Free Las Vegas

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Recently, I had the pleasure of going to Las Vegas. When I say that, folks often give me this confused look that lands somewhere between mild curiosity and getting smacked with a rogue fart. To be clear, I don’t gamble and I hear (and now know) that Vegas is a much more enjoyable when you aren’t loosing all of your cash. Personally, I was there to get lost, a bit dusty, and explore the natural areas southwest a bit more. I couldn’t do that on the Strip–a 4 mile, golden-leafed paradise for the rich, the poor, and a fleet of noisy airplanes and zombified gamblers. For that I had to go to the desert…part of the desert.

Head 15 miles or so west of Vegas down I-159 and through the scenic Charleston exit past the stuccoed Summerlin suburb and you’ll hit Red Rock Canyon–a national conservation that contains a vast and diverse collection of collosal rock formations, flora, fauna, and rich hippies. The exit before the official conservation is the Calico Basin which is free and as stunning in comparison to more crowded conservation space. It’s quiet there and you won’t have any cell phone reception so that also means this isn’t an Uber trip. You might even have to have an actual conversation with some of the locals and a handful of ambitious visitors. Watch out for the power-bikers when you’re texting and driving. Obstacles aside, It’s well worth your time in comparison to the time that you’ll spend overpaying for weak drinks and drooling over how many Gucci and Balenciaga stores developers can pack into a dense, yet relatively small retail/gambling district.