As a former Nevada resident, Jeff and I have been to Las Vegas many times. While we have loads of fun in the city, we prefer to get out of the bright lights and explore the surrounding area. We often base ourselves on the strip and head out for frequent day trips from Las Vegas.
A city known for its glitz, glamour, and non-stop entertainment, there are also many stunning natural attractions nearby that are well worth a visit. From breathtaking canyons and red rock formations to historic landmarks and ghost towns, there are countless day trips from Las Vegas. Each offers a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and experience the natural beauty of the American Southwest.
Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a history buff, or just looking for a change of scenery, there’s something for everyone within a few hours’ drive of Las Vegas.
In this article, we’ll share some of our favorite Vegas day trips, including must-see attractions and hidden gems. We hope that our experiences will inspire you to venture beyond the neon lights of the Strip and discover the natural wonders that make this part of the world so special.
Top 7 day trips from Las Vegas
- Grand Canyon National Park
- Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
- Hoover Dam
- Lake Mead National Recreation Area
- Valley of Fire State Park
- Mount Charleston
- Mojave National Preserve
- Plus a few more within 2-3 hours: Area 51, Zion National Park, Death Valley National Park, Calico Ghost Town
Vegas day trips map
Click the expand / collapse icon in the upper left corner of the map for the details and interactive options.
The map is color-coded to match the sections below. Day trips from Las Vegas within a two-hour drive are marked in red, those 2-3 hours are yellow, and amazing places a bit too far for a Vegas day trip are in purple. Both Vegas and our top pick, the Grand Canyon are marked in black.
Grand Canyon National Park – tops my list of Vegas day trips
Located in Arizona
Distance from Vegas: 270 miles (435 km) – drive time 4-5 hours
Despite its distance, I started with the Grand Canyon because no trip to the American Southwest would be complete without a visit here, and it’s easy to find day trips from Las Vegas via plane or helicopter. If you only have the budget for one big excursion, this one is it.
While many people call it a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I have been four times already. The first time was as a little girl, then on a road trip as a young adult, and finally twice with Jeff when driving from my dad’s in Phoenix to any number of interesting spots, but often Vegas (the second time to bring our girls).
And the magic never fades. We hiked along the South Rim, taking in the panoramic views of the canyon and the Colorado River below. The sheer size and depth of the canyon were truly awe-inspiring, and we felt a deep sense of connection to the natural world as we explored this magnificent landscape.
Grand Canyon National Park is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It is approximately 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide, and over a mile (1.8 km) deep. The canyon was carved by the Colorado River over millions of years, revealing geological layers that date back over 1.8 billion years. The South Rim is the most popular part of the park and is open year-round. It’s where I shot the image at the top of this page.
Once, we took a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon, which provided a unique perspective and allowed us to appreciate the canyon’s beauty from a different angle. Reserve your helicopter tour from Vegas here. or if you prefer, check out this top-rated visit to the west rim via plane.
Day trips from Vegas within a 2-hour drive
We found ourselves spoilt for choice with so many options for nearby amazing day trips from Vegas.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Located in Nevada
Distance from Vegas: 16 miles (26 km) – drive time: 20 minutes
Another one of our favorite day trips from Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon, is just a short drive west of the city. Yet, it’s a world away from the glitz and glamour of the Strip.
The conservation area covers nearly 200k acres (79 hectares) and is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species. As we hiked through the stunning red rock formations, we couldn’t help but be amazed at the natural beauty of the area.
The contrast between the red rocks and the blue sky is truly breathtaking. We also enjoyed spotting wildlife, such as wild burros and bighorn sheep. The conservation area offers a variety of hiking trails, picnic areas, and a visitor center with exhibits on the area’s geology and history. It’s a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
A super fun and very popular way to enjoy the canyon is on a scooter. Check out this top-rated tour (that includes transportation from Vegas) and Reserve your Red Rock Canyon by scooter tour here. If that’s not your thing, and you don’t have a car, another popular option is a visit via trekker van. Reserve your Red Rock Canyon by trekker van tour here.
Located in Nevada
Distance from Vegas: 37 miles (60 km) drive time: 45 minutes
Jeff and I visited Hoover Dam on one of our trips from Las Vegas with our girls. We were blown away by its stunning beauty and impressive engineering.
We took a guided tour of the dam, which included a walk along the top and a visit to the generator room. You can read about our visit to Hoover Dam here. Or have your own adventure. Check out this popular Hoover Dam from Vegas tour.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Located in Nevada and Arizona
Distance from Vegas: 30 miles (48 km) drive time: 35 minutes
Just a short drive from Hoover Dam, Lake Mead National Recreation Area is a paradise for water sports enthusiasts, hikers, and nature lovers. With its miles of scenic shoreline, crystal-clear water, and stunning vistas, Lake Mead is the perfect place to spend a day away from the city.
Valley of Fire State Park
Located in Nevada
Distance from Vegas: 52 miles (84 km) drive time: 1 hour
If you’re looking for a true desert adventure, then Valley of Fire State Park is the perfect day trip from Las Vegas. With its stunning red sandstone formations, hiking trails, and ancient petroglyphs, Valley of Fire is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in geology, archaeology, or just enjoying the natural beauty of the area. Unfortunately, we haven’t been here yet.
