There’s no doubt that Las Vegas is an iconic city that’s bustling with things to do. With towering hotels, exciting casinos, fabulous restaurants and bars, and captivating shows, it’s an awesome vacation destination. But, I’ll admit that I sometimes just need a break from the hustle and bustle of this extravagant city. Day trips from Las Vegas are my cure to what I like to call “Sin City exhaustion.”
When I’m in need of a weekend getaway, Las Vegas is usually my first choice. The flights are pretty reasonable. Plus, I never get bored with the attractions and the amazing food scene! However, sometimes I get overwhelmed by all the tourists and need to get escape for a day.
But, if you’re feeling the same way as me and you want to take a break from all the bright lights and slot machines, you can go on a couple of fantastic day trips from Las Vegas.
You can explore the breathtaking Valley of Fire State Park, cross the border into Utah for a trip to Zion National Park, spot celebrities in Los Angeles, or visit the famous Grand Canyon.
If you’re looking for all of the best day trips from Las Vegas, Nevada, this guide has you covered! Here are 14 of my favorite day trips from Las Vegas.
In This Post:
14 Amazing Day Trips from Las Vegas
1. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
20 minutes from Las Vegas
While Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is so close to the city that it could simply be a regular Las Vegas attraction, you’ll definitely want to spend your entire day there.
Red Rock Canyon is packed with things to do. You can hike one of the 26 trails, test your rock climbing abilities at the Kraft Boulders or Calico Basin, and try your hand at dirt biking on the Blue Diamond Road.
Or if you’d like some less strenuous activities, you can drive along the 13-mile Scenic Loop, take a motorcycle or go-kart tour, and admire the views from the Red Rock Scenic Overlook.
And don’t forget to keep an eye out for the wild tortoises that like to say hello!
2. Hoover Dam
40 minutes from Las Vegas
One of the most popular day trips from Las Vegas is the Hoover Dam. Originally called the Boulder Dam, it was later renamed in honor of President Herbert Hoover.
Built between 1930 and 1936, the Hoover Dam impounds Lake Mead. It also serves a variety of purposes, including flood control, agricultural irrigation, and hydroelectric power.
While at Hoover Dam, you can learn all about this engineering marvel. You can stop by the visitor center, take a tour, and take in some awesome views from the top of the dam.
3. Lake Mead National Recreation Area
40 minutes from Las Vegas
If you’re looking to escape the Las Vegas heat, Lake Mead National Recreation Area is a fantastic place to go! Although the Hoover Dam is technically part of Lake Mead, there’s so much more that Lake Mead has to offer.
While at Lake Mead, you can enjoy just about any water-based activity you have in mind. You can swim, fish, boat, kayak, canoe, waterski, and even scuba dive. But if you’d like to stay dry, there are options for that as well. You can hike the Railroad Tunnels Trail or cruise along Northshore Drive.
4. Valley of Fire State Park
45 minutes from Las Vegas
One of the best Las Vegas day trips is definitely Valley of Fire State Park. As a matter of fact, this park holds the special title of being Nevada’s first state park!
Valley of Fire State Park is perfect for both history buffs and nature lovers. The history buffs of the group will enjoy spotting Native American petroglyphs at Atlatl Rock and heading to the visitor center to learn about the history of the land.
And the nature lovers of the group will have no shortage of things to do in such a wonderful natural landscape. You can hike the Fire Wave, check out the Beehive rock formations, admire the pastel-colored stone of Pink Canyon, and trek through the Fire Cave.
5. Mount Charleston
45 minutes from Las Vegas
While most of the best day trips from Las Vegas offer stunning red rock formations and fantastic hiking trails, Mount Charleston offers a little something different.
This nearly 12,000-foot-tall mountain towers over the rest of the area. And because of its high altitude, it’s one of the only places near Las Vegas that consistently gets snow each winter!
And the snow brings a whole new set of fun activities along with it. You can ski, snowboard, and tube down the slopes. Plus, there are loads of other kid-friendly winter activities too, including sledding, snowshoeing, snowball fighting, and snowman building!
Even if you’re not visiting in the winter, there are still a few exciting things for you to do at Mount Charleston. You can hike or bike one of the many trails, drive along the Mount Charleston Loop, and even test your off-roading skills!
6. Death Valley National Park
2 hours from Las Vegas
Death Valley National Park is the first Las Vegas day trip on this list that crosses state lines. While technically Death Valley National Park is in both Nevada and California, you’ll definitely want to cross over to the California side to see everything that this one-of-a-kind landscape has to offer.
Death Valley National Park holds the title of being the hottest place in the entire country. It might even be the hottest place on the planet, although that claim is frequently disputed.
The hottest temperature ever recorded at Death Valley National Park was a staggering 134 degrees Fahrenheit!
You’ll definitely want to avoid the scorching temperatures of Death Valley, so you’ll want to visit during fall, winter, or spring. While there, you can take in the views from Zabriskie Point, tackle the Golden Canyon Trail, and admire the Badwater Basin salt flats.
7. Zion National Park
2 hours and 30 minutes from Las Vegas
As one of the best national parks on the West Coast, Zion National Park is one of the coolest day trips from Las Vegas. As a matter of fact, it was the third most visited U.S. National Park in 2020.
With the brilliant red rocks and the striking green foliage, the landscape at Zion National Park paints quite a stunning picture.
A few of the main highlights of Zion National Park include trekking through the Narrows, admiring the views from the Canyon Overlook Trail, and tackling the difficult Angels Landing.
8. Gold Butte National Monument
2 hours and 30 minutes from Las Vegas
Gold Butte National Monument is not only a stunning scene with sandstone rock formations and thriving greenery. It’s also home to many wildlife species, including mountain lions, bighorn sheep, and the threatened Mojave Desert tortoise.
