Bridget Gleeson writer + illustrator

Red Rock: Where Vegas showgirls hit the trails

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First, I have to say: I should have just camped out at Red Rock Canyon last weekend.

I had no idea that such a gorgeous park – with its rust-colored sandstone, stunning rock formations, varied hiking trails and 13-mile-long scenic drive – was available so close (25 minutes in the ol’ rental car) to the Las Vegas Strip. I’ve been really busy with work, but I managed to sneak over there on both Saturday and Sunday.

So on Sunday around 3pm, I parked at White Rock by the trailhead of the Keystone Thrust. As I was digging around the backseat for my water bottle, I noticed the woman who was getting out of the black Pontiac next to me. She was, simply put, striking – but in a very particular way.

She was, I was pretty sure, a real Las Vegas showgirl.

She was petite and very curvaceous, her fingers were impeccably manicured, she had taut skin and a porcelain complexion. Her long, dark hair was unnaturally shiny and looked like it had been professionally blown out the night before. She was with an excessively muscled man, a small boy, and an excitable dog. I took a second look at her car: there was a tiny bumper sticker with the insignia of one of the big resorts on the Strip (I won’t say which!)

It confirmed my suspicion: this was a showgirl on her day off. (And why not? These women have to stay in shape somehow, and Red Rock is the perfect, quick escape from the neon lights of Sin City.)

‘Only in Las Vegas,’ I thought, and I continued along the start of the trail. Thirty minutes later, I stopped to tie my shoe on a rock ledge overlooking the valley. I heard the faraway chatter of two women who were coming towards me on the trail. They were talking about something that had happened the night before; one of them mentioned tips. They came around the bend and I was struck once again – it was another pair of incognito showgirls taking a hike on their day off. I’ve seen a lot of high-maintenance women in the world, but these were another species entirely. They were so beautiful, immaculately cared for, and yet strangely unreal to look at. All the same, it felt like a celebrity sighting. (I wouldn’t be so indelicate as to take (or post) a photo. These hard-working women deserve the right to a peaceful Sunday.)

But Sunday at Red Rock, folks! You heard it here first.