Located in Nevada
Distance from Vegas: 39 miles (63 km) drive time: 45 minutes
Located just one hour’s drive from Las Vegas, Mount Charleston is a great destination for those who want to escape the desert heat and enjoy some cool mountain air. At an elevation of over 11,000 feet, Mount Charleston offers hiking, camping, and skiing opportunities.
Mojave National Preserve
Located in California
Distance from Vegas: 95 miles (153 km) drive time: 1.5 hours
Located just a short drive from Las Vegas, the Mojave National Preserve is a paradise for hikers, photographers, and anyone interested in exploring the unique flora and fauna of the desert. With its miles of hiking trails, scenic vistas, and opportunities for wildlife viewing, the Mojave National Preserve is a must-visit destination for anyone visiting the area.
And don’t miss the larger Mojave desert.
Bullets and Burgers
If shooting a machine gun is on your bucket list, and you’re looking for an adrenaline-filled activity to add to your Vegas itinerary, consider an outdoor shooting range experience in the Mohave Desert. You’ll be able to shoot a variety of weapons under the guidance of expert instructors, and if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even add a 3-hour ATV tour to your experience. Reserve your outdoor shooting range experience here.
We stopped at Bullets and Burgers many years ago when it was still attached to what was then called Uranus Gas. On that visit, I was offered (and accepted) the opportunity to hold (not fire) the actual M60 that Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) was holding in Rambo – First Blood Part 2 as he walked out of the swamp.
(And if you like places like this, be sure to check out these 7 things to do in Nevada: weird options you’ll have to see to believe.
A long day – Vegas day trips 2-2.5 hours away
Area 51, Nevada
Distance from Vegas: 150 miles (241 km) drive time: 2.5 hours
This highly classified United States Air Force facility is rumored to be the site of various secret projects, including UFO study. Visitors can’t access the facility, but there are several tourist stops nearby that offer information about Area 51 and its mysterious history.
Zion National Park, Utah
Distance from Vegas: 160 miles (257 km) drive time: 2.5 hours
I remember visiting Zion National Park with my family when I was a young girl, and it remains one of my favorite US national parks.
On subsequent visits to Zion, I’ve also explored other popular hikes like The Narrows, which takes you through the narrowest section of the canyon, and the challenging Angels Landing, which offers stunning views of the canyon but is not for the faint of heart.
It’s a paradise for hikers, photographers, and nature lovers. With its stunning rock formations, hiking trails, and breathtaking vistas, Zion is one of the most popular national parks in the country.
Death Valley National Park, California and Nevada
Distance from Vegas: 120 miles (193 km) drive time: 2 hours
Jeff and I were both excited to visit Death Valley National Park, as we had heard so much about its otherworldly landscapes and extreme temperatures. Rather than a day trip, we spent three days here exploring the park slowly. The artist’s palette is the stand-out feature for me.
While the heat was intense, we were amazed by the park’s rugged beauty and the resilience of the plants and animals that call this harsh environment home. Reserve a day trip tour to Death Valley here.
Calico Ghost Town, California
Distance from Vegas: 149 miles (240 km) drive time: 2.5 hours
Calico Ghost Town offers a glimpse into the old West with its historic silver mining town that has been preserved to reflect the 1880s. Visitors can explore the town’s history, ride a narrow-gauge train, and enjoy hiking and camping in the surrounding hills.
Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada
Distance from Vegas: 166 miles (267 km) drive time: 2.5 hours
A scenic drive of 2.5 hours from Las Vegas brings you to Cathedral Gorge State Park, a stunning natural landscape of eroded cliffs and canyons that creates unique shapes and formations. Visitors can hike along the park’s trails, camp overnight, or simply enjoy a picnic in the park.
Nearby but a bit too far for a day trip
There are so many stunning and amazing places nearby, but it is just too far for a day trip. These are my top picks:
- Joshua Tree National Park, California: (3 hours)
The first time we arrived here, we were passing through and arrived just before sunset and couldn’t spot the trees until the morning.
- Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah (4 hours)
We hiked along the rim of the canyon, taking in the stunning vistas of the hoodoos and natural amphitheaters. The colors of the rocks changed throughout the day, depending on the angle of the sun, creating a constantly shifting and mesmerizing landscape.
- Sedona, Arizona: (4.5 hours)
I have never seen so many shades of red rocks in one place before visiting Sedona. It truly is a stunning natural wonder and one of my favorite places in Arizona.
- Antelope Canyon, Arizona (4.5 hours)
A unique and unforgettable experience. This slot canyon, located on Navajo land near Page, Arizona, is known for its stunning rock formations and narrow passageways. Visitors can take a guided tour of the canyon, which is only accessible with a permit.
- Mammoth Lakes, California: (5 hours)
Although Jeff and I have yet to visit, we’ve heard that Mammoth Lakes is a beautiful destination with plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy.
Final thoughts on day trips from Las Vegas
Las Vegas may be known for its bright lights and bustling nightlife, but the surrounding area offers a wealth of opportunities for adventure, exploration, and relaxation.
From national parks and scenic drives to ghost towns and Western-themed attractions, there’s something for everyone just a short drive from the city.
So next time you’re in Las Vegas, consider taking a day trip to one of these destinations and experiencing the beauty and diversity of the American Southwest.
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Which are your favorite Vegas day trips?
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