During your trip, you can keep an eye out for these wild animals (but remember to keep your distance!).
But, there are other things for you to do during your time at Gold Butte National Monument as well. You can admire the 110-foot-deep sinkhole known as the Devil’s Throat, take loads of pictures of the bright red rock formations called Little Finland, check out the petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock, and hike to the Doodlebug Arch.
9. Dixie National Forest
2 hours and 40 minutes from Las Vegas
Now, don’t get me wrong, Dixie National Forest has its fair share of eye-catching red rocks, just like the rest of the American Southwest.
But Dixie National Forest also has loads of evergreen trees and dozens of small lakes, so it provides a little bit of variation.
Since there are a few different parts of the landscape in Dixie National Forest, there is also a long list of things that you can do there.
You can hike the Virgin River Rim Trail, catch the sunset from Strawberry Point Overlook, picnic near Navajo Lake, and go spelunking in Mammoth Cave. And in the winter, you can add cross-country and downhill skiing to the list as well.
10. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
2 hours and 50 minutes from Las Vegas
Located in Utah, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is one of the most amazing day trips from Las Vegas.
Like the name of this state park implies, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is known for its, pinkish-orangish sand dunes.
And these sand dunes aren’t just a gorgeous color. They’re also constantly shifting and moving all the time, due to the Venturi Effect, which means this national park will look different each time you visit.
The most popular thing to do at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is to actually go four-wheeling! You can rent an ATV or dune buggy and race across the brightly colored sand.
As a matter of fact, 90% of the park is open for four-wheeling! Or if you prefer, you can also hike or horseback ride across the dunes instead.
11. Joshua Tree National Park
3 hours and 30 minutes from Las Vegas
Joshua Tree National Park is pretty far from any major city. It’s three hours from Los Angeles, three hours from San Diego, and three-and-half hours from Las Vegas. So if this national park is on your USA bucket list, you’ll need to buckle down for a long drive.
There are three main features of Joshua Tree National Park that have made it popular in recent years: the trees, the desert, and the sky.
This appropriately named national park is home to the rare Joshua trees, which are only found in the Mojave Desert. And speaking of deserts, Joshua Tree National Park is uniquely composed of both the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert.
Last but not least, there’s the sky. Joshua Tree National Park is a fantastic location for stargazers. It is actually one of the few places in Southern California far enough away from the light pollution and smog to enjoy stargazing. If you’re lucky, you might even see a few shooting stars!
12. Bryce Canyon National Park
4 hours from Las Vegas
You could easily spend days exploring the beauty of Bryce Canyon National Park. But since you have only one day at this red rock-filled landscape, you’ll just have to pick your favorite things to do and see.
If you’d like to see as many things as possible, you can take a scenic drive to all of the best viewpoints, including the Sunrise, Sunset, Inspiration, and Bryce viewpoints.
But if you’d like to be a little more active during your time at Bryce Canyon National Park, you can intersperse these viewpoints with a hike or two, such as the Rim Trail, the Navajo Loop, or the Fairyland Loop.
13. Los Angeles
4 hours from Las Vegas
There aren’t many major cities near Las Vegas. As a matter of fact, Los Angeles, California may be the closest, despite the fact that it’s still a whopping four hours away by car.
One great thing to do in Los Angeles is to go to the beach! Obviously, landlocked Las Vegas can’t boast sandy shores and access to the Pacific Ocean, so it’s the perfect thing to do during your day trip. Venice and Santa Monica are both great beach spots.
But if you’d prefer to stay in downtown LA, you can instead spend your time at all of the celebrity-themed attractions. You can check out the Hollywood Walk of Fame, hike to the iconic Hollywood sign, take a celebrity tour, or even request tickets for a live taping of your favorite show.
14. Grand Canyon National Park
4 hours and 30 minutes from Las Vegas
Although the Grand Canyon is undoubtedly one of the most popular day trips from Las Vegas, it’s also the farthest one on this list.
Before you head out to the Grand Canyon, make sure you are mentally (and physically) prepared for a long day of driving and adventuring.
Everyone goes to the Grand Canyon to admire this iconic natural landscape – after all, it’s one of the most famous U.S. landmarks – but you can change up your trip depending on how you decide to see it.
You can go on a hike, ride a mule, ride on a train, fly in a helicopter, or even sail along on a raft. But the most popular way to see the Grand Canyon is also the most convenient: by taking in the views from the Grand Canyon Skywalk.
There are four different areas of the Grand Canyon you can experience: the South Rim, Grand Canyon West, the North Rim, and Grand Canyon East. While each of these areas offers something unique, you’ll find so many fun things to do at the Grand Canyon South Rim.
Day Trips From Las Vegas Recap
- Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
- Hoover Dam
- Lake Mead National Recreation Area
- Valley of Fire State Park
- Mount Charleston
- Death Valley National Park
- Zion National Park
- Gold Butte National Monument
- Dixie National Forest
- Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Bryce Canyon National Park
- Los Angeles
- Grand Canyon National Park
What are your favorite day trips from Las Vegas? Let me know in the comments below!
Are you looking for more USA travel inspiration? You’ll love these posts too!
Disha Smith is the founder of Disha Discovers. She quit her job in 2017 to travel the world to explore new cultures and experience new adventures. She has since been to 95+ countries and counting and has lived in South Africa, Thailand, Croatia, and Australia. She has done all kinds of travel ranging from luxury to budget backpacking, and her mission is to inspire others to discover their own sense of adventure and to help them plan a life full of meaningful experiences through travel.