With the holidays upon us, many of us find our stress reaching all-time highs, and our attention focused on material goods — not necessarily what we hope, but what in the world to give loved ones! Neither condition is good, and for once, I am going to suggest that running away may be the perfect cure. A family trip to a national park can remove you from the pressure cooker of commercialized Christmas, promote togetherness and perhaps even start a family tradition.
Hualapai Mountain Park is a 2,300-acre preserve located just outside of Kingman, Ariz. Often overlooked in favor of larger and better known parks, it is a gem hidden in the pines with elevations ranging from 4,984 feet to 8,417 feet at Hualapai Peak.
Fortification Hill, just east of the Hoover Dam on the Arizona side of Lake Mead National Recreation Area, towers about 2,000 feet above Lake Mead’s Boulder Basin. Although it looks impenetrable, there is a short but strenuous route to the top where you will be treated to some of the finest views in the park.
For a short outing from Las Vegas, a trip to Corn Creek at the Desert National Wildlife Refuge is a great choice. Less than 30 miles from the city, you can stroll the short nature trails, visit a perennial stream and spring-fed ponds, see lush vegetation and also do some birding in a quiet outdoor environment.
October is a wonderful time to spend outdoors enjoying Zion National Park. Daytime temperatures will likely drop into the pleasant zone, and you’ll be there for the start of fall foliage season depending on the elevation. You can get double value for your visit if you participate in one of the workshops being offered by Zion Canyon Field Institute.
One of the finest backroad trips central Nevada offers to outdoor lovers is Kingston Canyon, lying about 27 miles south of Austin. It offers the multiple joys of hiking, mountain biking, fishing, camping and just sightseeing. September is an ideal time to go there, as the weather will be neither too hot nor too cold.
In the heart of south-central Utah’s red rock country is Capitol Reef National Park. The park is well-known for slot canyons, natural arches and bridges, waterfalls and the Waterpocket Fold, a huge wrinkle in the earth that extends nearly 100 miles.
Yosemite National Park is one of those places everyone should see at least once in their lifetime, and over the next two months are ideal times to go. By happy coincidence, it is easiest to go there during the very months when Las Vegans most need to escape the heat.
In the torrid midsummer of Southern Nevada, the closest place for local folk to enjoy a cool outdoor escape is in the Mount Charleston area of the Spring Mountains National Recreation area. Since you’re likely to head there anyway, you might as well choose a trail that will show you some of the area’s most pleasant scenery while putting some miles on your boots
Glen Canyon, Ariz., contains one of the few stretches of river whose beauty rivals that of the Grand Canyon farther down the Colorado River. Through smooth-water raft trips, you will treated to a close-up view of Glen Canyon Dam, stunning scenery, plenty of wildlife, and pre-historic and historic sites.