Alicia Malone, manager of leisure public relations of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau, explains the growing attraction of spiritual and faith-related agendas the area offers: “Las Vegas is known for many attractions, but if you venture out, there are many natural attractions that could be quite spiritual. There’s a lot of history and area for self-reflection for visitors to engage in.”
Faith Travel Destinations in Las Vegas
The first permanent non-native establishment in Las Vegas was built in 1855 by Mormon missionaries along the Las Vegas Creek. The Old Las Vegas Mormon State Historic Park is an adobe fort that still stands and can be visited throughout the year. Many Mormons since have moved to Nevada, creating a large Mormon community in Las Vegas.
Guardian Angel Cathedral, on the northern end of The Strip and accessible by monorail, has stained-glass windows with colorful images of Jesus Christ and other biblical depictions. Visitors often give chips as a church donation, and a priest known as “Chip Monk” takes the chips to cash in at the casinos. On Saturday evenings the church travels to Mount Charleston, a state park 35 miles northwest of Las Vegas, where special masses are held outside, seasonally.
The Stillpoint Center for Spiritual Development, located west of The Strip, is a non-profit organization that is governed by a multi-denominational faculty representing various sects in the Christian community. It’s perfect for religious
groups looking for a place of peace and prayer. The center emphasizes that Stillpoint is a “gathering place that is hospitable to and nourishing of the spiritual life.” Meditation, prayer groups, guest speakers, dances and special events are offered.
The Brahma Shrine is located at Caesar’s Palace on The Strip. This replica of the famous Buddhist shrine in Thailand is said to grant prosperity and wishes, particularly those asking for money and good fortune. Many visitors will leave flowers or small statues as a token of love and respect with high hopes for their wishes to be granted.
Sightseeing in the Greater Las Vegas Area
Seventeen miles from The Strip is Red Rock Canyon State Park. There are about 200,000 acres of land to explore and over 30 miles of trails. Besides trails, the state offers a casino hotel resort. While staying at the Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa, Alicia Malone recommends trying the “Adventure Spa” package, which includes horseback riding, river rafting, kayaking, horseback riding, biking and mountain climbing. There are hot springs, Indian rock art carved on the mountains, and a sunset view that will leave the visitor mesmerized and spiritually in tune, Malone said.
Through the official Vegas travel site, Las Vegas offers various tours like the “Sunset Escape Tour.” Visitors take a helicopter tour of Nevada from The Strip to the Grand Canyon and back.
Las Vegas Tours also offers the “Vegas Mini Baja Chase.” About 15 miles northeast of Las Vegas are the Nellis Dunes, where you can rent a mini Baja dune buggy for a ride through the desert.
Lake Mead, the largest man-made lake in the U.S., lies about 30 minutes southeast of Las Vegas. The 300-square-mile body of water has 600 miles of shoreline. Boating, water-skiing, scuba diving, and fishing for mussels, trout, and large-mouth bass are year-round recreational options. Camping out by the lake in the Mojave Desert
lets visitors see a starry night sky without interference of city lights.
Hoover Dam, 35 miles from Las Vegas, is considered one of America’s top construction achievements of the 20th century. Take a tour and see the 30-foot-wide pipe that pushes out water that flows south from the Colorado River. Various Las Vegas tour companies offer tours to Red Rock, the Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Lake Mead and Valley of Fire State Park.
The Las Vegas Monorail is located on The Strip and runs north to south. The monorail begins at the south end of The Strip by the MGM-Grand Hotel and Bally’s and ends at the Sahara Hotel at the north end, closing a long gap on The Strip that tourists have traveled on foot.
Las Vegas’ Top-Rated Monthly Event
Every first Friday of the month, local artists and musicians gather in the Arts District of downtown Las Vegas. Called “First Friday,” it is considered the city’s premier arts event. There are ice sculptors, fire breathers, fortune tellers, local bands playing throughout the evening and streets turned into canvasses for children (young and old) to decorate with chalk.
Las Vegas and the surrounding area offer endless scenic adventures and spiritual insights for religious group travelers. Sure, there is plenty of glamour and glitz, but many groups discover a different side of this thriving desert outpost.
By Hannah Grossman