(or, “How to Walk from a Casino or Hotel on Las Vegas Avenue to McCarran International Airport”)
So you’re stuck with an afternoon flight out of Las Vegas and you don’t really want to go back to the convention? I know the feeling. In August 2014 I decided to hike from the Rio (where DEFCON 22 was held) to McCarron Airport, largely based on some TripAdvisor advice that no one should ever try this. and Michael’s Dorausch’s blog post about hiking to the Strip from the airport.
Temperature: 87 (10am) to 95 (1pm)
Weather: full sun, no wind
Distance: 3.8 miles (The Rio across Las Vegas Avenue to McCarran Airport)
Time: 3 hours (included one stop for breakfast, one long rest stop and one short water break)
Thankfully my convention was the kind that required nothing more than a change of underwear, T-shirts and sandals, so I packed light. I carried everything I needed in a backpack and carried a water bottle and a Gatorade I chilled in the hotel fridge overnight. I also wore a ballcap and a “disposable” white T-shirt I got from a vendor at the convention. (As soon as I cooled down in the terminal, I took the shirt off, threw it away and changed into a clean and dry shirt.)
FIRST LEG: Rio to Paris (20-25 minutes, 1 mile)
My first leg was pretty easy. The foot pathway along Flamingo Rd. from the Rio to the Strip is disgusting but navigable and I made it to Caesar’s Palace in about fifteen minutes. Paris is basically located kitty-corner from Caesar’s Palace so I made a quick detour through the Bellagio, crossed a couple of bridges and popped out in front of the fountain show and Paris’s outdoor cafe: Mon Ami Gabi. I had a great breakfast (tea and crepes) and explored the casino until I found the way to Bally’s.
View (north Strip) out of my 15th floor room at the Rio.
SECOND LEG: Bally’s to Hard Rock Casino (30-35 minutes, 1.5 miles)
The second leg took me off the strip and had me wondering about the neighborhood, but there was enough haphazard development and life along the way to make me feel safe. I went east down Flamingo, then south down Koval, then east down Harmon Avenue. The Hard Rock Cafe was like an oasis and was a great place to cool down and relax.
View of the “High Roller” ferris wheel on exit from Bally’s on Flamingo Avenue.
View of Hard Rock Hotel from Koval Avenue.
View of Paris from Koval Avenue.
View of the High Roller from Harmon Avenue. (Notice the retro “2007” signs for the failed “Las Ramblas” development.)
View of Hard Rock across Harmon Avenue. (Stay on the NORTH side of the street so you don’t have to cross like I did!)
Look back (west) down Harmon Avenue.
View of Paris and surrounding area just before entering Hard Rock Cafe.
Selfie at the Hard Rock Hotel. (With gear, including “disposable” white T-shirt.)
Def Leppard display at the Hard Rock Hotel.
FINAL LEG: Hard Rock Casino to McCarran Airport (25-30 minutes, 1.3 miles)
The final leg made me nervous because Google Maps didn’t have walking directions to the terminal and there were multiple advisories about heavy traffic online. However, it really was a straight and easy shot (with marked crosswalks), and it came with the bonus of walking through a cactus garden and by a an interesting statue of a cowboy. The trickiest part came when the pedestrian walkway diverted from the airport drive, but if you just follow the path you’ll come to an underpass where you can rest in the shade and drink some water (it didn’t appear to be anyone’s residence). From there, you should ignore the crosswalks to the east (they all go to dead ends) and instead go WEST (toward the cactus garden). From there all you need to do is follow the well-marked path to Terminal 1.
View of center strip buildings as you make the turn onto Paradise Road.
Signs for the airport tell you you’re on the right path.
Close-up of the Luxor from near the airport. (I like the “reflection” look better than matte black.)
View of north strip from near the airport.
Southwest jet flies overhead as it lands.
A UNLV stadium is visble from the road (left side/east) just before you cross the road and enter the airport.
A Southwest jet passes in front of the Luxor as it lands.
A cactus on the airport grounds.
The sidewalk diverges from the road.
After the fence ends, the path continues to the RIGHT.
The shady overpass on your left. (Stop and drink some water, but do NOT use the pictured crosswalk.)
Take THIS path! (Go right/west once you reach the overpass.)
Now, take THIS path! (It’s to the right of the gem sculptures.)
Cactus garden, looking east from the path.
Path to terminal through cactus garden. (I said it was straight.)
Almost there! (View of tower and parking structure from statue park.)
“Vaquero” by Luis Jiménez on the way to the terminal.
Finally: Terminal 1! (Sorry it’s fuzzy – my camera couldn’t figure out the focus here.)
Cautions and Disclaimers
- I don’t think I’d try this at night.
- Stay hydrated.
- Walk or hike at your own risk.
- Everyone who sees you may think you gambled until you were broke! ;)