Las Vegas: Biking adventures in Sin City

Road Journals Blog—You might not guess it, but Las Vegas is bicycle friendly. Sin City has a huge community of bicycle enthusiasts and dozens of miles of bike lanes that wend through the flatlands and beyond, into more challenging terrain in the high desert.

My hands-down favorite for a moderately easy ride is State Route 159 to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The logistics are simple and it’s a guaranteed good time, which you can’t say about everything in Las Vegas.


Biking outside of Las Vegas is not lacking for scenery. | Anne Burke

You might not guess it, but Las Vegas is bicycle friendly. Sin City has a huge community of bicycle enthusiasts and dozens of miles of bike lanes that wend through the flatlands and beyond, into more challenging terrain in the high desert.

My hands-down favorite for a moderately easy ride is State Route 159 to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The logistics are simple and it’s a guaranteed good time, which you can’t say about everything in Las Vegas.

Apart from the spectacular scenery, the great thing about this ride is there are extra-wide bike lanes in both directions. You’ll encounter a bit of traffic, especially on weekends, but it’s not particularly threatening because of the generous leeway.


Red Rock Canyon charges a $3 fee for cyclists to enter. | Anne Burke

The ride begins on the western city limits, on West Charleston Boulevard (which turns into State Route 159). You can rent a bike nearby at Las Vegas Cyclery, where they will also fix you up with a helmet and map and point you in the right direction. (In the unlikely event that you’ve brought your own bicycle to Las Vegas, park at the Albertson’s on the far west end of West Charleston and set out from there.)

You can keep going into the desert on roads sans bike lanes, but I generally turn around at the entrance to Red Rock Canyon—a round trip of 16 to 18 miles (depending on where you start), with an elevation gain of some 1,000 feet. That’s enough to burn a bit of thigh fat but not enough to force a dismount for a humbling, uphill trek on foot. The ride back is a breeze.


That other caption about scenery? Still true. | Anne Burke

The scenery is breathtaking. You’ll pass fields of yucca and Joshua trees, and the massive sandstone cliffs of the Mojave Desert.

If you have the time and energy for a more strenuous ride, do the one-way, 13-mile scenic loop inside Red Rock Canyon. You’ll climb 1,000 feet from the visitor center, with some steep, undulating grades for the first five miles. After that, it’s an exhilarating descent.

The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada has lots of good info for visitors who want to see the area on two wheels.

Anne Burke writes about Las Vegas for an upcoming issue of VIA.

This blog post was first published in June 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.