I authored this piece on Lake Powell. pessimism, optimism and the age of climate change…
Think ‘Las Vegas’ and one word will come to mind before any other – casinos. ‘Sin City’ has long been the gambling capital of the world, with some of the biggest casinos on the planet stretching along Las Vegas Boulevard – or The Strip, as it’s better known.
But what if you’re not a huge gambler, or simply looking for a break from the casino tables while you are in America’s playground? Here are some alternative attractions that can entertain you in and around Vegas.
The Hoover Dam
Built between 1931 and 1936, this engineering marvel was designed to harness the power of the mighty Colorado River. More than 100 construction workers died in the construction of Boulder Dam (the original name of the dam, due to its proximity to Boulder City), which provides hydro-electric power to large parts of Nevada, Arizona and California.
The dam was renamed in honour of former President Herbert Hoover in 1947 and is now visited by more than one million people every year. It is a 45 minute drive from the Vegas Strip.
The Hoover Dam led to the formation of Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States.
Like the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead straddles the state border between Nevada and Arizona, and is extremely popular with boating enthusiasts and people looking to cool off in the sun. The Lake is also a popular spot for fishing, water skiing and sunbathing.
The Grand Canyon
Further away from Vegas and across the state border into Arizona, the Grand Canyon is within easy reach of Sin City.
There are a number of options for getting to the Grand Canyon from Vegas. By car, it is around four hours from Vegas to the national park at the South Rim but if you don’t fancy the long drive, it is possible to fly to the Canyon.
Helicopter tours from the heliport at McCarran Airport are available most of the year, and will take you deep into the Canyon, whilst flights operate from Boulder City to the South Rim.
The Valley of Fire
The Valley of Fire, about an hour’s drive north-east of Vegas, is the oldest state park in Nevada, having been designated in 1968. Covering more than 42,000 acres, it is famed for its red sandstone formations that appear to be ‘on fire’ when they reflect the sun’s rays.
Be sure to take care in the heat however as in the summer months, the temperature can read as much as 120°F.