Category Archives: Recreation

A Drive Through Red Rock Canyon

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Red Rock Canyon Sign

Welcome to Red Rock Canyon

On every trip I’ve taken to Las Vegas since the early 2000s, I’ve been meaning to make it out to Red Rock Canyon. But of course, I never rent a car when I’m in Las Vegas, which makes it a tad more difficult to see the Canyon. There are tours that go out there; I just haven’t gotten around to taking one yet.

If you’re a first time Vegas visitor, this might not make it onto your list of priorities. But if you’re a repeat visitor, then it’s definitely time to spread your wings beyond the Strip. I’ve become a huge fan of getting out into the desert for at least part of a day on every trip. It’s a refreshing change of pace from the constant sensory stimulation you’re subjected to on the Strip and Downtown.

Red Rock Canyon

This is why it’s called “Red Rock Canyon,” as if that weren’t obvious.

On my last trip to Las Vegas, I finally got a chance to visit Red Rock Canyon thanks to a local friend who lives there who offered to take me somewhere off Strip for the day. Delma and I met at a previous Vegas Solo meetup. She’s retired, so was able to do things during the day. (Thank you, Delma!)

Red Rock Canyon

At last, I visited Red Rock Canyon. What took me so long???

We took advantage of the 30-minute drive out to Red Rock, as well as during our tour of the Loop, to catch up on each other’s lives.  It was fun taking photos of each other at the various lookout points. As a solo traveler, I usually have to take selfies or ask a stranger to take my picture if I want evidence that I actually visited a place.

Red Rock Canyon

Naturally, we had to pose for photos in front of this gnarly tree.

At the final parking area where we stopped, there was a man taking photos of his family who looked like he knew what he was doing with a camera, so we asked him to take some pictures of the two of us to commemorate our day.

At Red Rock Canyon

With Delma at Red Rock Canyon

Speaking of photography, it was so nice to do a tour like this with someone else who loves photography as much as I do. One of the reasons I prefer traveling solo is because I can take all the time I want for photography when I’m alone and not worry about whether or not a traveling companion is getting bored. In this case, Delma was practicing her photography, too, so we were on the same page.

Red Rock Canyon

The red of the rocks is sandstone, like at the Valley of Fire.

Red Rock Canyon

In the Canyon, you’ll see these kinds of two-toned rocks.

 

I was a little afraid it was going to rain that day, but it didn’t. And as it turned out, the cloud cover really worked to our advantage for taking photos. The colors changed depending on whether clouds were blocking the sun or not. While the “reds” of Red Rock are vivid and lovely, I have to say, I was even more partial to the distant mountains that weren’t red–especially during the early hours when there were still wisps of clouds lingering near the peaks. They seemed so dramatic, especially when contrasted with the desert landscape in the foreground.

Red Rock Canyon

The clouds made for more interesting photos this day.

Red Rock Canyon

Don’t let anyone say the desert is just brown and boring. It’s beautiful.

Near the entrance to the park, there is a Visitors Center where we stopped to use the restroom and pick up a map of the park. There’s a large window offering a vista of the park that gives you a “sneak peek” of the treat you’re in for in this park. You can also buy souvenirs here if you’re so inclined, but I didn’t.

We asked the friendly woman at the desk who gave us a map where we could see the petroglyphs. She spoke so fast, I didn’t quite catch it all, but I was sure we could figure it out from the “x” she drew on the map. Unfortunately, as were were driving the loop, we must have missed the turn off, because we never did see petroglyphs. (The loop is one-way, so we couldn’t turn around and go back.) We also did not see any wild burros, which I would have loved to photograph. On the bright side, we also didn’t see any rattlesnakes!

Red Rock Canyon

Don’t feed anything here–except yourself if you’re hungry.

How can you get to Red Rock Canyon?

The easiest way is to have access to a vehicle, of course–your own or a rental. It takes about 30 minutes to get to Red Rock Canyon from the Strip via Charleston Blvd. The park is open daily 6am to varying times throughout the year, from 5pm to 8pm. There is an admission fee of $7/car or $3/motorcycle/bicyclist/pedestrian. They also sell annual passes, but I think that would only be worth it for locals.

Once there, you can drive the 13-mile loop or, if you have a bicycle and are particularly ambitious, you could bike it. There are hiking trails at various points along the way, and places where you can pull over and take photos. It’s really a gorgeous landscape every mile of the way. Just when I thought I’d seen the most beautiful area, we’d come across another even more beautiful.

