I was in Las Vegas for the very first time for a conference, and found myself completely overwhelmed by the blinking lights, drunken visitors, labyrinthian casinos, public smoking, and perfume-drenched air. Over the course of the five days, I could feel myself suffocating. In fact, one afternoon I got lost in the casino that I had to navigate to get to my hotel room, and texted my husband in tears that I was going to be discovered asphyxiated on the carpet teeming with unthinkable stains, under a slot machine.
Anxious to escape what felt like an interminable hell, a friend of mine and I skipped out on our final day, rented a car, and lost ourselves to the endless hiking and meandering that can take place in the Valley of Fire. Less than an hour away, there are no lights or loud noises, just miles of endless ribbon road (many car commercials have been filmed here– and, fun fact: in Star Trek Generations, it was here that Captain Kirk fell to his death!). Petroglyphs dating back to 2000 years can be found (ignore the graffiti and you’ll be transported back in time) on several hikes. But most importantly, solitude and quiet can be discovered if Las Vegas is just too much for you.