If you yearn for a quick getaway from urban crowding and noise, just pack your gear and head out to one of the many sites on America’s public lands that are a quick hop from major city centers. In an hour or less, you can be enjoying your pick of recreational activities.
Red Rock Canyon, just 20 miles from the lights and action of Las Vegas, offers enticements of a quieter kind. Lithified sand dunes, frozen in time, offer the visitor a close-up perspective of geologic features that have been millions of years in the making. Unexpected waterfalls cascading into the canyons exemplify the mysteries and hidden dangers of the Mojave Desert.
Only minutes away from Sacramento, California, the Cosumnes River Preserve is one of the few protected wetland habitat areas in the state, sheltering some of the last remnants of the magnificent oak groves that once proliferated in the Central Valley. Visitors here can take a hike along a designated trail, participate in one of the preserve’s special excursions, or spend a weekend on a guided kayak trip.
And just 17 miles southwest of Yuma, Arizona, Betty’s Kitchen National Recreation Trail welcomes day visitors to a lush, shady spot along the Lower Colorado River. The area is perfect for a picnic lunch, fishing from the pier, or a stroll along the 0.5-mile interpretive trail.
Whether you’re looking for adventure, solitude, or a little of each, you might just find it on public lands minutes from your own backyard. Check out the following list, or simply browse this guide to discover the perfect place to enjoy those few precious hours.
• Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their outdoor experience.
• Let nature’s sounds prevail; avoid loud voices and noises.
• Be courteous; yield to other users of trails and other recreation areas.