Escape the Strip and explore delightful strips of singletrack instead!
The name "Las Vegas" conjures images of flashing neon lights, towering skyscrapers, streams of coins falling out of slot machines, poker chips being tossed on a table, the spin of a roulette wheel, and more debauchery than you could confess in a month's worth of visits to the priest. Sin City can easily snare you in its trap of consumption, with the artificial highs of small wins at the blackjack table and the allure of glamorous big city life.
What most tourists don't realize is that Las Vegas's natural wonders are just as impressive as the manmade ones. If you let them, the towering red rock cliffs will replace the skyscrapers. The sound of the wind over the desert ridges, the skittering lizards running along the ground, and the endless miles of singletrack will whisper to your soul, beckoning you away from the Strip and out into the vast expanse of the Nevada desert.
Out in the desert, you'll discover an interconnected web of singletrack that offers hundreds of miles of trails, spidering out in seemingly all directions! One trail connects to another, and another, and quickly you can find yourself pedaling from one trail system to another trail complex entirely. If you hop in the car and drive to a different corner of the city, you'll be greeted with an entirely different trail system, with another world of singletrack to explore!
The desert surrounding Las Vegas is home to a rugged, raw ecosystem. While some cacti and animals do inhabit the area, the landscape sometimes feels desolate and windswept. At other times, agave and yucca create a small desert forest to pedal through. When you get close to the cliffs, towering rock formations will force you to crane your head upwards to glimpse the tops of the pinnacles.
Hands-down the most famous mountain bike trail system in the region is Bootleg Canyon. This popularity is probably due to its renown as the long-time home of Interbike's Outdoor Demo. You can choose to pedal an epic ride of 30 miles through the network, do a shorter intermediate-friendly loop near the base of the mountains, or bomb down technical downhill trails off the top of the ridge.
Even closer to Vegas, you'll find a massive web of interconnected trail systems spread along the entire west/southwest side of the metro area. The metropolitan sprawl transitions almost instantaneously to desert, giving rise to easy-to-access trail systems like Southwest Ridge and Bear's Best. For gnarly riding close to town, be sure to head to the Cowboy Trails for a myriad of technical descents. And for lengthy, scenic pedals, the Blue Diamond/Cottonwood area offers a plethora of ride options.
The desert can get hot in the summer, and when it does, the locals escape to the Mount Charleston area. Here, you can either pedal a big mountain loop or team up with some buddies for a shuttle session, thanks to the convenient highway access.
And these are just the highlights. You could easily spend years exploring the hidden singletrack gems surrounding Sin City. So the next time you visit, let the desert tempt you away from the more obvious pleasures found on the Strip and instead, spend some time exploring the wonderful strips of singletrack!