“Oh, I could never live in Vegas.”
It’s a comment that Vegas local Sandy Knapp says she gets frequently when someone finds out that she lives in Las Vegas, a city that is notorious for tourists who are looking for a party.
But Sandy and other Vegas residents love their city for reasons that have nothing to do with the infamous Strip.
Sandy, who has worked for the past two years with Pink Jeep Tours as one of their popular tour guides, loves Vegas for its incredible outdoor scene.
“It’s a beautiful state,” says Sandy. “There is so much to see. And in Vegas, you’re never too far away from some really beautiful landscape.”
We talked to Sandy about some of her favorite outdoor Vegas destinations. As a Vegas local and outdoor enthusiast, she had plenty to contribute. So much, in fact, that we had to split her list up into two posts! Here’s our first group of Sandy’s suggestions.
First on Sandy’s list was Mount Charleston. Less than 40 miles from Vegas, this destination offers year-round fun for many Nevada residents, with snow and skiing in the winter months, and beautiful hiking trails and scenery in the spring and summer.
“It’s a great escape from the heat,” Sandy says. “It’s just beautiful up there.”
There’s plenty of wildlife on the mountain; everything from wild horses and burros to bighorn sheep. The ski lodge features a restaurant and there are a few other dining options in the area (but no gas stations, so fill up before your trip). You can also check out the Spring Mountains Visitor Center, a fairly new addition where you can learn some of the history of the area.
Just 15 minutes from the Strip, Sunset Park provides locals with an oasis in the desert, featuring walking trails, playgrounds, a splash pad and even a large lake on which visitors can fish (make sure you get a license beforehand). There are also sports courts, including tennis, volleyball, basketball and baseball/softball.
“People come out for picnics or to race remote-controlled boats on the lake,” Sandy says. She mentions that it’s a definite local favorite, which is backed up by the fact that it is the five-time recipient of the Reader’s Choice Award for Best Park, as decided by the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Best of Las Vegas poll.
Bonnie Springs Ranch
Sandy brought up this unique old western town as a family-friendly destination that parents and kids will all love. Adjacent to the beautiful Red Rock Canyon, the town has a beautiful backdrop that anyone can appreciate (especially after the neon of the strip).
You’ll pay a small fee to enter the town, and then you’ll be able to enjoy all that Bonnie Springs has to offer. Eat lunch in the saloon restaurant, take a peaceful horseback ride, visit the blacksmith’s shop or try your luck at the shooting gallery. Stop by the museum for a taste of Nevada history, and even witness re-enactments of shootouts and western melodramas.
It’s a step back in time, all within modern-day Vegas.
If you’re looking to explore the more “natural” side of Vegas, any of Sandy’s suggestions would be a great place to start. Or, take your outdoor adventure to the next level (and meet more Vegas area experts like Sandy) on a Pink Jeep Tour. With highly trained guides and incredible tour itineraries, you’ll see the very best that Vegas has to offer—even beyond the Strip.
Keep an eye out for Part 2, for more of Sandy’s recommendations!