Ok so maybe the title of this post is a little misleading, I wasn’t exactly riding down The Strip in my best cowgirl boots and hat to the envy of every tourist around! However, we did go trail riding in one of my favourite Las Vegas spots Red Rock Canyon, and I’d definitely recommend it for your next Vegas trip.
If like me spending more than a couple of days in a city has you longing for the mountains (don’t get me wrong, I love Vegas in small bursts!), then I can’t recommend Red Rock Canyon enough. It’s a stunning National Conservation Area great for climbing, hiking and riding with a 13 mile scenic drive that’s perfect for getting a flavour of the area. It does get hot in the summer so it’s a great option if you’re jet-lagged and up early or if you’re there in the cooler months as there’s not much shade.
Red Rock Canyon can be found just a few miles west of Las Vegas and is around half an hours drive from The Strip. The area is part of the Mojave Desert with incredible rock formations and cliffs formed in sandstone and limestone. The sandstone cliffs are a stunning vivid red colour due to the oxidisation of iron in the rock. If you’re lucky you can see tortoises in the park but I’m still yet to find one, although I’m notoriously bad at spotting wildlife so this is no surprise!
Bonnie Springs Ranch sits in Red Rock Canyon, just outside the conservation area and dates back to 1843 as a stopover on the Old Spanish Trail. It was renovated in the early 1950s to establish amongst other things a stables, restaurant, zoo and an old Nevada western town – fun to look round but if you’re a reserved English traveller like me the various cowboy actors coercing you to join them on the set of a gun show may fill you with dread!
We opted for a breakfast ride that included around an hour and a half on horseback and a hearty breakfast, with an early pick up from our hotel. One tip if like me you need food to function is that you ride first and then eat breakfast, so grab a snack before you leave if you can’t wait a few hours (I was definitely ready for breakfast!). Watch out for the sunbathing turtles in the pond whilst you’re eating!
The ranch caters for all abilities, including those that have never sat on a horse before so if you’re hoping for a fast paced adventure you may be disappointed, it is just a walking trail catering very much to tourists. However, horseback really is a great way to explore this stunning landscape and quiet as the ride may be it’s a lovely way to spend a morning. The trail we took winds gently up and around the floor of the canyon with beautiful views throughout of the desert and rock formations. We were there in December so the temperature was perfect but there’s virtually no shade on the trail so I imagine it would be very hot in the summer.
Whilst horse riding in Las Vegas may not be the first activity you think of when heading to The Strip it’s a great way to explore the surrounding area, and if you can’t get in touch with your inner cowgirl (or cowboy) in Vegas then where can you?!