AARP Eye Center
Great adventures await outdoor lovers in every direction from Las Vegas, and day-tripping is the way to go. With national treasures close by, such as Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and more, the gambling mecca is the perfect “base camp."
Unless you don't mind the heat — warmer months can bring daily highs well over 100 degrees — the trails mentioned below, except for the Black Canyon Water Trail, which can be enjoyed year-round, are best done from October through April.
AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal
Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP The Magazine.
The Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail (Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada and Arizona)
This trail is one of the top outdoor hiking destinations near Lake Mead because it's easy to get to and offers a mix of delights. On the practically flat, gravel former railbed, you'll get sweeping views of Boulder Basin in the Lake Mead NRA, walk through five historic railroad tunnels and, thanks to interpretive signs, learn some of the rich story of the building of Boulder Dam (now called Hoover Dam).
This railbed was constructed in the early 1930s to transport equipment and supplies to the dam site in Black Canyon on the Colorado River. The five tunnels, blasted through the volcanic cliffs, are all about 300 feet long and 25 feet wide, to accommodate the oversized construction equipment.
If you take the 4.3-mile round-trip route, you'll pass through all five tunnels. The hike can also be extended by following the trail all the way to Hoover Dam, which adds another 2.5 miles plus some elevation change.
Black Canyon National Water Trail (Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada and Arizona)
This trail is for paddling or floating, not hiking. The Black Canyon National Water Trail is a 30-mile section of the Colorado River that runs downstream from Hoover Dam to where the river meets Lake Mohave — with Nevada on the west side and Arizona on the east. Black Canyon offers surprises, including several hot springs, waterfalls, sandy beaches, coves, caves and an abundance of wildlife. Look for desert bighorn sheep, great blue herons, ospreys, peregrine falcons and bald eagles.