6 naturally revitalizing Las Vegas day trips
While staying in Las Vegas, plan a day to live out your desert road trip dreams. You can connect with nature by day and be back with the neon lights by night. | By Paul Oswell | May 11, 2021
If you’re looking to explore Nevada’s natural beauty beyond the Strip, there are a few day-trip options that can take you outside of the city. Wander with us, and make memories at national parks and other tranquil spaces during these day trips from Vegas, which might include:
Floating high: Walk on air above the Grand Canyon
Exploring low: Find the lowest point in North America
On the water: Cruise along a stunning lake with a princess
"Take at least one day and get away from the traditional Vegas strip area. From Old Vegas to hiking or even a day trip to see Hoover Dam - there are lots of options to add some variety to the visit." -Jenn Sully, Hilton Team Member, Global Brand Marketing
Las Vegas to Grand Canyon National Park (driving distance: 4.5 hours)
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the world’s most famous and spectacular natural formations, and the sense of scale and grandeur as you look out from one of the observation decks is unforgettable. This is one of the more distant road trips, so you may consider an overnight stay.
From Vegas, head to the Grand Canyon West Visitors' Center. Experience the Skywalk glass bridge, which allows you to float 4,000 feet above and 70 feet over the canyon.
If you’re wary of heights, fear not. There are many other hiking trails to explore. Seek out zip-lining, boat rides or tour a Native American village.
Make it two days?
Consider extending your day trip and staying close to the Canyon.
Home2 Suites by Hilton Lake Powell
Located off U.S. Route 89 amid beautiful scenery, you can take a short walk or drive to the Glen Canyon Dam Overlook or a quick trip to Lake Powell. Plus, it’s less than 10 minutes to the Page Municipal Airport.
Hampton Inn Kanab
Located on Highway 89, Kanab is a small town with a real Western vibe. Close to several natural attractions, such as the Moqui Cave, which is six miles away. It's easy to get to Zion National Park, just 30 miles away.
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Flagstaff
Located off historic Route 66, Flagstaff is less than a mile from Riordan Mansion State Historic Park. It’s five minutes from Northern Arizona University, and within an hour and a half of Grand Canyon National Park.
Las Vegas to Hoover Dam (driving distance: 45 minutes)
One of the country’s most impressive feats of engineering, the Hoover Dam has an enduring appeal to visitors. It straddles the Nevada-Arizona state line. Standing atop the structure is an awe-inspiring experience, as you imagine the scale of the construction. Hold onto your hats! The winds across the dam can get up to 30mph.
The best photo ops are from the nearby Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, completed in 2010 and spanning the gorge. You can drive over the bridge but there are dedicated parking lots and viewing decks.
Las Vegas to Zion National Park (driving distance: 2.5 hours)
You could spend days in Zion’s expanse of gorgeous rock formations, desert landscapes and woodlands. If you plan to explore independently, check specific route details as some require permits. Still, there are guided bus tours from the city that will take you there and back in a day.
Head to the Springdale Visitors’ Center:
Hop on the frequent shuttle that will drop you at any point along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Staying in until the last stop takes in a wealth of incredible scenery, and drops you at Riverside Walk, one of the easier trails.
Try one of the Emerald Pools Trails - hikes that take you past some of the region’s most vivid pools. The easiest is a one-hour, one-mile round trip that takes you past 50-foot waterfalls (prepare to be wowed!).
Where to stay
You could spend days in Zion National Park. Stay just minutes away from Utah’s famous natural wonder.
Hampton Inn & Suites Springdale/Zion National Park
The town shuttle stops right outside the door and will take you to shops, galleries and Zion National Park Visitor Center, just a five-minute drive away. Explore Utah's natural wonders, then return to relax by the outdoor pool and fireplace.
Cliffrose Springdale, Curio Collection by Hilton
This historic Cliffrose lodge sits on the edge of the Virgin River, steps from local dining. Zion National Park Visitor Center is a half-mile away via the free local shuttle and is just five minutes from Zion Canyon. Heated outdoor pools and hot tubs, open year-round.
Las Vegas to Death Valley National Park (driving distance: 2 hours)
Set your alarm for an early start and aim to be at the park by 9:00 am. It’s well worth it. Once inside, the winding roads open up to some outstanding views, and within 30 minutes you’ll be wide-eyed looking out over the incredible colors and rock formations from Dante’s View. Movie buffs might find Dante’s View an unusually familiar backdrop.
Beyond this, Twenty Mule Team Canyon has short hiking trails through yellow and white hills, and you should arrive at Badwater Basin–the lowest point in the country–to walk across its famous salt flats. There are a couple of rest stops and small stores, but take supplies and picnic surrounded by awe-inspiring nature.
Red Rock Canyon
Explore the canyon from your car with stops and trails along the way. Red Rock Canyon was Nevada’s first National Conservation Area, and it encompasses almost 200,000 acres within the Mojave Desert.
Las Vegas to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (driving distance: 30 minutes)
It can take 20 minutes to cross a casino floor at the bigger resorts, so this short drive from the Strip is a low stake bet.
The park itself is home to a 13-mile scenic drive, but the real fun starts when you’re out of the car and can walk among the rocks themselves. Everyone from hardcore climbing enthusiasts to the most casual of hikers can frolic among the striking red and orange outcrops. Amble along the Calico Hills and make sure to see the art carved into the stone at the Petroglyph Wall Trail.
Las Vegas to Lake Mead (driving distance: 45 minutes)
Along with Red Rock Canyon, this is one of the easier, low-stakes day trips from Las Vegas, but it remains a rewarding diversion. Stop by the visitor center at the corner of Great Basin Highway and Lakeshore Drive to pick up local maps and survey the various options.
The lake itself stands out, the glinting blue waters contrasting against the rocky desert backdrop, and you can circumvent the waters via the Lake Mead Bike Trail or the Historic Railroad & River Mountains Loop Trails.
You can rent boats or kayaks or take it easy with a cruise on the Desert Princess paddlewheel steamboat. These waters provide a convenient and revitalizing day away from the city.
You’ll find areas of natural beauty for tranquility and endless skies on a day trip from Las Vegas. Whether you rent a car or join an organized tour, be sure to bring water, snacks, clothing layers, plenty of sunscreen and your imagination.
Paul Oswell is an award-winning travel writer and has reported from all seven continents for dozens of internationally known publications. He is based in New Orleans and is the author of “The Bucket List North America: 1,000 Adventures Big and Small” and the editor of an online travel magazine.
In town or en route, check out some of our top picks for a Las Vegas road trip.