Many people come to Las Vegas and burnout within the first night on the strip. Those are the tourists usually passed out on the floor just in front of the hotel elevator doors. So close, but so far to what should have been the landing pad of the hotel room bed. No worries, dilution of mother nature is the best fix for your next day hangover. With Las Vegas being your current hub, here are nine destinations to escape to.
Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.
From Las Vegas, head North on Interstate 15 till you hit Cedar City and take Highway 14 for 26 miles. A 3-hour drive from Las Vegas will transport you to this remote lake in the middle of the Dixie National Forest. Explore a variety of activities including trout fishing, canoeing, hiking, and trail biking. Navajo Lake has several spots for camping or choose from 11 rustic cabins (full kitchen) provided by the Navajo Lake Lodge. The “Blue Mirror of Heaven” is the native name for this location and is a sight to behold in the fall time when all the leaves are changing colors.
A mere hour from Las Vegas, travel North on Interstate 15 and take exit 75 to merge onto the Valley of Fire Hwy. Desert plants and flowers, wildlife, and scenic rock formations are few of the photographic opportunities to enjoy in this hidden valley in the Mojave Desert. If your plans were to get married in Las Vegas, take advantage of this remote location close to the city and away from the crowd. The Valley of Fire State Park provides four different locations for weddings at Seven Sisters, Rainbow Vista, the Visitor’s Center, and The Cabins.
If you love canyoneering, head north on Interstate 15 to Utah. It is a good idea to pick up supplies in the town of St. George before arriving at Water Canyon. Take Highway 9 East towards Hurricane after passing St. George and then connect with Highway 159 towards Hildale, Utah. Once you reach the town of Hildale, take a left on Utah Ave and a right onto Water Canyon St., which is a dirt road. Parking is available past the small pond on the left. Water Canyon provides an abundance of places to practice your canyoneering skills. Be mindful of dangerous flash flooding in the area during the summer months. If you like drinking spring water, there are few springs towards the top of the canyon trail where you can find locals drinking directly from the source. Driving further down Utah Ave past Water Canyon St. will take you to the local town park where several water springs are tapped off and built into camping sites.
The 4.5-hour drive via US 93 S and I-40 E to Sedona would be my first pick if I only had a few days to escape the Las Vegas strip. Once in town, I suggest enjoying some food before hiking at the local organic vegetarian eatery known as ChocolaTree. The exotic boutique restaurant provides the locals and tourists with some of the best raw medicinal chocolate in the world. Out of all the hikes in Sedona, Cathedral Rock is my favourite spot to photograph and worth the 1.5-mile steep climb. Bring extra water!
285 miles from Las Vegas and a 4.5-hour drive heading on I-15 S you will pass three more major highways via CA-91W, CA-55S, I-405N until finally exiting to Goldenwest St. Drive South to what will be your dog’s favourite beach. Dog Beach is located on the Pacific Coastal Highway between Goldenwest Street and Seapoint Street. The park is open seven days a week from dawn until dark. Dogs can run freely, swim in the surf and play unleashed with other dogs. Be sure not to miss the dog surfing festivals throughout the year at this location.
You can enjoy the hot desert strip in Las Vegas and hit the ski slopes on the same day. The nearby mountain is only 45 minutes away via U.S. Route 95 N. Plan to stay at the Mount Charleston Lodge or choose from a variety of decked out cabin rentals with the option of short term and long term leases. The mountains location is part of the Spring Mountain National Recreational Area that includes several camping areas in Kyle Canyon and Lee Canyon. The Lee Canyon Ski and Snowboard Resort offers daily and seasonal passes throughout the winter months.
The most popular destination from Las Vegas can be explored from a rental car, bus tour, helicopter tour, or even by a railroad in Williams, Arizona via the Grand Canyon Railway. Explorers can reach the rim by lunch time and be back to gambling at night with any of the Air Tours provided in Las Vegas. If modern transportation is not your style of exploration, take a mule tour in the Northern Rim. Note these types of tours can be booked nine months to a year in advance, so prepare accordingly!
The Big Star Dune spreads across a 1.5 square mile complex just a 100 miles north-west of Las Vegas via U.S. Route 95 N. After passing the junction of Hwy 373 with Hwy 95, keep heading north on the 95 for about 8 miles and turn left on Valley View. Head west for about 2 miles and turn right on any of the dirt roads that head out towards the dunes. There are no mark signs to get to the dunes, but usually, an orange barrel marker will be placed next to the dirt roads. The dunes are home to four protected beetle species, so be mindful when walking around the park.
Located about 17 miles west of the strip via State Route 159, Red Rock Canyon provides a variety of unique geological structures, vegetation, and wildlife in the Mojave Desert. The Conservation Area includes a 13-mile scenic drive, plenty of hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and nature observation. With over 30 miles of hiking trails and plenty of stunning vistas, be sure not leave your camera at the hotel!