17 MOST EXCITING DAY TRIPS FROM LAS VEGAS

People come to Las Vegas from all over the world to experience luxury resorts, unique entertainment, fancy nightclubs and the chance to strike it rich in the casinos in Sin City.

But there’s more to Las Vegas than glitz, glamour and neon signs. Take the time to discover breathtaking hikes, kayaking in the river, discovering historic routes and even frolicking in the snow!

For your next trip to Vegas, make sure to plan for these favorite day trips from Las Vegas.

Day trip from Las Vegas to Horseshoe Bend in Page, Arizona
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I wrote a post about how to spend 24 hours in Vegas, but there are so many more exciting places to visit near Las Vegas. Some are short road trips, some are longer and some are even a short drive from Las Vegas to national parks nearby.

Airfare Watchdog has some of the best airline prices for a Las Vegas visit.

Here are the closest beautiful places to get to by car:

DAY TRIPS IN NEVADA

Red Rock Canyon Hiking

Where: Red Rock Canyon National Park
How far from Vegas: 20 miles
How to get to Red Rock Canyon: US-95 N, then W. Charleston Blvd.
Perfect for: Hiking
How much time do you need: 4-5 hours

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area is beautifully situated in the Mojave Desert. You can just take a scenic drive through these beautiful rock formations or breath in the sagebrush by biking, hiking or even climbing these gorgeous sandstone peaks.

Be sure to take a break from hiking to stop by the Visitor Center. It holds some artful exhibits and an amphitheater that overlooks Calico Basin, a popular trail that’s part of Red Rock.

You can also opt to drive the 13-mile loop to pick and choose which trails you prefer to hike or just find the best photography spots. For hikes, I use this lightweight hiking backpack.

Mt. Charleston Las Vegas

Woman holding leash to white boxer dog kissing man holding brown boxer dog at the snowy mountains

Where: Mount Charleston Nevada
How far from Vegas: 40 miles
How to get to Mt. Charleston: US-95 N, then NV-157 W/Kyle Canyon Rd
Perfect for: Skiing
How much time do you need: 5+ hours

Mt. Charleston Recreation Area reaches almost 12,000 feet (3.6 km), the highest mountain in the county. Which means that it has the perk of being several degrees cooler than Las Vegas itself. Hiking the 17-mile loop to the peak is totally worth it, you’ll experience such scenic views as the Las Vegas Valley and even as far as Death Valley.

Get out of the city for a tranquil picnic with flora and fauna. Throughout the year, wildlife such as deer like to frequent the picnic area, so don’t be surprised if you spot one of these beautiful creatures. Or take a horseback riding tour to the refreshing Mary Jane Falls waterfall.

Although Las Vegas has so many similarities to Dubai, it doesn’t have an indoor ski resort, but it does have Lee Canyon Ski Resort at Mt. Charleston. Lee Canyon gets a good amount of snow in the winter. It’s where the locals can go to ski and be home in time make dinner.

You also have the option of not going home. Mt. Charleston has a lodge that’s perfect for weddings, honeymoons and family photoshoots. If you want a real rustic experience, next to the lodge are one-roomed wooden cabins equipped with large tubs perfect to melt the day (and snow) away.

This is one of my favorite jackets I use to keep warm and dry. Feel free to grab it below.

Hoover Dam/Boulder City

Day trip from Las Vegas to see Hoover Dam and Lake Mead on a tour

Where: Hoover Dam
How far from Vegas: 35 miles
How to get to Hoover Dam: US-93 South pass Boulder City to the turnoff for Nevada State Route 172—The Hoover Dam access road.
Perfect for: Sightseeing
How much time do you need: 6+ hours for both sites

Hoover Dam is a massive (to say the least) man-made concrete structure built during the Great Depression. It is definitely an unbelievable architectural site to see in person.

The dam uses the Colorado River to produce hydroelectric power and water for irrigation for Nevada, California and Arizona. It is also the largest reservoir for Lake Mead.

Hoover Dam is on the border of Nevada and Arizona. If you are on a road trip to or from Las Vegas and Arizona, you’ll have to cross the Hoover Dam bridge, so why not stop and take a dam tour?

The Dam offers fun and interactive walking tours. The first is a one-hour tour with a dam guide that that explores the hidden areas and teaches about the Dam. The second tour is a 30-minute Powerplant Tour that teaches about the power plant only. Although the tours are interactive, you will not be able to touch the dam water. Both dam tours include admission to the Visitor Center.

If you had enough dam jokes (and there’s plenty more from the tour guides!), then head to Boulder City is where many Vegans go to retire. It’s on the way to Hoover Dam and Arizona, but worth the stop.

