The Las Vegas airport is not an experience to recommend. A walk plus tram ride to baggage claim, a huge place with hundreds of people trying to get their luggage. Then line up for a bus ride to the car rental building, line up again to see the person at the counter, who tries to get you to upgrade (no thanks) and tries to scare you into buying more insurance (again, no thanks).
|View from the Bellagio Casino|
In Las Vegas, you always feel like you're being hustled. FYI- those "free" tickets to shows may well have one-drink minimums, and the half price "Tix4tonight" may be for general admission, not reserved seats, which could mean more standing in line.
Las Vegas is surrounded by mountains and has some fantastic scenery. The next day we head out to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, which I highly recommend. You can just ride the 13 mile loop road, or stop and do some hikes.
|Red Rock Canyon|
|Hiking at Valley of Fire|
We head out to Beatty, NV on the fourth day, where we're staying to visit Death Valley National Park. The weather is great, in the 50's and 60's, sometimes sunny and sometimes overcast. Much better than New England in January. On our way there we stop at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. It's pretty amazing to see springs of water in the desert, and even more amazing to read about how the whole place almost became a housing development/ casino/golf course.
|Crystal Spring at Ash Meadows|
We're staying at the Exchange Club Motel in Beatty, right on Main St. Across the street are the Sourdough Saloon, the Happy Burro, and KC's Outpost, all of which we patronize during our stay. The menus are limited but the people are very friendly.
After settling in, we drive 4 miles down the road to Rhyolite, a ghost town with an interesting story behind it. Lots of picture taking going on here!
|Photographers in Rhyolite|
The next day, Death Valley. We go to Furnace Creek, stop and hike up Golden Canyon, go to Badwater, and then do the Artists Palette Drive on the way back. Then on to Zabriskie Point and Dante's View, an amazing place to see a bird's eye view of the Valley. We tried to see the Natural Bridge, but the road was rough and we got nervous with our rental car, so we turned around. The park is young and a number of roads are still unpaved.
We were told, one night at the Sourdough Saloon, that Titus Canyon is a must see. The turnoff is a few miles west of Beatty, a one way road through the canyon that ends on Scotty's Castle Rd. Four wheel drive is recommended, and a local bartender told us that getting towed out of there will set you back $2000. Sadly, we decided to skip it, although there are jeep tours if you have the time.
From Death Valley we went to visit friends, then there was a long drive back to Las Vegas to fly home.