Well, if you did it again — waited until the last minute to buy Christmas presents for your favorite hiker or camper — you’re not in so much trouble as you may think. Some of the most practical and appreciated gifts for outdoorsmen can be purchased at a CVS, Walgreens or hardware store through Christmas Eve. Furthermore, they’re inexpensive, so you can buy several items, making it certain the recipient will truly love at least one. Buy a low-cost stocking, fill it to the brim, and it will even look like you planned ahead.
Beckoning seductively to city dwellers who long for elbow room, the 1.6 million-acre Mojave National Preserve lies in Southern California, barely an hour’s drive south of Las Vegas.
Verde Canyon Railroad operates in north central Arizona, headquartered in the town of Clarkdale. The town itself is a National Historic Landmark. Founded in 1912, it’s named for William Andrews Clark, the same man who founded Las Vegas in 1905. This planned community was built to provide housing and support services to the booming copper mining town of Jerome, a few miles away. Jerome was once the fourth-largest city in the Arizona Territory, boasting a peak population of 15,000 people in the 1920s.
Whether it’s to escape the holiday madness or to start a new holiday tradition, visiting one of our national parks over the next couple of months is an excellent getaway. One that provides lots of options to get outdoors and sooth the soul, yet also offers a festive holiday flair, is Yosemite National Park, Calif.
Over the next six months or so, Death Valley National Park, Calif., should be a must-do entry on your weekend travel list. You will find pleasant temperatures and sunny skies that afford great hiking, road trip and camping opportunities. An added bonus to these outdoor pleasures is visiting Scotty’s Castle, about three or so hours northwest of Las Vegas, depending on the route you choose.
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is home to some of the most stunning buttes, mesas, arches and panoramas in the world. So familiar are some of these views, through Western films and television, that even an informal mental list of things to do before “kicking the bucket” often includes seeing them in person. The fall and winter months are appropriate for the visit, all the more so because many closer attractions on federal land have been closed due to the budget gridlock. This park lies not on federal land but on the 16 million-acre Navajo Reservation, so it remains open.
Directions: From Las Vegas, take Interstate 15 north 125 miles to Utah state Route 9 (exit 16-Hurricane/Zion National Park). Follow Route 9 east for 19 miles to Springdale, Utah, and the main entrance of Zion National Park.
Lone Pine, Calif., is best known as a base camp to hiking, backpacking and horse packing expeditions in the eastern Sierra Nevada. It’s also a mecca to film buffs, especially those who cut their popcorn teeth on westerns. It is not only home to the Beverly and Jim Rogers Lone Pine Film History Museum but is also the site, every Columbus Day weekend, for the Lone Pine Film Festival.