Red Rock Canyon and the Vegas Strip

June 3, 2017

Our last day in Vegas started without much of a plan. Based on recommendations from friends we knew we wanted to try the breakfast at Hash House a go go and we wanted to walk along the Strip and see all the different casinos, but beyond that we were just going to play the day by ear. While picking up the car from the valet we asked for directions to the restaurant and were told that there were two locations; one inside a casino on the Strip, and a standalone location on the western end of the city. Since we were planning on walking the Strip we were originally planning on just going to the casino location, but then the valet added a little tidbit of information that gave us a new adventure idea; the western location was right on the road that would take us to Red Rock Canyon.

Red Rock Canyon was not even on our radar when we began planning our trip to Las Vegas, but we decided to give it a try since we did not have any other plans, and I am extremely glad we did. Red Rock Canyon is a natural conservation area showcasing a large number of large red rock formations and sandstone peaks. There are a large number of hiking trails, but the main draw is a 13 mile scenic loop that can be driven or biked to see the majority of the conservation area. Along the drive you can also see a number of Joshua Trees, a really unique sight if you have not had the chance to explore the Mojave Desert or Joshua Tree National Park in California.

With the extreme heat in Las Vegas in June we decided to stick to the driving portion exclusively, and not take any of the hiking trails. Even so, I do not feel like we missed out on too much. The scenic drive is exquisite and gives a very complete view of the entire area, and also has a number of pull-outs where you can park and get photographs and beautiful panoramic views. We spent a total of about 2 hours in Red Rock Canyon, between the 13 mile drive and a walk around the visitor center and informational pathways. While we did not see any wildlife, the canyon is a protected habitat of the desert tortoise, and occasionally wild burros and desert big horn sheep can be seen.

After we finished our time at Red Rock Canyon we went to the Strip to start walking to the various casinos and seeing the sights eponymous with Las Vegas. There is a nice pedestrian path that walks along the entire Strip, often utilizing pedestrian bridges or cutting through malls, casinos, and other shopping centers, but the Strip is a lot larger than it initially appears, and the walk can be quite draining, especially in the harsh summer heat of the desert southwest. Each casino has a unique theme and it was really interesting to see all the different styles, as well as the unique experiences each has to offer. We had already seen the aquarium inside Mandalay Bay; today we wanted to see the gardens and fountain show at the Bellagio, the Eiffel Tower replica at Paris, the world’s tallest Ferris Wheel at The Linq, as well as the unique and luxurious designs at Caesar’s Palace, The Venetian, and Excalibur, among the other casinos that line the Strip. The walk, however, was thoroughly exhausting and after making it as far down the Strip as we could, we opted to take a taxi back to our own hotel to relax and prepare for our first Vegas show.

The shows in Las Vegas are famous for a reason, and there is something for everybody; from concerts to family friendly acrobatics to raunchy comedies to quasi-pornographic displays for adults only. There were a lot of shows to choose from, but based on recommendations from a number of friends and coworkers, we opted to buy tickets to the Cirque du Soleil show, Beatles LOVE, held at The Mirage casino and resort. This show is family friendly and has typical Cirque du Soleil acrobatics set to various songs by The Beatles, while also telling a story about the rise of The Beatles. The show was phenomenal, and even though I am not familiar with The Beatles music personally, I still greatly enjoyed the show and would recommend it without any reservations. The next time we return to Vegas I will definitely attend another show.

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