This Canyon Rocks

Detour

The last time you were in Las Vegas, you (a) scooped up too many tchotchkes at Comdex, (b) emptied your pockets at the slot machines, (c) hunted for fossils.

Turns out, lots of people choose (c). Savvy out-of-towners make a point to escape the fetid air of the casinos and the convention halls by touring the Red Rock Canyon, a swath of craggy sandstone just 10 miles west of the flashing neon Vegas strip. Want to rock climb and bike your way through the blissfully quiet desert?

John Gervasoni, 31, owner of Desert Odyssey Tours (www.desertodysseytours.com), which offers door-to-rock transportation from all of the major hotels, says business travelers make up about half of his hiking customers. A standard tour includes a picnic lunch and a geological history of the canyon, courtesy of Gervasoni, who is a trained archaeologist.

Forget to pack your rappelling gear? No problem. You can rent the equipment you need from a variety of local outfitters. Just be sure to watch out for poisonous snakes, Gervasoni notes cheerfully. (Suddenly, the stress of the office doesn't seem so bad.)

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