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Ten Hidden Gems in Las Vegas

Destination(s): Las Vegas

The Desert National Wildlife Refuge is home to bighorn sheep, miles of dirt roads, remote camping spots, and springs. West of the DNWR, the Spring Mountains are an isolated patch of mountains in the Mojave Desert. Off-road enthusiasts will enjoy the 4WD Bitter Springs Trail outside the Valley of Fire. In town, stop at the Gambler’s Bookstore for gambling tips, or see Steve Wyrick, one of Las Vegas’ newer magicians. The Boulder Dam Hotel, in downtown Boulder City, has a restaurant and museum. Either the Swiss Café or Firefly are terrific, off-the-beaten path restaurants. And when was the last time you went to a drive-in movie theater? ~Picture of Spring Mt. NRA~ read more about Ten Hidden Gems in Las Vegas

Desert National Wildlife Refuge

Desert National Wildlife Refuge

Spring Mountain National Recreation Area

Spring Mountain National Recreation Area

  • State Rt. 156/157/158
  • tel:702-873-8800
  • Visit website
  • Las Vegas, 89124

Less than an hour from the Las Vegas Strip, the Spring Mountain National Recreation Area is an island of mountains in the middle of the desert. Mt. Charleston, which is how the local collectively refer to the entire area, is actually the name of the highest peak in the Spring Mountain Range. At a little under 12,000 feet, it's also the third highest peak in Nevada.

Two major canyons welcome visitors: Kyle Canyon, where you'll find a village (no grocery store) and two lodges. Lee Canyon is home to homes and snow play areas, including a ski and snowboarding lodge.

Hiking trails can be found in both canyons, and a hike to the peak of Mt. Charleston will take you into designated wilderness. You're likely to see more birds than any other type of wildlife, but look for deer and lots of squirrels. Elk herds also live here, although they are rarely seen. This is a very dry mountain, so if you're hiking, bring water. Water sources are few on Mt. Charleston.

State Highway 158 connects Kyle Canyon to Lee Canyon, making it easy to turn a trip to Mt. Charleston into a scenic loop. Look for picnic areas, campgrounds, and viewing turnouts throughout the entire area. A small visitor center can be found on Kyle Canyon Road, or SR 157.

Officially a part of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, SMNR is home to the bristlecone pine (Pinus longavea), which are some of the world's longest-living plants--the oldest are thousands of years old.

Temperatures here are often 20 degrees cooler than in Las Vegas, and during winter the area is covered in snow. This is the only place close to Vegas where you can ski in winter, and the mountain roads are clogged with locals after the first snowfall--something the residents of Las Vegas don't get to see often.

read more about Spring Mountain National Recreation Area

Mt. Charleston Hotel

Mt. Charleston Hotel

  • 2 Kyle Canyon Rd
  • tel:+1 702 872 5500
  • Visit website
  • Mt. Charleston, 89124
Bitter Springs Trail Backcountry Byway

Bitter Springs Trail Backcountry Byway

  • I15 Valley of Fire Exit to Marked Dirt Road
  • tel:702-515-5000
  • Visit website
  • Las Vegas, 89130-2301
Steve Wyrick Magic Show at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino

Steve Wyrick Magic Show at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino

  • I15 Valley of Fire Exit to Marked Dirt Road
  • Visit website
  • Las Vegas, 89109
Gambler's Book Club

Gambler's Book Club

  • 5473 S. Eastern
  • Just off Charleston Blvd
  • tel:800/522-1777
  • Visit website
  • Las Vegas, 89119
Swiss Cafe and Patio Garden

Swiss Cafe and Patio Garden

  • 3175 East Tropicana Boulevard
  • tel:702 454 2270
  • Las Vegas, 89109
Century Las Vegas Drive-Ins

Century Las Vegas Drive-Ins

  • 4150 West Carey Avenue
  • tel:+1 702 646 3565
  • Las Vegas, 89030