Las Vegas, the sin city is famous for its extravagance and exuberance that attracts tourists from all around the world. There are so many free things to do in Las Vegas with kids as well. But sometimes you desire to explore the outdoors and take day trips from Las Vegas.
There is so much around Vegas from natural wonders to man-made wonders that make for the best day trip from Las Vegas. In fact, these are some of the best scenic drives near Las Vegas.
Before proceeding for day trips from Vegas , choose a comfortable stay for your family.
You will be amazed to see the diversity and plethora of options that make for amazing Road trips from Las Vegas. From Canyons to mountains, from lakes to Hollywood there is something for everyone to be entertained from these Las Vegas road trips.
Here is our curated list of the best Las Vegas day trips:
Drive time: 20 mins
Red Rock Canyon is located a few miles West of Las Vegas within the Mojave Desert in Nevada and is a beautiful geological wonder. As the name suggests the rock formations of this Conservation Area are vivid red in color and a sight to watch. You feel bewildered looking at these wonders of nature.
One of the best ways to explore the Canyons is by driving the 13-mile Scenic Drive giving a glimpse into the highs and lows of the canyons and stopping at the scenic stops. We would recommend taking a hike of the many hikes and trails and reach the top of the canyons for spectacular views. Another interesting way is rock climbing.
You can even choose a luxurious guided tour from Las Vegas to the Red Rock canyon.
Fees: Entry fees for a car/truck is USD 15 while an Annual pass is for $30.
Note: Timed Entry reservations are booked online from Nov 3, 2020 – May 30, 2021
How to reach: Drive US-95 N to Charleston Boulevard, which will turn into SR 159 to reach the canyons.
Drive time: 35 mins
Lake Mead is a man-made lake on the Colorado river In the states of Nevada and Arizona. It is America’s first and largest natural conservation area. Lake Mead is the reservoir formed by the Hoover Dam.
There are many activities to indulge in at Lake Mead like boating, water skiing, jet skiing, swimming, fishing, and house boating. Or choose to take an ATV tour by the Colorado River. There are many cruises as well that take around the lake.
With some stunning views around, camping here is another favorite. Historic Railroad trail to hike. It has 3 tunnels en route and takes to Boulder City. Lake Mead makes for a great pit-stop in the Day trip to Hoover dam from Las Vegas.
Entrance fees: USD 25 per vehicle valid for 7 consecutive days while USD 45 for Annual pass. There are separate fees for other activities like camping, boat launch, etc.
How to reach: The Lake Mead Visitor Center is located off of U.S. 93, four miles southeast of Boulder City, Nevada. There are 9 Entrance points to the Recreation Area.
Drive time: 45 mins
Hoover Dam, an arch shaped concrete dam, is an architectural marvel built by 1936. It is amazing how this curved dam spans 1,244 feet across Black Canyon and rises 726 feet from the Colorado River.
As you walk towards the dam on the bridge, the views on both sides are spectacular. The blue waters of Lake Mead, the canyons by the sides make you wonder in awe.
The Visitor Center offers some interesting details and facts about the dam and its construction. The best way to explore this man-made wonder is by taking the tours. There is a Guided Powerplant tour that takes through the construction tunnels and to view the pipes carrying water from the reservoir to the turbines feeling the gush of the water.
The Guided Dam tour apart from giving the Powerplant tour takes through the elevator to the bottom of the dam.
To avoid lines and be hassle-free, you can opt for a small guided tour of Hoover dam day trips from Las Vegas or a full-day tour from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam.
Note: Due to Covid, the tours and exhibits are closed and other facilities also have limited access.
Entrance fees: There are different tours to choose from – Self guided Visitor Center tour for USD 10 and a Guided Dam tour for USD 30 to be purchased on-spot. The Guided Power plant tour can be purchased online for USD 15. The last tour departs at 4 p.m.
How to reach: Take I-215 E towards I-11 S to exit towards Boulder City/ Hoover Dam.
Drive time: 45 mins
To beat the warm weather the best place to escape from Las Vegas is Spring Mountains Recreation Area or called Mt Charleston. This is a mountainous area spread over 300,000 acres with diverse flora and fauna.
Mt Charleston Scenic Byway is the best way to explore the site. The destination is snow-capped for about half of the year and makes for an easy day trip from Vegas to run away from the chaos. There are many campsites and cabins and picnic areas.
