Travel Talk: Visiting Our Amazing National Park NeighborsJuly 15, 2016
It’s the summer travel season, and this year is a landmark for sightseeing in America. 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park System. Of all the major cities across this nation, no place is better situated in between national parks like Casa de Shenandoah’s glittering home: Las Vegas.
We’ve put together a collection of destinations that are all within easy driving distance of our parking lot here at Casa de Shenandoah. They’re perfect for heading out on an RV tour or automobile excursion of the Great American West!
First up, a quick journey eastward to Lake Mead National Recreation Area is a great idea. The largest reservoir in the U.S., vast Lake Mead fills the Colorado River valley for nearly 120 miles upstream. It’s a haven for sports like waterskiing and sailing, plus it’s rimed with hiking trails and camping spots. It’s held back by the immense accomplishment that is Hoover Dam, which was completed in 1936. Not only is the massive constriction a marvel of engineering, it’s a work of art.
Next up, it’s on to Arizona to visit Grand Canyon National Park. One of the world’s most recognizable geological features, it’s an incredibly colorful sweep of eroded rocks worn away by the Colorado River over millions of years. Visiting the South Rim brings travelers to view famous sights like Desert View Tower and El Tovar Hotel. The vista out across the chasm — and down! — is absolutely unforgettable.
To the northeast of Las Vegas in Utah lies an expansive region of multi-hued sandstone beauty and high forests. On the way there, stop by Valley of Fire State Park, the first of its kind in Nevada and a National Natural Landmark. It’s filled with more than 40,000 acres of vivid sandstone hoodoos, arches and other dramatically shaped features.
From here, it’s on to Utah itself. The main attraction for many travelers is Zion National Park. It’s famed for its gorgeous, lofty canyon walls and the lush Virgin River valley bottom. On Zion’s northern end, visitors are awed by the red monoliths of Kolob Canyon.
Driving up into the green landscape beyond Zion brings travelers to the alpine gem of Cedar Breaks National Monument, which takes the appearance of a rainbow-tinted amphitheatre high in the mountains. It’s on the scenic way to unparalleled Bryce Canyon National Park. This is an eye-popping wonderland of pinnacles and spires eroded over eons.
Heading west from Las Vegas (and Casa de Shenandoah) brings travelers to California and the immensity of Death Valley National Park. Containing the lowest and hottest region of North America — Badwater Basin — this vast realm is filled with an abundance of geological standouts like Artists Palette, Dante’s View and Ubehebe Crater. There are even high forests and mountain landscapes to explore in the Panamint Range.
Beyond Death Valley to the southwest is another California treasure: Joshua Tree National Park. This picturesque landscape is filled with evocative namesake desert fauna, plus gorgeous outcroppings of granite domes and rumpled mountain ranges. In between Joshua Tree and Death Valley is the huge but little known Mojave National Preserve. Here you can drive down back roads past volcanic fields, lofty ridges and mighty sand dunes.
Finally, be sure to visit gorgeous Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, located right here in Las Vegas. It features sky-high sandstone walls reminiscent of Zion National Park plus the must-do Scenic Loop drive — all within view of the fabulous Las Vegas Strip. You can even see Red Rock, as it’s simply called here, from Casa de Shenandoah!
We know you’ll enjoy your travels in our amazing “neck of the woods.”