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Thanksgiving is the time when we often think of giant meals, Native Americans, and appreciation for God's gifts; it's also great if there can be some fall colors and shopping bargains thrown into the mix.
According to SmarterTravel, “Spring and fall are the best for walking the Strip or venturing into the surrounding desert.” They also suggest late November to December for finding hotel deals. A brief Expedia search showed Imperial Palace for $22 per night, Circus Circus $24, Riviera for $25 and The Flamingo for $28 for a stay December 6 to 8. I was lucky enough one year to stay at Circus Circus for $4 per night as part of a vacation bundle.
My idea of an enjoyable Thanksgiving feast is never having to cook; so finding a lavish buffet at every major hotel on the strip hits the spot just perfectly. A visit to Valley of Fire State Park is a gorgeous experience in color – the red sandstone formations appear to be on fire when reflecting the sun's rays, which are well-positioned in the Spring or Fall. Made by the hand of God, and not by man, the magenta, gold, red, sand, and yellow hues are awe-striking. Once considered sacred land by the Native Americans, archaeologists have meticulously showcased petroglyphs carved into the valley's walls.
We explored the Valley of Fire with experienced ranger Bruce Kniola, who led and drove a luxury Tour Trekker for Pink Jeep Tours. The vehicle is not a Jeep, it's the “first-of-its-kind, high-end, all-terrain vehicle, designed and licensed to be custom-built to be the ultimate tour vehicle.” Having a history of back problems, I needed a tour that could cover rough terrain, yet offer a totally gentle ride; the Tour Trekker has reclining leather captain seats, large tinted windows, climate control (extremely important if you visit Vegas in the summer), and a long wheel base engineered to enhance stability and safety.
Safety is a big concern for me, because a visit to Valley of Fire can be quite dangerous. There are roads that suddenly end at the edge of a cliff, no guard rails, and few markers. You really need a guide if you want to enjoy the park in its splendor. Bruce Kniola was one of the very best guides we have ever met; not only did he have the geological expertise, but had a great personality to boot. We got bonus time on the tour because no one had an early flight out of the airport, so Kniola extended the sightseeing by about an hour over the published schedule. Pink Jeep Tours also provided a small sandwich box for lunch, which we enjoyed while overlooking the scenery filmed in The Professionals with Burt Lancaster.
For fun ideas about visiting Las Vegas, kindly visit the CVB website at http://www.lvcva.com . For Pink Jeep Tours, kindly visit http://www.pinkjeep.com/jeep-tours/lasvegas/valley-of-fire.shtml .
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