/ The Las Vegas Adventurer
Las Vegas — By Lynn Goya on December 13, 2009 at 7:17 am

Get out and Get Dirty: Vegas’ Spectacular Winter Wonderland

There is a secret club of Vegas visitors who eschew the glittering lights to take advantage of the great outdoor offerings just beyond the neon.  Vegas is less than a our hour drive from the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce National Park, Grand Staircase Escalante, Brianhead Ski Resort, Mojave National Preserve, King’s Canyon, Death Valley, as well as Lake Mead National Recreation Area and Red Rock National Conservation Area.

Christmas Tree Pass fog and snow mountainc5

Many locals don’t come out of summer hibernation until the day’s top temperature falls below 100 degrees.  Fall, winter and spring, for Southern Nevadans, are the seasons to get outdoors to explore the 87 percent of the state owned by the public.  Between the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Department of Defense, Department of Forestry and state, local and county lands, by far the majority of the state is wide open.  And when the temperatures drop, outdoorsman get off the couch to hunt, rock climb, bathe in hot springs, hike, search for petroglyphs, ride horses, camp, ski, hunt for rocks, fish pristine lakes and rivers and ride bikes and off-road vehicles.

fall color on the Narrows

You don’t have to go far.  Lake Mead will complete the River Mountain Loop Trail within a couple of months. The Great Unconformity, a geological peak into the past, is barely off Las Vegas Blvd.    The Las Vegas Wash, in Henderson, offers bird watchers the chance to see egrets, pelicans, cormorants, ducks hummingbirds, eagles and hawks backlit by the Las Vegas Strip.  Nearby Boulder City is the gateway to fishing, kayaking, house boating, sailing, and world-class mountain biking.  Hike the desert to see wild hummingbirds, cliff swallows and migratory birds who travel the Western Flyway, stopping in Vegas for a quick rest.

Bob and Travis Sledding Check out Cold Creek in Mount Charleston (map it) to see some of the few remaining wild mustangs.  (Nevada is home to the most wild mustangs in the West.)  Sled or ski when the snow falls along the mountainside or at Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort in Lee Canyon.

Oh, yes.  Don’t forget your camera.  The views are spectacular.

climbing waterfall

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