You Will Be More Disappointed By The Things You Did Not Do Than By The Ones You Did
Three Intrepid Travelers Head To Sin City—An Adventurer's Playground Located Between Deadly Deserts And Ancient Mountains—To Conquer Their Deepest Held Fears.
Off The Beaten Strip
You have three days left in Sin City and you're thinking—just thinking—about exerting some energy in a slightly different way, an outdoorsy way. Check out these adrenaline-pumping, foot-injuring, muscle-straining, high-octane adventures as a welcome antidote to the bright lights of Vegas.
By Jennifer Guay
DESERT ADVENTURE ATV TOUR
60 miles from Las Vegas $159, www.adventurelasvegas.com
Drive your ATV to the top of the mesas, stopping only for majestic views of Lake Mead, follow the trail further and hit the entrance of the Grand Canyon and the North Side of the Valley of Fire on what is billed as the "ultimate self-driving off-road tour."
CLIMB THE RED ROCK CANYON
20 miles from Las Vegas
Red Rock Canyon is a landscape created under a shallow sea, then buried for 600 million years under sand dunes. And now your awe-inspiring desert playground is sculpted by wind and rain. Get a look at the canyon's towering red cliffs from their best angle—the top.
NELLIS DUNE BUGGY TOUR
15 miles from Las Vegas
Got an itch for a road trip? How about a road trip with no roads? Feel the wind in your face as you rip through sand dunes, marvel at the Vegas Strip and Lake Mead.
VALLEY OF FIRE RAPPELLING TOUR
60 miles from Las Vegas $139, www.awesomeadventureguide.com
Rappel over the Valley of Fire's Native American Petro-glyths, sandstone cliffs and fiery rock formations. Or, rip through a few laps on the Off Road RZR track.
GRAND CANYON WHITE WATER RAFTING AND HELI-TOUR
230 miles from Las Vegas
This 15-hour getaway offers a one-of-a-kind air and sea tour of the Grand Canyon: raft down the Colorado River's white water rapids and through the Canyon's cliffs, then take a luxury jet helicopter to the cliffs' peak for Thelma and Louise views.
DIVE WITH SHARKS AT MANDALAY BAY
3 miles from Las Vegas
Dive into the Mandalay Bay's 1.3 million-gallon Shipwreckexhibit and swim with stingrays, sawfish, green sea turtles, schools of fish and over 30 different types of sharks. Try and escape without serious teeth marks or bloodletting.
SHOOTING AT THE GUN STORE
3 miles from Las Vegas Prices range depending on gun type, starting at
Take aim with an AK47 assault rifle or a Thompson M1A1 submachine gun and re-enact some old Vegas mobster fantasies. Although, we'd guess that Lucky Lucian never wielded an AK.
But there was one last hurdle. Right before the end of the tour I skidded to a halt in front of what I can only describe as the Grand Canyon—it was that steep. I was paralyzed with fear. But then I thought about the purpose of this story, and of my pride a little bit, and just went for it, shrieking all the way down.
I have never felt more like an accomplished athlete. I even had a bloody shin.
The next morning, as not to jump into the deep end of the pool, I decided to dip my toe into the driving portion of this adventure by go-karting first. Feeling cool, I put on a racing suit and gloves, as well as a less cool and rather suspicious looking head sock at Fast Lap Las Vegas.
I speed around the laps a few times and am immediately bored. Not sure why I did this, seven year-olds celebrate their birthdays here. This was less adventurous than wrestling with my cats, but it gave me confidence. If I can dominate a seven-year old's track, I can get in the driver's seat of a grown up car. Possibly even a racecar.
The moment I had been fearing the most approached—time to get in the driver's seat: Exotics Racing beckoned, a racing school with a fleet of over 30 exotic cars, "the world's largest fleet of supercars." Arriving at the large white tent, filled with stylish, shiny red and white mod furniture, my heart was racing faster than the Ferrari outside. I nervously peeled cobwebs off my driver's license, the vroom vrooming cars and screeching tires outside doing nothing to calm me. Neither did the fact that I was told I couldn't drive the Lamborghini Super-leggera as anticipated, since it had caught on fire the day before. Excuse me? Totally normal, the guy assured me, Lambos and Porsches catch on fire all the time. It's lucky I'm not afraid of spontaneous combustion.
During the "discovery lap" in a Porsche Cayenne, in which I'm familiarized with the track (1.4 miles, 11 turns, a 1,800-foot straight), Mark (another one) guarantees that "You'll be safer on this track than you were getting here." I guess that's reassuring?
Soon, I am sitting in a Nissan GT-R— one of the fastest car in their fleet with 480 horsepower and a 196 mph top speed—my clammy hands clutching the wheel, nails possibly leaving claw marks. With no helmet and just as little instruction Mark T. (I'm not making this up, apparently everyone in Vegas is named Mark) sent me on my way, tires screeching, me screeching louder, Mark screeching the loudest, telling me to "BRAKE. THROTTLE. BALANCE." It took me at least three rounds to shriek back, "I DON'T KNOW WHAT BALANCE MEAAANSSS." But I got the hang of it, which basically means that I stopped turning on the windshield wipers and making abrupt turns on every corner.
The ride was so smooth, so powerful and I was going so fast! I must look amazing!
I floored the pedal on the straightway and felt power, speed, adrenaline. Poor Mark had no idea what he was getting himself into getting in a car with me I thought, as I almost gave us both whiplash turning a not so smooth corner. (Or maybe he did, he had a helmet after all.) I was sad to relinquish the wheel after seven laps, but happily left Mark with a little puddle of sweat in my seat. The day's grand finale was a ride along in a Lamborghini Gallardo with Richie Hearn, an Indy 500 racer. Hearn was determined to hear me scream: tires were smoking as we zig-zagged around. All I could do was giggle helplessly, feeling like I was on a roller-coaster. He took that as a challenge, ending our adventure with a 360-degree turn into the parking lot. I loved it.
And, in dramatic cloud of dust, my fear of driving took a back seat—once I got a taste of power, speed and control my fear of traffic and Sonic-drive thrus was suddenly just a memory, something fuzzy in my rear-view. Maybe all I needed was an Indy 500 pro chauffeur to appreciate speed.