whistler Village grew to become a 40-kilometer network of trails connecting Whistler to the five alpine lakes nearby.

Tom Barratt said, “The trail allows anyone to see the wetlands and lakes and forests. It gives you different views of the mountains and lets people who aren’t hard-core hikers or bikers really experience Whistler.”

It doesn’t matter where you start or end up. The trail map can help you identify distances, sights, parks, and difficulty levels of the trail. First choose your form of transportation: walking, running, cycling, rollerblading, or skating. Motorized vehicles are prohibited, except for wheelchairs. Valley Trail is more for the casual stroll or ride with your family (fun for all ages), but it is wide enough to provide two lanes (one for each direction), so even serious runners and cyclists can make the most of it.

“The Whistler Valley Trail is a free and accessible way for people to see the beautiful scenery without having to be advanced cyclists or hikers. Even people in wheelchairs can access the Valley Trail, so it epitomizes the very best kind of family-friendly bike trail – AAA (All Ages and Abilities).”

Dogs are welcome on the trail but must be leashed. There are over a dozen parks that connect to the trail, which give your dog lots of opportunity to come off the leash and run around to make friends and mark some trees. Barking Bay at Rainbow Park is one such place.

Whistler is a great destination in Canada for both summer and winter activities, and Valley Trail fits both categories. Open year-round, Valley Trail invites hikers and fat-tire bikers to enjoy the same views in winter. Some of the trail is designated for cross-country skiing, while other parts are cleared of snow daily for hikers.

“There are few experiences more uniquely Whistler than hopping on a bike or pushing a stroller or wheelchair or skateboard out into the towering rainforests and panoramic vistas of the Whistler wilderness.”

To give you a sense of the picturesque beauty and the too-many-to-count scenic spots, watch this video from GoWhistler. This is adventure travel the Canadian way!

Where to Stay

The Westin Resort & Spa is located in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, a charming village widely regarded as one of the world’s best skiing and boarding destinations. The resort is ideally located just steps from the base of both Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains, as well as the pedestrian-only village featuring Whistler’s fantastic shops and restaurants.

Westin Resort & Spa

 

A Day Well Spent on Main Street in Telluride

Telluride, Colorado, is one of those places that, if you know anything about it, you know you want to visit. A mountain town with plenty to offer, travelers come for a host of reasons: great skiing in winter, Rocky Mountains beauty, festivals celebrating almost any occasion, and incredible outdoor adventures year-round. You have probably heard of the famous Telluride Ski Resort, the free gondola rides, the Telluride Film Festival and Bridal Veil Falls.

But you might have missed the hidden gem of Telluride: Main Street.

Colorado Avenue is the main road that passes through the town running east and west. Over the years, while the ski resort has gotten the most attention, quietly Main Street has blossomed into a downtown that rivals any U.S. small town. In fact, the city has developed quite a reputation in the dining industry, as one of the best cities for foodies.

Condé Nast readers ranked Telluride in their Top 20 List of Best American Cities for Foodies. And Fodor’s ranked us in the Top 10.”

What makes Telluride such a favorite among diners? For starters, it’s the quality and variety of the restaurants. Restauranteurs have come to the mountains of Colorado to see what they could create and if it would win over the locals and tourists alike. Cafes, wine bars, dives, formal restaurants, ski-access only hotspots, bakeries, coffee shops, saloons, barbeques, and pubs dot the eating landscape of Telluride. Chefs prepare intricate menus with intense flavors, often finding their inspiration in international cuisines. Asian fusion, American Midwest fare, Italian specialties, cowboy comfort foods, delicate truffles, and French pastries can all be found here.

“They’ve got the highest restaurant in America (Alpino Vino) and an unquenchable zest for happy hour.”


Main Street is the place to find some of the best eats. But it’s also where you’ll find outfitters and rentals for your outdoor adventures, books and magazines for the readers in your family, yoga and pilates, live entertainment, art galleries, and souvenirs to remember your visit. It’s possible to spend a whole day on Main Street. Dining. Shopping. Gazing at art. You choose. You can even discover some of the history of the old mining town when you visit historic sights like the New Sheridan Hotel, founded in 1891. Or consider stopping by Elks Lodge, another establishment from the early mining years.

“During the gold rush, the Elks Lodge was one of Telluride’s most popular gathering places in the mining community. Great local spot for concerts, events, Turkey Bingo, weddings and more.”

