One thing Michelle and I have always done on our trips out to Las Vegas is visit Red Rock Canyon, just past the Summerlin area of Vegas. Getting there is easy: just take W. Charleston Blvd straight out to the area. The fee to enter the scenic 13-mile loop is $5. Around the loop there are various places to stop and take pictures or hike. We used the guide the park entrance attendant gave us to pick a place to hike. It was about 8:00 am and the sun was already warming things up.
We picked the Icebox Canyon trail. I admit the name held some allure. From the parking lot it looked like the trail might lead us deep into shadow, and that maybe it'd be nice and cool.
The trail crosses open desert and then begins to ascend between the surrounding cliffs. We didn't see any others on the trail for the longest time.
Lil Bean heading up the trail Our Yaris is visible back in the parking lot. The (gentle) ascent has begun. Seeking shade for small respites is wise, though it wasn't too hot yet. After a while, you are surrounded by the cliffs.
After hiking up we turned back and got back into the Yaris to complete the loop. It's a fun road to drive, but I tend to go slow just to take the surroundings in. The loop usually has a lot of road bikers on it. They hang to the right and I keep and eye out for them. One biker that we passed pulled in behind the Yaris to draft. I held steady at 35 mph (or 25?) with him just pumping away behind us. We eventually started climbing a hill and he fell back, but I think he was proud of himself, and I was proud for him too. I wanted to jump out and congratulate him for his efforts.
There are now signs along the route indicating a "Scenic Fire". A lightning strike caused a fire in 2006 or so that burned a large portion of the land. The larger brush hasn't grown back yet. You can see some of this in the shot above (the darker spots are still-burned yucca-type plants).
After we left the scenic loop we started driving back towards Las Vegas. I noticed a sign for Calico Basin. We turned in and found the Red Spring area at the end. There's a wooden trail that loops a field fed by the spring. The area is lush and green, in stark contrast to the dry rockiness just outside the boundary.
Walking up to the platform of surrender, where she was brought.
In previous trips, the weather was better (we had gone in March) and you could hear water in Red Rock near Icebox Canyon. You could easily spend $5 and hike for a whole day out there, and it's an incredibly refreshing escape from the people incessantly snapping cards with naked women on them in your face on the strip.