weather icon Clear

Social distancing not a challenge at Southern Nevada’s parks

Vast open spaces and bountiful parks in the Las Vegas Valley’s southeastern corner combine to promote social distancing and offer a diversion from life’s scrambled new paradigm.

Absent a “shelter-in-place” order amid the coronavirus outbreak, taking walks, going on hikes and riding bikes remain permissible, and there was plenty of evidence this week of people doing just those things.

A kid navigated his remote-controlled monster truck down lengthy sidewalks at Discovery Park, a mom led two young children on bikes in a Green Valley neighborhood, solo joggers got their heart rates up and couples walked their dogs around lakes at Cornerstone and Sunset parks. At Lake Mead National Recreation Area, motorists pulled into designated overlooks that maximize vistas of the lake and its dramatic geological surroundings.

“Fresh air is about the only thing to do right now,” recent Wisconsin transplant Rich Emerson said Wednesday at Sunset Park’s Dunes Discovery Area. “It’s better than being contained in your house.”

While nonessential businesses were ordered to close by noon Wednesday and indoor entertainment and recreation options suddenly evaporated, parks remained open. Entrance is free at Lake Mead, where a wildflower show plays from sunrise to sunset. But there’s no one in the visitor center to answer questions about flora and fauna or anything else because of building closures. The recreation area encompasses 1.5 million acres, so keeping 6 feet away from other people fails to be a challenge at Lake Mead. Same goes for Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area, which has trails that are easily accessible from McCullough Hills Trailhead in the east and Anthem Hills Park in the west.

“It’s definitely a time to be outside, as long as you keep your social distancing protocols in mind,” said Jim Stanger, president of Friends of Sloan Canyon. “We’re all about encouraging folks to get outside and be good stewards of the land.”

Sloan Canyon has a vast network of trails that vary in length and rarely have crowds. Signage is sparse and can be confusing, so research is advised.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to recommend birdandhike.com,” Stanger said. “Dr. Boone has the best resource out there for this area.” Stanger advises anyone who is new to hiking in the desert to carry an adequate water supply, apply sunscreen and be aware of one’s surroundings, including the potential for rattlesnakes emerging with spring’s arrival. Another thing Stanger said hikers should consider is bringing with them a small trash bag to collect litter they may find along the trails.

At busy Cornerstone Park on Tuesday afternoon, Eileen Hug, who typically frequents Sunset Park, said she and her dog, Beckett, enjoyed their stroll. She said she hopes Southern Nevadans can keep up their park-going habits during the coronavirus scare. “I hope they don’t close the parks and people are good about keeping their distance from each other,” she said.

Until recent cancellations, her routine included tai chi and dance classes several times a week, so she expects to take Beckett on more park walks in the coming weeks.

“I like going to the park because it’s away from the traffic and more peaceful,” Hug said. “The sun is supposed to be a natural disinfectant.”

Omar Hassan said he recently lost work in the limousine business and intends to head to Sunset Park most days in the coming weeks to get some exercise on the Dunes Discovery Area jogging path, which has a width of about 7 feet. “I used to come twice a week, but now maybe every day,” Hassan said. “It’s a very good, nice park. I’m happy it’s here.”

At least for now, in Southern Nevada, social distancing doesn’t need to translate into staying shut in at home. And park aficionados this week said spending a little or a lot of time in green spaces and on hiking trails are healthy mental and physical choices for them.

“I’m a Vietnam vet, and I’m 73,” Emerson said. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my whole life.” Walking with his coffee in hand, he called Sunset Park one of the best places to help people weather the coronavirus scare.

“I love this park,” he said. “I enjoy the wildlife — the jackrabbits, the coyotes, the birds.”

Scurrying and foraging Gambel’s quail, desert cottontail and black-tailed jackrabbits were easy to spot Wednesday in the last remaining mesquite dune field in the Paradise Valley area of Clark County. A greater roadrunner perched in commanding style on a railing of the dune outlook, a fresh-air space that has informational panels devoted to helping people get to know the critters and history of the place.

