Believe it or not, just outside Sin City's glittering casinos and sprawling subdivisions is some of the Southwest's prettiest and most accessible red-rock country. Hikers, climbers, or those in need of fresh air will find relief from slot machines, stretch limos, and Elvis impersonators in these three nearby wilderness areas:
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area: A mere half-hour from the Strip, this red-and-white sandstone playground offers more than 30 miles of hiking trails, 2,000 climbing routes, and a 13-mile scenic drive. There is a $5 entrance fee per car.
Valley of Fire State Park: The Martian landscape of the Valley of Fire, Nevada's oldest and largest state park, provides a dramatic setting for camping, picnicking, and short hikes. The park, located 55 miles from Vegas, charges a per-vehicle fee of $6 for day use and $14 for camping.
Mount Charleston Wilderness Area: Those up for a big challenge can try climbing Charleston Peak (11,918 feet), the highest mountain in southern Nevada. The summit can be reached via two different steep but nontechnical routes requiring an eight- to 10-hour round-trip trek. This area charges no entrance fee and is about 33 miles from town.
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