Red Rock Canyon

The Loop provides you with gorgeous vistas one after the other.

Your other option is to take a tour. Since I haven’t done this yet, I can’t recommend any particular company. If you Google “Red Rock Canyon Tours” you’ll see you have plenty of choices.

This would be a good option for anyone who doesn’t like to drive in Vegas (and doesn’t have a local friend), and for those who enjoy learning about what they’re seeing from an expert. I think I might want to do this in the future, so I can learn more about the petroglyphs here.

Check out the Bureau of Land Management’s website for more information about visiting Red Rock Canyon.

Here are some more of my favorite photos from that day. Enjoy!

 

Red Rock Canyon

The drive

Red Rock Canyon

The desert vistas out here are stunning

Red Rock Canyon

The winding road…

Red Rock Canyon

Not all the rocks here are red.

 

A Taste of the Local: The Downtown 3rd Farmers Market

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Farmers Market Bldg

The Downtown 3rd Farmers Market building, a lovely piece of architecture

One of my favorite things to do in new cities is visit the local farmers market. It’s a great place to interact with locals and perhaps pick up some locally-made food products as souvenirs. You can also often grab a cheap meal at a farmers market, and see what produce can be grown in that region.

Until my last trip, I had never done this in Vegas, because a) it’s not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a trip to Vegas, and b) to the best of my knowledge, there has never been a farmer’s market in the tourist corridor before. But once I decided I was going to stay Downtown for a couple of nights in June, I started researching things to do during the day.

I was stoked to realize the Downtown 3rd Farmers Market would be open on the Friday of my stay. Even better, it was conveniently located right across the street from the Downtown Grand, next to the Mob Museum. I would have time to pop over there before I checked out of the hotel to head to the Strip. Continue reading

Vegas’s Hawaiian Marketplace: Hit or Miss?

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The Hawaiian Marketplace stage

The Hawaiian Marketplace stage

I’ve never written about Las Vegas’s Hawaiian Marketplace before because honestly, I’ve been very apathetic about it. Once my initial curiosity wore off, there was really nothing to draw me here. As far as themeing goes, the Marketplace’s so-called Hawaiian theme was pretty weak. When it was built, it was touted as a replica of the International Marketplace in Waikiki. I’ve actually been to the International Marketplace in Waikiki. I don’t see the resemblance.

But last July, when I was staying at Planet Hollywood, I decided to give it another chance. The verdict?

Yup. Still apathetic. Continue reading

A Workaholic at Canyon Ranch Spa

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Some people understand that the purpose of a vacation is to rest the mind and body from the hectic pace and constant barrage of other people’s needs that define our everyday lives. I seem to have forgotten that over the past five years. As a travel blogger, even when I take a vacation from my day job, they’re “working vacations.” I’m constantly on the go, gathering content for use later on my websites. At home, I work 7 days a week and sleep poorly. In other words, I’ve become a classic workaholic. This has been bothering me lately. A lot. So I decided it was time to do what you’re supposed to do on vacation; I booked a massage.

It had been five years since my last massage. So when I showed up for my appointment at Canyon Ranch at the Palazzo in July, I was a bundle of stress with knots that felt like marbles in my neck and shoulders. I’ve been to a spa maybe half a dozen times in my life; some I liked, some I felt apathetic about. I’m still a spa newbie, but not a total wide-eyed innocent. That being said, I have to admit, I was excited to book a massage at the famous Canyon Ranch. (It had to be famous, since I’d heard of it; I don’t really follow luxury brands all that much.)

Herbal laconium

Herbal laconium

Continue reading

Vegas Photo Tip #2: Look Down

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Last week, I said I’d be doing a series of posts highlighting some very simple tips that anyone can apply with any camera to jazz up their Vegas vacation photos. This is #2 in the first trio of posts. Last week’s tip was to “Look Up,” so naturally, this week we have to cover the flip side of the coin, the B side of the record, the yang to the yin. Yes, that’s right, this week’s equally simple tip is: Look down.

Come on, you knew that was coming, didn’t you?

The Strip at Night

The Strip at Night

Both of these first two tips have to do with perspective. Basically, we’re looking for new and different ways of seeing things in Las Vegas. So instead of just taking a straight-ahead picture of the Mirage volcano or the Eiffel Tower at Paris, we’re finding new angles that make them a bit more interesting. Go ahead. Try all three. Get a straight ahead shot, a shot looking up, and a shot looking down. Very different compositions, no? Continue reading