Rent a Car or Take Uber for Hiking around Las Vegas? – Las Vegas Advisor

Some buddies of mine and I are having a birthday get together to celebrate a friend turning 50. In the 20+ years we’ve gone to Vegas, we’ve gotten pretty wild, but this year will be a new twist for me: I quit drinking over a year ago. Since then, I’ve also gone on a health kick to take better care of myself. I’d like to see some hikes near Vegas, since I never took the time to do them in the past. My question is this: Is renting a car my only option to get to some of the major hikes (I’m mostly thinking Red Rock, but I know there are other beautiful hikes relatively close) or would Uber be a better option? Are there tour groups or health clubs that take buses out to places that might be cheaper? Suggestions on close hikes that I should check out?
We’ll state our opinion here, then let others weigh in on the rental-car question.
We believe that renting a car is the better option for accessing hikes around Las Vegas. Uber — and the bus and Monorail and walking and even taxis — is fine for short hops around the tourist corridor, but we’ll always opt for our own car, even if we have to rent one, for getting out of town. 
We got prices on Uber’s fare estimator and the lowest for a ride from Caesars Palace to the Red Rock Visitor Center was around $30 one way (including a $4 tip). So you’re already spending $60 just for a round-trip ride to one place and that doesn’t include being dropped off at a suitable hike inside the park. Plus, who knows how long you might have to wait for the return trip, when you’re tired and hungry and want to get to an eatery or back to your hotel? 
For the same money, you can probably rent a car for a couple days and do at least two good hikes on your own schedule. For a little extra, rent for a third day and really get to know the local hiking opportunities. 
Red Rock is a good place to start. Our book Hiking Las Vegas lists 46 hikes there in varying difficulties. If you just want to get out and scramble, pick any red-boulder hill and go. 
To beat the Red Rock crowds and admission fee, turn off W. Charleston a couple miles before the entrance to the park on the road to Calico Basin (15 miles from the city on the right). A half-mile boardwalk protects the riparian environment and provides the easiest hiking you could hope for, complete with benches, interpretive signs, and petroglyphs. For a little more of a workout, pick up the Calico Basin Loop trail on the right side of the Red Spring parking lot.
A few miles beyond Red Rock is Spring Mountain Ranch State Park. This is another area to pick a direction and go; the park is 520 acres at the base of the Wilson Cliffs with plenty of places to explore. There are five loop trails from easy (a third of a mile) to less easy (a mile and a half). Spring Mountain Ranch State Park gets very little publicity in local-area travel publications, especially compared to places like Red Rock Canyon, Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, and the Grand Canyon. But it’s a spectacular natural area with a lot of history and great walks.
Hiking Las Vegas has 13 trails in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. These are pretty rugged with services far away, but you won’t bump into too many people out there this month.
For our money, though, it’s worth taking an hour’s ride out to Valley of Fire State Park. This is one of the most scenic areas in all of Nevada and it’s much more extensive and less crowded than Red Rock Canyon. The view from Rainbow Vista is worth the whole price of admission; Elephant Rock, the Beehives, Atlatl Rock, Seven Sisters, and the visitor center are great attractions. Mouse’s Tank is an easy half-hour round-trip hike; Fire Wave and White Domes are a just a little longer. And if you have time, find out how to get to the unmarked Pink Canyon. It’s just a short walk, but otherwordly in its beauty.
We hope this helps. Let us know how it all turns for you. 
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