For adventure seekers, there are many hikes like Echo Trail, Robbers Roost trail, Big falls trail, Cathedral rock trail, etc. Explore the hiking trails and the cool weather by the day trip to Mt Charleston tour.
How to reach: Drive onto US 95 N and getting onto NV-157 W at Exit 96.
Drive time : 1 hour
The State Park is located about 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas and makes for a great day trip to Valley of Fire from Las Vegas. The park spread over 40,000 acres is mainly vivid red Aztec sandstone rock formations nestled between grey limestone rocks. On a sunny day the rocks seem like they are burning in the fire, hence the name Valley of Fire.
The best way to explore State Park is by driving around the park through the main road, Mouse’s Tank Road. Through the scenic drive are various viewpoints, canyons that you can stop and enjoy the views. There are many hiking trails through the park, most of them being small and doable by families. Hiking gives an opportunity to get inside the beautiful nook and corner of the park. There are guided hiking tours to Valley of Fire from Las Vegas.
The Valley of Fire is also famous for abundant Petroglyphs (carvings on the rocks) that are centuries old and can be seen mostly at Petroglyphs Canyons and Atlatl Rock.
Don’t Climb up the rock formations and take some pictures. There are campgrounds and picnic areas that need to be booked in advance at an extra cost.
You can even choose to take a tour of Valley of fire day trip from Las Vegas.
Entrance fees: USD 10
How to reach: The state park can be reached by driving through I-15 N and Valley of Fire highway.
Drive time: 2 hrs
The name sounds scary, but unlike the name, the place has intriguing beauty in the dry rocky formations, badlands, or the colors spurting through the dry desert. It is the lowest, driest, and hottest place in the US apart from being the world’s hottest place.
Death Valley California straddles Nevada and California and is the second-largest national park in the mainland US. Some of the top things to do in Death Valley National Park are visiting Zabriskie’s Point. The panoramic view from Zabriskie’s point of the yellow and brown hued rock formations is spectacular. Dante’s Peak is the highest elevation in the park giving a bird’s eye view.
Mesquite Flats are the large sand dunes in the park where sandboarding is allowed. Some of the other must-visit points are Badwater Basin, Artist’s Drive, Devil’s Golf Course.
There are many guided small full-day Death Valley tours from Las Vegas.
Note: Temperatures in Death Valley are extreme all thought out the weather, so taking care and following the guidelines is important. Also, carry a lot of water to keep hydrated.
Entrance fees: USD 30 per vehicle valid for 7 days while USD 55 for Annual Pass.
How to reach: From LV, it is a 2 hour drive by taking Highway 190
Drive time: 2.5 hours
Las Vegas to Zion National Park day trip is easily doable as Zion is a relatively small national park. This is Utah’s first National Park. As you come closer to the park, tall cliffs of red and pink sandstones mesmerize you.
There are two sections to the National Park – the ‘main section’ along the Zion Canyon and the Kolob Canyons. The river Virgin runs through the canyon flowing to the Emerald Pools, which have waterfalls and a hanging garden.
The best way to explore the park is by driving through the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway. If driving is not what you want then opt for a tour of Zion from Las Vegas. If you are short on time, then a combined tour of Zion and Bryce Canyon is a great way.
There is a paid shuttle that runs from the visitor center up the Scenic Drive to destinations like the Zion Lodge and trailheads, including Emerald Pools, West Rim Trail, and Temple of Sinawava where hikers depart for the Narrows.
There are many hikes and trails in the national park like Angels Landing, The Narrows, Emerald pools trail, East Rim area trails.
Note: When the shuttles are operational then private vehicles are not allowed on Scenic drive.
Entrance fees: USD 35 per vehicle valid for 7 consecutive days while USD 70 as Annual pass fee.
Drive time: 2 – 5 hours depending on which Rim to visit
Literally, figuratively, virtually, and visually – Grand Canyon is GRAND in every sense. I’m not exaggerating, everyone who has visited the canyon will agree. It is one of the best natural wonders in the world, for a reason.
Grand Canyon is a great day trip destination from Las Vegas. The canyon has three rims: North, South, and West. The Grand Canyon South Rim is 280 miles (4.5 hours drive) while the North Rim is 268 miles (5 hours 45 minutes), and the West Rim is 128 miles (2.5 hours) from Las Vegas.
