If you’re coming to Las Vegas to party, you won’t have to look far. Everything you’ll need for a weekend of debauchery is situated neatly on a five-mile stretch of road that sits almost directly next to the airport. You can hop off the plane, grab a bottle of Absolut and hit the slots (or the pools, or the strip clubs, or the buffet.) When you’re done, you can get right back on the plane and head back to wherever you’re from. You may wonder where the locals live—do they all stay in the Strip hotels? What do they do for fun? Where do they eat?
Because the Las Vegas Strip is so self-contained, you may never know that Las Vegas spills out past it, and that Las Vegans have homes and lives that do not completely and totally revolve around the goings-on downtown. In fact, there are lots of non-Strip related activities that locals partake in, and the savvy traveler can enjoy them too (so long as they’re interested in doing a daytime activity… hiking hungover probably isn’t the best idea.)
Located about an hour’s drive from the Strip and nestled in the purple mountains on the western horizon of Sin City is the Mary Jane Falls hiking trail. Although somewhat of an advanced and strenuous climb, the view at the top is spectacular.
The hike begins in a wooded area where grey stone walls rise on either side of the trail, partially shading hikers from the unforgiving sun. The trail is, at some times, difficult to follow, but it is important to follow the path as closely as possible both to avoid disturbing the wildlife and to make the hike easier.
The falls are seasonal. In winter there are crystal-clear icicles that hang jaggedly from the edges of the rock face; in spring the falls gush down with melted snow. Sometimes the falls are completely nonexistent, other times they are a light trickle.
There is a cave located just behind the falls. Adventure-seekers can peak their head in and feel the cool, damp air. Anyone who’s watched The Descent might not be interested in it, but the cave isn’t deep enough to be truly terrifying. Only somewhat.
The hike is relatively short, depending on how many breaks you take on the thigh-busting trek up the incline. There are some logs and boulders that make perfect seating areas for lunchtime at the top, so if you pack a sandwich and some chips you can sit and enjoy the mountain’s silence before you climb back down.
Perfect for nature-lovers, tourists who want to get off the Strip or even just someone who’s bored of sitting at home watching TV, Mary Jane Falls offer a day-long getaway with beautiful views and relaxing quiet. Pack a lunch, a bottle of water and some sunscreen and head outside of Las Vegas’ borders for a hike that’s advanced but incredibly enjoyable.
Check out photos from the hike here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/125687790@N04/sets/72157644959197007/.