My Favorite Las Vegas Outdoor Adventures!

Fishing and exploring Cold Creek Nevada

Near Indian Springs, about an hour and a half outside of Las Vegas the town of Cold Creek is located north of Mount Charleston in Clark County at an elevation of 6,500 feet. The town is named for the creek that feeds three small ponds. Historically, Cold Creek was home to a sawmill in the 1800s, a dude ranch in the 1930s, and a working horse ranch in the 1940s. Today the town is still known for its wild horse population. After the close of the horse ranch, Cold Creek was managed by the BLM and eventually by the U.S. Forest Service.  The state stocks the pond with trout regularly in the winter months.

Hiking the Mary Jane Falls at Mt. Charleston

Mary Jane Falls is a 1.6 mile (3.2 miles round trip) heavily trafficked out and back trail located in the Kyle Canyon area of the SMNRA. There is parking and primitive restrooms at the trailhead. This trail is not stroller or wheelchair friendly. This trail can be very busy, so start early to avoid crowds. The parking lot is closed during the winter season due to snow, the trail can still be accessed from Echo parking lot. 

The first 0.7 miles of the trail follows a well-defined wide and rocky path gradually northwest through towering quaking aspen, white fir, and ponderosa pine. After 0.7 miles, you will reach a sign pointing to the right indicating the correct trail to continue on. Past this sign the trail climbs 9 switchbacks for the remaining 0.9 miles. This portion of the trail is much narrower and suffers extreme trail erosion from hikers cutting switchbacks, please refrain from cutting switchbacks as it leads to trail erosion and unsafe hiking conditions. The final switchback will lead you parallel across limestone rock faces to the base of the falls. The falls are solely fed by snowmelt and are at their peak in early Spring. To return to the trailhead, retrace your steps back 1.6 miles.  

Hiking the Petroglyph Trails

In November 2002, Congress designated the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area (NCA) to preserve and protect a portion of southern Nevada’s Mojave Desert for future generations.  The 48,438 acre national conservation area forms the southern mountainous skyline of Las Vegas and the City of Henderson.  The Sloan Canyon Petroglyph Site is one of the most significant, scenic, and important cultural resources in southern Nevada having more than 300 rock art panels, and nearly 1,700 designs representing native cultures dating from Archaic to historic era. 

Kayaking the Emerald Caves in the Colorado River

The Emerald Caves along the Colorado River are just a short 1 hour drive from Las Vegas.  The river is accessed from Willow Beach, a popular recreation area for kayaking, boating, fishing and swimming. The Emerald Cave owes its unique green color to a combination of factors, including the sunlight that reflects off the water and the minerals that are present in the surrounding rocks. The cave is also fed by underground springs that bring in fresh water, which is filtered through layers of limestone and other minerals, giving it a distinct color and clarity.

The Black Canyon, where the Emerald Cave is located, is a deep and narrow gorge that was formed over millions of years by the erosive power of the Colorado River. The canyon walls are made up of layers of volcanic rock and limestone, which have been exposed and weathered over time, creating unique patterns and textures.

Visitors to the Emerald Cave can access it by boat or kayak, and once inside, they are greeted by a stunning display of green water, illuminated by the sun's rays. The cave is surrounded by towering cliffs and rock formations, which provide a dramatic backdrop for the sparkling water.

Exploring the Valley of Fire

Located in the Mojave Desert, Valley of Fire State Park is home to 46,000 acres of red Aztec sandstone, formed by shifting sand dunes 150 million years ago. The stunning landscape glows red for miles into the horizon and is particularly beautiful at sunset. With elevations ranging from 1,500 feet to 3,000 feet, here are some popular Valley of Fire hikes that are easily accessible to visitors who want to explore Valley of Fire from Las Vegas as a day trip, or for those who are camping in the park.

Of all the state and national parks in Nevada, Valley of Fire remains a favorite for visitors and locals alike, thanks to the fiery sandstone formations swirling through the valley, ancient petroglyphs carved into its stones, stunning red sandstone rock formations, ancient petroglyphs, and quick access from Las Vegas.

Ancient petroglyphs were carved into red sandstone rock formations at Valley of Fire State Park—a remnant from the Ancestral Puebloans living in and around the modern-day Moapa Valley area 2,500 years ago. By the mid-1860s, Mormon missionaries settled St. Thomas, which eventually wound up flooded by the waters of Lake Mead during construction of the Hoover Dam in the early 1930s.

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