Yes, you absolutely should visit all the scenic sights in Telluride. Ride the gondola. Take panoramic photos from the top of the ski lifts. Get up close and personal with Bridal Veil Falls. But then, when you’re ready to come back down to the valley, Main Street will be here waiting for you, with its offerings of food, beer, après, and atmosphere.

Where to Stay

An elegant western-style aesthetic and plenty of living space make The River Club one of the best places to stay in Telluride, Colorado, one of the top ski destinations in North America. The resort is located within the historic Depot District just two blocks from the Telluride Gondola Station, giving guests easy access to the town’s ski slopes, restaurants, cafes, and shops.

Franz Klammer Lodge is located the mountains above Telluride, a small but eclectic town that is an ideal year-round destination. The town’s ski slopes provide a wide variety of winter fun for alpine enthusiasts. Visit the town in the summer and you’ll find world-class mountain biking trails, golf courses, skate parks, and much more.

Exploring Oxbow Bend at Grand Teton

Iconic is the word people use to describe the view from Oxbow Bend at Grand Teton National Park. It “is without a doubt the most photographed place in the entire park.” Dictionary.com defines an oxbow as “a bow-shaped bend in a river, or the land embraced by it.” What makes Oxbow Bend so photogenic? Just about everything – Mount Moran in the background, aspen trees lining the water’s edge, wildlife, and a sunrise sky with soft lighting make this spot unforgettable.

Grand Teton

“The image of the Snake River with Mount Moran’s reflection is iconic and is probably the most recognized image of Grand Teton National Park throughout the world.”

If you’re in search of wildlife, everyone says to come early in the morning. This aquatic habitat is the home of moose, river otters, and grizzly bears. Just imagine peeking through your telephoto lens at a live grizzly bear in search of breakfast. That’s worth waking up early for!

“Dawn and dusk are the best times to spot moose, elk, sandhill cranes, ospreys, bald eagles, trumpeter swans, Canada geese, blue herons and white pelicans.”

 How to Get There

If you’re coming from Teton Club, head north to the Moran Entrance Ranger Station on US Hwy 191. The John D Rockefeller Jr Parkway will take you all the way to the Oxbow Bend Turnout on your left.

For a more adventurous approach, consider kayaking the Snake River. This will give you abundant views that land lovers can’t access. And you may see some wildlife that don’t wander close to the parking areas. The easiest access to the water is at the end of a road called Cattleman’s Bridge. Go past the Oxbow Bend Turnout and take the first left. Follow the scenic road about a mile to the parking area.

The Outbound Collective says Oxbow Bend is an “Exceptionally scenic spot teeming with wildlife. Easy kayak rentals in Moose at Dornans. Duration: 1-4 hours, depending on how much you want to explore.”

Grand Teton

How to Observe Wildlife Responsibly

The National Park Service has lots of information available on their website and in the visitor centers at each national park. Read the tips below before you go out for some wildlife viewing.

Be a Responsible Wildlife Observer

  • Use binoculars, spotting scopes or long lenses for close views and photographs. Always maintain a safe distance of at least 100 yards from wolves and bears, and at least 25 yards from all other wildlife.
  • Never position yourself between an adult and its offspring. Females with young are especially defensive.
  • It is illegal to feed wildlife, including ground squirrels and birds. Feeding wild animals makes them dependent on people, and animals often bite the hand that feeds them.
  • Do not harass wildlife. Harassment is any human action that causes unusual behavior, or a change of behavior, in an animal. Repeated encounters with people can have negative, long-term impacts on wildlife, including increased levels of stress and the avoidance of essential feeding areas.
  • Nesting birds are easily disturbed. For wildlife, raising young is a private affair. If an adult bird on a nest flies off at your approach, or circles you or screams in alarm, you are too close to the nest. Unattended nestlings readily succumb to predation and exposure to heat, cold, and wet weather.
  • Allow other visitors a chance to enjoy wildlife. If your actions cause an animal to flee, you have deprived other visitors of a viewing opportunity. Use an animal’s behavior as a guide to your actions.

One recent visitor said the following about Oxbow Bend: “Picture perfect. Words can’t really describe the beauty of this place. A photographer’s destination and a painter’s dream.” Whether you explore by land or by water, be sure to bring your binoculars, camera, hiking shoes, and bear spray. And bring a friend to share it with.

