Red Rocks: The Las Vegas Playground

Written for:  The Gainesville Times

By: Michael Crowder

     Most visitors to Las Vegas never venture beyond the strip. The glitz, glamour and gambling being all the entertainment they need. For the outdoors type, all kinds of activities lie just beyond the city limits.

     The months of April and May provide the most conducive weather for outdoor activities. Early spring in the desert is absolutely beautiful. All the vegetation is in bloom and the temperatures are cool at night but quite pleasant during the day.

     Because of the enormous revenues from gambling, other amenities in Vegas are available at genuine bargains. Airfare and quality accommodations can be found at very affordable rates. You can almost eat for free here. You can get an all you can eat meal at most casinos for less than 5 bucks.

     Red Rocks Park located just fifteen minutes from the city limits offers a lifetime of adventure. Rock climbing, hiking, camping, and cycling are just a few of the popular activities enjoyed in the park.

     Even if you are not the adventurous type a drive around the auto loop is a much better use of time than a few more hours in a casino. The natural springs found here were the basis for the formation of the town. They provided one of the few oases in a dry and barren environment.

     For the avid rock climber spring is not complete without a trip to the desert. Red Rocks is fast becoming the number one desert climbing destination. The sandstone here is of fairly high quality compared to a lot of other desert climbing. Beware if a rainstorm moves in though, the rock here becomes very fragile when wet.

     Routes of all types and difficulty levels can be found here. From short strenuous sport routes to one thousand-ft. tall traditional climbs, there is something for all climbers. During the early spring you will meet other climbers from all over the world. Many of the climbs here have become world renown. Donít be surprised if you find a line at the base of the more popular climbs.

     If rock climbing is a little to extreme for you, Red Rocks still offers many fine outdoor activities. The visitorís center has a nice museum that gives a historical, natural and geological overview of the area. Guided nature walks are available, along with many short and long hikes to scenic destinations.

     Camping and picnicking are allowed in approved areas. I can highly recommend that everyone spend a night lying under the desert sky. With no trees or buildings to block the skyline you see nothing but stars from horizon to horizon.

    There is a bicycle lane that runs all the way from the city to the park. Riding bikes out to the park then around the scenic loop through the park is a wonderful adventure. Just be sure to take plenty of water on any outdoor excursion here as the dry desert air will dehydrate you quickly.

     Las Vegas is one of the countries fastest growing cities. With high economic growth and no state taxes it has become a very attractive place to live. With this increasing population greater emphasis has been placed on family oriented recreation. So on your next trip to Vegas skip the casinos and try some of their outstanding outdoor activities. You will come home more relaxed and with more of your money in your pocket.