Las Vegas is like a sparkly, illuminated oasis in the middle of the Mojave Desert. You’ve got to see it to believe it. The brightly colored structures, glowing lights and dazzling buildings really draws the eye in, and starkly contrasts the barren landscape that surrounds this crazy town.
As a result, there are many road trips you can take to beautiful national parks, including the Grand Canyon!
Most of the time, people from all over the world take road trips ending in Las Vegas, but where can you go from there? You’ve already heard about the bars, casinos, clubs and restaurants in Las Vegas…they don’t call it Sin City for nothing, but what day trips and getaways can you get to from Las Vegas?
The Grand Canyon National Park – 4 hours from Las Vegas
The Grand Canyon is one of the seven wonders of the world, and it’s easy to understand why. This place is incredible, and one of the most amazing things you will ever set your eyes on. With over 277 miles of jagged gorge hand carved by nature, the Grand Canyon has to be explored when near Las Vegas.
This land has been beautifully eroded by the Colorado River, and continues to change to this day. You can hike in the Grand Canyon, stop for pictures or have a picnic!
Don’t be deceived, as whether you head to the South Rim or the West Rim, it’ll still take you a good few hours to get there! However, from Vegas, there are so many ways to get to the Grand Canyon, from buses, car tours and even helicopter tours!
The Valley of Fire – 50 minutes from Las Vegas
The Valley of Fire is also an astonishing natural wonder, but it is named very aptly, and it gets super hot in there, so be prepared! This place is perfect for hiking, exploring and adventuring.
What is unique about the Valley of Fire is how the rocks are layered and colored in beautiful, naturally occurring patterns. You can take amazing pictures here of your travels! In addition, you will get a taste of history as the ancient Ancestral Puebloan tribes once resided here, and you can still see thousand year old wall drawings and carvings.
This is a must see, and only a short distance from the Las Vegas strip, just remember to bring lots of water and be prepared to hike in some of the hottest temperatures.
Hoover Dam – 55 minutes from Las Vegas
The Hoover Dam is one of the most iconic and well known man-made structures in the world. Trust us on this one, when you see the Hoover Dam for the first time, you will be in awe of its impressive size and structure.
The Hoover Dam holds an incredible 28.9 million acre-feet of water, and is the largest reservoir in the United States. It’s only just under an hour away from Las Vegas, and is the perfect pit-stop or day trip destination for sensational views, or a quick picture on your travels.
Red Rock Canyon – 20 minutes from Las Vegas
Red Rock Canyon looks just like the old settings that you’ve seen thousands of times in Western movies. It’s just 17 miles south of the center of Las Vegas, and can be explored on foot, by bike, or even on horseback.
Red Rock Canyon is a natural beauty that you just have to see in your lifetime. The impressive canyons look hand carved by nature, and are one of the most stunning locations to visit, especially at sunset. You’ll also be able to see the red and cream Calico Hills here, at the Red Rock National Conservation area.
Death Valley National Park – 2 hours from Las Vegas
If you’re looking for a slightly longer road trip to somewhere different, then you’ll want to head to Death Valley. Be warned, this place is called Death Valley for a reason, as it is one of the hottest, driest and harshest environments on the planet.
However, this is somewhere that you will want to tick off your bucket list. You’ll also want to head to Furnace Creek and Zabriskie Point to view the beautifully eroded cliffs and see the breathtaking sunsets that take place there.
Finally, we recommend that you head to the deserted town of Rhyolite, especially if you love all things spooky, or you’re a photographer. This place is a desolate town abandoned in the wake of the Gold Rush. It’s like stepping back in time to the mining towns of the Wild West.
Area 51 – 3 hours from Las Vegas
If you’re a bit of an adventurer, and want to go on an exciting road trip, then try heading up to Area 51. This secret Nevada base is well known in popular culture, and is often synonymous with alien conspiracy theories. Many people want to go see area 51 for themselves, but be warned, you probably will not be able to get very close, but you can still tell people that you went there!
Zion National Park – 2 hours 40 minutes from Las Vegas
If you’ve ever wanted to step into a natural paradise like Pandora from the movie Avatar, then you’ll love Zion National Park. This place looks like a fantastical dreamworld, and is one of the most stunning landscapes just about 3 hours from Las Vegas.
Zion National Park is filled with deep gorges, canyons and rock formations, sprinkled with lush greenery that makes it seem like a natural utopia. It’s actually in the state of Utah, so you can tick that off of your list of 50 states to visit ((if you’re looking for more things to do in Utah, check out the beautiful Park City).
Once you visit Zion National Park, you’ll never forget the stunning and striking landscapes that you’ll see.
