Get some fresh air between casino nights at these outdoor destinations in Las Vegas.
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This is a view of Las Vegas from the Calico Tanks trail in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Credit: Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau

On my most recent trip to Las Vegas, I decided to trade in my heels and dresses for a pair of sneakers and some spandex. I purchased my flight tickets in anticipation of casino nights, exclusive clubs, and dinner with my girlfriends. But this time, I also wanted to see a side of the city that lies outside the dazzling lights of the Strip.

Although the shining lights and sparkling venues draw singers, dancers, and all manner of performing artists, the dramatic desert landscape makes Sin City an international attraction among outdoorsy travelers, too. Well-known rock climber Alex Honnold made Las Vegas his home in 2018 and praised the city's outdoor merits in an Instagram post. So, if it's good enough for the world's most famous rock climber, Las Vegas definitely holds enough outdoor adventure for the weekend explorer like myself.

Here are some of the best outdoor adventures to have in Las Vegas.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

A hiker make her way along the Calico Tanks trail in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Credit: Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau

This national conservation area lies a 20-minute drive from the Strip and is famous for its terra-cotta-red sandstone cliffs. On any given day, hundreds of rock climbers take advantage of the vertical landscape on both lead climbs and ropeless boulders. Joel Enrico, who guides trips in the park for The Mountain Guides, said routes are accessible for climbers of all skill levels. "In the last 10 years, it's become an international destination due to accessibility," he told Travel + Leisure. Want to keep your feet closer to the ground? There are also plenty of opportunities for biking on trails or on the 13-mile scenic loop that runs through the park. Bikes can be rented nearby at the Las Vegas Cyclery, and guided e-bike tours are offered inside the park for travelers seeking a more laid-back experience.

Clark County Wetlands Park

Clark County Wetlands Park is shown in front of Frenchman Mountain on September 8, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Less than 10 miles west of the Strip, on the outer edges of the city, a marshy wetland breaks up southern Nevada's desert landscape. In Clark County Wetlands Park, visitors can see the city and nature collide at the Las Vegas Wash, an urban river formed by both the preexisting oasis that created the valley and urban runoff from the city's golf courses and stormwater. The highlight of this park is a 14-mile multiuse trail known as the Wetlands Loop, which welcomes hikers, joggers, cyclists and dog walkers. Though the river that runs alongside it may be from the city, the Wash serves as a natural water filter before it ultimately runs into Lake Mead, 12 miles downstream. If your feet hurt from the previous evening's festivities, you can take a less active approach at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve, which is located in the park at the edge of the Pacific Migratory Flyway. Here, you can see more than 270 species of local and migratory birds.

Gold Strike Canyon Hot Springs

A hiker jumps into the Colorado River at the terminus of the Gold Strike Hot Springs trail Saturday, April 5, 2019
Credit: Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau

If the hotel hot tub just isn't cutting it, travelers can take the difficult six-mile hike to crystal clear natural hot springs that lie on the banks of the Colorado River below Lake Mead. Parking is available at the trailhead in Boulder City, an approximately 30-minute drive from the Strip. The hike is not for the faint of heart — several built-in ropes are available for use on steep portions — but the payoff is a series of beautiful pools, the temperatures of which range between 85 and 105 degrees. Summer explorers are out of luck on this adventure; the hot springs are closed from May through September due to extreme desert temperatures.