Day 13: South Nopah Range Wilderness Area

Road Miles: 115

Total: 1071.5

Trail Miles: 0

Total: 74.7

SitesSouth Nopah Range Wilderness Area

After a long restless night of being rocked around in the van, battered by relentless winds and blowing sand, I finally got up, kinda late. I could barely see out the windows since it had rained as well, but only enough to ensure that the entire exterior was coated with a thin layer of mud. Otherwise, it was a beautiful sunny day, with only a minor breeze.

A friend from Washington I’d met on the PCT happened to be in the Vegas area where he’d grown up, and had offered to take me out to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. So, I headed toward Vegas, and it was a beautiful drive. Both the Old Spanish Trail and CA Highway 178 heading toward Nevada offered up some spectacular desert views. I LOVE these backroads routes! Of course, there is no interstate between the little-used South Nopah Range Wilderness Area and Las Vegas. Anyway, coming into the city from the west was awesome – I definitely want to check out the Mountain Springs area off Nevada Highway 160 at some point, and I got a preview of Red Rock Canyon which was incredible. I can’t believe I never really noticed it before, how beautiful it is. But then, my previous visits to Sin City were not at all focused on the outdoors, and I’d always come in from the south instead of the west. 

I caught up with John and made plans to get out to Red Rock the following morning. Then I headed down to the Bellagio on the Strip to meet another friend from San Diego I hadn’t seen in a few years who also happened to be in town. After traveling solo in remote desert the previous few days, negotiating Vegas during rush hour was like a completely alien experience for which I was not at all prepared. I had to laugh though when I accidentally turned into the valet lot at the Bellagio, and had to carefully squeeze mud-caked Freya past a raft of gleaming late-model luxury automobiles to get back out. Oops.

I finally got myself parked on the roof level of the self-park lot, the only level the van would clear, and thought about what an epic spot this would be to camp – great views of the city with Red Rock as the backdrop. Of course, since this is a casino hotel on the Strip in Vegas, I assume there are probably cameras everywhere and dirtbagging it on the roof is probably frowned upon, so… no.