Newsletter: Vegas Escapes: Take a hike — before it’s too late

Hikers take a photo along the Colorado River at the end of the Gold Strike Hot Springs trail
Hikers take a photo along the Colorado River at the end of the Gold Strike Hot Springs trail
(Sam Morris / Las Vegas News Bureau)

When you visit Las Vegas, you tend to spend a lot of time indoors. But here’s a suggestion for the great outdoors when you’ve lost too much at the tables or you need to shake the clatter of casinos out of your head.

The Gold Strike Hot Springs Trail is lovely at certain times of the year — but soon, it won’t be.

But this is Vegas, so not to worry. If you miss this window, there are other outdoor and indoor pursuits.

My name is Catharine Hamm, and I’m the travel editor for the Los Angeles Times. Whether you’re into the outdoors or the indoors or both, you’ll find something that lets you hit the pause button from life and escape for a bit.

If you want to be outside and see art, there’s the new renovated pool area of the Palms. It’s utter Kaos.


If you want to be inside and eating paella, there’s a festival honoring the rice dish in various iterations.

If you want to be outside and making like a pirate, there’s a festival this weekend that lets you say “Arrgh” to your heart’s content.

If you want to get your jollies inside, a comedy club associated with a well-known talk-show host is opening May 2.

If you want to be outside and admiring iconic art, there’s a new/old piece at the Neon Museum’s Boneyard. What’s clear from this: We cover Vegas inside out, and we’re happy to share some of our favorite things.

Ahoy, mateys, and welcome to the extravaganza that is Las Vegas.

Time is of the essence

It’s April 25. Do you know where your hot weather is? Closing in, that’s for certain. That means the time left to hike the Gold Strike Hot Springs Trail is about to run out. At least, hike it comfortably. The trail, which is strenuous, is about five miles from Boulder City, Nev., which is about 28 miles from the Strip. The forecast calls for temperatures in the 80s and 90s for the next few days, dropping back to the low 80s and even high 70s next week, the Weather Channel predicts, which means it’s still doable. Once the mercury tops the century mark, you probably will want to put your expedition on hold. If you missed it this year, mark your calendar for fall. It’s a dandy jaunt, Jay Jones writes.

You'll find hot springs that can soothe your aching bones along the Gold Strike Hot Springs Trail.
(Sam Morris / Las Vegas News Bureau)

Splashier than ever

We don’t meant the temps. We mean by the pool. And this particular pool area — 73,000 square feet at the Palms, providing space for Kaos day and night clubs — offers both sun and shade (the latter in its more than three dozen cabanas), Mary Forgione writes. Plus you can always catch some shade in the shadow of Damien Hirst’s 60-foot-tall “Demon With Bowl,” pictured below. (Hirst’s name popped up recently with the unveiling of the 9,000-square-foot suite Palms suite that features such artworks as two sharks suspended in formaldehyde.)

Kaos day and night clubs feature the towering “Demon With Bowl” sculpture by Damien Hirst in the pool area.

Come to the paella party

Full disclosure: I love paella, the saffron rice dish I was introduced to while I was a student at the University of Valencia in Spain. Teresa, the cook at the home where I lived, was a biddy, but she had a wicked magic touch with the socarrat, the crusty part of the dish. José Andrés is doing a paella Valenciana and other iterations at a weeklong paella festival beginning April 27. If you miss that, a new paella restaurant is opening, although the date is not yet known.

Isaias Gonzalez, lead paella chef at Jaleo, will be part of a weeklong festival celebrating and highlighting the Spanish rice dish.
(Michael Hiller)

If not paella, pirates

… Although choosing between paella and pirates isn’t an either-or choice because you can do both. The Pirate Fest is April 27 and 28 in Craig Regional Park, about 30 minutes north of the Strip. It’s a good chance for kids to be kids and adults to be … kids.

Armed pirate skeletons enjoy playing chess at Pirate Fest.
(Pirate Fest)

Hot dam — here’s a way to see life outside the Strip

The Boulder Express will whisk you away from the tables of Vegas and take you to one big dam place, among other locations, for less than you’ll probably lose playing slots all afternoon. You can go to Boulder City to see the quaint town, to the enormous Hoover Dam or to Lake Mead. Prices start at $25 for the round trip, but the history and the views are priceless, Jay Jones writes.

Hoover Dam attracts about 7 million tourists each year.
(David Lusvardi)

It’s yesterday once more

In the Vegas Escapes newsletter of Oct. 25, we announced the departure of longtime Vegas act Donny and Marie Osmond, and we asked readers whom they would like to see fill the void. A couple of readers responded in the Nov. 22 newsletter, suggesting such replacements as Garth Brooks and Bruce Springsteen. Cathy Young of Buckeye Lake, Ohio, not far from Columbus, recently chimed in with her suggestion: “I have to tell you that if the Carpenters Tribute featuring Michelle Whited would have a residency in Vegas, I would move there,” she said in an email. “I love this group and the music of the Carpenters! Michelle Whited sounds like Karen reincarnated.” Karen Carpenter died in February 1983 of complications from anorexia. She was 32.

Young included a link to the tribute group’s demo, which I listened to with some dread, because Karen Carpenter’s deep, smoky voice was singular and a big part of my pop music youth. I wasn’t sure anyone could match her, but this took me aback. Thoughts? Write to

Richard and Karen Carpenter at the Grammys in March 1971. The brother-sister duo was named best new artist of the year for 1970.
(Associated Press)

It’s a sign for the times

That guitar that stood guard at the Hard Rock Cafe wasn’t just any guitar; it was inspired by Pete Townshend’s No. 9 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. When the cafe closed, the sign’s future looked uncertain, Michael Hiller reports. Now it has found a home at the Boneyard in the Neon Museum, and you can visit and bask in its glory.

The longtime Hard Rock Café guitar sign is assembled at the Neon Museum.
(Joe Buglewicz / Las Vegas News Bureau)

In case you need a few laughs

Jimmy Kimmel, he of late-night “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” on ABC, is opening a comedy club in Las Vegas. The only thing that might not strike you as funny is this: It’s his club, but he probably won’t be there much. Read about the headliner who will open Kimmel’s club the weekend of May 2-5.

Jimmy Kimmel took part in planning his new comedy club in Las Vegas, including the menu and green room details.
(Associated Press)

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We’ll be back May 23, just in time for Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer. And, knowing Vegas, that means a whole lot of new and exciting stuff, because the city never seems to pause to take a breath. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Until then, we wish you all the fun you can find and all the cash you need to make it happen.