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Travel Nevada photo of a person climbing at Red Rock Canyon.

Canyon Quest: Summiting Sin City

Las Vegas, a city synonymous with bright lights, bustling casinos, and lively entertainment, holds a hidden gem for outdoor enthusiasts: its breathtaking natural landscapes. Beyond the glitz and glamor of the Strip lies a rugged wilderness waiting to be explored… and conquered. Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or outdoor enthusiast looking for a new challenge, Las Vegas serves as an excellent base camp for unforgettable outdoor experiences. Love a good canyon? We’ve got’em when you adventure beyond the neon with the more than 300 mountain ranges peaking up throughout the Silver State. You just have to be ready and willing to rise to the challenge.

All roads lead to Rome…

Whether you’re hiking, bouldering, climbing, rappelling, or other forms of mountaineering, there are many paths often in the same locations, it truly is a choose your own adventure. From Valley of Fire, to Mount Charleston, Gold Butte Canyon, and many more places in between, there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventure, but it just so happens that one of the world-class outdoor playgrounds exists only about 30 minutes and 23 miles from the Strip.

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon is constantly ranked as a top spot for Rock Climbing in the U.S. Its dazzling array of sandstone cliffs provide more than 2,500 trails for all levels. In fact, the world’s most renowned rock climber, Alex Honnold, calls Las Vegas home and Red Rock Canyon is his local climbing retreat. According to local canyoneering enthusiast Cody Lewis, Honnold can be spotted there all the time and is a friendly, down-to-earth guy. 

From rock climbing to rappelling and canyoneering, Lewis enjoys doing it all outdoors. He has taken extensive training on all things related to rope rescue and serves on the Board of Directors for Red Rock Search and Rescue, a group he also has given several trainings to. We spoke with Lewis about some of his favorite places to summit Las Vegas. Of course Red Rock was at the top of the list, as well as the nearby Zion National Park, but there’s one in particular that caught our attention as an “only in Vegas” experience.  

String of Pearls Canyon

Another one of Lewis’ favorite outdoor adventures, this canyon provides a true adventure for the more advanced canyoneer. “It’s really challenging and requires a much higher skill set. In a lot of canyons there’s already anchors, but for this one, you have to have anchor building skills.” This canyon located in Red Rock Canyon gets its name from the potholes of water in between nearly a dozen rappels or downhill climbs. “It’s a wet canyon and fun to go down through the little pools of water. You can sometimes be in the 100 degree heat of Vegas and in the canyon it’s cooler, and the potholes of water will stay full all summer.”   Plan a full nine to 12 hour day here. 

Cody Lewis is canyoneering.

Black Canyon Water Trail

This trail begins near the base of the Hoover Dam, and according to Lewis involves a rappel down to the Colorado River with a raft hanging off of you. As you near the bottom, the raft touches down and you climb inside then head downstream to Willow Beach. Lewis says along the way you can enjoy checking out canyons, swimming, cliff jumping, etc. It’s a thrilling and scenic journey through the stunning Black Canyon, offering a unique perspective of the Colorado River’s Beauty and surrounding landscape. It’s also a great way to make a splash in the desert and see the Hoover Dam from a perspective not everyone is brave enough to.

Friends in High Places

According to Cody, the climbing community is very tight knit and friendly. Whether you’re a local, or an out-of-towner looking to get in your climb while traveling solo for a convention, there are plenty of places to find other climbers to join in on the fun. Cody says on most good days for climbing you can show up, find a group of people getting ready to climb, and let them know you’re by yourself and join them. 

But if you want to be sure you have a partner to meet up with, we’ve rounded up a few groups you can join and ask if anyone wants to join you on your climb. Las Vegas Mountaineering Club has a great Meet Up group and Friends of Red Rock Canyon has plenty of tips and maps.

Travel Nevada Photo: A group of people climbing stopped to smile for this photo at Red Rock Canyon.

Rock the Climb in the Silver State

If you are looking to get a little out there on your next Vegas vacay,  hit up Travel Nevada and rock on through the cyberspace to enjoy even more climbing spots, tips and more in the Silverstate. Find adventures like the photo below at Rainbow Canyon, located directly south of the community of Caliente in Nevada Silver Trails Territory about two hours 20 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip. Photo courtesy of Travel Nevada.

A female climbs Rainbow Canyon. Located directly south of the community of Caliente, NV

Love the outdoors? Find even more ways to rise to the challenge with hiking and biking in the Las Vegas Territory. Plan your trip now but always remember, we all play a part in caring for nature and the places we love. Recreate responsibly. Let’s take care of these gifts.

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