Unexpected alone time in Vegas -- get me out of doors!
March 21, 2011 4:20 PM   Subscribe

I'm ending up with two days on my own in Las Vegas. Any recommendations for outdoorsy things to do while I'm there?

I waited a little long to book my flight for a conference I'm attending, and due to odd blackout dates for frequent flyer tickets, I'm opting for a longer stay in Las Vegas, rather than a full price ticket. As a result, I'm left with a day on either side of my conference all to myself. I'm in Vegas from roughly 6pm Wednesday 5/25 to 4pm Tuesday 5/31. The conference eats all my time from Thursday evening through Sunday evening, but outside that, my time is my own.

I've never been to Vegas before, but kind of expect to tire pretty quickly of the gambling scene. (I'll play a little poker, but don't want to end up wasting hours at the table.)

I'd like to spend at least one day out of the city and on a biking or hiking or kayaking tour in one of the surrounding areas, and I would like to hit up a show another night (probably Cirque du Soleil, but I'm open to options.)

So far I've found several Red Rock Canyon and Hoover Dam excursions on mountain bikes. Any recommendations for a company to book with? Will I have a hard time booking as a single person rather than a couple/family/group? Where are the best deals? And as an avid road cyclist/fit person, but one who isn't from the desert, am I crazy to consider this as a leisure activity?

Are there other activities I'm not thinking of that I should also consider?
posted by pixiecrinkle to Travel & Transportation around Las Vegas, NV (12 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
You can hike at Mount Charleston (it's only about an hour outside the city, if I am remembering correctly.) It's quite beautiful up there. Here is actual hiking info, but I don't know if there are tours (I kind of doubt it.)
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 4:33 PM on March 21, 2011

There's a nice Dolphin habitat at the Mirage. They also have an outdoor volcano.
posted by rwheindl at 4:42 PM on March 21, 2011

There's also supposed to be a Lion exhibit at the MGM Grand, but it was closed for renovation while we were there a few months ago in December.
posted by rwheindl at 4:44 PM on March 21, 2011

The fountains at Bellagio only play for a few minutes ever hour but it was neat to see.
posted by rwheindl at 4:46 PM on March 21, 2011

- Valley of fire is pretty cool, you can stick to the main roads and see most of the cool stuff without much hiking.

- Red Rock Canyon is awesome, but only if you get off the road and hit the trails. Better than Valley of Fire in my opinion as long as you get out in to the canyons, total waste of time if you just stick to the main roads though.

- Mount Charleston has some pretty cool trails, the most popular of which is the Bristlecone Loop which has some really amazing, very old trees.

-The new Hoover Damn overpass is pretty amazing. Both the view of the overpass from the dam, and the view of the dam from the overpass are pretty spectacular sights.

As far as downtown on the strip, there is a lot more than the gambling scene, especially if you've never been to Vegas before:
- MGM Lion Habitat
- Mandalay Bay Shark Reef Aquarium
- Mirage Gardens and Dolphins
- Luxor Bodies
- Sirens of Treasure Island (free outdoor show at TI)
- Bellagio Fountains (best seen after dark)
- Nascar Roller Coaster at Sahara
- Multiple Rides at the top of Stratosphere including the recently added Sky Jump
- Fremont Street Experience
- Plus all the themed casinos.
- Lots of stuff to see just walking the strip

As far as Cirque shows go, I've heard Ka and O are the most spectacular but I've yet to see either yet.
posted by NeonBlueDecember at 4:51 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Mr jshort and I go to Vegas every year for my birthday and every time we hike at Red Rock. Don't miss it! You don't need a tour guide. They give you a pamphlet with a description of the hikes and a map. Our favorites are icebox canyon and turtlehead peak, but those are on the more strenuous side. If you want something easier, there are plenty of other options. If you do turtlehead, be sure to sign the book at the top.

Oh, and if you want to mountain bike, we came across a bunch of them at the river mountains (Red Mountian and Black Mountain near Hoover Dam), but not sure about tours since that's not our thing. Enjoy!
posted by jshort at 5:37 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Las Vegas Springs Preserve has lots of green/environmental stuff, as well as a history of the origins of Las Vegas.
posted by SirOmega at 5:41 PM on March 21, 2011

I'd spend a day driving out to Death Valley and having a wander there. Tiny desert flowers will be blooming at this time of year.
posted by anadem at 5:44 PM on March 21, 2011

Last time I was in Vegas I visited Ash Meadows National Wildlife Preserve. Its totally bizarre in that you drive way the hell out into the middle of the desert and soon enough you are surrounded by crystal springs of varying sizes. I swam in one...but later found out you're not really supposed to swim in them. That being said...it was a very memorable experience.
posted by jnnla at 5:54 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Let me second Ash Meadows and second not swimming in them. Those little fish are endangered and have survived, unchanged, for a very long time (if I remember correctly).

On the California side of the mountains West of Pahrump are the Tecopa Hot Springs. There's a county maintained bath that's not too bad, some private ones and some hidden springs. Worth trying.

Also the China Ranch Date Farm near Tecopa is a unique little hidden bit of green in the middle of the desert.
posted by sleepytako at 6:31 PM on March 21, 2011

Not sure if this is your thing, but:
Area 51 could be fun
Or the Atomic Testing Museum
posted by blakslaks at 7:53 PM on March 21, 2011

I had a great time at the Bootleg Canyon Flightlines a few months ago.
posted by fac21 at 5:04 PM on April 14, 2011

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