In early March, before travel halted and the need to quarantine was enforced, I took a trip out to Las Vegas, Nevada. It was my very first time so I had everything mapped out. I’m a planner. I knew what I was going to do on day one and I knew exactly how I would spend my last day. Plus, I was going solo, so I had no one else to please but myself!
Before heading to Vegas, I knew I wanted to experience something new. Something I would not normally do. That’s the point of travel, right? So of course, I went online to find just that.
I searched for things to do in Las Vegas and saw everything imaginable. I quickly sorted through gambling, clubs, and strippers. Then, I crossed off the Helicopter tours, ziplining, and Dune Buggys. Eventually, I came across tours outside of the strip. Tours that took you to the National Parks!
I was intrigued as this was not something I had thought of. However, with all of the things I could do and places I could go, I decided that I wanted to be “outdoorsy”. It was settled. I was going hiking in the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and Zion National Park in Utah.
Do black girls hike?
Now to plan my outfits!
I know I am not the only one that looks for the ideal outfit for certain occasions. By no means do I consider myself a fashionista, but I try to look the part every once in a while. I had only been hiking one other time before, so it was still pretty new to me. When I need inspiration or outfits ideas, I always start on Pinterest!
I simply searched for “women hiking”. The majority of the images that populated were of women that did not look like me! I mean, surely, I’m not the only black girl that goes hiking. I had to specifically search for “black girls hiking” in order to find more images on Pinterest. Yet, through Google and Instagram, I was able to yield some more results but still very little representation.
Yes, black girls hike too.
Slightly discouraged but not deterred, I found what I was looking for. Sometimes when you find yourself underrepresented, you have to be proactive. I was going hiking in my best hiking outfit and I will make sure to capture my own images!
In the words of Tiffany Haddish, “She Ready!”
Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim) – Arizona
At this point during my stay, I had already explored the strip for 4 days. Now, for the next part of my adventure. I rented a car, hopped on Route 66 around 6 AM, and took a scenic drive to Arizona!
The drive from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon South Rim is about 4 hours. If you are interested in going to the Grand Canyon, you will notice most of the tour companies advertise the West Rim and the South Rim. Grand Canyon West Rim is closer to Vegas at about 2 hours away. The West Rim is not part of the National Parks as it is on the Hualapai Native American Reservation and is owned and operated by the Hualapai Tribe. This is also where you find the iconic Skywalk where you can walk out onto a glass sidewalk that suspends over the canyon. Go if you dare!
I decided on the South Rim because it is considered more scenic. For a $35 entrance fee into the National Park, I had complete access. Around this time of year, the park was not crowded at all. This is not the peak season. The weather was around 60 degrees Fahrenheit so perfect to hike without getting too hot.
The views were amazing and I parked along a trail and walked for about 1 mile. The occasional elk would be feasting on the side of the trail, but I had no other run ins with wildlife.
I suggest if you are going out hiking, to bring your own snacks and water. There are some gas stations and stores outside of the park along with a few restaurants to stop at. However, I recommend that you plan ahead and bring your own food and drinks just in case the trail you follow is longer than anticipated.
I stayed for a few hours taking some photos and walking along the trail and then headed back to the city. If you start early in the morning, the Grand Canyon National Park is the perfect day trip! Just try not to overexert yourself exploring the park. Driving 8 hours round trip can be taxing on your body if you are not prepared.
Zion National Park – Utah
For day two of my outdoor adventure, instead of driving myself, I opted for a paid tour that takes tourists to Utah’s Zion National Park on a bus. I went with Grand Canyon Destinations based on the online reviews. For $99, I was picked up at a nearby hotel, received lunch, snacks and water the entire duration of the trip, and a comfortable ride. Not bad.
Zion National Park is about 2 hours away from Las Vegas. I was up by 6:30 AM to meet the guide and jump on board the bus. About 7 other people joined the tour.
At the Park
We arrived to Zion National Park around 9 AM and was able to explore on our own for about 5 hours. Grab a map and see what trails interest you. I hopped on the park trolley, which is free, and rode to one of the stops. The trolley operates around the clock so you can hop on and off whenever you would like.
Zion is breathtaking. The expansive canyons and vast red cliff formations show the natural beauty Utah has to offer. Again, the weather was perfect with a high in the 60s. For March, it’s not uncommon for Zion to be in the 30s! As you go higher up the canyon, you will notice a drop in temperature and possibly a snow-covered ground.
I followed mainly the short and moderate hiking trails just due to the amount of time I had to explore. There are many hiking trails that you can follow with all types of terrains and steepness that fit your level of experience.
Zion is Utah’s most visited and busiest National Parks. I never imagined even going to Utah but I’m so glad I could have an amazing adventure and check off another state visited. I got back to Vegas around 7 PM, so enough time to still enjoy the night.
Leave the Vegas strip for an adventure in nature!
What an amazing experience! Let there be no misconception that black girls don’t hike or do outdoor activities. Although that narrative has been quickly changing and we see more black men and women hitting the trails these days, I hope to see even more. I hope my images will add to the online search pile and it will continue to grow.
I have seen that there are groups organizing around the nation that are stressing the importance of more black people enjoying the thrills of outdoor hiking. There is an actual group and movement called “Black Girls Hike” and they schedule outings year-round. I have no affiliation with them however check Meetup to see if a group is near you!
Las Vegas is definitely a fun place to be. Just make sure you take some time to leave the strip and explore nature’s most beautiful creations!