For the past 13 years, the Sun Lakes Hiking Club has offered its members a Special Hike. Special Hikes involve traveling to another region of the Southwest to explore it through daily hikes, shared meals and other experiences which highlight the region’s distinctive character. Members reserve their places on the trip in spring, and the destination for the year’s Special Hike is revealed at the club’s season-opening meeting the following November.
This year, 40+ members of the club traveled to Las Vegas and the surrounding area in mid-February. You might be skeptical… Las Vegas? Hiking? Really? Well, you’ll be surprised to know, there’s adventure to be found off the Strip!
After arriving in the Summerlin area, hikers settled into their accommodations, then gathered for appetizers, a preview of the next day’s options and dinner. The next morning found hikers up early and on their way to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and its new and well-designed Visitor Center. Highlights there included the ranger’s presentation, a short movie and “jaw-droppingly gorgeous” overlooks, as one hiker put it. There were several hikes to choose from, most accessible from the 13-mile scenic loop in the park.
Day two brought beautiful weather and found hikers at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Several hiking options were available including a 2.7-mile Historic Railroad Trail that takes hikers through five tunnels that were used in the original construction of Hoover Dam. Dinner that evening was at The Grape Street Café, and several diners remarked that it was so good, they plan to return the next time they’re in Las Vegas!
On the last day, hikers experienced an unexpected surprise. Driving back to Sun Lakes through the Mojave Desert, their hiking destination was the Valley of Fire State Park. The desert drive is described as unremarkable. However, coming around a corner off of Highway 15 to access the park, the landscape burst into a vista of color! Several shorter hikes there, much like walks on a sandy beach, featured petroglyphs, monoliths and sandstone formations.
Thanks go out to all those SLHC members whose planning and coordination make the Special Hikes true adventures!