Grab an aerial view of the Mojave Desert at Bootleg Canyon where you can zipline at 8,000 feet (2438 meters). Take a historic train ride at the Nevada Southern Railroad Museum or kayak on Lake Mead and get as close as you can get to Hoover Dam. Have fun off-roading at VORE Adrenaline Compound where they also teach you to do tricks such as Jump & Drift, the Five-Lap Course, and the Desert Tease Tour & 10 Lap Short Course Combination.

A perfect place to hang out in the great outdoors is at Hemenway Valley Park to watch the Desert Bighorn Sheep come to get water and graze. And they are everywhere in this park. They come frequently so if you don’t see them right away, hang out a while. But remember they are wild, please keep your distance and don’t bring your dog.

Lake Mead Recreation Area

Where: Lake Mead National Recreation Area
How far from Vegas: 30 miles
How to get to Lake Mead: I-515 S and US-93 S
Perfect for: Water activities
How much time do you need: One day

Escape the heat by spending the day boating, water skiing, or jet skiing on one of the largest man-made lakes. All the equipment you need can be rented right at the recreation area. Not ready to leave the Lake yet? Rent a houseboat and stay a night or two.

For a more personal approach, kayak or canoe to discover many of Lake Mead’s hidden coves and rock formations. There are many Lake tours that will guide you through popular spots. Fishing is also a favorite pastime at the Lake. Bass, catfish and crappie can all be caught, grilled and served right on the Lake.

Are you a diver? Visibility isn’t the best, but if you are, there is a heavy bomber at the bottom of the lake. In 1946, a four-engine bomber crashed into the lake and was too deep for any salvage operation.

By now, anyone familiar with Las Vegas knows the stories about how the mob used to dump dead bodies in Lake Mead. Is this true? Well although there are have been several dead bodies recovered from the Lake, this is more so because there are no lifeguards or designated swim beaches. Sorry to disappoint, so far none of these bodies have been attributed to the mob.

Lake Las Vegas Day Trip

day trip to Lake Las Vegas to visit stores on cobblestone streets

Where: Lake Las Vegas
How far from Vegas: 30 miles
How to get to Lake Las Vegas: I-215 N to Lake Mead Parkway then turn left into Lake Las Vegas
Perfect for: Sightseeing/Food
How much time do you need: 8 hours

About an hour’s drive from the Las Vegas Strip, you will find an adorable “Italian” lakefront city outside of a city is a place to slow down and take a slow stroll tasting gelato down the cobble stoned streets of Lake Las Vegas.

There are loads of activities in the summer months such as dragon boat racing, the Hawaiian festival, fun runs and beach activities.

Spend the day at this cute small town to golf, cruise or get pampered at one of the few resorts here. Lake Las Vegas is so quiet and filled with greenery, you will hardly believe it’s still Las Vegas!

Valley of Fire National Park

White Domes hiking trail at Valley of Fire State Park in Las Vegas

Where: Valley of Fire State Park
How far from Vegas: 50 miles
How to get to Valley of Fire: I-515 S and US-93 S
Perfect for: Hiking
How much time do you need: 5+ hours

If you have time for only one Las Vegas day trip, you will not regret choosing Valley of Fire! Valley of Fire Las Vegas is noteworthy for its 40,000 acres of blooming red and pink Aztec sandstone and petroglyphs that have been around for thousands of years.

The Park reveals early pueblo cultures in its geological marvels and rich flora and fauna. During sunset, it literally looks like it’s on fire (and can feel like it too sometimes!), hence the name. I also consider Valley of Fire a mini version of other extremely famous hikes. You can also book a great Valley of Fire tour from Pink Jeep Tours.

If you’d like to know more, check out my in-depth review.

DAY TRIPS IN ARIZONA

Arizona destinations are a state away, but still close enough to be a hop, skip and jump away!

Grand Canyon National Park

Day trip from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon in Arizona to watch the sunset

Where: Grand Canyon National Park
How far from Vegas: 270 miles
How to get to Grand Canyon: US-93 S to I-40 N to AZ-64
Perfect for: Hiking/Sightseeing
How much time do you need: One day

A drive to Grand Canyon from Vegas is doable in a loooong day. It is ranked as one of the most popular Las Vegas day trips.

This not to miss natural beauty is one of the natural wonders of the world, located right here in North America, in the United States, in northern Arizona, a (relatively) short distance from Las Vegas…you get my point.

The Grand Canyon has two different parts with different experiences. The South Rim is father from Vegas, but is the more scenic, sometimes called the “real Grand Canyon.” The West Rim, or Grand Canyon West, is closer and features the Skywalk. A glass bottom bridge that extends out 70 feet over the edge for your viewing pleasure of 2,000 feet below into the Canyon.

