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Riding the Desert Trails and Canyons near Las Vegas

Listed under One Day Horse Rides in Las Vegas, United States.

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While many come to this part of Nevada more for the adventure at casino gaming tables and the spectactle of glittering shows and names performing at the huge resorts, there really is another dimension to adventure and genuine spectacle in the nearby outdoors surrounding the city of Las Vegas. If this part of the American west is usually described with a good deal of hyperbole, the description is usually accurate in applying to what you encounter on the trails, canyons and peaks. The dramatic landscape in all its variety is explorable locally on horseback, thanks to several outfitters that provide a variety of trail rides that can last anywhere from an hour -- considered it a basic short excursion hereabouts -- to up to a half day or as long as four and a half hours.

While it may often be termed the Old West, in fact what you still come face to face with is the timeless and enduring West. The city lights and gleaming structures may occasionally be observed in the distance, but nature and the topography of this region are still here in abundance and largely unspoiled by man's intrusions. Highlights on most rides will include major formations such as Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, the Red Rock Mountains, Box Canyon, or the Spring Mountains. Rides typically take advantage of either the early morning or twilight hours during the long summer months when the skies also cast gorgeous reflections on the bluffs and peaks, but also allow the rider to avoid some of the searing heat. One such ride operator long-established in Red Rock Canyon is Cowboy Trail Rides which offers something everyone from the easy one hour back-country experience to the longer half-day outing that follows trails going up steeper and down descending terrains. Early morning rides reveal the animal life of the desert also emerging for the day hereabouts - so for instance on a shorter one hour ride into Coyote Canyon you may still observe a habitat that is home to cottontail rabbits, chuckar, quail, and ground squirrels as your horse weaves through a landscape dotted with cacti, yuccas and Joshua trees. Views along the way take in the Las Vegas Valley and across the desert to the red-sandstone formations that give Red Rock Canyon its name.

The ride through Canyon Rim presents the colorful Red Rock Escarpment and Spring Mountains, but also ancient caves, fascinating geologic formations and views of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in the morning light. This ride also takes you up ascending trails to the top of Fossil Ridge and passing along the edge of a 1,000 foot deep canyon. Your horse is sure-footed and well-attuned to the rider, aside from being perfectly familiar with the terrain ahead. Most of the longer rides feature lavish cook-out breakfasts or dinners that local outfitters consider just as much a part of the Western tradition as a well-worn pair of cowboy boots.

Written by  Hal Peat.

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