Recently I’ve decided to embrace my proximity to Red Rock Canyon. This is no small feat for this city guy. A couple weeks ago I grabbed a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee and a donut (yes, that’s lunch sometimes) and drove into the desert to clear my head and get away from things. I’ve only driven into Red Rock Canyon a couple times even though I’ve lived nearby for almost 2 years (2 years!).
About 5-10 minutes driving into the canyon area I found a scenic overlook. I don’t remember this being here before but it was a nice area. There are picnic tables (some covered) if you decide to actually bring your food out for a meal. There’s a helipad if you don’t have the patience to drive 30 minutes from the Vegas strip. Bike riders were the only people making use of the rest rooms. Last but not least there is no Verizon data access so there are no emails, texts, tweets or Facebook to disturb you from the tranquility of the desert and the rocks.
Nearby there’s a 13 mile scenic drive that will allow you to drive closer to the mountains where you’ll probably see some rams and burros. The drive costs $5 and has areas to pull off so you can take pictures. That seems like a good deal for $5 but I’m not sure I need that. Driving in the middle of nothing for 13 miles isn’t quite up my alley. While it’s still nice out (and not 115 degrees) I’ll continue my lunches at the scenic overlook. It’s calm, pretty and very different then what I’m used to. I dig it.
I took a bunch of pictures of the scenic overlook picnic area and the scenery. You’ll get to meet Big Red somewhere in this slideshow. Enjoy.
I’m not sure if it’s the people I follow on twitter or if I’m just noticing it more, but I have seen a number of “Top X Things To Do In Las Vegas That Doesn’t Include Gambling.” I’m not going to censor myself today. I’ve had way too much coffee for that.
There, it’s out of my system. Thank you for letting me vent. People don’t visit Las Vegas to not do awesome things. People visit Vegas for three things.
Sure there are other things in between those activities, but those aren’t why people visit Las Vegas. Look at lions, tigers, dolphins? Sure I’ll look, but not if I’m on a hot streak at the blackjack table. However, I’d stop playing blackjack to grab a steak and bottle of wine. I don’t know anyone that says let’s stop gambling to walk so we can walk out and watch the Bellagio fountains. No men or women I know from back east would ever do such a thing. Because of this I tend to brush off lists of other things to do in Vegas.
However, my parents are visiting me and while I’m busy taking care of business they’re going to be lost old people in a new land. They don’t gamble. They are not my people. For them, I’m looking at these lists looking for old people things to do.
So, I’ll tell them to walk up and down the strip for some exercise. I’ll make sure they catch the Bellagiofountains and conservatory. That’s their kind of thing. I’ll make sure they check out the pirate show at TI. Hey, it’s free. Let’s be straight, they’re not here to visit Las Vegas. They’re here to visit their son who happens to live in the land of eat.drink.gamble.repeat.
Let me also be straight about myself. Since I moved to Vegas I don’t attack the city like I did when I was a tourist. Sure I still take vacations in Vegas. I did in July around the Queens of the Stoneage concert and I’m planning my annual December trip. However, in between raging I’m living a normal life that sometimes takes me to these other activities. Case in point – my drive through Red Rock Canyon. That’s not something I would have done as a tourist, but living here is entirely different. Still, when I’m vacationing here I’m visiting eat.drink.gamble.repeat. If you follow me on twitter you may have just noticed me go kind of crazy about eat.drink.gamble.repeat. I’ll blame Styx and Helmet for that.
Anyways, back to the subject at hand. I don’t know anyone that visits Las Vegas to do anything on these “Things to do in Las Vegas” lists. The people I know come to vegas for three things. To eat, drink and gamble.
I live about 10 minutes from Red Rock Canyon and have been kind of curious to look at it closer. See, I’m a city guy. I don’t like nature. I don’t like bugs. I don’t like snakes (literally or figuratively). You get the picture. Going hiking on a bunch of big pretty rocks is not my thing. Red Rock Canyon may be pretty, but I can drive to one of the three Dunkin Donuts in Vegas and look at the pretty Red Rock from afar.
Because I live so close to Red Rock Canyon, I’ve been curious to see what goes on there. I knew it was there before moving, but truthfully I didn’t care. I was a strip guy on vacations. On my first trip into Red Rock Canyon, I got two miles into the nothingness and turned around. It was almost dusk and I didn’t know what was ahead of me. This time I prepared. Some, including me, would say I over-prepared. I’m neurotic, that’s how it goes down.
I filled my gas tank yesterday. Ya know, don’t want to run out of gas in the middle of nowhere. I decided that I should go in the morning since temps were expected to hit 100 today. I selected my only white shirt in case I got stuck. I didn’t want to have a dark colored shirt on if I ended up sitting in the sun. I packed a banana and 2 liters of water for the same reason.
I was just going on a drive, it should not have been this big of a deal. Seriously, nature is not my thing. I could have been taken by aliens and nobody would know any better. I had no idea what the drive held for me.
I drove about 20 minutes into Red Rock Canyon until I reached Bonnie Springs Ranch. That’s where I turned around and headed back to civilization. The views were, indeed, beautiful as you can see above and in the flickr gallery. There are a couple of national park areas and scenic overlooks if you’re into staring at rocks.
All in all, it was a nice calm drive and one I will take again. I was able to listen to a podcast during my time in the car, which was nice. Next time I head back it will be to check out Bonnie Springs Ranch and see some of the scenic stuff. To be honest, the scenic overlooks would be a heck of a lot more fun with a 6 pack of beer. Maybe I’ll grab a friend and take that route next time.