Get outdoors and explore these six national parks near Las Vegas
Leave the neon behind and go green as you experience these U.S. national parks. | By Kathleen Wong | May 13, 2022 (Updated March 10, 2023)
Las Vegas may be best-known for its unique brand of urban adventures — nightlife, casinos, decadent restaurants — but it’s also the perfect jumping-off point for a number of U.S. national parks. Whether it's an adventurous day trip to Zion or the Grand Canyon an overnight visit to Great Basin or Joshua Tree, here’s where to go and what to do when you get there:
Unplug for the day: U.S. national parks are just a short drive away from bustling Las Vegas
Make it a sleepover: Overnight adventures are easily within reach of downtown
Rest up: Recuperate at the spa or poolside after a day outdoors
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park sits a quick two-hour drive from Las Vegas. Here, you’ll experience some seriously extreme terrain: the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, 11,000-foot mountains, sand dunes and canyons, to name a few. Make it a long day trip so you can explore the great outdoors, and then return to Las Vegas at night to get a restful sleep and book a personalized spa treatment at the Resort Worlds Las Vegas’ Awana Spa. Let your achy muscles rejuvenate with the three-hour passport to the spa’s Fountain of Youth: six vitality pools, a heated crystal laconium room, experiential rain walk and more.
Zion National Park
A short two-and-a-half-hour drive northeast of Las Vegas will land you in Zion National Park. You’re likely able to recognize this colorful Utah wonderland by its breathtaking (and Instagram-famous) Angels Landing hike and its long drop-offs and steep cliffs. With an early start, this adventure can be done as a long day trip from Las Vegas. Expect crowds during the spring and anticipate a reservation system for popular hikes.
Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park is split up into four sections: the South Rim, the North Rim, the West Rim and the East Rim. The South Rim and the North Rim are operated by the National Park Service, and the West Rim is on Hualapai Indian Tribal Lands. The West Rim, home to the Skywalk and rushing waterfalls, makes for a doable day trip from Las Vegas (some visitors even opt for helicopter tours of the West Rim, which leave from Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas and take only a few hours). The South Rim and the seasonal North Rim work best as overnight trips, but you can’t go wrong exploring any part of the Grand Canyon and its striking rock formations.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park boasts some of the most irregular columns of rock, called hoodoos, on the planet — and their unusual structures are worth the four-hour drive from Las Vegas. Hikers of all abilities can find a hike to match their level and explore the otherworldly terrain, and for those who don’t want to strap on hiking boots, there are plenty of scenic drives. To get the most out of it, make the trip to Bryce Canyon from Las Vegas an overnight visit and check out the park’s beautiful starry night skies.
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is a scenic three-hour drive from Las Vegas, with lodging found in the nearby towns of Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley, Twentynine Palms and Morongo Valley — or even in Palm Springs. The meeting place for the Mojave and the Colorado Deserts, Joshua Tree National Park is home to many hiking trails and boasts some seriously stunning sunsets. Make time to visit the surrounding eccentric communities too, which offer great local food, live music and antique stores. For a relaxing oasis in the desert, book your stay at Hilton Palm Springs. When your feet are sore from hiking between the cacti and rock formations, kickback and relax at the climate-controlled pool.
Great Basin National Park
This Nevada national park is approximately four-and-a-half hours away from Las Vegas — great for a weekend adventure. Difficult mountain hikes such as Wheeler Peak call Great Basin home, as well as the state’s only glacier. And as long as you’re staying overnight, add stargazing to your list of things to do—Great Basin is an International Dark Sky Park. On a clear, moonless night, you’ll be able to see the Milky Way, Andromeda Galaxy and even meteors with the naked eye.
From the Grand Canyon to Joshua Tree, Great Basin and beyond, America’s awe-inspiring national parks near Las Vegas offer the perfect playground to lose your worries and find yourself. Get ready to explore the great outdoors!
Kathleen Wong is a Honolulu-based writer and editor who has been published by The New York Times, Vice, The Cut, Insider and more. When she's not writing, she can be found in the ocean or with her rescue dog.