Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada (and Surrounding Area)

I have been fortunate to visit Las Vegas probably 25 times over the last 15 years. The hotels are massive and many of them double as conference centers. Because of their capacity and business-focused infrastructure, they can handle organizations needing to schedule large events with thousands of people attending. Vegas has three of the ten largest convention centers in the United States.

Here are a few of the Vegas hotels on the strip:

New York, New York Hotel and Casino
The Bellagio
Paris, Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. Half-size replica of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

MGM’s Excalibur Hotel and Casino (not a Walt Disney property)

In the image below, you can see Mandalay Bay at the far end of the Vegas strip, Cosmopolitan (Marriott property) with the purple building top, Bellagio, and Paris Vegas Hotel (left side). I’ve stayed at the Venetian during about 75% of my trips with occasional stays at the Aria, Hard Rock, Bellagio, Cosmopolitan, and Oriental. All of them are nice with everything you need right in the hotel. Believe me, they go to great lengths to provide you with a full experience within the hotel. The Cosmopolitan has a balcony option which is nice to get fresh air and catch a sunrise or sunset. All in all, The Venetian is my favorite. Love the setup of the rooms (includes a living room) and the indoor canal with Gondolas and faux sky is amazing.

Caesar’s Palace

I have spent quite a few early mornings/evenings staring out of hotel windows on the Vegas strip watching the sun play against the mountainous ridges around the city. While there are endless ways to spend your time in Las Vegas, the natural beauty of the surrounding area is, to me, its greatest attraction.

If you are visiting Vegas, there is plenty to do beyond the Vegas Strip, and I have previously written about a couple of these destinations:

Grand Canyon – West Rim

Hoover Dam – Arizona/Nevada Border

Another destination is the Red Rock Canyon State Park located a few miles outside of sunny Las Vegas. 

While it seems a bit barren and dry now, the Red Rock area was once an ocean basin 600 million years ago. 250 million years ago, the earth’s crust started to rise due to tectonic shifts and the basin became cutoff from the receding ocean. As the basin became isolated, the water began to evaporite leaving formations of salt and gypsum deposits. The ocean that had once existed was, 300 million years later, now a desert with vast expanses of huge shifting sand dunes. These dunes accumulated and were lithified (turned to stone) and cemented with calcium carbonate and iron oxides. They developed into the colorful Aztec Sandstone.

During a mountain-building period 66 million years ago, the Keystone Thrust Fault developed. The Keystone is part of a series of thrust faults which ran through much of western North America. The movement of this fault forced the older gray sedimentary rock over the younger red rocks, forming the multi-colored mountains we see today.

Native Americans were the first people attracted to the Red Rock area due to its resources of water, plant, and animal life. As many as six different Native American cultures may have been present at Red Rock over the millennia. The following chronology is an approximation from ancient to modern times.

Stock photo

  • Paleo Indians (Tule Springs) – 11,000 to 8,000 BCE
  • San Dieguito – 7,000 to 5,500 BCE
  • Pinto/Gypsum – 3500 BCE to 1 CE
  • Anasazi (Pueblo) – 1 to 1150 CE
  • Patayan Culture – 750 to 1500 CE
  • Southern Paiute – 900 CE to modern times

The glittering lights of Las Vegas are a compelling attraction, but don’t forget there are also spectacular natural sights to enjoy beyond the city limits.

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