Leaving Las Vegas: 5 Adrenaline-Fueled Outdoor Activities Off the Strip
With more than 40 million annual visitors, Las Vegas is the state’s top tourist destination. Many tourists never look past the glittering casinos and star-studded shows of The Strip and nearby Fremont Street. Locals, however, know that there’s far more to Las Vegas than showgirls and poker tables.
Nestled in the heart of the Mojave Desert, Las Vegas is home to some of the most colorful and pristine wilderness areas in the Southwest. From hiking the craggy red rocks of the Valley of Fire to cooling off in the Colorado River with Black Canyon River Adventures, the area offers a multitude of outdoor adventures that appeal to thrill seekers and nature lovers.
Here are five of our favorite off-Strip activities guaranteed to get your blood flowing.
1. Walk the Valley of Fire: Opened in 1935, Nevada’s oldest state park is a little over an hour’s drive from Vegas. Take a day trip to hike the magnificent red rocks of landmarks such as Mouse’s Tank, White Domes, and Atlatl Rock; the latter named for the primitive spears depicted in the site’s carved petroglyphs. It’s about three miles total to traverse all three trails. Though the area’s red rocks rarely reach over 100 meters tall, Valley of Fire offers impressive bouldering opportunities. Climbers can scramble and free-climb many of the park’s rocky outcrops, with several sheer faces challenging even the most talented athlete.
2. Raft through Black Canyon: Sheer rock cliffs up to 800 feet high make Hoover Dam’s Black Canyon a breathtaking sight, not to mention the majestic Big Horn sheep and coyotes you’ll spot on its shores. At Black Canyon River Adventures, we offer a three-hour tour of the Colorado River with full safety gear and lunch provided. Don’t expect raging rapids on this trek—the waters here are generally calm and clear. There’s plenty to see, though. Soak up the desert sun on a comfortable raft while snapping pics of the towering canyon walls and taking in rarely seen views of Hoover Dam, Nevada’s best known National Historic Landmark.
3. Feed Your Need for Speed: The Las Vegas Speedway is known for hosting NASCAR events, drag races and the infamous Duel in the Desert dirt track race. When watching just isn’t enough, beeline for Exotics Racing on Speedway Blvd. The racing school and sports car course boasts the largest fleet in Vegas, with rides from a tricked-out Lamborghini Aventador to the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta and Porsche 991 Turbo. Drifting ride-alongs are available if you’d rather be the passenger than take the wheel. Exotics lets guests customize every ride by lap and car, so you can rent up to 15 vehicles in one day and spend an hour or an afternoon on the track.
4. Dive the Friendly Skies: Whether you’re a timid first-timer or could practically check-in as Duke of the Sky on Yelp, Vegas Extreme Skydiving has an option tailored to you. Newbies can tandem dive and leave the descent control to a master, while veteran divers can opt to jump solo (with proper documentation) or receive coaching up to competition level. At 15,000 feet above The Strip, this is the highest jump available in Las Vegas.
5. Ride the (Sandy) Waves: Rocky terrain may be the standard for off-roading in most places, but Las Vegas RaZoR Adventures travels even more off the beaten path. Traverse sand dunes that rival the Sahara for smoothness and curve in an authentic Polaris RZR-S (or a RZR-4 if you have family in tow.) Long travel suspensions and 4-wheel drive make directing these dune buggies easy, whether you’re on powdery sand or variable desert terrain. Private guides and shuttle service are available depending on your group’s needs.
If you’re honeymooning in America’s wedding chapel capital, planning a guys’ getaway weekend or taking a sightseeing trip with the family, Las Vegas has something for every age and interest. Look beyond The Strip and you’ll find bouldering, skydiving, river rafting and more all within an hour’s drive. These activities will not only boost your adrenaline, they’ll also help you make one-of-a-kind memories to last a lifetime.