Sober in Vegas: Hiking around Calico Hills

I was inspired by Seriously Sober’s recent post that brought up people asking what you “do” when you don’t drink anymore–especially on Saturday night.

I’ve been thinking about it the past week, how my life differs today from what it looked like 2 or three years ago, so I thought I would make a list of a few things I’ve found joy in now that I don’t spend my Saturday nights at bars (or drinking at home until blackout…sigh).

  • Reading: I’ve read more in the past two years than I did in the 10 years of heavy drinking combined!
  • Making Art: I used to make things all the time when I was in my early 20’s. When I started drinking I thought it would make me a better artist, and maybe for a hot minute, alcohol did allow me to release some creative ideas that were buried. But what it really did was hinder me. I would try to open up my paints and magazines (since I do collage work) and it would end with a mess and me passed out on the couch with little to show for it. Now with a clear mind, I love using weekend nights to work on art without being worried about waking up early the next morning.
  • Listening to records: So when I drank, I bought stuff. Alot of stuff. Stuff I didn’t need. And I bought a bunch of records that I never listened to because again…I would pass out before I really had a chance to enjoy them after purchase. Now I enjoy listening to vinyl with a clear head and open heart…and I can actually intake and remember the lyrics now!
  • Hiking/Walking/Getting Outdoors: To be fair, I did alot of walking when I was drinking too, but I used it as a way to sober up. Now I go outside for the sake of meditation, of exercise, and spending time with friends/family/my husband. I did alot of solo walking when I was drinking and now that I don’t feel shame about being drunk, it’s a beautiful way to commune with others.
  • Cooking & Baking: It’s been wonderful to take time on the weekends to enjoy food. I’ve never been very good at either cooking or baking, but now that I don’t get blurry eyes when I’m trying to read a recipe they come out wayyyyy better…crazy right?
  • Going to the movies or a play: So this one can be a little tricky–some movie theatres serve alcohol as do some theatres. But I’ve found that you can call ahead and ask (if you are feeling like it would be too much of a temptation) and that since it’s not the main focus of the event (like going to a bar) it’s easier to avoid the want to drink. And much like listening to records–I enjoy, understand, and remember the show SO MUCH BETTER.  In my drinking days I would usually get smashed before I went a saw a movie or show, and there are so many plays and movies I just don’t remember. Not to mention I would need to go to the bathroom the whole time because I’d had so much to drink. Facepalm. It’s also way less expensive to do these things now–I’m only paying for the ticket and not the $8-$25 of drinking that used to go along with it!

I could go on and on–but the final thing I’ve realized is how much I love the mornings now that I don’t get trashed every weekend.

They’re quiet, warm, and wonderful. I feel grateful each morning when the sun comes in the windows. Grateful for another day, not sad or ashamed of what I might have said or done the night before.

And not having a headache is a beautiful thing.

Okay–onto the next alcohol-free outing to enjoy here in Vegas! 🙂


I’ve been feeling a little stir crazy (even though I know Las Vegas winters aren’t really that bad…I’ve lived other places so I know that we have it really easy here…) but still, we’ve had an unseasonably rainy winter so I’ve missed our desert sun.

As much as I love Red Rock Canyon, sometimes it’s nice to change it up a little and to get to add another alcohol-free activity to the list!

It had been years since I’d been out to Calico Hills (same for my husband) so we decided to make the trek out.

Calico Hills is a right turn (you’ll see signs) on the way to Red Rock off of Charleston, so if you’re coming from The Strip, you’ll probably want a rental car to really get to enjoy the area.

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The sign welcoming you to the parking lot at Red Spring

On nice thing to mention is that Calico Hills is FREE!

Red Rock Canyon does have an entrance fee if you continue down Charleston, but if you are on a really tight budget (either on a trip or living here) you can enjoy much of the same landscape for free here.

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There are a few hikes in the Calico Hills area, but we found Red Spring the easiest to start with.

The entrance is really well marked, the parking area is clear, and there are a few different parts of the hiking area to enjoy!

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One of the areas to explore is the boardwalk

You’ll see a picnic area right near the parking area (in case you want to eat al fresco) and above that you’ll see the entrance to the boardwalk area of the hike.

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Another view of the boardwalk 

After we explored the boardwalk area we ventured onto one of the hiking paths.

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 Staircase leading up one of the hiking areas

The trail we took leads you up some stairs, through a sandy area, and then over some rock area (where the trail starts to disappear).

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Enjoying the beautiful reds, oranges, and pinks that nature has to offer

Once you reach the rocky area, it looks out over some flatter land. There are some paths leading towards other mountains and through the flat area.

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More picnic areas along the trail to enjoy!

We were out here about 2 hours and I felt like we were able to get alot of good exploring in without it being too physically overwhelming of a hike.

Much of the walk is relatively flat, so it’s good for beginners or families with kids of various ages.

I can’t wait for our next trip out this way–hopefully we’ll get to explore the other two hiking areas on the Calico Hills area!


Thanks for reading and happy sobering friends!

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13 thoughts on “Sober in Vegas: Hiking around Calico Hills

  1. Thanks for the shout out! I’m jealous of your beautiful surroundings! You’re inspiring me to get out hiking more…hopefully the forecast of rain will hold off. So much to do when you’re not drinking! -C

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  2. I’ve been to Calico Hills a lot but have never hiked off the boardwalk. I enjoy Red Rock. What about Valley of Fire? Ever go out there? One of my favorite places to walk around and take pictures is Nelson. And it’s free.

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  3. Thank you for this post! I’m on week three of no alcohol. Other than the cravings, the boredom has been my biggest challenge! I figure I gain 2-3 hours a night during the week and 4-5 hours on the weekends. When I start drinking, I go full out so anything productive after that just doesn’t happen. It is just nice to hear that others are going through the same thing. Happy sober Monday!

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    1. I know! When I first got sober I just didn’t know what the heck to do with all that time–it’s really strange right?! Another couple of things I did was started volunteering (on a weekly basis) with an organization & I do yoga classes at the same studio every week (I took the money that used to go towards drinking and put it towards an unlimited yoga class pass!) Both help me feel part of a community and have helped to feel like useful places to put my time and efforts towards 🙂 Good luck on your sober journey–we’re all in this together!

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