Beating the Heat and Late-Summer Getaways

Willow Beach, Arizona.

Willow Beach, Arizona.

Hey Native, is it hot enough for ya?

I thought this tired old horse might trot my way soon, particularly in the wake of what went down as the Hottest … June … EVER! But aside from the premature arrival of monsoon season and its humidity, this Las Vegas summer has been fairly mild. Much of July was 10 to 20 percent cooler than late June, surprising us with some downright balmy days in which the temps didn’t make it out of the 90s. August has been a bit hotter, but not nearly the scorcher it can be.

For comparison, I recall many nights cruising the Strip (back when that was a thing) in a hopped-up, slammed-down VW Bug, and making the U-turn at the Sahara, whose rotating tower-top digital clock would often blaze 100 degrees after midnight.

So really, any high temp below 105 is comfy to us desert rats. Other natives I queried feel the same. “Where are those long stretches of 113?” one wondered, with perhaps a little too much longing. Sure, it’s always possible we’ll get slammed by a late-summer heat wave. Then, all those crybabies who Instagram their car-mometers will start fleeing town with their cooling towels between their legs.

But returning to your question: Is it hot enough for me? Not even close. But it is too damn muggy and windy.

Summer is quickly winding down. Where is a nearby, outdoor escape—one off the beaten track?

With more students suffering through year-round schools, combined with fall semesters starting sooner than mine ever did, the family-vacation window has grown shorter while the need for closer destinations has increased. Forget 12-day jaunts; what can we get done in 12 hours?

For a day trip to be worth the effort, altered states of terrain and temperature are critical. As a beach bum at heart, the SoCal coast below Laguna Beach is always my go-to, but doing it in one day can be a marathon (and it’s hardly off the beaten track). Closer and less buzzy is Flagstaff, a gorgeous high-elevation Arizona college town with solid brew pub and artisanal food scenes. Closer still? Try a local secret: Willow Beach. Just the other side of Hoover Dam in Arizona, Willow Beach sits at a fat bend in the river where the Colorado gets wide and slow. It’s perfect for camping, kayaking, fishing and just lazing around … hmm, now where did I put that cooler?