Natalie Burt, a former news reporter at the Review-Journal for 11 years, spends as much of her free time as possible enjoying Southern Nevada’s outdoors. She’s now a teacher and has lived in Henderson for 18 years. Email: nvburt@gmail.com.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Local Videos
Cars line up for over 4 miles for food
Cars were lined up along Sahara Avenue from Palace Station to South Rainbow Boulevard for food distribution sponsored by Three Square and Central Church in Henderson.
Two large fires hit parts of the Las Vegas Valley - VIDEO
Renee Summerour wraps up the two large fire that hit part of the Las Vegas Valley Late Wednesday , early morning Thursday. RJ reporter Glenn Puit was at both scenes. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas hotels light up their windows to show support during shutdown - VIDEO
Hotels on the Las Vegas Strip lit up their windows with hearts and messages to show support during the coronavirus pandemic, Wednesday night, April 1. (Le'Andre Fox and James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Isolation and quarantine center for homeless at Cashman Center - VIDEO
A new isolation and quarantine center for homeless is under construction at the Cashman Center in downtown Las Vegas, March 31. (K.M Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Day care changes hours and takes extra steps to help guardians - VIDEO
Sarah Washington, whose children attend Discovery Gardens Childcare, shares the importance of the facility’s hour changes, and child care director Ariella Thomas discusses some other changes Discovery Gardens Childcare has made, in Las Vegas on Monday, March 30, 2020. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Elipagephoto
Costco reduces hours at Las Vegas Valley stores, gasoline pumps - VIDEO
Costco announced it will reduce hours at its stores and gas pumps starting Monday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police investigate apparent murder-suicide
Las Vegas police investigate an apparent murder-suicide in the 3900 block of Chasing Heart Way on Saturday, March 28, 2020. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Homeless outreach organization feeds people in age of social distancing - VIDEO
Homeless outreach organization Food Not Bombs handed out sack lunches, hygiene kits and blankets on Foremaster Lane in Las Vegas, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, which has temporarily closed its dining room and emergency night shelter, also handed out to-go lunches on Foremaster Lane. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nevada gets an A for social distancing
In an interactive Scoreboard by tech company Unacast, organizations can measure and understand the efficacy of social distancing. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada construction continues as coronavirus spreads
When Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered Nevada businesses closed, he let construction workers stay on the job, deeming homebuilding and other construction “essential” lines of work.
Pedestrian struck, killed in western Las Vegas Valley crash - VIDEO
Las Vegas police are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed in a crash Wednesday night in the west valley. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police investigate fatal crash in east Las Vegas - VIDEO
Las Vegas police said a pedestrian was killed when they were hit by a vehicle near Sloan Lane and of East Charleston Boulevard on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Seeing teachers at a distance, closed parks and lack of toilet paper - VIDEO
The neighboring towns of Logandale and Overton, northeast of Las Vegas, are experiencing the effects of coronavirus, with closed schools and playgrounds and fewer items in grocery stores. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas residents enjoy the snow at Lee Canyon - VIDEO
Las Vegas residents get out to enjoy the snow at Lee Canyon on Mount Charleston. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Post office stays open amidst shutdown - VIDEO
Mail delivery and services at post offices continues despite the coronavirus crisis. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 person dies in east Las Vegas fire - VIDEO
One person and a dog were found dead after a fire in a detached structure adjacent to a house near East Monroe Avenue and North Betty Lane in east Las Vegas on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Albertsons, Walmart, Amazon increase pay amid coronavirus impact - VIDEO
Grocery stores and other retailers have raised employee pay as they work to meet customer demand during the coronavirus pandemic. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
High winds move clouds across the Las Vegas Valley - Time-lapse video
Isolated showers depart when gusty winds move in probably remain through Wednesday, March 25, when another storm front is expected. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown's Pabst Blue Ribbon neon sign moving to Neon Museum - VIDEO
Yesco workers remove the Pabst Blue Ribbon neon sign at Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard on Monday, March 23, 2020. The sign, which has been at the location for five years, will be displayed at the Neon Museum. A museum representative said a replacement neon sign is in the works. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Distance Learning challenges for Clark County School District - VIDEO
