Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is another picturesque loop road side trip out of Las Vegas. This route is about 28 miles. Hop onto 215 and circle south then west onto Hwy 159 into the park, passing the aptly named Calico Basin. As with the Alabama Hills in California, Red Rock Canyon was scene of a number of Hollywood epics.
The 13-mile scenic road winds through steep canyons showcasing the tremendous forces of geology through the vivid colors of Aztec sandstone. You may also get a glimpse of the local fauna, including road runners and wild burros. If you visit in early spring, you will feast on wildflower eye candy.
A little further beyond Red Rock Canyon near historic Bonnie Springs https://bonniesprings.com/ is Howard Hughes desert home of Spring Mountain, now a Nevada State Park. http://parks.nv.gov/parks/spring-mountain-ranch-state-park/
A simple rustic ranch, it is polar opposite of the opulence and glitter of the nearby Las Vegas Strip. Nestled in amongst towering sandstone cliffs, this must have been the place Hughes came to totally relax. Trained docents give tours of the house, including the secret room of former owner, German actress Vera Krupp.
If you return back to Hwy 159, you have a straight shot back into the Arts District of Las Vegas for some evening dining and entertainment, or drop back to the Strip.