Las Vegas, major party hub of the United States is one destination everyone will love to experience. It is world within itself with casinos, clubs, resorts and every person has something to enjoy and will have the best fun ever. Since “What happens in Vegas stay in Vegas”, no further details about our visit but lets see what else one can do around Vegas after some heavy parties were hit. Get ready to witness red rocks, vast deserts, empty long roads and sand storms.
1. Hoover Dam
Just outside Vegas, 30 miles from city is Hoover Dam aka Boulder Dam over mighty Colorado River known for its large volume and is the largest reservoir in United States when its full. It is as tall as 60 story building and was the highest dam when completed in 1935. This mammoth structure in Black Canyon of Colorado river attracts millions of people yearly.
Hoover Dam has so much concrete that can lay road from San Francisco to New York City.
Move to the Arizona side of the dam for scenic views and there are several sightseeing spots along the small roads that leads to the top of the mountain next to the Dam.
Then if you are proceeding to Grand Canyon which you probably will, you are in luck to drive on huge Bypass road but it is illegal to stop on the bridge. Just enjoy the beautiful view of Dam and Colorado river. Drive to Grand Canyon after you get down 95-South will be pretty as you will be traveling amid Joshua tree and beautiful mountains. Watch for Scenic spots to admire the desert’s beauty.
2. Grand Canyon Skywalk
Welcome to the Grand Canyon, a natural wonder carved by the Colorado river with colorful rock layers aging billions of years and drawing millions of visitors every year. After 2 hour drive from Hoover Dam, the closest and popular spot in Grand Canyon is Grand Canyon Skywalk which is situated in Grand Canyon West Rim. Skywalk is a horseshoe shaped bridge with a glass walkway 4000 feet above Grand Canyon extending 70 feet out over the Canyon Rim offering unparalleled views.
Skywalk is managed by local tribe and is outside the Grand Canyon National Park. Don’t be shocked with the prices. Tourism is the primary income of the Hualapai Tribe. One cannot drive past the designated parking area and must take the tour bus to visit the Skywalk and other scenic spots. Tickets will be available in the Tour Center and all further directions will be provided there. There is one package which covers most of the attractions – Skywalk, Eagle Point, Guano Point and Hualapai Ranch. Get Tickets here.
Hualapai Ranch – a quick stop before proceeding to the most popular spot. Westworld fan? You will love the place. Well-built horses, cow boys, jail, restaurant and vintage carriages is all its about. Craving for worldly views? This is not the right stop. Board the bus back for one of its kind.
Here you go – Canyon’s west rim view point. At once, aah will be the first expression looking at the gigantic rims. Colors throughout the Canyon are amazingly picture-perfect. Views can never get boring and it will definitely take sometime to gather some guts to get to the edge of the rim and figure out how deep is the rim. It took 12 sec for a small rock to hit the bottom rock and that’s how deep it is. Yes we heard echo. And then Skywalk. It is definitely once in a lifetime experience to walk 4000 feet above the Canyon. Be ready to spend extra bucks to capture the moments as personal phones and cameras are not allowed on Skywalk. Eagle Point where the Canyon looks like Eagle with its widespread wings is just across the Canyon from the Skywalk.
Water! Water! Water! is all you need, all the time in Grand Canyon.
Take the bus again for the best views of the West Rim – Guano Point. Eat well, gather some energy, drink water before proceeding to Guano Point as it has at least a mile hike in scorching sun to experience the splendid views. Canyon from the top of the mountain is amazing which shows several lines of Rim caused by fierce Colorado River. It leaves us in awe-state exclaiming about the wonders of the nature.
This is just probably 5% of the Grand Canyon. To experience more in style, one will have to hike thru Havasu Falls which will approx. take 5 days and atleast 6 months advance reservation is required for mules and accommodation. Also Grand Canyon South Rim is known for its spectacular views, best of Grand Canyon which is 140 miles south and will require few more days to hike. Of course, rim to rim hike is most popular in Grand Canyon which will need reservations atleast an year in advance. Colorado river rafting is yet another best option to explore Grand Canyon.
Well, with just a day to explore, there is one other beautiful destination to experience – Horseshoe Bend. We spent the night in Flagstaff about mid-point from Skywalk to Horseshoe bend after driving thru heavy rain and sand storm. Flagstaff is a very nice place with history of its own. It has several hotels and restaurants at affordable price and one of the best places to spend a night around Grand Canyon.
Drive to Horseshoe Bend in the early morning thru the deserts of Arizona is very pleasant. Red rocks shining with Sun presents multiple spots to take pictures all along the way.
3. Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe bend is one of the breathtaking spots on the earth. Paradise of photographers for its colors and gorgeous scenic views, this place was formed by Colorado River cutting thru the rock horseshoe shaped in the canyon.
Located just outside the Grand Canyon National Park, this has been the most favorite spot for visitors due to its vivid and spectacular views. It is a short less than a mile hike from the parking spot just next to Hwy-89 and the hike is well worth. You will be walking on sand from Jurassic period so watch out for fossils 🙂 Take good care while walking on the edge of the rim and be cautious of surroundings while moving from one rock to the other to capture the best views of horseshoe bend.
Carry wide angle lens to get the best complete shot of the Horseshoe bend.
Got more time? Experience “The Wave” in Antelope Canyon, one of the most photographed landscapes in the United States formed by the water erosion. It is a beauty of its own and has limited tours daily, so at least 6 month advance reservations are recommended for most popular early morning tours.
Drive back to Vegas thru North Arizona to experience Valley of Fire State Park along the way for its spectacular views. There are several spots just on the road making it perfect place for best photographs.
Arizona is a land of wonders and all the red rock adds up to beautiful scenic places all along the state. There are hundreds of spots and can spend weeks exploring them. Monument valley, Angel’s landing in Zion National park, Bryce Canyon National Park are just few others in the list. Also to the west of Las Vegas within two hour drive is – Death Valley National Park, one of the hottest places in the world and popular for featuring “sailing stones”.
But wherever you go around Vegas, be cautious of surroundings, follow trails only, watch for snakes, coyotes and other wildlife, carry lots of water, be aware of whereabouts by carrying GPS, take a note of Sunrise and Sunset times, carry a jacket and plan well between spots so you are at a safe location before sunset. And above all, Happy Exploring!!!
Watch this video to get a brief look about Arizona Roads: