Las Vegas is a place that pretty much everyone I know has been to at least once in their lives. Last year was my turn. I finally made it to Vegas! Time to party? Not exactly. Well ok, the first night was a party on Freemont St. but the rest of my time there I had more fun off the strip, getting out into nature, rather than losing my money in the casinos & spending $10 for a sandwich. We kept it cheap & still had fun. We hit up the grocery store, borrowed a cooler from a friend that lives in the area, then road tripped & hiked most of the time. Red Rock Canyon was very pretty, but Valley of Fire State Park blew it away as far as scenery goes! If you ever get a chance to go here, it is only about an hour drive northeast of Vegas. I drove through Overton, NV & then drove down 169 to the East entrance of the park. In my opinion, this is the best way to start your scenic drive/ride/hike. Prepare to spend all day here & bring a camera! My personal favorite part of Valley of Fire was Mouse’s Tank area (just down the road from the visitors center). It has good hiking and quite a bit of petroglyphs.
I also recommend going to Red Rock Canyon. But if you do go here, make sure it’s before going to Valley of Fire State Park. As I mentioned before, Red Rock is very pretty, but compared to Valley of Fire, it might be a disappointment. I went to Red Rock twice while I was in Vegas. The first time I was in awe by the beauty of the geology here. So much different than the Midwest. All of the different rock formations & colors!! I got a whole 2 pictures & then my batteries died in my camera. Ah bummer! So I made it a point to go back again to get some pictures before my vacation was over. The second time, I was not as impressed (since this was the very next day after seeing Valley of Fire). Here are some pictures of Red Rock Canyon. (or maybe not. It seems that I am having some technical difficulties :) – More pictures of Red Rock Canyon are in the slideshow even though I didn’t want them there.
On our last night in Vegas, we decided to drive out far away from the light pollution to do some stargazing since the Perseid Meteor Shower was happening at this time. I don’t know where we drove to. Somewhere in the mountains where we heard echoes of wild donkeys hee-hawing very loudly. We didn’t know what the sounds were & to be honest, we were pretty scared. It was probably a full 2 minutes until we realized what the sounds were. Honestly, to me, it sounded like people yelling & a very loud squeaky bed. I never heard a herd of donkeys yelling before. It was weird. I didn’t catch any shooting stars, but I did get a picture of the big dipper & some light pollution from Vegas.