Las Vegas Outdoor Adventures
by Mikhail Doubinski
You’ve played slot machines until you feel like a one-armed bandit yourself. Your palate has enjoyed some of the most exquisite fare the world has to offer. You’ve seen the big name shows; you’ve shopped the specialty shops; you’ve even spent several days touring the lesser known attractions of Las Vegas. So what’s left for you to do? Las Vegas adventures, that’s what! With the overall tourist view of Las Vegas as a solitary metropolis in the desert, few visitors stop and realise that there are several excellent adventures and day trips that can be had using Las Vegas as a base.
Get out of the darkened casinos, get off your butt and head out for some fun in the sun - with either a self-directed or guided tour of Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon (www.nps.gov/grca).
You can easily rent a car or motor home in town to take the trip at your own speed, to see the sights you want to see along the way. Just get on the US-93 highway headed... and follow the signs. One of the first stops you might like to make along the way is in Boulder, Nevada, a total anomaly if there ever was one. Begun as a city to house workers building the Hoover Dam, Boulder outlawed gambling and alcohol from its inception. It’s still the only city in Nevada that does not allow gambling in any form, although in 1969, a law allowing the sale of alcohol was passed. Places of interest in and around Boulder include the Lake Mead National Recreational Area (www.nps.gov/lake/index.htm), where three of the desert environments in the United States meet, exhibiting a wide range of flora and fauna (some of which are not found anywhere else in the world).
A bit farther along US-93 lays Hoover Dam, a definite must-see along the route. Construction on the dam itself was begun in 1933, but prior to that, workers had to eliminate loose rock from the walls of the Black Canyon where the dam would be built and the waters of the Colorado River (www.kaibab.org/misc/gc_coriv.htm) had to be diverted from the construction site. Details and pictures describing the “high-scalers,” who hung from ropes and used dynamite to loosen the rock, can be found at the Visitors’ Centre at the south end of the Dam. You can also learn about the four tunnels constructed to divert the River, four tunnels with a combined length of over three miles with a concrete lining three feet thick.
After turning east from US-93 onto the I40 freeway, you’ll pass through Kingman, Arizona, famed for being one of the original towns along Route 66, the path travelled by easterners to escape the dustbowl conditions and depression economy of the 1930s, in order to take agricultural jobs in California. For a fun side trip along the way, turn off at Kingman and take Historic Route 66 through small towns such Hackberry and Peach Springs, Arizona, where some of the original buildings along the route – hotels, stores and shops – still stand today.
You might even decide to take a tour of the Grand Canyon Caverns, where an inland sea formed caves lined with limestone walls during prehistoric times. Fossils and bones of ancient creatures have been found in the Caverns and new finds are made each year.
Return to I40 at Seligman, Arizona and continue along it until it merges with the freeway once again, just before Pinaveta, Arizona. Head east to the exit (Exit 165) for the Grand Canyon, one of the seven natural wonders of the world! Once at the National Park, you will find so many adventures, you won’t know which to try first.