The onset of fall and winter means outdoor time for many Vegans. Residents experience a craving for hikes, walks, camping and other outdoor activities. While other parts of the country hunker down for the “big chill,” Las Vegas residents glory in the cooler temperatures and the ability to get out and exercise. Thank goodness there are numerous places in which to indulge your favorite form of exercise.
Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve
350 E. Galleria Drive
Henderson, NV 89011
(702) 267-4180
www.cityofhenderson.com

Fall and winter bring thousands of migratory birds home to the bird preserve. This sanctuary is on the east side of the Pacific Migratory Flyway. The water reclamation center sits upon about 140 acres, with many walking paths and nine ponds affording opportunities to bird watch. Wear comfortable sturdy shoes because not all paths are paved; soft surfaces may prove to be a bit of a challenge for some folks. Bring water and wear appropriate clothing for hiking, and don’t forget the binoculars (or they can lend you a pair). Remember not to feed the birds for their health and safety. Also, please leave your pets at home for the birds safety.

Frenchman Mountain
E. Lake Mead Blvd. (to the trailhead)
www.everytrail.com

Frenchman Mountain is a peak rather than part of an actual mountain range. The hiking is rated as “difficult,” so wear sturdy shoes and bring hiking poles for loose rock and water and snacks, plus other supplies as needed (including your camera). The Frenchman Mountain is still considered to be a potential earthquake hazard for Las Vegas, making this a potentially dangerous trail. But the hike leaves you breathless in more than one way, with the trek itself challenging your limits, the communication towers lining the way and the breath-taking view of Las Vegas that is your reward. Winter is the most comfortable time for a hike of this magnitude, but don’t forget a jacket and hat.

Related: Top Spots to View Wildlife Near Las Vegas

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
1000 Scenic Loop Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89161
(702) 515-5367
www.redrockcanyonlv.org

Red Rock Canyon offers a wide variety of hiking trails with different degrees of difficulty and with numerous opportunities to take photos of the wildlife surrounding you and the brilliant red rocks that give the area its name. Lost Creek is a children’s discovery trail that’s an easy hike and teaches younger visitors about petroglyphs, desert life and a hidden waterfall. There are even some dog-walking trails!

Hidden Forest Cabin
At the mouth of Deadman Canyon
www.backpacker.com

If you like a bit of history with your hike, nothing is better than a walk to Hidden Forest Cabin. The trail starts at a parking lot and heads east into a wash that was once a road. Gaining about 2000 feet in elevation in 5 miles, it’s not an easy trek, but you’ll see Joshua trees, desert almond, creosote and Apache plume as the canyon narrows. Eventually, you’ll find the cabin and seasonal springs, a historic site rumored to have been used by bootleggers in the early 1900s. Make sure to bring winter gear if attempting the hike during winter or for camping. You need a high-clearance 4WD to gain access by vehicle. Also, please leave your information at the visitor center when you are getting ready to start your trek for safety’s sake.

Arizona Hot Springs
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
www.backpacker.com

Arizona Hot Springs is a favorite winter destination for hikers. These springs sit in a narrow canyon with vertical walls, and the water can get up to 111 degrees Fahrenheit on average, making it the perfect spot to relax after a long walk. They can only be reached by hiking or from the Colorado River. From the east side of the new parking lot, head south to the old White Rock Canyon dirt parking lot/trailhead. Follow the wash southwest as it narrows to a canyon. At the junction of Liberty Bell Arch trail and an alternate route to the springs, follow the main wash west. Look for desert bighorn sheep and follow the trail which turns south adjacent to the river, or camp there for an unforgettable experience. Vault toilets are available. Follow the winding river trail until it reaches a flat spot for a wonderful view of Black Canyon, then follow the wash into the adjacent canyon. The wash gets narrower and wetter as you get close to the ladder beneath the hot springs, so leave your gear here and take a soak. Retrace your path to get back to the trailhead, but the way back is a pretty steep uphill climb, so be prepared.

Related: Top Camping Sites Near Las Vegas

Sharon Damon is a preschool specialist, avid reader, passionate writer and creative baker/ cook. She has been a cooking instructor at a local Rec Center in Henderson, NV since 2011, and has written for Examiner and other publications since 2010. She knows her way around the keyboard and the kitchen! Sharon moved from a small city in Canada to Las Vegas 6 years ago, to marry the love of her life, and has since been swept up in the whirlwind known as Sin City. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.
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