This day trip from Las Vegas can be done by car. Even if you get a rental car for a day or two. Driving to the Canyon takes about 4-5 hours, depending on which Rim you visit. There are even tour or coach buses that offered by Viator that you can book and relax on the ride.

There are also plenty of Grand Canyon helicopters that depart from Vegas. A helicopter tour is perfect if you want a bird’s eye view of this colossal natural wonder of the world. And it includes a helicopter ride over Hoover Dam, Lake Powell and other amazing sites. And depending on the tour, you may helicopter into the Grand Canyon to get a closer look.

Are you afraid of heights? Vegas also offers river rafting tours in the Grand Canyon. This is another exhilarating way to see the grandness of the Grand Canyon!

Havasu Falls

Cascading waterfalls at Havasu Falls Havasupai Indian Reservation in Supai Village in Arizona

Where: Havasu Falls Arizona
How far from Vegas: 225 miles
How to get to Havasu Falls: US-93 S to I-40 E to AZ-66 exit toward KINGMAN and turn left INDIAN ROAD
Perfect for: Hiking/Swimming/Camping
How much time do you need: Minimum 3 nights

Located near Grand Canyon’s West Rim, technically the nature lovers’ paradise of Havasu Falls can’t be done in a day trip. It is on the Havasupai Indian Reservation. To visit, you will need to obtain a permit from the tribe and commit to staying 3 nights either in the lodge or the campground.

All reservations are non-refundable and require full payment at the same time. Permits go on sale February 1 of each year. Havasu is only open from February 1 to November 30.

To get to the actual Falls, you will take a moderate 8-mile hike to the Supai village, check in, and then another moderate 2-mile hike to the spectacular waterfall. As you can imagine, the summer can be a bit brutal to hike here.

BUT these 5 stunning waterfalls will be worth the effort. Permits sell out within hours which should tell you that this impressive place should be on your bucket list.

Traveler Tip: Due to COVID, Havasu Falls will be closed until February 1. 2022.

Lake Powell

Where: Lake Powell Arizona
How far from Vegas: 300 miles
How to get to Lake Powell: I-15 N to Hurricane UT to highway 59 to highway 359 towards Kanab to highway 89 to Page
Perfect for: Boating/Swimming
How much time do you need: A weekend

Made from the Colorado River and situated in both Arizona and Utah, Lake Powell’s emerald waters glow in the sun. It’s such a beautiful lake to play in. Rent a speedboat or a house boat and discover the beauty of the the second largest man-made lake.

Explore pastel colored slot canyons on the water and even hidden caves. Iconic spots include Cathedral in the Desert and Rainbow Bridge. If you prefer not to stay on a houseboat, the Lake Powell Resort is conveniently located and offers amazing views. Book dinner in the floor to ceiling windows at Rainbow Room for gorgeous sunset views.

Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend

Lighting reflecting off red hued slot canyons in Upper Canyon in Antelope Canyon Paige Arizona

Where: Page, Arizona
How far from Vegas: 270 miles
How to get to Page, Arizona: I-15 N to Hurricane UT to highway 59 to highway 359 towards Kanab to highway 89 to Page
Perfect for: Hiking/ Photography
How much time do you need: One day

Regardless of where you live in the world, you definitely have seen photos of Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Both located in Page, Arizona and both sites can be visited in one day.

Antelope Canyon is another place that can only be visited by a guided tour as it sits on Navajo land. It is split into the Upper Canyon and Lower Canyon, but you won’t have time to visit both in one day. The famous light beams that are so synonymous with Antelope Canyon are more commonly found in the Upper Canyon. But Lower Antelope Canyon has much more availability.

Plan ahead! You’ll have to make early reservations as it’s one of the most popular day trips for both photographers and tourists. The red colored slot canyon is much more beautiful than any pictures you’ve seen. But much more crowded! Visiting these canyons will require you to climb narrow stairways and ladders, so watch out for your footing and your neighbor.

Horseshoe Bend is about 6 miles from Antelope Canyon. A short walk in the desert ends at a magical place. A horseshoe shaped canyon with steep drops 1,000 feet into the Colorado River below. Take unbelievable shots from (behind) the guard rails!

Monument Valley Arizona

Day trip from Las Vegas to Forrest Gump road to see the Forrest Gump sign near Monument Valley Arizona

Where: Monument Valley National Park
How far from Vegas: 400 miles
How to get to Monument Valley: I-15N
Perfect for: Hiking/Photography
How much time do you need: One day

Monument Valley is one of USA’s most photographed landscapes and has been used as the backdrop to many big hit movies. It’s a combination of orange hued buttes, mesas and vistas that sit on the Arizona-Utah border and is not officially a National Park as it’s really on tribal land.

