Just as Vegas is home to some of the best entertainment, gaming, dining and shopping you could ever imagine, it has another side, one described as a place rich with natural beauty that makes you want to be outdoors. Some outdoor enthusiasts move to Las Vegas just for the opportunity to enjoy nearly 300 days of sunshine and some of the best trails for running, hiking or walking in the Southwest.
Here’s a look at some of the best places to go jogging in Vegas. A few of them might just surprise you.
Just 15 miles west of The Strip sits Red Rock Natural Conservation Area, a protected area with stunning red sandstone peaks and walls up to 3,000 feet tall. The area is part of the Spring Mountains that surround Las Vegas.
For running, you can take the one-way, 13-mile loop that passes through the park or choose from one of the many trails used by hikers and rock climbers accessing the rocky peaks.
The conservation area showcases large red sandstone peaks and walls called the Keystone Thrust. The walls are up to 3,000 feet high, making them a popular hiking and rock climbing destination. A visitor’s center just within the conservation area has maps of hiking trails. For more information, visit www.redrockcanyonlv.org.
Just southeast of McCarran International Airport sits Sunset Park, one of the largest parks in Clark County. Eric Herdman, owner of Red Rock Running Co., says the park has a mild dirt track that’s open from dawn until dusk. It’s also a safe and controlled environment that makes it ideal for running. “It makes it less intimidating to run that far,” he said.
One of the features of the park is Sunset Park Pond, a 14-acre lake with a small island in the center with replicas of several Easter Island heads.
Sunset Park, 2601 E. Sunset Rd., Las Vegas
In Henderson, you can make your run memorable along the River Mountain Trail System, Herdman says. The 35-mile loop goes from Henderson to Boulder City and onto Lake Mead and out Lake Mead Drive past Lake Las Vegas. The entire trail system is surrounded by the River Mountains and their volcanic rock formations. Trails on this system are 24-feet wide to accommodate hikers, runners and bikers. While the trail is still partially under construction, it’s expected to be completed this year.
For more information and a look at the trail system, visit www.rivermountainstrail.com.
The Award Winner
More than 150 miles of trails are in Summerlin on the western side of Las Vegas. Summerlin’s network of recreational trails won the inaugural American Trails Developer Award last year.
You can find trails ranging from street-side to natural all over the community. Serious runners and walkers will enjoy the five- to eight-foot-wide street-side trails. Village trails run through natural creek beds and man-made open spaces, and at eight-feet wide are designed for long distance runners and bicyclists.
For more information and a map of the trails, go to www.summerlin.com/life/Trail_Map.php.
The Tricky One
If jogging at lunch or after work strikes your fancy, don’t even consider the 3.8 miles of The Strip, Herdman says. “If you’re gonna go, go early and go south toward Town Square because the traffic thins out,” he said. The sheer volume of tourists combined with elevated sidewalks and escalators make running difficult. But heading south provides access to convenience stores for bathroom breaks and CAT buses for travel back to The Strip. Just make sure to watch your surroundings and consider the safety of running there.