Okay, maybe The Strip wasn’t made for 4×4’s, but the outskirts of Las Vegas offer an oft-overlooked opportunity for plenty of adventures in the vast desert of Nevada. For folks that have ventured to this land of slot machines and tumbleweeds, it’s easy to see why the greater Vegas area offers a unique vacation destination for off-road enthusiasts. If you’ve never been to the Silver State, let me set the scene. Nevada pretty much looked like this: to the West, you have Reno; the Biggest Little City in the World. To the Southeast, you’ve got Las Vegas. And everywhere in between you have hills, and desert and vast amounts of diddly squat…spotted with the occasional truck stop, military base or farm town.
The resulting habitat is a large amount of federally managed land open to 4×4 enthusiasts that is easily accessible from one of America’s most infamous vacation destinations.
If you’re headed to Vegas with your four-wheel drive, quad or dirt bike in tow, all you’ll really need is a place to go. Bitter Springs and Muddy Mountain, about 40 minutes outside of town, offer an easy adventure with a few loose sand obstacles. Nellis Dunes are a quick 30 minute drive outside the city for some sandy fun and both El Dorado and the Hidden Valley Dry Lake Beds are no more than a 45-minute trek, where you’ll find plenty of open range to explore.
If finding your own way and bringing your own rig is of intrigue, you may want to consider some online research or coordination with local off road groups prior to your trip. A number of four wheel drive clubs in the Vegas area have the reputation for being friendly folks who would likely be more than willing to help you find the best local destination for your Vegas off-road adventure. In addition to picking the brains of locals, the Bureau of Land Management also has a conveniently located field office in Las Vegas where you can pick up maps and information on local Federal land open to wheelers.
However, let’s face it; the most common way to head into Vegas is via an airplane and on a buzz. Luckily, if you happen to find yourself in Vegas with some extra time and nothing but a rental car, there’s still hope! Off-road rental businesses are a surprisingly popular entity in the Las Vegas area, and you can get your paws on everything from ATV’s to side-by-sides and Jeeps with little more than an ID, credit card and five hundred bucks.
Many of America’s most intriguing areas for exploration are near landmarks you’d never imagine. So next time you’re hitting the slots, take a break from those fountains at the Bellagio and go get dirty. In the literal sense.