Take a drive through the Valley, take a jeep tour, visit the on-site lodge for an overnight stay. But if you want to hike, you will have to make a reservation and use a guide. I highly recommend booking the photography tour. You can book a few hours to catch the amazing sight of the sun rising over the Valley, or stay in the Valley overnight to stargaze with pretty much no light pollution. Be sure to make sure your camera is on the right setting to perfectly capture the constellations.

Two iconic nearby spots not to miss are Forrest Gump Road and Mexican Hat. Check out my post for details about Monument Valley.

DAY TRIPS IN UTAH

Some of the easiest trips from Las Vegas are to some superb destinations in Utah.

Zion National Park

Wooden sign with words Zion National Park

Where: Zion National Park
How far from Vegas: miles
How to get to Zion National Park: I-15 N
Perfect for: Hiking
How much time do you need: One day

Zion National Park has to be one of my favorite places to hike. Located in southern Utah, with its red cliffs, green foliage and chilly waters of the Virgin River. It has trails to accommodate everyone: dog trails, kids, beginner, novice, there’s even a trail that’s wheelchair accessible that loops around a serene waterfall.

Some of the best hikes in the US is at Zion National Park. The national park service runs shuttles to around the park so you can get to a few hikes in one day.

If you are a novice hiker, Angel’s Landing has amazing views. If you are adventurous, check out the Narrows, where you hike right in the Virgin River.

Here’s my post for more amazing hikes in Zion.

CALIFORNIA

California offers some great outdoor scenery for a short getaway from Las Vegas.

Death Valley National Park

Where: Death Valley National Park
How far from Vegas: 150 miles
How to get to Death Valley: US-95 N to NV-373 S connecting to CA-190 W
Perfect for: Hiking
How much time do you need: 12 hours

Death Valley is one of the largest national parks at 3,000 square feet, but is definitely the hottest and driest. The best time to visit is from September to March, and of course if you do visit in the summer, be careful! Despite the heat, Death Valley is a popular place to hike, bike four-wheel drive, and even to observe the vastly diverse wildlife.

Be sure to plan your trip since the Park is so large. Some great stops to plan for are Zabriskie Point, Badwater Basin, Devil’s Golf Course and Dante’s View. There are hot springs, museums and even a ghost town around Death Valley that are worth exploring if you have time.

Death Valley is also another place (other than Monument Valley) to stargaze with pretty much no light pollution.

Joshua Tree National Park

Day trips from Las Vegas to see the starry night in Joshua Tree National Park in California

Where: Joshua Tree National Park
How far from Vegas: 270 miles
How to get to Joshua Tree National Park:
Perfect for: Hiking
How much time do you need: 12 hours

Joshua Tree National Park’s beautiful scenery is actually on two deserts, the Colorado desert and Mojave desert. It gets its name from well, the abundance of joshua trees. These trees can live over 150 years and look similar to cactus.

The Park is easy to navigate which makes it a top choice to explore this desert landscape for a day trip from Vegas. And it’s so easy to get to from southern Nevada. It also has beautiful desert gardens, diverse wildlife and so much to offer.

No surprise, Travel + Leisure ranked Joshua Tree as one of perfect spots to see the night sky. The Park hosts a free Night Sky Festival where you can learn about and view the universe. You can book some unique AirBnB’s in and around Joshua Tree with windows for roofs and gaze at the gorgeous views.

AREA 51 IN NEVADA

If you have time, take the Extraterrestrial Highway to Conspiracy Theory, I mean Area 51. Find the alien resident 100 miles from Las Vegas by taking Highway 375.

Not far is the town of Rachel NV where you can take some advantage of photo opps with aliens and dine at the Little A’Le’Inn. This diner is not like any other. Not only because of the aliens, but it’s a movie star debuting in the movie Paul. Order the alien burger (of course!) and take home some souvenirs.

While here, look into the Black Mailbox where people left letters to aliens and the time capsule from the movie Independence Day.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON LAS VEGAS DAY TRIPS

For your next visit, take the time to venture out of the glamourous desert of Las Vegas to another desert in Utah or Arizona. Or just do some dam sightseeing or float on a river. Whatever you choose, there are plenty of places to venture outside of Las Vegas.

To do any of these activities at a great discount price, use the top rated Viator to save loads of money on admission or activities for your day outside of Vegas.

Download or print this list!

For other things to see and do while here, check out these posts:

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Manish Ambaliya
1 year ago

Amazing! I know nothing about traveling all over the country, what a wonderful looking place to explore.
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