Someone recently said that I am unable to take a vacation without incorporating fishing. I won’t name any names, but I had to prove to Abigail that indeed it is possible. So, this is me letting you know ahead of time that there is NO FISHING CONTENT in this post, but I’d like to think it’s still worthwhile content. Otherwise, feel free to stop reading now.
Abigail and I really enjoy traveling to new places together and are fortunate to have friends that live in cool places across the country. This time, we travelled to the Las Vegas area and visited some old college friends, Caleb and Krista, who relocated while Caleb is in residency down there.
Neither of us had ever been to Vegas, but were excited to visit. Our itinerary was likely a lot different than most who travel to “Sin City.” We were more interested in spending our time checking out the natural beauty that surrounds the city than spending it in a windowless casino. We did spend an evening checking out the Vegas strip, but that was about all we needed. We couldn’t get enough of the natural beauty, however. Many people don’t realize that Vegas is surrounded in every direction with State Parks, National Recreation Areas and National Parks.
We spent the first day of the trip visiting the hottest, driest, lowest place in the country. Death Valley National Park sits 279ft below sea level and consistently sees temperatures well over 100 degrees. What it lacks in wildlife due to extremely harsh conditions, it makes up for with natural beauty and unique landscapes.
Our first stop at the park was Devil’s Golf Course. This extremely rugged terrain is made up of jagged salt rocks that can be heard popping on a hot day and creates a scenic and rugged landscape that serves the name “Death Valley” well.
Next, we stopped at Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the western hemisphere, stretching over 7 miles long and almost 4 miles across. I was blown away by the giant salt pan, and was happy to have a white background that wasn’t snow for a few pictures.
The last stop in Death Valley was the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. It was refreshing to take off our shoes after a long day of hiking and explore this giant sandbox. Naturally, Caleb and I ended the day racing up the highest dune we could find. It seemed like a fun idea, but as we started the incline, we quickly realized trying to sprint up a 100ft+ sand hill is a lot harder than expected. We were both completely gassed at the end.
The following day we stayed closer to Las Vegas—a morning hike in the beautiful Red Rocks Canyon, which is well known for its hikes and climbing, followed by an evening people watching on the Vegas Strip and Fremont Street.
On Sunday, the four of us headed north into Utah to visit Zion National Park. I had heard that Zion was amazing, but it far exceeded my expectations. I’ve been fortunate to visit a lot of beautiful places, but this may top them all. Unfortunately, we only had one day to explore, so we only had time for 1 big hike, which we decided would be the famous Angel’s Landing. Angel’s Landing is a 5-mile hike that rises 1,500ft over the canyon. The first 2 miles of the hike are made up of switchbacks that take the hikers to some incredible views, but it’s really the last half-mile that makes the hike legendary. Hikers who can brave the heights, will need use chains to help them traverse the rocky terrain, all while trying not to look down and think about the fact that only a few feet lie between them and 1,500ft of air. It was intimidating, but totally worth it. I mean just look at these views…
On the last day, Abigail and I spent the final hours before our return flight visiting a place that boasts both natural beauty and human engineering—the Hoover Dam. If a 726ft concrete wall holding back the mighty Colorado River isn’t impressive enough, the fact that it was built 83 years ago makes it that much more impressive.
Even though the trip didn’t include any fishing, I had a great time exploring a new part of the country with some great folks, and would highly recommend others do the same if they ever get the chance.