National Geographic Adventure, February, 2001, pp. 24, Story by Steve Casimiro
VEGAS'S REAL EXTRAVAGANCE LIES IN ITS NATURAL SETTING.
You think you know everything you need to know about Las Vegas, so when you’re flying above the Mojave Desert at night and the miles of blackness below you suddenly give way to a shocking amoeba of glowing luminosity, you’re not even close to surprised. It’s Vegas, man.But maybe you don’t know everything about Vegas,after all. Block out the city for a moment and focus on all those lightless miles of wilderness. From the stunning escarpment of Red Rock Canyon, 40 minutes west of town, to the Colorado River, the same distance east, Vegas’s real extravagance lies in its vast natural setting.
RIDE LONESOME SINGLETRACK
Thirty-five million people will visit Las Vegas this year, but none of them can be found in the cottony air of a summer evening on the cholla-lined singletrack known as the Three-Mile Smile. You have it to yourself, you and Jared Fisher, the director of the bike outfit Escape Adventures ([U.S.] $108 for a full-day tour, including lunch and equipment; +1 800 596 2953 [in the U.S. and Canada]; www.escapeadventures.com),and so you fly down the narrow, red-hued draw with more regard for the cactus spines along the trail than for any potential passersby.There are 80 miles [129 kilometers] of singletrack running through Cottonwood Valley and many more miles of trail in the surrounding purlieus, but this little arroyo is among the most interesting sections. Straight paths lead to heart-stopping hairpins, which lead to rolly triptychs of whoop-de-dos. And in your wake hangs a crimson dust so fine it may never filter back to the ground.