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Day trippin’: Outdoor destinations that are close to home, but far enough to feel like a real getaway

You’ve done the staycation, now try the little-ways-away-cation. If you’re looking for outdoor adventure, try these nearby destinations, suggested by Wynne Benti, publisher of Spotted Dog Press. The Bishop, Calif.-based publishing house specializes in outdoor books about its home state, Nevada and the West.

From Out from Las Vegas, Adventures a Day Away by the late Florine Lawlor:

Buffington Pockets in the Muddy Mountains

What you’ll find: Relics of Nevada’s ranching past in a stunning geological setting developed by cattleman Warren Buffington, who quarried pink-veined Aztec sandstone before discovering it was too soft and abandoning the operation. On the site rests Buffingon’s original cattle tank, juxtaposed by petroglyphs on the orange and red sandstone canyon walls. The glyphs, created by nomadic Native American tribes, are reflected in deep pools of water, as serene today as they were centuries ago.

Directions: Interstate 15 north from Las Vegas to Valley of Fire exit. Turn right and drive 3.4 miles to where the road bends left. Continue straight 4.2 miles on the dirt road toward the Muddy Mountains (Bitter Springs Trail). At the fork, follow signs to Buffington Pockets.

Potosi Mine in the Potosi Mountains

What you’ll find: Nevada’s oldest mine and, sadly, its first ghost town. Potosi was first colonized in 1855 by Mormon settlers in search of lead, but the ore was no good. Then, in 1860, the Colorado Mining Co. sought silver there but had too much trouble smelting and separating it. Finally, in 1905, the mine was reopened for zinc production. Mining infrastructure and the 1,300-foot mine are still visible, as well as a limestone boulder weighing several tons, balanced on a small rock table only two feet in width. The drive to the trailhead passes Southern Paiute yucca roasting mounds.

Directions: From I-15, exit Blue Diamond Road, and head north on Highway 160, toward Pahrump. Exit Potosi Mountain Road, and follow the first road 4.2 miles to Potosi Spring Area. At the spring, drive up the hill a quarter mile to the ruins. Four-wheel drive suggested.

Hidden Forest

What you’ll find: One of the most remarkable scenic attractions in Nevada, with more than six types of trees, including the only foxtail pine grove in the state. Various historic groups have tried unsuccessfully to colonize this beautiful but unforgiving landscape, which lacks a water source. The location might have remained terra incognita if not for Gov. James G. Scrugham, who served from 1923 to 1927 and commissioned scientists to chart the area’s flora and fauna. The discovery of pottery, fire pits and sun-worship altars led the team to believe the forest was once inhabited by an ancient tribe.

Directions: Take Highway 95 north, 23 miles to the Desert National Wildlife Refuge at Corn Creek Station Road. Turn right and follow the dirt road 4.1 miles to Alamo/Mormon Well Road junction, just past the ranger station. Turn left and head north 8.8 miles to Cow Camp Road. Stay left and continue 6.2 miles to Hidden Forest Road. Drive 3.6 miles east to a locked gate, which is where the trail begins.