Renee Summerour sits down with RJ reporter Aleksandra Appleton to discuss the challenges the Clark County School District is facing with Distance Learning, a program that was slated to begin Monday, March 23. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Deliver with Dignity will give 100 families meals today - VIDEO
“Deliver with Dignity” was created “to bring high-quality meals directly to the most vulnerable families in the Las Vegas Valley, keeping them and the community safe by reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19.” (Facebook/Clark County)
CCSD board holds an emergency meeting on Distance Learning - VIDEO
The Clark County School Board held an emergency meeting on Monday morning, the day that distance learning was supposed to begin at all schools in Nevada. (Clark County School District)
Las Vegas Valley residents make medical masks for health care workers - VIDEO
Anissa Gustafson has spent most of her week sewing masks in an effort to assist health care workers in the Las Vegas Valley who are running out because of the coronavirus pandemic. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Coronavirus patients could inundate hospitals - VIDEO
RJ Investigations reporter Michael S. Davidson talks about how a rapid influx of coronavirus patients could soon inundate Nevada hospitals, pushing them past their capacity and threatening health care workers’ safety. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
M Resort donates food surplus to workers - VIDEO
The M Resort donated a surplus of perishable food supplies to team members after the closure of the hotel due to a shutdown of nonessential businesses in Nevada, Friday, March 20, 2020. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Costco reserved earliest hour for seniors - VIDEO
People line up outside Costco in Henderson after the store reserved earliest hour for seniors on Friday, March 20, 2020. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
2 pedestrians injured after being hit by vehicle - VIDEO
Two men were injured when they were hit by a car on Warm Springs Road near Bruce Street in southeast Las Vegas on Friday, March 20, 2020. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas shopping lines still long - VIDEO
Senior shoppers line up at 7 a.m. outside of Smith's Marketplace on Skye Canyon Park Drive in northwest Las Vegas, Friday, March 20, 2020. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dos and Dont's: Cleaning your smartphone of germs - VIDEO
Check out the dos and dont's for cleaning your phone of germs. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
More Las Vegas Valley grocery stores offer early hours for seniors - VIDEO
A growing list of Las Vegas Valley retailers are offering special shopping hours for seniors in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Missing hiker's sister on staying hopeful - Video
Karsta Lucas, the sister of Ronnie Lucas, a hiker missing at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, said Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, that family members remain hopeful the 33-year-old diabetic will be found safe despite spending two nights in the open without his insulin. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Search continues for missing hiker at Red Rock Canyon - Video
Volunteers come out to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area west of Las Vegas to help find a hiker, Ronnie Lucas, who went missing on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Search for missing hiker at Red Rock Canyon - Video
Red Rock Search & Rescue is looked for the missing hiker at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area on Monday, Feb. 10, 2010. The man was reported missing on Sunday. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas ready to enforce homeless camping ban - VIDEO
Las Vegas police will begin enforcing a controversial camping ban on city streets on Saturday, but officials say they expect to impose the penalties available under the new ordinance only in rare instances. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Officials celebrate opening of Las Vegas park named for slain officer - Video
Top public officials came together Friday morning to celebrate the grand opening of Officer Alyn Beck Memorial Park in the northwest valley, named after a police officer killed in the line of duty in 2014. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wrong-way driver causes fatal crash near Las Vegas airport, authorities say - VIDEO
A suspected impaired motorist driving the wrong way on the Airport Connector caused a crash that killed another driver near McCarran International Airport early Friday morning, Jan. 17, 2020, according to law enforcement. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The car that Tupac was shot in is for sale - VIDEO
The vehicle that legendary rapper Tupac Shakur was riding in when he was shot after a boxing match in Las Vegas is up for auction. The black 1996 BMW 7 Series is listed by Celebrity Cars Las Vegas for $1.75 million. (Angus Kelly/Las Vegas Review-Journal)