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Leaving Las Vegas: Outdoor Adventures In The Silver State

Hiking Mount Jefferson
Credit: Sydney Martinez/TravelNevada 

There are walks for all abilities in some of the most beautiful and other-worldly scenery on the planet in Nevada. Head to Red Rock Canyon to explore Mars-like landscapes or visit Lake Tahoe to trek around the crystal-clear water. For something different, why not head out under some of the darkest skies in the US and admire the stars on a Full Moon Hike or hike through Death Valley, the hottest desert in the world?

Lake Tahoe

The Tahoe Rim Trail especially is a popular destination for hikers from all over the world. Measuring 165 miles, the trail system passes through six counties, one state park, three national forests and three natural wilderness areas. Expect lofty views of granite peaks, vibrant green meadows and the bright blue water of the lake. Hikers on the trail have their pick of nine trailheads around the lake with varying degrees of difficulty and length. For the elite hikers, there’s always the 165-Mile Club, reserved for those who have tackled the trail in its entirety.

Desert Mosaic, Death Valley National Park

There are only two maintained trails in Death Valley National Park, Mosaic Canyon Trail and the Golden Canyon Trail. Some of the best hiking is off the track, where you can easily follow canyon bottoms, wander over salt flats, or climb sand dunes. The canyon hikes are short, so relaxed hikers can be finished in a few hours and the more adventurous can pick a hike in the morning and still have time for another in the afternoon.

There’s a Red Planet aura in Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon is just a stone’s throw from Las Vegas. It is a maze of canyons and peaks, ledges and chimneys, chutes and gullies leading to surprises around every wall. There are 26 different hikes and trails that take you from the deepest points to the highest peaks with stunning views of the red tinted landscape. One of the best routes is Calico Tanks, a 2.5-mile round trip that takes a couple of hours with ever-changing views of the ruby red rock.

Full Moon Hike

For something different, head to the Great Basin National Park for a hike beneath the stars. The Great Basin Dark Rangers are guides on this highly popular hike, which starts just after sunset in the summer. The high-altitude desert and isolation of the park means that the sky is some of the darkest in the US. Visit on a cloudless night and five of the solar system’s eight planets and the Milky Way are visible. This combined with the impressive rock features and towering mountain ranges means that the views are unforgettable.

Hike Nevada’s Big Five

With 320 named mountain ranges, more than 172 summits and eight ultra-prominent peaks, Nevada is the most mountainous state in the lower 48.

  1. Mount Charleston, 11916ft – part of the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area
  2. Mount Jefferson, 11949 ft – part of the Alta Toquima Wilderness
  3. Mount Moriah, 12073ft – part of the Mount Moriah Wilderness
  4. Wheeler Peak, 13064ft inside Great Basin National Park 
  5. Boundary Peak, 13147ft – inside Boundary Peak Wilderness
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