aka The Frazzled Mom
*Post edited to include updated book cover.
Situated in the heart of the magnificent Southwest, Las Vegas is surrounded by spectacular natural landscapes. Within easy reach are five national parks, including Zion, Grand Canyon, and Death Valley. Dozens of state parks, regional preserves, recreation areas, and public lands offer amazing variety, from sand dunes and salt flats to alpine meadows, waterfalls, and ancient forests. Unique plant and animal life as well as archaeology, paleontology, and fascinating Wild West history are all waiting to be discovered in this region, making Las Vegas an ideal basecamp: Hikers can enjoy solitude and unspoiled wilderness by day and world-class urban amenities by night. Base Camp Las Vegas includes 101 of the best hiking destinations within hours of Las Vegas.
The author has hiked each of the 101 featured routes more than once, and she describes each in detail, including route, elevations, terrain, flora & fauna, and historical details. She notes the best season for enjoying each one, what to wear, and what to take along. She describes any hazards or inconveniences that hikers might encounter and rates the difficulty of each hike from easy to strenuous. She’s also included an easy-reference guide to the top five hikes in a variety of categories including birdwatching, stargazing, wildflowers, wetlands, kid and teen favorites, most strenuous, and most remote. Base Camp Las Vegas tells hikers where and when to go–and also how to prepare–to enjoy the best trails this unparalleled region has to offer.
“Before You Hit the Trail”
I was pleased to find this section at the beginning of the book. With hiking, there are a lot of risks if one goes unprepared. Hiking in the desert is even more deadly. This book very wisely covers the importance of bringing water, and specified just how much each hiker should bring for a day hike. Other warnings include flash flooding, which to the inexperienced hiker may seem silly in the desert. I mean, we’d know it was coming based on the weather, right? Wrong. Flash flood is just that, unexpected. And in the desert, other hazards include hypothermia (when the sun goes down) and rattlesnakes. Plus, it gives a little section on if you’re going to hike with children.
Finally, in this section, it encourages “leave no trace”, something I’ve found more and more in national parks, as well as the Boy Scout motto when it comes to hiking and camping. It’s a no brainer, but you’d be amazed by how many visitors just dump trash wherever or graffiti on petroglyph and pictorgraph rocks. It’s frustrating and sad, the lack of respect show by those that can’t be bothered to think of others.
So the book opens with Red Rock Canyon, which I think is probably the biggest pull for the Nevada and, specifically, Las Vegas area. With strikingly red rocks, it’s very photogenic. But that isn’t the only interesting part. The area of Nevada is rich with American Indian culture and history. While on vacation, we almost went to Red Rock Canyon, that is until I discovered Valley of Fire. Even the name sounds cool.
From falls to canyons, there are so many trails to choose from. And the great thing about this book is that each trail has the following: Best season to go, length, difficulty, elevation loss, trailhead elevations, warnings (such as flash floods, excessive heat, etc), jurisdiction, and directions. I wish we had this book before exploring Valley of Fire. The areas we visited (Atlatl Rock, Mouse’s Tank, White Domes) were all covered, included a little explanation, history and tips if you had children with you.
During our family trip to Las Vegas, I researched and made a plan to do just about anything but the strip. We did visit the Las Vegas strip for a day or two, but most of the time was spent exploring what I felt was more enriching: the springs preserve and the Valley of Fire.
We actually made it to Atlatl Rock. Here’s the view from up top of the staircase.
Not only were there petroglyphs on this rock, but down below we headed around the rock to explore a bit “off trail” and found more.
Mouse’s tank was another stop we made. The book covers this, including information on the trail and it’s history. If only we had this book beforehand!
White Domes Loop trail was another area we stopped. In our photograph, you can see how the windswept rocks were made smooth, each given it’s own character.
What are found so incredible were the petroglyphs. To think that these were done well before we were even an idea. In order to keep our kids from tiring out, we made it a game. Thanks to the state park, there was a sign at the beginning of the trail listing some of the petroglyphs that could be found. We focused on looking for the smelly tooth people and the crazy bat lady. 🙂