If you want to venture on a day trip from Las Vegas but don’t want to go as far as the Grand Canyon, then the following attractions might be of interest to you. We did this day trip when we were there in September of 2006.
1. Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam is only 35 miles or 56 kilometres from Las Vegas. Frankly, there’s not much to see aside from the dam, however, it is quite a site to see! What a beast of a structure! Its enormous size is mind boggling. The photos below simply don’t do it justice. You can actually take a tour down to the depths of this beast.
Hoover Dam is named in honour of Herbert Clark Hoover, the 31st President of the United States (I got that info from a plaque that we found on the site). It was constructed between 1931 to 1935 in the Art Deco style. The dam controls the mighty Colorado River and lies between Arizona and Nevada (you can see the state line running through the middle).
2. Lake Mead
The creation of Hoover Dam resulted in the largest man-made lake in North America – Lake Mead, extending “112 miles (180 km) behind the dam, holding approximately 26,134,000 acre feet of water. Lake Mead was named after Elwood Mead (1858–1936), who was the commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from 1924 to 1936 during the planning and construction of the Boulder Canyon Project that created the dam and lake.” (The stuff in quotes straight from Wikipedia.) I suppose all you really need to know is that there is a recreational area just 25 miles outside of Las Vegas. We didn’t stay here long because we wanted to get to our next destination.
3. Valley of Fire State Park
This was the highlight of our day and I didn’t know until today that Valley of Fire is the oldest state park in Nevada, dedicated in 1935. Valley of Fire is 50 miles (80 kilometres) northeast of Las Vegas. It’s name is appropriate as the park is covered in red sandstone formations. You will even find petroglyphs in the park most likely drawn by Ancient Pueblo Peoples (aka Anasazi).
“Three cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (C.C.C.) soon after the Valley of Fire became a state park in 1935. They are constructed of native sandstone and were used for many years to shelter campers and travelers visiting the park.”