Where to Stay

Teton Club combines unparalleled luxury with rustic Western aesthetics to create an unforgettable vacation experience. The resort is located in Teton Village in the valley of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, widely considered one of the best skiing destinations in North America. Teton Club offers a wide range of amenities you can enjoy during your time in Jackson Hole, including ski-in/ski-out access, an underground parking garage with valet service, a private lounge, library, and a Great Room ideal for relaxing after a long day of adventures.

 

Mastering the Art of Doing Nothing

Doing nothing is not exactly an American trait. We tend to value busyness, activity, and achievement over rest, rejuvenation, and solitude. The art of doing nothing sounds foreign to most of us, like some kind of eastern philosophy that looks good on paper but we’ll never really acquire it.

When we go on vacation, we would probably all agree that it’s better to plan something than to arrive unprepared. You can always change the plan once you’re there. The catch is, we are likely to over plan, to fill our schedules with too much activity, and not give ourselves the break we need.

Il Dolce Far Niente is an Italian phrase that means the sweetness of doing nothing. The concept makes more sense when you see it in context. Try watching this clip from the movie Eat, Pray, Love. The Italians get the idea – you don’t need a reason to relax. You deserve a break, so take one as often as you can.

We need this kind of thinking in our daily lives.

But we also need it when we travel. Travelers usually bring all their devices with them to stay connected to their lives back home. This comes with an unfortunate consequence: you don’t rest!

“Disconnect. Facebook, Twitter, and email are not Dolce far Niente or anything even close.”

Too often we arrive at the resort, get settled in, and then turn on the TV, check our email, and update our Facebook status. When we head to the pool, what comes with us? Our tablets, laptops, and phones. This is not helping us master the art of doing nothing.

Instead, turn off the devices. Unplug. Don’t pay attention to the time. One rule while on vacation should be: no alarm clocks!

“The central thing about a holiday is that the clock that governs the rest of our lives is briefly turned off. You wake to write on a clean sheet.”

We need time off to recuperate from our hectic daily lives. What better way is there than sipping mojitos by the pool? Or gazing at the rock formations of Lands End? Give your senses a chance to take in your surroundings. Be aware of sounds and ambience. Savor the intense flavors of every meal. Vacation time is the perfect opportunity to enjoy life to the fullest.

It doesn’t really matter where you go. It’s more a mental exercise. Resting might come naturally to a few of us, but most of us have to be very intentional.

“Doing nothing is hard work, at first. Imagine how stressful the first few days of a vacation can be as you decompress, and let go of work, and real life. Your face is tense and you might have trouble breaking up with your email. Now imagine the last few days of a vacation. You can’t remember what had you stressed out, your eyes are light, your muscles are loose and you could lay in a hammock all day.”

While you’re practicing the art of doing nothing, you might find some tips in this summer must-read: The Art of Doing Nothing: Simple Ways to Make Time for Yourself by Véronique Vienne.

Where to Stay

All of our Travel Raintree resorts can help you enjoy the “sweetness of doing nothing.” But our Club Regina resorts in Mexico are particularly well-equipped to help you master this ancient and wise concept. Swim up bars, plenty of open space, restaurants, and pools make our resorts ideal to do nothing at all. Nada. Just sit and relax. No planning, no rushing, no tour schedules.

Cancún

When you’re not exploring Cancún and the Mayan Riviera, you can relax in Club Regina Cancun’s on-site hot tub or two sparkling swimming pools, get a bite to eat at the on-site restaurant, or sip a cocktail at the bar.

Club Regina Cancun

Club Regina Cancun

Los Cabos

Club Regina Los Cabos is a beachside resort in beautiful Los Cabos, home to championship golf courses, fascinating towns, and the famous arch at Lands End. The resort’s orange adobe walls perfectly complement Los Cabos’ rugged desert terrain, and every room offers fantastic views of the crystal clear waters of the Sea of Cortez. Each unit features flat-screen TVs and either jetted tubs or kitchenettes. An on-site restaurant and bar and four swimming pools give guests plenty to enjoy during their stay.

Club Regina Los Cabos

Club Regina Los Cabos

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta’s beautiful beaches, rich biodiversity, and wealth of outdoor adventure attract tourists from around the world. Traverse Puerto Vallarta’s picturesque Malecon or Romantic Zone; browse the art, jewelry, and handcrafts at the Isla Rio Cuale market; hit the trails on an ATV; or soar through the canopy on a zip lining tour. There’s no shortage of ways to enjoy Puerto Vallarta – let Club Regina Puerto Vallarta be a part of your fantastic vacation.

Club Regina Puerto Vallarta