Parks & beaches
When the valves of the Hoover Dam, located 55km from Las Vegas and overlapping the states of Nevada and the Arizona, were opened in 1935 to let the Colorado River flow through its turbines, the water that was retained behind the barrier created what is known today as Lake Mead, now an integral part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area (tel. 702-293-8990, www.nps.gov/lame).
Red Rock Canyon is an intriguing geological formation that lies hidden in the Mojave Desert, which is located about 20km west of Las Vegas and runs through 80,000ha of dry, rocky land. The Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area (tel. 702-515-5350, www.redrockcanyonlv.org) protects the canyon, a refuge for a unique array of fascinating plants and animals.
Created in 1935 and located north of Lake Mead at about an hour's drive northeast of Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park (tel. 702-397-2088, http://parks.nv.gov/vf.htm) is Nevada's oldest state park. Featuring a landscape somewhat similar to that of Red Rock Canyon, the park covers an area of 11,500ha and is home to a number of interesting petroglyphs.