Vegas day trip: Red Rock Canyon

Should the endless glory of the Las Vegas strip ever cease to amaze you, consider heading to the local Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area for a little bit of fresh air and R&R. Situated only 25 minutes northwest of the city, the nature reserve is a world away from the high frequency Vegas atmosphere, a serene, bucolic landscape where one can jump out of the car, hike around the massive, sandstone features and drink in the sprawling views of the Keystone Thrust.

Red Rock Canyon Road, a 13 mile one-way loop is the jagged, wandering backbone of the park, the starting point from which visitors can begin a day hike, technical climb or rock scramble and from where a long line of autos and bicycles gape at the surroundings.

It’s hard to not pull over at every outlook to jump out and take photos, but one of the first opportunities to do so is the best. About one mile into the park on the right, a precarious stacking of sandy red boulders and formations peers over the road, providing scenic hikes for all levels of adventurers. Fifteen minutes of this glorious nature will put any Vegas hangover at ease.

The scenic drive is open from 6AM until dusk and costs $5 to enter with a day pass. Make sure to arrive at least two hours before sunset so that you have plenty of time to enjoy the park.