There's more to Sin City than meets the eye. Past the mega-casinos, exotic hotels, and extravagant performances, Las Vegas is teeming with breathtaking wonders that go beyond the Strip. Ripping through the tides, scaling the big red rock, marveling at the wonders of mesmerizing caves, and experiencing the thrill of treading through water for miles on a hike — you can truly experience nature in Las Vegas, believe it or not.
Looking to take a break from the glittery casinos and shows? You don't need to go far. Keep on reading to see how you can still experience the natural attractions behind the bright lights of Las Vegas.
Nature in Las Vegas: 5 Must-See Spots
1. Lehman Caves
Situated behind an iron door within the Great Basin National Park, tourists will come across over 300 underground formations protruding from every surface of the Lehman cavern.
The caves were first discovered by Absalom Lehman and opened their doors for arranged tours by paying visitors in the 1880s. Around that time, access was via the natural entrance, involving the descent of a steep, 60-foot stairway, but this was soon replaced with a constructed tunnel, complemented by a lighting system that was built in 1949.
Today, you will find that the passages are subtly lit, and your guide will carry a torch to illuminate geographical features of importance. On some days, you might even catch the ranger turning all lights off for a short while, allowing visitors to be enveloped in total darkness and silence — giving the cave an effect similar to that of a moonless night.
To top it all off, you'll even get a glimpse of known cave-dwellers such as spiders, scorpions, and bats.
2. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Located near the crowds of Las Vegas, the glowing red-orange hills of Red Rock Canyon are visible in the distance from the city, stretching 15 miles from the east-facing side of the Spring Mountains (although the whole area stretches over 40 miles).
Surround yourself with every beautiful shade of red in a 13-mile scenic drive around the sprawling deserts. Bicycles and vehicles are welcome in this one-way loop of the paved road all year round.
If you want to look at the hills and boulders up close, live every hiker's dream and try out any or all of the 26 unique open-country trails that span through these landscapes. You will get to see every perspective of this celebrated natural wonder through its rock formations, diverse wildlife, wildflowers, caves, and waterfalls.
In one of its popular trails, the Ice Box Canyon Trail, you'll be treading through lush-looking canyon floors, surrounded by pine trees and other foliage.
3. Hoover Dam and Hot Springs
Start at the base of the Hoover Dam and make your way down the majestic Colorado River, through the Black Canyon. Relax inside the sauna cave and rejuvenate in the hidden geothermal hot springs. The waterfalls and wildlife are unlike anything you’ve ever seen, and leaping from the rock formations will give you an adrenaline rush like no other.
You won’t be alone on your trip, either. Keep your eyes open for desert bighorn sheep, coyotes, falcons, bald eagles, and all kinds of migratory waterfowl.
4. Zion National Park
If any of the trails of Red Rock don't impress you, try Zion National Park for a change.
Okay, so it’s not in Las Vegas exactly. But it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away in Utah. Spanning through the full spectrum of difficulty, the Zion wilderness is home to dozens of beautiful trails. From easy and family-friendly trails along Riverside Walk to the adrenaline-inducing heights of Angels Landing, these hiking trips in Zion National Park can guarantee your mind a clean wipe of the glitz and glam of the Strip.
Created due to the Virgin River twisting and turning its way through layers of rock, we have one of the many unique trails in the park, the Zion Narrows. The difficulty of your hike is dependent on the river's flow rate, but this trail brings a challenging twist in one of its sections. Once you reach the section of Wall Street, you'll sometimes need to tread through chest-deep (or even higher) water. It's all worth it, though. You'll be fully rewarded with exceptional scenery after the strenuous trek.
5. Lake Mead National Recreation Area
One of America's cleanest and largest reservoirs offers 1.5 million acres of paradise for nature-lovers to explore. Only 45 minutes away from the Strip, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area stretches across Lake Mohave, Las Vegas Bay, and the surrounding areas.
People don't normally think of Las Vegas as a venue for water sports. And yet, Lake Mead offers a diverse range of land and water activities. Grab your scuba gear and explore the depths of crystal blue freshwater, or camp and hike in mountains, caves, canyons, valleys, surrounded by breathtaking wonders all year round. Or simply revel at the stunning view of the Hoover Dam, relax, and take some nice pictures.
Even better, take it to the next level and try canoeing, paddle boarding, or kayaking. These are great water activities for Lake Mead because the sheer size of the area means you're not contesting with boats and cruise ships for space.
The best part? It's open to beginners and connoisseurs alike. There are guided kayak tours to help you appreciate and enjoy the art of kayaking and teach you about various geographical features and diverse wildlife around the area.
Expeditions Evolutions is one of the leading expert guides in kayak and hiking excursions throughout Las Vegas and the surrounding area. We believe your firsts shouldn't always be scary. Our friendly guides bring equipment, training for beginners, snacks, water, and foster a supportive and conducive learning environment for an immersive kayaking trip.