One of the best weekend getaways our region affords is to Lone Pine, California. It’s uncrowded — a small town of about 2,000 people — and lies in Owens Valley at the foot of the Sierra Nevada’s spectacular eastern slope. The area is rich in camping, hiking and fishing opportunities and is the site where many popular movies were filmed. Even the four-hour drive there can be fun, for much of it is via uncrowded highways through open and attractive country.
Most people who did not grow up in the Mojave Desert were probably surprised to learn how few sand dunes are found here. The vast, flat landscapes of desert pavement and creosote were not remotely what we had envisioned.
Spring may be the best time to visit Zion National Park, offering delights unique to the season. You can get double your value for springtime days spent here by participating in the varied educational workshops offered through the Zion Canyon Field Institute.
There are hundreds of slot canyons in Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Park, but most are hard to find, and it might take days afoot to reach them. A few, however, are accessed fairly easily on a day trip, as long as you are up to driving rough gravel roads and able to hike a round trip of a few moderate miles.
Many people only know the name of Yuma, Arizona, from “3:10 to Yuma” the 2007 film starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. And the movie ends before anybody actually gets to Yuma, so we never catch a glimpse of the place.
Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area is a must-see. Handily located at the southern tip of Nevada, the park was established in 1996, on the Colorado River south of Laughlin’s Casino Drive.
A visit to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona requires some effort, but the payoff, in addition to seeing unusual cactuses, is the natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert.
You don’t have to travel more than an hour, from anywhere in the Las Vegas Valley, to reach Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, which boasts some of the finest canyon hikes in our region. One in particular— Pine Creek Canyon — is not only pleasing to the eye but offers historical interest.
Many Americans will never experience the thrill of seeing an eagle in the wild. But you needn’t be deprived, for these majestic and rare birds gather every winter in Arizona’s Verde Canyon. And it’s easy to see them while taking a train trip on the Verde Canyon Railroad.