5 Kid-friendly Hikes Near Las Vegas: Hiking Trails Parents Can Bet On! by Donna John
All around Las Vegas lie areas of breathtaking natural beauty, offering families with young children the easy opportunity to explore unspoiled wilderness without traveling great distances. Here, Deborah Wall, Las Vegas resident and author of “Base Camp Las Vegas: 101 Hikes in the Southwest,” shares some of her favorite kid-friendly hikes!
- Badwater, Death Valley National Park, Calif.: One of the most popular places in the park, this salt flat will have you walking on the lowest terrain in North America, 282 feet below sea level. It is easy walking on a flat surface, and in the cooler months can even be walked barefoot. Best done November-March. Learn more about Death Valley National Park here.
- Riverside Walk, Zion National Park, Utah: This paved and nearly level trail travels along the North Fork of the Virgin River, through a healthy riparian habitat of cottonwood, box elder and velvet ash, surrounded by Zion’s signature red and orange sandstone walls. Wildlife commonly seen includes deer, wild turkeys and rock squirrels. Highlights include short unpaved spur trails, allowing access to the river where your party can play in the water, picnic or just relax. Learn more about Zion National Park here.
- China Ranch Date Farm, Tecopa, Calif.: This date farm is a rare and lush oasis in the middle of the desert near Death Valley National Park. Hike the trails through the date trees or follow the outer trails that leave from there. One good starter trail is the 200-foot Creek Trail, which takes you through a canopy of riparian foliage along a flowing creek – super for small children. Learn more about China Ranch Date Farm here.
- Kelso Sand Dunes, Mojave National Preserve, Calif.: No official trail here, just a great place for all ages to climb as much as 700 feet to the dunes’ peak. Look for animal tracks in the sand, and perhaps get sandy by rolling back down. These are “booming” or “singing” dunes, which means they make a peculiar noise when the moisture is just right. Learn more about Mojave National Preserve here.
- Black Canyon National Water Trail, Lake Mead National Recreations Area, Nev. and Ariz.: This is usually done as a full-day kayaking or canoe excursion, either guided or self-guided, embarking from the Nevada side of the Colorado River, just below Hoover Dam, and traveling almost 12 miles downstream to Willow Beach, Arizona. Parents will have to do most of the paddling, but there is a good downstream current with no white water. Foot trails beloved by children lead up the side canyons, some of them to hot springs, waterfalls and sauna caves. Learn more here.