Las Vegas: Outside & Beyond the Strip

By Lori Kackenmeister

All the tequila shots have been taken, you’ve pried yourself away from the doldrums of the slot machines, and you just can’t stomach yet another EDM-infused pool party. But don’t fret because there is something waiting for you beyond the lurid glow of the Vegas strip. Something that will bring you back from the dark depths of the casino, the antithesis of what Las Vegas is known for: the great outdoors!

On a recent girls trip to Vegas with some of my closest girlfriends, we decided to put our hangovers behind us and head out kayaking on the Colorado River for a little recovery and rejuvenation. We had planned the outing in advance, knowing full well that we would need a break from the flashing lights and late nights that come with this infamous city.

kayaks emerge from emerald cove - on the colorado river

kayaks emerge from emerald cove - on the colorado river

There are a few companies that offer tours of the Colorado River. We did some research and decided to go with Blazin' Paddles due largely to their all-inclusive packages - they’ll pick you up on the strip (Las Vegas’ main thoroughfare), provide the gear and snacks needed, and furnish knowledgeable guides who do their best to ensure you’re having a great time. We were also able to score a great deal by purchasing passes through Groupon in advance. I couldn’t recommend the service more enthusiastically.

The Colorado River sits at a chilly 55°F year-round (it is fed by glacial melt), although the temperature actually serves as the perfect complement to the brutal, dry heat that the desert serves up. The water is crystal clear and, when the light hits it just right, appears to be a vivid hue of emerald green (Tip: have your camera ready for Emerald Cove, undeniably the most strikingly beautiful part of the trip.)

We chose a half-day tour (about three hours on the water, covering roughly four miles of the river) which turned out to be the perfect amount of time, and it allowed us to take in the natural beauty of the landscape before heading back to Vegas and hopping on my return flight to San Francisco. If you’re looking for a longer adventure (perhaps you didn’t go out quite as long as we did the night before), day trips are offered that will take you a bit further on the river and allow you to catch views of the Hoover Dam from your kayak.

Now drink some coconut water, get outside and explore beyond the strip - it’s a much-needed first step to start forgetting all about the mistakes you may have made the night before.