We’ve all heard it – “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas,” Sin City, home of The Hangover. You’ve just touched down in Las Vegas, NV, and you’re ready for things to get WILD. Here’s a tip to see that side of Vegas few others can – Pink Jeep Tours will get you au naturel fast. Ummmm, wait, isn’t this a family travel site? Of course! The wild I’m talking about is more of a natural wild – geology, flora, fauna, and nature. Sure, Las Vegas sits in the Mojave Desert, but there’s plenty of natural beauty all around once you get away from the glitz, glamour, and lights of the Las Vegas Strip. So continue reading for my recap and photos from the Pink Jeep Tours Red Rock Canyon Excursion out of Las Vegas.
We loaded up in our Pink Jeep on a sweltering, shoes melt to the pavement kind of day – 115° F, full sun, and a hot wind blowing like a pizza oven. I should probably say right off our Pink Jeep wasn’t a Jeep at all, but, instead, a customized Tour Trekker truck, fully enclosed with large picture windows and air conditioning. You need the protection in the relentless Nevada desert. Debbie was our tour guide and welcomed us with snacks, plenty of water, and whisked us off to the Spring Mountain Range chattering all along the way.
A quick 20-25 minute drive brought us to a totally different world, a natural world, compared to the man made, artificial Las Vegas Strip, and Debbie gave us a little history lesson for the area on our way out of town to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area visitors center.
The interpretive center was impressive, and worth taking the time to stop, read, and learn. Inside the expansive, air conditioned building is a comfortable viewing area with large, panoramic windows showing off the expansive vista as well as describe what you’re observing.
However, the highlight of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is the 13 mile scenic drive. The floor of this visitor’s center lookout maps the route of the drive, and highlights you’ll see along the way. Notice how each station directs your attention straight ahead to what you could find at that location.
After our stop at the visitor’s center, we piled back into our Pink Tour Trekker, and headed out on the 13 mile drive. First stop, Calico Hills, a 65 million year old geological formation creating the prominent red rock deposit that’s ranked as one of the top climbing destinations in the United States. It was cooler up here in the mountains vs. the Vegas Strip, but only marginally so, 95° F as opposed to 115° F with less than 10% humidity. Your body loses moisture fast in these conditions so drink plenty of water – fortunately Debbie had plenty on hand.
We deviated from the scenic loop to venture off-road up the Rocky Gap Road – also known as the “Potato Highway” because of the potato sized rocks that toss your vehicle from side-to-side along the route. Pink Jeep Tours are one of the few tour company with permits to allow them to lead off-road tours and drive up into the sandstone cliffs of Red Rock Canyon.
On the descent we stopped to locate petroglyphs and pictographs rock art left behind by Native Americans 100’s of years ago. Notice the handprints and markings in the photographs of the rock walls below. Close to this location was also an agave roasting pit possibly used by the same tribes who left the handprints.
Debbie was a fun, passionate guide, who exuded pride and respect for the region she lead us through.
Would I book one of these Pink Jeep Tours again? Certainly, the Red Rock Canyon Tour lasted half a day (~4 hours) for $79/person. It would almost cost you as much to rent a car to visit the canyon yourself, and you wouldn’t have the guide or permit to drive up the “Potato Highway.” There is also an optional horseback ride with lunch add on if you care to upgrade the Red Rock Canyon Tour, and Red Rock is not the only tour they offer in Las Vegas. There are Pink Jeep Tours to the Hoover Dam, and the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Death Valley National Parks – all separate full day tours. Click here for a full list of Pink Jeep Tour offerings. If you’re visiting Las Vegas, I’d highly recommend taking a break from the casinos, shows, and buffets, book a Pink Jeep Tour, and find out what the area was like before the construction cranes arrived.
DISCLOSURE: Pink Jeep Tours provided a complimentary tour in order to experience the Red Rock Canyon Tour for the purposes of this review. However all opinions expressed are those of the author. For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.