- Created on Saturday, 03 May 2003 03:24
- Written by Petra Lattmann
LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- If you find yourself with some free time during your trip to Clean '03 and are longing to escape the glitter of Las Vegas, if for just a day, you're in for a treat.
From historical sights to recreation areas, Clean Show attendees and their families have a wide-range of activities to choose from - so if you have some time to explore, have some fun unwinding outside of the city!
The spectacular Hoover Dam, visited each year by thousands of tourists, is just 30 miles south of Vegas on Hwy 95. Daily-guided tours of the dam's power plant are either 35 or 60 minutes long. And Lake Mead, the world's largest man-made lake, has 550 miles of shoreline to swim, fish, boat or hike along. There are also paddlewheel boat dinner/dancing cruises available. You'll pass through Boulder City on the way to these sights - so if craft, antique and boutique shops are your passion, take a break and explore this quaint town.
Just north of "The Strip" is Hwy 159 (Charleston Boulevard), which winds westward through 83,000 acres of conservation area. Along the way is Red Rock Canyon. Stop in the visitor's center and pick up information on local hiking trails, waterfalls and ancient Indian petroglyphs - rock carvings and inscriptions. If you take the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Byway - a 13-mile one-way driving loop - you'll be treated to a rainbow of multi-colored sandstone formations and you may possibly catch a glimpse of area wildlife, Desert Bighorn Sheep, bobcats, gray foxes and wild burros.
The Old Wild West beckons a bit farther down Hwy 159 - at Bonnie Springs Ranch, a replica 1880's mining town. From gunslingers in the streets to a miniature train, petting zoo and riding stables, it's family fun all around, including its very own Boot Hill Cemetery, a historical cemetery. To view fascinating sandstone rock formations, visit the 26,000 acres of Valley of Fire State Park. This desert park, located 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas on I-15 will dazzle you with 150 million-year old fiery-red rock formations in full view of the many hiking trails and scenic drives.
The August sun is hot in Nevada, so if you'd like to cool down and unwind with sweeping vista views of the surrounding area visit Mount Charleston in the Toiyabe National Forest. Just 20 miles north of Las Vegas on Hwy 95, turning at Hwy 156 or 157, you'll feel the air cool down at the elevation of nearly 12,000 feet. You can golf, hike, horseback ride or just have a picnic and enjoy the view above the sweltering heat below.
If you enjoy American wines, take an hour drive west of town to visit the Pahrump Winery, in operation since 1990. Free tours of this Mojave Desert winery are complimented by the tasting bar, rose garden gazebo, and restaurant. Take I-15 south to 160 West, over the Spring Mountains and into the Pahrump Valley.
Adventurers interested in full day-trips can choose to visit the Grand Canyon (west and south rims), which is easily accessible by many of the bus tours offered.
And finally, if alien sightings peak your imagination you can take a ride on the infamous 100-mile long Extraterrestrial Highway (Hwy 375.) Located 140 miles north on Hwy 93 you can reach this barren highway made famous in 1950 when a UFO supposedly crashed and an alien was captured and taken to the nearby government facility for examination. The story has never been proven - or disproven. So if you believe, pack a lunch and take a break somewhere along the highway - and keep your eyes on the skies.
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