Hike Three: Red Rock Canyon (Las Vegas, NV)

Despite my steadfast resolution to blog in a timely manner after any of our given hikes, what I discovered this past week is that trying to blog when you are in Las Vegas—more aptly put, trying to blog while you are in Las Vegas partying and drinking—is pretty much on par with trying to exercise while you’re in Las Vegas while you are partying and drinking. You may have grand plans to be productive and set out to do all these things you need to do, but we all know it isn’t going to happen. I at least thought about blogging, so that has to count for something, right?

Emily and I flew down to Las Vegas because our amazing friend bought us tickets to see Katy Perry at the T-Mobile arena. I had never seen Katy Perry in concert before (Emily had), but we were both so excited for our second Vegas concert experience (in August, we saw Lady Gaga in Vegas—THAT was an amazing show). Our flight left on Wednesday, and upon arriving in Vegas, we promptly hit the Strip and had an amazing seafood dinner at Herringbone inside Aria. I wish I had taken a photo of the massive seafood platter we all shared—crab legs, lobster, prawns, and oysters, with a variety of different dipping sauces–it was to die for. We ended up staying out fairly late that night, drinking and gambling (some of us were more successful in the gambling department than others). We stopped by Sage (also inside Aria) to sample their absinthe bar, and though none of us saw the Green Fairy, the presentation alone was impressive enough. By the time we made it back to our friend’s house, we were all completely wiped out. Emily and I had decided, though, that we were going to do a hike at Red Rock Canyon on Thursday, even if we were hungover. And boy, were we hungover.

Red Rock Canyon was recommended to me by another Instagram user (thank you, @basecamplasvegas), and I am so glad he did! We did a bit of research on the different hiking trails at Red Rock, and settled on a 7-ish mile loop: the White Rock-La Madre Spring Loop (for a complete list of hiking trails, click here). Red Rock Canyon is about 20-30 minutes from Las Vegas, depending on where you are staying. There is a $7 daily pass fee, which is valid for the entire day and includes parking and re-admittance, should you miss your turn off on the one-way road (pro-tip: the scenic drive is one-way, so pay close attention to where you want to park to go hiking, lest you miss it and have to drive all the way back around and re-enter the park). We were also given a little newspaper map, which we took with us on our hike.

Upon entering the park, the bright red rocks are visible to the right. We parked in the first designated parking area to check out all the super cool geological formations, and to take nerdy photos like the 100’s of other people in that spot.

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We were worried that the rest of the trails/parking areas would be just as crowded, but they weren’t, thank god! We drove around until we came to the White Rock parking area. We parked at the bottom, just by the scenic road and walked up to the trailhead, but, as we later found out, you could drive all the way up to the trailhead. The road was a bit rocky and probably wouldn’t do well on lower-sitting cars, but to each his own! The trails are marked fairly well and are easy to follow. The particular trail we chose was labeled as “strenuous,” though we found the only strenuous part was attempting to look around at the beautiful scenery without tripping or rolling an ankle on the incredibly rocky trail. There were no sprained ankles, but we did almost face-plant quite a few times. Probably a combination of the hangover and the path. And neither one of us had our hiking poles because we didn’t even think about it. I missed my hiking poles immensely.

The White Rock Loop eventually meets up with the La Madre trail, but we didn’t make it that far. We managed to hike two miles in before the blistering sun and dehydration took its toll (and we were both a bit cranky), and we turned around to head back to the car. It probably doesn’t need to be said, but maybe it does because we didn’t really pay heed, but yes, this is the desert, yes it is hot, and no, there’s little to no shade to protect you from the aggressive heat rays. This trail was also interesting because when the sun would disappear behind a large mountain or hill, the temperature, I swear, dropped 40 degrees. We went from sweating like mad to almost freezing in a matter of seconds. So this time of year, layer, layer, layer, and lots of water! Maybe even a hat. Man I missed my hat.

The views along the trail, however, were absolutely stunning. We would turn a corner and come across another beautiful, expansive landscape. The cacti along the trail were also fun, mostly because we don’t see too many cacti in Idaho (case in point, don’t touch them, no matter how much you want to). We spent a solid five minutes discussing how much it would absolutely suck to fall onto a cactus, and I was convinced that one of us was going to trip on a rock and land flat on the those razor sharp needles (this did not happen).

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Red Rock Canyon is definitely worth the visit, especially if you’ve only ever experienced the Strip in Vegas. I had no idea there was so much to do outside of gambling and drinking yourself into oblivion. Friday, not as hungover and determined to see more of Nevada, Emily and I drove out to the Hoover Dam. This was the first trip for either one of us and admittedly, I was a bit underwhelmed, but I do think it’s worth it to see this massive testament to human achievement.

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After our trip to the Hoover Dam, we drove out to Seven Magic Mountains, which are basically large structures of multi-colored rocks stacked on top of each other. It’s strange that you drive on this desert road for almost 10 minutes seeing absolutely nothing, and suddenly you round a corner and see a ton of cars and this bizarre art structure out in the middle of nowhere. I’m sure whoever put this together got really high and thought to themselves “if I build it, they will come.” Like the Hoover Dam, it’s a good place to visit outside of the Strip, but seeing it once is probably enough.

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Just a few little wrap-up tidbits:

  • If you have a chance to see “Absinthe” at Caesar’s Palace, it is one of the funniest things we have ever seen. Absolutely offensive and full of f*cks and sh*ts and other random obscenities, but I don’t think either one of us has ever laughed as hard as we did.
  • Looking for the world’s most delicious egg sandwich? Swing by Eggslut at the Cosmo. But be prepared to wait in a very, very long line, especially early in the morning. It’s totally worth it, though.
  • Katy Perry is amazing in concert, even if she does seem to ramble on and on and on about weird, random things.

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  • Our last night in Vegas, we had a cocktail at The Chandelier in the Cosmo—we in fact learned that the crystals in that bar are actual crystals. I rarely feel fancy and sophisticated (I prefer the outdoors, obviously), but we felt totally swanky sipping our expensive pink cocktails on a purple velvet couch in a tower of crystals.

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Vegas is one of my favorite cities to visit, and I’m so glad we were able to do a couple of things that didn’t revolve around losing all our money and drinking $25 cocktails! It’s all about balance in life.

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