, 2023-04-08 23:15:00,
The Orange County Register
SANTA ANA, Calif. — When you’re from California, it’s easy to think that some of the world’s most beautiful and wild, rugged places are close to home.
But the reality is that while the Golden State has plenty of incredible scenery to offer, both back in those “Wild West” days as well as right here and now, the landscapes found leading to it across America’s Southwest are some of the most spectacular to be found anywhere on the planet.
And while pioneers probably didn’t stop and take an extended visit, these days a road trip is a perfect way to see our favorite special spots in the Southwest.
Figuring out what to see on a Wild West road trip takes a bit of planning.
Before you begin, consider purchasing an annual national parks pass at the first park you enter.
That $80 pass gets everyone in your car into every national park for a full year.
You don’t have to be an American citizen to buy the annual pass, either. and if you are an American citizen age 62-plus, buy your lifetime pass for $80 and never again pay to enter a U.S. national park.
Considering that Zion National Park’s entry fee is $35 per car, getting the annual pass is something of a no-brainer.
Ghosts, gold and Red Rock
While the lure of Sin City in Nevada is strong, there’s more to the Vegas environs than casinos and outlet malls.
So sleep in Las Vegas to start your adventure if you’d like, perhaps in the comfortable beds at the all-suite Venetian Hotel, have a world-class meal at their estiatorio Milos restaurant, take in a show and then let the real wild adventure begin as you exit that glitzy place.
Start with an easy ride to the Red Rock Canyon Park, where you will need a timed reservation to enter between October and May.
It’s just 15 minutes west of the Strip, but transports you to a completely different world, a land of massive striated red rocks, where easy walking trails lead to ancient Native American petroglyphs and perhaps even a glimpse of the protected (and endangered) desert tortoise, who calls this arid place home. This small park is a great start to seeing the incredible rock formations that await in Utah and Arizona.
Red Rock is lovely, but our favorite Nevada stop is Rhyolite, a gold-rush ghost town northwest of Vegas.
Founded in 1904, it grew to a city of 5,000…
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