Even more than my home in the Front Range, Vegas should not be the sprawling metropolis it has become.
The construction laps up into the desert like a rising tide.
Vice is celebrated and is the primary industry. Organized crime is romanticized to the point where there is a museum dedicated to the many people whose names sound similar to my own (and my late grandfather was embarrassed by this fact).
It is a city of excess. Arguably the American Dream brought to its most extreme conclusion: Opulence, affluence, and mass consumption. All driving the economy and being the raison d’etre for the city itself. And those words are not a criticism of Vegas. More of an observation. No more than saying my adopted home is not culutrally diverse or my home state is corrupt and a steadily decaying place. It is what it is.
But outside of Vegas itself, sometimes mere miles away, is an entrancing desert. A place full of Joshua trees and yucca. Where the red rocks glow with the setting sun. And the yips of coyotes are heard.
Friends have been telling me to check out the Red Rock Canyon National Conversation Area outside of Vegas. As I later found out, the outer suburbs are less than ten miles away!
After my Death Valley trip, I headed east back towards Vegas via the back way. This way had the advantage of being rural still and scenic. I found a dispersed campsite in BLM land and reveled in the beauty of my place off the beaten path ad tucked away in the desert.
The moonrise was impressive. As were the last rays of the setting sun.
The following morning I made the short drive to the conservation area proper. Even on a weekday, I was a bit surprised at how busy it was along the road. The 4G connection at the Visitor Center should have clued me in, however. On a hunch, I Googled the nearest REI (as I needed a fuel canister.) One was about five miles away! A wilderness area this was not.
But it was beautiful. A pocket of wild and scenic beauty away from one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country.
I did some scrambling and hiking. And enjoyed the red rock scenery.
I was tempted to explore more. But it was too busy for my tastes at this point.
After a shower and some laundry, I think I’ll be ready to explore some different areas. More of Nevada beckons. And California awaits. We’ll see where the road takes me next.
We flew in and out of Vegas on our recent trip to AZ/UT, but while in Vegas multiple people mentioned that red rocks was a really neat place. I’ll have to check it out someday if I’m ever waiting around town again.