I have to admit that I have a whole shelf full of guide books for hiking and have used them with varying degrees of satisfaction. So when I saw this new edition of Base Camp Las Vegas, I was intrigued. I really like the idea of a “base camp” from which to explore an area and instantly liked the quality feel of the book. It is beautifully produced with very nice quality coated paper and pictures that jump off the page. I so enjoyed just looking at the wonderful photography. You can peruse this book while eating pizza and I’m sure the pages would clean up nicely due to the high quality!
The book begins with an introduction to the area and some things to be aware of – important things, like rattlesnakes, flash floods, staying hydrated and more. You know – things that can help a great day from turning into an ugly one in an instant!
The maps are easy to follow and well-marked. I have done several of the hikes previously and the directions are clear and concise. Each hike is organized similarly with a description of the hike, a bit about the area, any things to watch out for, and any interesting historical or geographic features. The writing is engaging – it feels like a friend is talking to you and preparing you for your day’s adventure. Each description is followed by a “quick glance” feature that includes the season to go, hike length, difficulty, elevation gain, starting elevation, any warnings, the jurisdiction and driving directions.
The hikes are well organized and easy to find with both a good index in the front and an organizer in the back by various types of topics. Maybe you are looking for waterfalls, or wildflowers; teen favorites or hikes good for kids; or by season or difficulty – it’s all there for your pleasure.
I particularly liked the section on the national parks in Utah as they are such special places; however, I hope the author will do a whole separate book for “Base Camp Phoenix” and move that section to a new book. The Arizona desert is such a gorgeous place to hike and would be well-served by a guide of its own to add to this series. The author was only able to touch on a few areas with a Las Vegas base.
For people who like a small portable guide, my suggestion is to do as Rick Steves always advocates – “rip the pages out” and take them with you! If you can’t bear to do that to this beautiful book, take pictures with your phone or make copies on your printer. Either way, it is easy to make this your “on the trail” portable guidebook too.
Carol & Phil White have traveled over 50,000 miles in the last several years, visiting all 50 of the states, all the National Parks in the continental US, and hundreds of places both quirky and fascinating. Carol is the author of Live Your Road Trip Dream: Travel for a Year for the Cost of Staying Home