Summer travel is in full swing in the warm Southwest, so we need to turn our thoughts to higher elevations in search of agreeably lower temperatures.
If you plan on a spring outing to Southern Utah, especially along Scenic Byway 12 to Bryce Canyon National Park or the Escalante area, an easy yet rewarding side trip is Kodachrome Basin State Park.
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.
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.
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.
Areas of breathtaking natural beauty lie within driving distance of Las Vegas, offering families with young children the opportunity to explore unspoiled wilderness without long treks.