Have you ever pictured a place one way, but then visited that place only to find that it is the exact opposite? That was Nevada for us. The desert we expected to be pretty bare and the city we expected to be dirty and loud. We could not have been more wrong. I’m not sure why we had this bias in our head, but that is something that we tend, and try, not to do. We visited a couple of areas in the desert and were blown away by the beauty and landscape of each. We also decided to visit Vegas. This was something that we had fully intended on not doing. Vegas has never appealed much to me, and we were really worried about being in close proximity to people right now. To say we are happy with our Vegas splurge is an understatement. We loved it and cannot wait to get back!
Two of the places I was excited to see in Nevada were the Seven Magic Mountains art installation and The Valley of Fire. Even at Seven Magic Mountains, I was shocked by the mountains in the background of these bright colored sculptures. This installation, created by Ugo Rondinone, showcases seven stacks of rainbow boulders towering over thirty feet into the air. These wonders can be seen from your car as you drive up to the location. They are representative of human existence in the vast desert of Nevada. Elliott was equally amazed by the vibrant boulders. He was excited and astounded as we walked up to the formations. Not going to lie, it was adorable. It was the first time he ever said the word ‘picture’ and struck a pose. Clearly he was a fan!
The Valley of fire was also a work of art in its own right. The layers of colored sandstone in this park is so unique. The hues and layers vary from deep reds to pastel pinks. We also just learned that you can book weddings in the rocks, which is too cool not to share. This state park is the oldest in Nevada, and the sand dunes formed 150 million years ago. One thing to note is that while its name comes from the appearance of the stones and sun, the name also reflects the insane heat you will feel here. It is consistently well over 100 in the summer months. The day we visited it was 115, and that was not even the feels like temp. Because of the scorching heat, there are days and even months when certain trails are closed or not recommended due to heat stroke. We felt it almost immediately. We stayed hydrated while walking around, but we were back in the car almost immediately. It was HOT. Even with the excessive heat, we loved our time here. We even met some mountain goat friends along the way! (See if you can spot them.)
Not so hot, but oh so amazing was our night in Vegas. We did not venture onto the street at all, but we were blown away by the precautions that Encore was taking to protect their visitors. Weirdly enough, it was the safest we felt our entire trip (outside of our car). Upon entering, our temperature was taken, a mask was required, and sanitizer was available. They had a max occupancy for elevators of 4 people or 1 family, and both guests and staff had to social distance. There were also plexiglass barriers throughout, and all of the rooms have a tape placed on them after sanitizing. The room was beyond our expectations. The bathroom was, well, all of our dreams, and the views were just wow. We had a full view of the strip from our king suite. Watching Elliott’s reaction as the lights came on was so fun for us. We also ordered the most incredible room service. Every item came sealed and the gentleman who delivered our meal had on both gloves and a mask.
We ordered our room service from the menu on the television. For drinks we ordered 2 palomas, a negroni, and a beer. So needed, and so good. Elliott had pork and shrimp shumai (I may have taken one; shh) and grilled asparagus, I had tuna poke, and Hayden had the ribeye. You will learn very quickly that if I see a raw option on a menu, that’s what I’m ordering. It didn’t disappoint. The soy dressing and taro chips were perfect with the fresh ahi and pickled daikon. The shumai had awesome flavor and Hayden’s ribeye was cooked to perfection. We shared the citrus tart for dessert, and like everything else it was delicious.
Final plug for Encore, I swear! We were so happy to stay in one of the most sustainable hotels on the strip. Being from Vermont, sustainability is something that we often think about, and it is something personally important to us. Both Wynn and Encore have been rated green and sustainable companies by countless agencies and groups. They utilize solar power, recycle, provide animal sanctuaries, use all recycled containers for toiletries, among other green swaps. They have an entire team devoted to environmental practices. View our Instagram for a video tour of the room! Whether we drive or fly, we will be back soon!