Los Angeles & Hollywood – 4 hours from Las Vegas
Around 4 hours away from Las Vegas is Los Angeles, and there is no limit on what you can do in LA. Los Angeles is the perfect road trip or weekend getaway destination from Las Vegas as there is so much to see and on offer there.
Whether you head down to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and hit up some shops, bars and restaurants, or hike up the hills to see the Hollywood sign. You can take tours into Beverly Hills to see where all of the Hollywood greats lived, or still reside, and enjoy the beautiful, high class stores of Rodeo Drive.
You’ve also got funky, trendy locations such as Venice Beach, and take in all of the crazy sights there, or you can visit Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier for a fun day of amusements!
Just 30 minutes from LA, you have of course, the iconic Disneyland Park in Anaheim, where you can visit the happiest place on earth, and see some of your favorite Disney characters and attractions (see also ‘15 Cool Things To Do In Orlando With Kids On Your Trip‘). You’ll never have a bad day in Disneyland!
Heading down to LA from Las Vegas is a great road trip destination, and can be a fun ride and even more entertaining when you get there! This is why we do recommend staying over the weekend, or for a couple of days to get the most out of your visit.
Dixie National Forest – 2 hours and 50 minutes from Las Vegas
For a slightly shorter road trip, and a more relaxed getaway, you’ll want to head to Dixie National Forest. This can be a day trip from Las Vegas, and is again in Utah if you’re working your way through a State Bucket List. Dixie National Forest resides between the Colorado River and the Great Basin, and has a range of wildlife that you can explore.
For instance, this place is full to the brim with cougars, bobcats, prairie dogs and a whole host of other wildlife including golden eagles! It’s the perfect spot for those who love the outdoors or even avid photographers as you will find amazing snapshots of the animals here.
Nelson Ghost Town – 45 minutes from Las Vegas
If you’re a Wild West fan, or maybe you just love soaking up history and culture wherever you go, then you have to head to Nelson Ghost Town just 45 minutes from Las Vegas. This spot was first established in 1861, and is one of the oldest, richest and most iconic gold mines in southern Nevada.
This desolate town has been left abandoned, attracting thousands of visitors a year for photographs, and exploration. It’ll really take you back to the old West, and give you some insight into life during the Gold Rush. You have to see this incredible place to believe it.
Lake Mead – 45 minutes from Las Vegas
Contrasting the barren wasteland of the desert, Lake Mead is a welcome oasis just 45 minutes from Las Vegas. At Lake Mead, you can enjoy a range of water sports and fun activities such as kayaking, canoeing or even water skiing. It’s one of the top freshwater lakes in the US, with several depths and sites for avid divers to explore!
In the evening, you can hop aboard the Desert Princess for food and drink as you traverse the gentle waters of the lake. It’s the perfect time to kick back and relax, or spend quality time with a loved one.
7 Magic Mountains – 30 minutes from Las Vegas
For an easy day trip from Las Vegas, you should go to the Seven Magic Mountains. It’s super fun, family friendly and Instagram worthy! There’s artwork installations that celebrate the local talent of the area. Visiting the 7 Magic Mountains is also completely free and easy to get to! It’s a fun trip that all can appreciate.
Mojave National Preserve – 1 hour from Las Vegas
Mojave National Preserve is not far from the Las Vegas strip, and offers travellers beautiful rock formations, iconic scenery and stunning views. Las Vegas is actually in the middle of the Mojave desert, and the Mojave Reserve offers an insight into the nature and wildlife of the surrounding area.
Joshua Tree National Park – 3 hours and 10 minutes from Las Vegas
About three hours away from Las Vegas is the Joshua Tree National Park, just on the cusp of the Mojave National Preserve. This park is named because of its unique and eye-catching Joshua Trees, that look like a person with their limbs outstretched!
You can hike through this park, climb and explore, making it the perfect road trip destination for adventurers.
What we love about this place is that there is very little light pollution, so you can see all the stars in the night sky. It’s the perfect place to go stargazing, or shoot some incredible pictures of the sky.
The Grand Staircase-Escalante – 3 hours and 45 minutes from Las Vegas
The Grand Staircase Escalante is a National Monument in Utah. In this destination, you will find the Devil’s Garden, with amazing views of the rock formations. In addition, you can head to Zebra Slot Canyon to see the gorge surrounded by striped rocks, perfect for walking or hiking.
This destination is amazing for visiting uniquely carved hoodoos, rocks, caves and canyons, for a day out that you truly will never forget.
To summarize, if you’re in Las Vegas, and want to find different, exciting, interesting and exhilarating places to explore, then you will want to visit one of the many destinations on our list! There’s so much to see and do, and so much culture and history to soak up. Las Vegas is not just for casinos after all!