The state of Nevada is full of awesome spots where you and the kiddos can enjoy the great outdoors. If cabin fever has your family looking for some fresh-air fun, use this guide to kick-start your adventure. From lakes to gardens, here are six of our favorite nature-filled experiences to see around Las Vegas.
“Sunrise at Lake Mead” licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0 via Flickr by Sky Island
Ask any local to name the best natural wonder near Las Vegas, and you’ll probably hear “Lake Mead.” It’s one of the largest artificial lakes in the world and the ideal destination to escape the city’s bright lights. This reservoir is located 24 miles east of the strip and offers an unparalleled nature-filled experience.
Lake Mead’s dramatic desert scenery features the mighty Colorado River, stark, towering mountains, vast plateaus, and desert basins that are home to a variety of cacti and creosote bushes. The vertical-walled canyons of the lake make hidden coves that await your discovery.
Refresh with lunch at one of the shaded picnic tables, fire up the grill, and relax knowing there are restrooms scattered throughout the area. You can also check out the Hoover Dam while you’re visiting this rugged landscape. It’s a wonder in itself.
Dive into the fun at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area with nearly endless opportunities for nature-filled recreation, like:
- Boating, canoeing, and kayaking.
- Mountain biking.
- Water skiing.
- Scuba diving.
- Off-road driving and four-wheeling.
- Horseback riding.
- Fishing and hunting.
- Scenic driving on backcountry roads.
- Wilderness and nature photography.
Red Rock Canyon
Ditch Sin City’s glitz and glam and head to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. It’s one of the area’s finest examples of the untamed desert. Its fame came from the park’s amphitheater, where some of the greatest bands of all time have graced its stage, including The Beatles.
Despite its fame for hosting performing arts, this park is teeming with wildlife. It offers various ways to experience nature, from rock-hounding to mountain biking. Red Rocks also touts some of the best family-friendly hiking trails in the area, including:
- The Trading Post Trail (1.4 miles long).
- The Red Rocks Trail (6.0-mile loop).
- The Funicular Trail (0.2 miles).
- The Mt. Vernon Creek Trail (1.0 mile).
- The Geologic Overlook Trail (0.2 miles).
Flamingo Wildfire Habitat
Get outside for a breath of fresh air at Flamingo Wildfire Habitat. This nature experience sits on the Flamingo Hotel’s 15-acre grounds. It’s a hidden sanctuary and zoo of sorts, with an assortment of exotic animals on display right downtown.
The majestic Chilean flamingos are the stars of the show here. They live alongside numerous other birds, turtles, exotic animals, and koi fish in this manmade paradise, complete with meandering streams and cascading waterfalls. To head over to the fun and free attraction, simply show up during opening hours and enjoy this serene garden.
Bellagio’s Botanical Gardens
Whether your family comprises toddlers or teens, everyone will love the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio. This famous Las Vegas hotel and casino is home to one of the lushest gardens in Nevada.
This 14,000-square-foot landscape features curated displays filled with beautiful species of flora. It completely envelops you as you step into this hidden paradise. Past installations include collections such as “The Snow Queen” and a floral walkway to celebrate the Chinese New Year. A talented team of 120 horticulturists transforms the sky-lit atrium for each season, including:
- Lunar New Year (1/16 through 3/6).
- Spring Celebration (3/13 through 5/22).
- Summer Garden (5/29 through 8/28).
- Harvest (9/4 through 11/13).
- Holiday (11/20 through 1/1/22).
You may be surprised by all the picturesque natural spaces that are just a day trip from Vegas. Mount Charleston within The Spring Mountains National Recreation Area lies to the north of the city in Clark County. Its peak rises out of the Mojave Desert to a height of 11,916 feet, making it the highest point in the area. Thanks to the spring-fed pools, Mount Charleston is a haven for wildlife and a hot spot for nature photographers.
Cool off in the shade of this beautiful, tree-covered alpine retreat. The temperature can be as much as 30 degrees cooler in this higher elevation. Pack a cooler and have lunch at one of seven picnic areas. Stop by the interactive visitor center, then hop on the trails for an invigorating hike. There are more than 50 miles of maintained paths, plus four campgrounds to explore. The whole family can pitch a tent and sleep under the stars or book a room in the lodge for access to modern conveniences.
Commune with nature and find your family’s happy place at the Spring Preserves. There are plenty of ways to get your fill of nature right here. The city dedicated 180 acres to the preserve that serve as a sanctuary for desert succulents and the creatures that depend on them to thrive in this harsh environment.
This spectacular park is a fine example of Nevada’s high desert. It’s located approximately 3 miles west of downtown. You can observe this unique landscape in all its natural glory with this nice little side trip just outside the strip.
There’s the main playground, outdoor animal exhibits, train rides, and pop-up demonstrations. Free guided garden tours take place Friday through Monday at various times. You can even take advantage of free online classes such as “Basics of a Water Smart Landscape” from the comfort of your home.
The outdoor areas of the Springs Preserve, including the botanical garden and trails, are open to the public. However, staff plan to reopen the butterfly habitat in the fall of 2021. You may even catch the local farmers market selling some of the best local produce you can find right on the grounds.
There you have it! Crème de la Crème just shared the best nature-filled experiences you must see around Las Vegas. What do you think of our picks? Did we miss your favorite spot for outdoor excursions? Let us know which spots you love, and we’ll be sure to add them to our list.