Though South Rim is the most popular one but the West Rim seems like an ideal section to be explored when taking day trips to Grand Canyon from Las Vegas. Hualapai Indian Tribe owns the Grand Canyon West Rim and thus, private cars aren’t allowed here. However, there is an umpteen number of parking spaces and complimentary shuttles available.
Grand Canyon is all about stunning views and Instagram-worthy pictures. So, it’s vital to know where to get those gorgeous views. The Bright Angel Point on the North Rim; Desert View and Yavapai Point on the South Rim; and Guano Point, Eagle Point, and Hualapai Ranch on the West Rim offer Grand Canyon’s best views that are to sweep you off your feet.
The Grand Canyon Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped skywalk glass Bridge, is the celeb in the Grand Canyon West Rim. It captures all the limelight, you see. The glass floor stretches over the edge of about a 4,000-foot drop to the bottom of the West Rim of the Grand Canyon. Though a costly affair, it’s an adventure like never before.
For hikers, there is an umpteen number of trails to choose from across all the Rims. Bright Angel Trail and Havasupai Falls Trail are the trails that remain popular among travelers. Trail of Time, a little hike at Yavapai Point is great for little feet. Let your tiny sweethearts take part in the Junior Ranger Program where they can learn the geological history in a fun way and it’s free.
If hiking isn’t your thing, you can take on rafting in the Colorado River, or skydiving into the canyon, or adventure biking, or indulge in snowshoeing and skiing at the North Rim during wintertime.
You can enjoy a beautiful 25-mile drive (Desert View Drive) along the edge of the canyon with the awe-inspiring views over the Colorado River at South Rim.
June to August are the peak seasons when the canyon, especially the easily accessible South Rim remains super busy. Planning around spring, fall, or winter will help you avoid the crowds. Choosing North Rim or West Rim over South Rim will also save you from hordes of tourists. Another impressive way to ditch crowds no matter what the season is to wake up as early as possible to catch the breathtaking sunrise over the Grand Canyon. If you’ve time, stay late at the canyon to enjoy the sight of the canyon glowing under the shades of sunset.
Choose from the various tours for Grand Canyon day trips from Las Vegas:
Note: North Rim closes during winter season.
Entrance fees: USD 35 per vehicle for 7 consecutive days while USD 70 for an Annual Pass. The tickets can be booked online well in advance.
How to reach: For taking day trips from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon, need to leave early towards US-93 S followed by I-40 E before taking AZ-64 N for South Rim.
Expert Tip: Camping within the park adds to the experience.
Drive time : 4 hrs
Visiting Bryce Canyons would make you wonder about nature’s masterpiece. Bryce Canyons located in Southern Utah is filled with spire-shaped rock formations called the Hoodoos. These pink-colored hoodoos are so beautiful that we just stood in awe admiring them. This unique Landscape makes it stand out from other national parks. In Winter it is magical when it is covered in snow.
This is part of one of the best Roads trips from Las Vegas to National Parks around it.
If you are short on time then driving along the Rim and stopping at major viewpoints will give you a glimpse into the vistas. The recommended viewpoints are Sunset, Sunrise, Inspiration, and Bryce.
There are many easy and doable hikes descending to the valley and letting you get up close with these artistic rock formations. The easy Rim Trail with views of the Bryce Amphitheater, Mossy Cave up to the mossy grotto. The moderate ones are Queen’s Garden Trail, Navajo Trail to see Thor’s Hammer, Tower Bridge Trail to see the bristlecone pines, and the Chinese wall. There are many more difficult trails as well to explore.
Bryce Canyon is a perfect place to enjoy the celestial objects as it boasts of having dark skies. It even conducts an Annual Astronomy Festival In June end.
Choose from the many activities at the Bryce Canyon:
During the peak season, it is advisable to use the free Bryce Canyon Shuttle that takes through the famous viewpoints.
Entrance fees: USD 35 for a vehicle valid for 7 consecutive days, while the Annual Pass costs USD 40. Book online tickets to save time.
How to reach: From Las Vegas drive most of the distance on I-15 N to Utah before entering UT-20 E at Exit 95 followed by US-89 S.
