We live in the golden age of guidebooks, and one of the nice things about this is the proliferation of regional guidebooks like the second expanded edition of Base Camp Las Vegas by Deborah Wall. Subtitled 101 Hikes in the Southwest, BCLV is a beautifully laid out, richly photographed and impeccably organized guide to one of America's greatest trekking regions.
BCLV begins, as God intended, with a fold-out front cover that displays an overview map with sections and page numbers clearly marked. The area covered you can see on the small map on the front cover, basically Southeastern Nevada, Southwestern Utah, Northwestern Arizona and a slice of California. You'll find classic locales like Death Valley, Bryce, Zion, Red Rock and the Grand Canyon.
From the excellent beginning you can jump right into exploring hikes in your area of interest, or you can keep right on turning pages for a detailed table of contents and a very helpful "before you hit the trail" section that covers important topics like snakes, drinking water, snakes, flash floods, snakes, archaeology, snakes and children. Apologies to the herpetologists out there, but… snakes.
Each section starts out with a nice concise overview map and text, then jumps right into the hikes themselves. Each hike has the vital signs up front: best season, length, difficulty, elevation and warnings. The end result is a superbly balanced book: the photographs make you want to go (Eureka Dunes, here we come!), the maps tell you how to plan, and the detailed narrative gives nuance and depth to the different character of each hike.