For a Switch, Venture Off the Strip While in Las Vegas for ISC West

Each year, thousands of us burglar and fire alarm people converge on ISC West in Las Vegas. Many of you tend to stay the entire time on the Strip or at least in the city itself.

When the installers and vendors are not working hard trying to strike deals, we may be off “gaming” — I guess the word gambling is not the proper term the casinos use anymore for what may be deemed as losing money. We are also catching shows, having a really fine meal with associates and, perhaps, sightseeing.

Las Vegas is a great place to go and we can write the trip off as a legitimate business expense following reasonable practices. Since the first ISC show in Vegas, when one could see the Eastern Airlines planes in storage at the end of the runway, I have always made it a point to get away from the glitz and hustle of the Strip.

Having grown up up in the middle of the Bronx where there wasn’t much nature, seeing the desert really appealed to me. As long as ISC West has been in Vegas, I have been to Red Rock Canyon several times and visited Valley of Fire State Park twice.

One year, I rented a Jeep, removed the top and drove 30 miles on the Bitter Creek Trail using a makeshift map and a compass, following what looked like a semi-established dirt trail. Last year, we rented another 4-X-4 and headed out to Death Valley for an amazing overnight adventure.

If you can read a map, have comfortable shoes for easy hiking and have a sense of adventure, read along to discover what awaits an ISC visitor just a short ride away. Away From the Strip, Nature Rocks If you want to take a half-day break off the Strip and get a taste for the local wilderness, my first recommendation would be to head over to Red Rock Canyon.

To get there, make a left at the Stratosphere on Charleston and go straight 20 miles. Once you pass the gate and pay a modest fee of $5 per car, you drive to the visitor center. This particular center was redone about two years ago and is worth the 20 minutes or so to browse around.

There are two ways to see Red Rock. One is to simply drive the 13-mile, one-way loop that will give beautiful roadside views of this natural landscaped desert. The other way is to talk to the volunteers at the visitor center who can help you plan a hike.

Hikes here can go mild (one mile) to wild (several miles of getting into the extreme remote areas). My favorite hike that I have taken a few burglar alarm clients on is a 21/2-mile trail called the Calico Tanks. The big surprise at the end of this hike is a view of the entire Strip a little more than 20 miles away. A popular thing here is to photograph people looking like they’re holding up the entire Strip from the Stratosphere to Mandalay Bay. Even though this hike is short, there are some areas where you go up short hills or smooth rock faces, so allow 90 minutes. I recommend doing this trip in the late afternoon because, after 4 p.m., you will see the beautiful rock outcroppings of the area start to glow red as the sun gets lower.

For complete information on Red Rock Canyon, go to www.redrockcanyonlv.org. Balance Your Trade Show Trip Another good daytrip to explore the desert and catch a nice ride back along Lake Mead is to Valley of Fire State Park. This majestic site is about an hour off I-15 to exit 75.

The name of this park comes from its brilliant red sandstone formations. On the way there, stop at the Native American store just off the highway for snacks and water. The store is just a few minutes to the admission booth. From the comfort of your car, you can see some of the best views and rock formations the Mohave Desert has to offer. One overseas client I took here could not believe Las Vegas offered something like this.

At Valley of Fire, I recommend you stop at the visitor center to learn where the 3,000-year-old petroglyphs are. The center has clean restrooms and people happy to point you to an easy hike, if desired.

Near the visitor center is a tall, thin formation called Balancing Rock. If you take the road from the center up the hill to the end, you will be on a bluff that overlooks 40-plus miles. You may also see fossils under your feet if you look carefully.

After you run out of film or memory in your camera, return via North Shore Road to get a scenic drive along the nation’s largest manmade lake, Lake Mead. Lunch can be had at one of its marinas.

At the end of North Shore Road, you can head left to Hoover Dam or bear a right on 147 North back to the Strip. Don’t Traverse Desert Unprepared If you plan on taking these trips, make sure you take a bottle of water for the easier hikes, and more if you go further out or the temperatures are really hot. For the Valley of Fire trip, fill up with gas before you leave.

There are great things to see just a short way off the Strip, so go out and explore!

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