PHOTO: Limestone caves of Great Basin National Park. (Photo courtesy of Thinkstock)
Are you sick and tired of the slander, barbs and pointed insults of election season but still hungry to see more of this great country the candidates all hope to one day lead? If you are hot on the heels of the political candidates in Nevada but looking for an escape route, it may surprise you to learn that there's more to the state right now than town halls, political rallies and the ever-present clanging of slot machines.
The state offers some stunning natural wonders and February - when it's not too hot - may be election season, but it's also the perfect time to explore what the Silver State has to offer. Here are seven scenic spots where you can get away from it all.
Sick of trying to get a selfie with your favorite candidate? Use your camera for good by heading to Cathedral Gorge for its cathedral-like spires that rise from the earth and the cave-like formations that line the slot canyons created by the erosion of the soft bentonite clay. Shaded picnic areas and meandering hiking trails are perfect for explorers of all ages. A Regional Visitors Center offers interpretive displays and information about the area.
The park is located approximately a 2 ½-hour drive from Las Vegas on Highway 93.
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Who would have guessed that just 30 minutes away from Las Vegas is a winter wonderland? It's true. Although, right now the weather has been warm and the snow is patchy, those who want to escape the political heat of the campaign trail can cool off to Mount Charleston where, even if there isn't a lot of snow, there are hiking trails, educational programs, picnic areas and more.
Great Basin National Park
The solitude of the desert comes alive in Great Basin National Park. Here, visitors will find the stunning Lehman caves, 5,000-year-old bristlecone pine trees and a variety of desert flora and fauna. In the winter, the park is blanketed with snow and frost bringing a silence to a park known for its solitude. Adventurous visitors head out on cross-country skis and snowshoes on snow-covered roads and trails.
It's one of the best skiing destinations in the country - and this season has been one for the record books, so it's totally okay to skip the political rallying and hit the slopes in Lake Tahoe. The lake, one of the country's deepest, straddles the California and Nevada borders and offers high-end lodging, casinos, boating, bike trails, hiking and a happening nightlife.
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Discover Nevada's mining past in Tonopah, the "Queen of the Silver Camps." Located halfway between Las Vegas and Reno, the city offers a glimpse into Nevada's storied past. There are a number of recreational activities in the area, including off-roading to nearby ghost towns, mining for turquoise, visiting the Historic Mining Park, hiking, bird-watching, stargazing and more. Like nearby Death Valley National Park and far from the city lights, Tonopah is known for its dark skies.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
This park was the first national conservation area in Nevada and is admired by geologists for its vivid rock formations. Winter is the perfect time to visit the canyon, located in the Mojave Desert, as temperatures are mild and the desert comes alive with wildlife. There are guided hikes, outdoor family programs, naturalist presentations on the flora and fauna of the desert and more.
Valley of Fire
As the state's oldest and largest state park, Valley of Fire is a must-see when heading to Nevada. Visitors will find 3,000-year-old petroglyphs, ancient trees, petrified wood and red, sandstone formations created in the age of the dinosaurs. It's an ideal spot for hiking, camping and picnicking. The park has a large visitors center with a number of interactive exhibits and is located about a one-hour drive from Las Vegas and just a few miles from Lake Mead located just off Interstate 15.
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