Valley of Fire State Park, a land of fiery red sandstone, is only an hour’s drive from Las Vegas but has plenty to see.
Deborah Wall is the author of "Great Hikes, a Cerca Country Guide," and "Basecamp Las Vegas: Hiking the Southwestern States," published by Stephens Press.
Keyhole Canyon is a great short trip for the entire family. The area is best visited in cooler months, and it’s near Las Vegas, so you can enjoy it and be home by dark, even in February.
Darwin Falls in Death Valley National Park is one of my favorite places to go when I need to clear my head. It affords me a full-day scenic trip, during which I can take a short yet adventuresome hike and immerse myself in nature.
The very best outdoor adventures for midwinter pack a lot of experience into a few hours of daylight. China Ranch does this just about perfectly, offering hiking, history, birding, shopping and a unique treat for the taste buds.
While many of us in Southern Nevada want to travel this time of year, many of the go-to places are too cold or covered too deeply with snow. But you won’t have that problem if you head down into the Sonoran Desert and Tucson, Arizona. Almost as far south as you can go in Arizona, winter weather is luxuriously pleasant.
Each day of our region’s short and mild winter is a little treasure to be invested for maximum return. A good place to invest it is in the Rock Spring Loop Trail on the Mojave National Preserve.
This time of year the main entrance of Zion National Park near Springdale, Utah, often sees bumper-to-bumper traffic. And that’s just getting there; you’ll also encounter crowds on the trails. If you nevertheless want to see Zion in fall, your experience might be more enjoyable in the Kolob Canyons, in the northwestern area of the park.
Deborah Wall / Special to View
Now through early spring is the best time for roaming remote desert areas and examining the desert’s geology. A drive to Amboy Crater offers both! The road trip takes you through the Mojave National Preserve and along historic Route 66 to the tiny town of Amboy, and its nearby volcanic crater.
This is a great time of year to head up to the Spring Mountains Recreation Area — what we locals call Mount Charleston. You will experience crisp, early-fall temperatures and maybe a good fall foliage show in the surrounding mountains. One of the best options might be Fletcher Canyon, a side branch off the larger Kyle Canyon. This is a moderately strenuous hike with an 880-foot elevation gain, but it is suitable for most older children and adults, as long as they can handle a 3.5-mile round-trip hike.
Near the lower Colorado River in eastern California, the Blythe Intaglios are giant designs, man-made long ago by engraving, tamping or scraping away the desert pavement, thus exposing the lighter gravel or soils beneath.
The appropriately named Grand Canyon can be enjoyed from at least two perspectives. The South Rim is more popular andopen all year. The North Rim is closed in winter, but the best time to visit there is upon us: September and early October,before most North Rim services shut down about mid-October because of early snows. In that window, weather will usuallybe clear, with a slight chill.
Hidden Forest can be the destination for a wonderful 10-mile, round-trip day hike, or for a backpack excursion up to arustic cabin in a ponderosa pine forest. Though the trailhead lies within 50 miles of Las Vegas, its 5,860-foot elevationprovides a welcome escape from the searing summers of the valley floor. It gets even cooler as you go, for the hike has anelevation gain of about 2,000 feet. The gain is spread pretty evenly through the journey, but it’s moderately strenuous evenso.
Alpine Lakes Loop Trail is one of the best all-around hikes in Great Basin National Park, especially if you’re hiking with people of varying ages and abilities. The loop trail features fantastic views of Wheeler Peak, 13,063 feet in elevation and the second-highest in Nevada. The hike also passes two pretty mountain lakes.