When I made the cross-country trek, moving to Las Vegas one month ago, it was a requirement we stopped at the Hoover Dam. It seems like the Dam is almost a right of passage when visiting, traveling to the Las Vegas area and frankly, it wasn’t all that I expected.
Flocks of tourists, piled of of buses, cars and even pink SUV’s snapped their photos, got a hot dog from the Hoover Dam Visitor Center and were off, myself included. Knowing a bit about the history of the Dam, as well as the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, I knew there had to be a more real, intriguing approach to exploring the area.
Luckily, just a few days ago I was a made aware of the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail, which is 6.8 mile trail which connects Lake Mead to the Hoover Dam via a series of historic railroad tunnels which were built and used to support the construction of the Hoover Dam in the 1930s.
Aside from the sheer scale of the tunnels and the realization of their importance in one of the worlds most important and historic construction projects, the trail itself offers beautiful scenery, winding itself through the rugged desert and along the placid Lake Mead.
The trail itself is fairly flat and there is little gain in elevation. I would not recommend hiking this trail during the summer months, or in the middle of the day. Despite the length of the trail, the Dam acts as sort of a prize for your efforts as the trail technically ends on top of the Hoover Dam parking garage. I explored the dam area for about 30 minutes before returning back to the trail and heading home. In my opinion the dam is much better experienced via the Railroad Tunnel Trail.
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I spent my first solo weekend in Las Vegas, frankly…as far away from Las Vegas as I could.
For some reason the fact the nothing closes, ever, nor do they ever turn off the lights has managed to slightly bother me. It could be the fact that living on Las Vegas Blvd., or should I say trying to sleep when living on Las Vegas Blvd. is near impossible. Or maybe it’s the sparkling McDonalds sign located outside my window, either way, by Saturday I was ready for a break.
Luckily, not too far from town is Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, a series of large red sandstone cliffs and peaks, some as high as 8,000 feet are a welcomed recluse from the bustle of Las Vegas. Upon entering the park ($7), there are a series of scenic overlooks and hikes located along the 13-mile one-way loop. I pulled off a number of times to take a few photos and briefly mull around with the hundreds of other visitors to the park.
I settled on hiking a 2.5 mile trail named Ice Box Canyon, which was an interesting hike that began with about a 1-mile jaunt through the desert, which wasn’t all that pleasant considering my extreme phobia of snakes. No worries, no serpents on this journey. Following the fairly easy stroll through the desert, the hike became increasingly more difficult and required a bit of
bouldering. A ominous white marker indicated I had entered “wilderness” and it soon became clear what that meant. Portions of the trail were cutoff by large boulders, which had to be scaled, while other parts required walking along a fallen pine tree. Throughout the hike, you are bordered by sheer cliffs on both sides making for great views.
The reward for your efforts? Nestled at the end of the trail is a cascading waterfall and clear pool of water, which seems a bit out of place considering the landscape.
After briefly soaking it it, I headed back to my car. In total, the hike took about two and a half to three hours.
There are plenty of additional hikes that I plan on returning to Red Rock Canyon in the near future to explore a few more trails.
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