Blimey, I’ve never really written an article before, but here’s a bash. As a Brit who loves a good adventure, I found myself in Las Vegas, the city that seems to engulf you with its neon radiance.
To begin, I had the clever notion of looking into a car rental USA service to have the freedom of exploring at my own pace.
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An Unexpected Journey Begins
Unusually, instead of sticking around the slot machines and poker tables, I fancied checking out what the surroundings had to offer. What a pleasant surprise it was to find that there’s much more to Nevada than what meets the eye!
1. Uncovering Hoover Dam
Our first stop is the Hoover Dam, a place that would typically seem rather dull to many. It’s about a 45-minute drive southeast of Vegas, and you’d hardly believe the stark contrast between the bustling city and this marvel of modern engineering. The dam’s immense structure bridges the gap between Nevada and Arizona, providing an awe-inspiring view of the Colorado River below. There’s something peculiarly calming about the hum of this industrial beast.
Despite being a Brit who prefers tea over dam coffee, the on-site café, the High Scaler Café, provides a lovely setting for a pit stop. And if you’re up for it, there are tour options where guides share fascinating stories of its construction. It’s not your typical Vegas glitz, but it’s got its own charming appeal.
2. The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Just a 20-minute drive west from Las Vegas, you’ll stumble upon the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. It’s a bit like the Grand Canyon’s little sibling, but somehow seems more approachable. The dramatic landscapes of red and orange rock formations jutting from the earth is something out of a sci-fi film. The 13-mile scenic drive offers panoramic views that can leave even the most seasoned travellers a bit gobsmacked.
There are plenty of hiking and biking trails for the more adventurous sorts. Or, if you’re like me and prefer a more leisurely pace, you can simply enjoy the picnic spots scattered throughout. So pack your sandwiches and flask of tea for a lovely outdoor lunch amid an unforgettable desert backdrop.
3. An Alien Encounter at Area 51
If you don’t mind a bit of a drive (about two hours north from Vegas), the notorious Area 51 is an oddball destination that I found unexpectedly amusing. Of course, it’s a highly classified remote detachment of the U.S. Air Force, but around it has developed a culture rich in alien folklore. I can’t help but feel like I’m in a Doctor Who episode, waiting for a UFO sighting.
You won’t actually get to enter the base (unless you fancy getting arrested), but there are several quirky attractions like the Little A’Le’Inn in the nearby town of Rachel, a hotspot for UFO enthusiasts. Grab a pint and a burger, chat with the locals, and immerse yourself in the area’s eccentric charm.
4. Exploring the Valley of Fire
Another location that caught my fancy is the Valley of Fire State Park, located about an hour northeast of Vegas. The name alone had me hooked – Valley of Fire, sounds like something from a Tolkien novel, doesn’t it? The park is Nevada’s oldest and gets its name from the vibrant red sandstone formations that seem ablaze when the sun hits them just right.
The park is a great place for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, or photography, offering several trails with varying degrees of difficulty. It’s a stark contrast to the neon lights and constant noise of Vegas, giving one a chance to appreciate the quiet beauty of nature.
5. Experiencing Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Our final stop is the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, located on the Colorado River about 25 miles from Vegas. It’s the first and largest national recreation area in the U.S., and offers a range of outdoor activities like boating, fishing, and hiking. But as a Brit who’s not overly fond of exerting himself, I found it a perfect place for a quiet picnic.
The stunning views of the lake against the backdrop of the rugged mountains are surprisingly calming. A perfect way to unwind after all the casino noise. You might even catch sight of some local wildlife if you’re lucky!
So, there you have it – five decidedly un-Vegas-like experiences around the city of Las Vegas. Rent a car, venture beyond the city limits, and you might find yourself pleasantly surprised. And remember, what happens in Vegas… doesn’t have to stay in Vegas if it’s a bloody good story!