By Andrea Bennett
January 07, 2015
Best Outdoor Adventures in and Around Las Vegas
Credit: Alamy

Most people who take the time to take their gaze off the Strip know that Vegas has plenty of good hiking trails, conservation areas and natural oases. But the city built on the romance of risk offers an interesting intersection between challenging terrains and a thrill-seeking spirit. So if you’re an adrenaline junkie, there are plenty of opportunities to get into the great outdoors in a way that no other city can offer: driving on a speedway in an exotic car, riding helicopters over the Grand Canyon, and even kayaking right up to the Hoover Dam. If you prefer to keep your heart-stopping experience within the city limits, even the Strip can accommodate you, by allowing you to jump off a tall building—the Stratosphere—wearing just a harness. (You heard us right.) Here are some of the most creative adventures for outdoor lovers and adventure-seekers in Las Vegas right now.

Grand Canyon Picnic Tour

There are myriad helicopter tours that depart from the Las Vegas Strip, but no one except Sundance Helicopters flies you over and into the Grand Canyon, using ultra-modern, chromed helicopters by some of the best pilots in the industry (they’re part of the same operation as Air Methods, which provides life-flight and organ transport services). You’ll fly 3,500 feet down into the base of the canyon for a Champagne lunch, and be back in Vegas 3 ½ hours later.

Kayak to the Hoover Dam

Yes, the Dam is impressive when you drive over the bridge, but you’ll gain new respect for the hulking landmark when you paddle up close to it in a kayak. The seven-hour tour run by Evolutions Expeditions starts with a close encounter with one of the largest dams ever built and then cruises this section of the Colorado River, hitting old-fashioned swimming holes and geothermal hot springs—and hopefully seeing some wildlife on the way.

SkyJump from the Stratosphere

What's the fastest way to evacuate from the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino? Jump the 800-foot (100 story) distance from the top. You’ll suit up in a harness, step out on the ledge and hope that your heart keeps ticking (and your digested lunch stays in place) on the exhilarating way down.

Red Rock Scenic Loop

Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area has hundreds of acres of hiking trails, but you can cover the most area—and get a terrific workout—in the dramatic mountains just west of the Strip, with a 10-mile guided cycling tour all around the Red Rock Scenic Loop. Your guides will pause with you along the way to make sure you don’t miss any of the treasures.

Exotic Tour Driving Experience

There are a number of terrific experiences you can have driving exotic cars on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but World Class Driving doesn’t confine you to the track. With this tour, you can choose one of five different exotic cars (including the newest Ferraris and Lamborghinis) or choose from muscle cars like the Challenger SRT8, Shelby FT500 and Corvette Z06; then you’ll get behind the wheel and head off for an adventurous morning along a 60-mile course through Red Rock.