December 23-29, 2019
In September, as we were starting this journey, I expected that we would be in Arizona by the end of the year. But we also agreed early on that we’d remain flexible on dates and locations and see “where the wind blew us”. I never would have imagined that Christmas Day would find us in the most unholy of locations, Sin City.
During our introductory visit to the Las Vegas Strip with our nephew Max, I was impressed with all the Christmas decorations in the hotels and casinos. The crowds were overwhelming, but we decided to go back for the holiday to enjoy the decorations and a nice meal out.
We spent some time wandering through the Venetian, Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace, Mirage, and Flamingo casinos before deciding to find a place for a special Christmas meal. We had planned to try one of the casino buffets, but the lines were all unreasonably long. We wandered around and finally discovered Carmines in Caesar’s Forum Shops. They had immediate seating, pleasant ambiance, and good food and service. We had one of our best meals ever and were so happy we didn’t wait in those long buffet lines!
The weather over Christmas week was rather unsettled. Locals told us it was unseasonably cold and wet for Vegas. We spent quite a bit of our time indoors, but we did find a few adventures in between rain and wind storms.
We ventured out in howling winds to hike the short Wetlands Trail where Las Vegas Creek flows out of Lake Las Vegas on its course to Lake Mead. This is a 1.0 mile loop trail that is nice for a quick stretch of the legs. We had some pretty creek views and saw quite a few varieties of ducks. The highlight of the hike was spotting our first ever egret (unfortunately he was too far away for a photo)!
Bootleg Canyon Park, Boulder City
On a trip to Boulder City for some shopping, we walked part of the River Mountain Loop Trail. We didn’t really know where we were going, we just followed the paved path for a little exercise. We were surprised when we stumbled upon a beautifully landscaped area with huge statues of desert wildlife and a desert garden known as Bootleg Canyon Park.
Owl Canyon Trail
Our only real hike of the week was along the Owl Canyon Trail. Owl is located in Lake Mead National Recreation Area a short ways north of Hoover Dam. Here, hikers are treated to a nice section of narrows that have been exposed as the levels of Lake Mead have receded after two decades of drought.
The trail begins at 3 Island Overlook off Lakeshore Road. Most people do this as a 2.0 mile out and back hike. Once again, the AllTrails app tipped me off to an unofficial route that made this a 5.0 mile loop. Once at the end of the narrows, we caught a short segment of the River Mountains Loop Trail to an unmarked wash that lead us down through another set of narrows.
Out of the narrows, we found ourselves on a clearly maintained trail that is not on any of the Lake Mead maps we’ve seen. The rock lined path follows Las Vegas Creek along flats that were once submerged under Lake Mead. Now, fresh water shells liter the trail. We saw another egret and enjoyed some nice views. This trail appears to start somewhere around Las Vegas Bay Campground and ends at 3 Island Overlook where the Jeep was awaiting our return.
Lake Mead RV Village
After spending five nights at beautiful Boulder Beach Campground where we had a large site with views of Lake Mead, we moved next door to Lake Mead RV Village so that we could have hookups for Christmas week. I’ll describe both locations in more detail in a future blog post covering Lake Mead RV options, but I will say that Lake Mead RV Village was a relative disappointment after Boulder Beach Campground. It was ok for the week, but we were happy when our week was up and we could move back to one of the National Park Service campgrounds.
The Adventure Continues
Stay tuned next week as the weather improves and we continue to explore trails in the Lake Mead/Las Vegas area!