Drive time: 4.5 hrs
Horseshoe Bend, as the name suggests is a horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River around the canyons. It is located near the Antelope Canyons in Arizona.
The cliff that gives access to the breathtaking Horseshoe Bend can be reached by walking a trail of around 0.6 miles from the Parking lot. There are small uphill and downhill areas through the trail.
Sunset and sunrise are the best times to visit the Horseshoe Bend to see the multitude of colors and click some spectacular pictures capturing the beauty. To see a complete charm, book a helicopter ride over Horseshoe Bend.
Las Vegas to Horseshoe Bend makes for a perfect pit stop while visiting the Antelope Canyon or Grand Canyon South Rim. Book a tour of Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.
Entrance fees: USD 10
Drive time: 5 hours
Antelope Canyon is one of the best natural wonders of the Southwest USA. Antelope Canyon is the most popular and most photographed slot canyon in Arizona. A slot canyon is a tiny very narrow canyon formed by the powerful rush of water into the crack in the rock bed that takes thousands of years to form.
It is located on the Navajo Nation Tribal Land. There are two famous canyons – Lower and the Upper Antelope Canyons apart from Canyon X.
The magic happens in Upper Canyons when the sun rays keep changing the angle and the colors change from red to orange to purple depending upon what time of the day it is. It is a photographer’s delight to capture those magical moments. It is tough to describe this wonder in words. Antelope Canyon Tour from Las Vegas was the highlight of our Southwest USA Road Trip.
The unique selling point of Lower Antelope Canyon is its walls’ patterns, shapes, and changing colors but there are no light beams here. Lower Antelope, situated below the ground is longer than the Upper Antelope and fairly difficult to traverse with young kids. Touring it requires descending and ascending a series of ladders, and stepping over a few boulders. Book a bus tour of Lower Antelope Canyon from Las Vegas.
Note: Antelope Canyons can only be explored by taking timed tours with a native Navajo guide.
Entrance fees: There are few tour operators to choose the tours from. The ticket ranges from USD 60 – USD 100 for the Upper Antelope tour. The Lower Antelope tours are less expensive from USD 40 – USD 80. The tickets for Children are lesser than for Adults. Book the tour of Upper Antelope Canyon from Las Vegas.
How to Reach: Take I- 15 to Utah before merging onto AZ-389. Thereafter drive onto US-89 to enter Arizona.
Note: Due to Covid, the Canyons are closed for rest of 2020.
Drive time: 4 hours
This is a hectic day trip option, but doable for those who are short on time and keen on visiting the iconic landmarks of LA. While Las Vegas is the sin City, LA is the glamorous and opulent city famous for the entertainment industry. The city has a Mediterranean vibe to it with tall palm trees around.
The landmarks must visit are Beverly Hills with the famous upscale shopping street at Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Griffith Observatory, Hollywood Sign.
Griffith Observatory standing atop Mount Hollywood has a planetarium and great exhibits about the universe including a big telescope to view the sky. Outside of the observatory gives a spectacular panoramic view of the city. It is magical to see the lights shimmering at night. And also don’t miss the super famous Hollywood Signage.
Take a tour of Hollywood city from Las Vegas and visit the Santa Monica Pier, Rodeo Drive, and other iconic spots of LA without worrying about the parking. I remember we took 3 rounds of Beverly Hills to find a parking spot.
How to reach: Drive onto I-15 S to reach CA-18 W and then getting onto CA-14 S to Los Angeles.
Drive time: 4 – 4.5 hrs
The Sunset Crater Monument had been declared National Monument to preserve the Sunset crater cinder cone of the volcanoes. Lava fields at the base of the crater are made up of lava said to be 1000 years old.
To preserve the crater and the lava fields, hiking is only allowed on designated trails. There are some small and easy trails like A’s Trail, Bonito Vista Trail, Lava Flow Trail. It is a different experience to watch the land and mountain covered with black dry lava and asphalt where the volcanoes had erupted 1000 years back.
To get a complete view of the beauty, drive the 34-mile long Sunset crater trail that takes around the Sunset Crater to Wupatki National Monument close by.
Entrance fees: USD 25 per vehicle for 7 consecutive days and can also be booked online before visiting.
How to reach: Drive on US-93 S towards Flagstaff before merging with I-40 E and entering US-89 N thereafter.