10 Best Day Trips From Las Vegas

Last Updated:

Most people have heard of Las Vegas, otherwise known as the gambling, entertainment, and neon capital of the world. Thanks to so many world-class resorts and attractions, there are dozens of “things to do in Las Vegas” books on the shelves. But sometimes, all those bright lights and noisy casinos can become a bit too much.

If that’s you and you need to get away to something a little less overwhelming, you’re reading the right article. There are many day trips from Las Vegas to natural places that will leave you in awe. So whether you are a photographer, nature lover, or merely someone looking for an ‘escape,’ these places will prove unforgettable.

Sign says Welcome Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada, with cityscape in the background. Take some day trips from Las Vegas. Because there's more to Nevada than the Strip.

How to plan a Las Vegas day trip

Day trips from Vegas – or anywhere – are easy to do. The hardest thing is to choose a destination. Part of that decision boils down to the next question is whether you want to do it on your own or by taking a guided tour.

DIY Vegas tours on your own

Renting a car offers the most flexibility, as you can make your own schedule as you go, stopping whenever and wherever you want.

The tradeoff is that you’ll be doing all the driving yourself, which means you won’t be able to relax and enjoy the scenery. You also won’t have the luxury of being able to sleep on your return drive to Vegas.

Car rentals can be quite cost-effective, especially when traveling with others. Check the price of a car rental here.

Guided excursions from Vegas

Other people would prefer to relax and let someone else do all the driving. If that’s you, there are dozens of Las Vegas tours to choose from, ranging from riding with a busload of travel companions to going with your own private guide.

Your tour will include comfortable transportation and a guide who’ll give you a much fuller explanation than what you’d learn on your own.

Guided tours maximize your time, and you can be sure they’ll show you the major attractions. Depending on what you select, prices can be surprisingly budget-friendly as well.

  • If that’s your style, Viator and Get Your Guide offer many excellent options. If you don’t find what you need, check TripAdvisor for recommendations.
ALSO READ:
Should You Hire a Private Tour Guide?
Bus tour through canyon on a Las Vegas day trip

Best day trips from Las Vegas

America’s southwest is full of beautiful natural attractions, many of which are world famous and within only a few hours of Vegas. So when you have had your fill of crowds and action, there are plenty of opportunities to get out of town and refresh yourself.

Read on to discover more of America with our guide­ to the best day trips from Las Vegas.

For a fun souvenir, buy a Passport to U.S. National Parks. Using the book, you can collect stamps in all the national parks that you visit and create a memento that will last a lifetime. Available in most park Visitor Centers for about $10 each. You can’t beat the price!

ALSO READ:
Guide to the US National Parks Passport Book: Stamps, Stickers and Fun

1. Grand Canyon

Let’s begin our list with the top Las Vegas day trip, the Grand Canyon National Park. It is truly a natural wonder and perfect for anyone who admires God’s beautiful creation. No wonder that it ranks among the 10 best UNESCO World Heritage sites in America!

While 4 hours might seem too far from a day trip, it’s worth it, especially if someone else does the driving. Once you arrive, you may be tempted to spend all of your time at the canyon’s rim, gazing in gobsmacked wonder. Please don’t give in, though, because there are so many other things to do there.

Our shot of Grand Canyon, taken from the North Rim

While most people come to the Canyon to appreciate its beauty, many others come to enjoy the wide range of outdoor activities. You can do everything from biking, to hiking, rock climbing, riding horses, and more. But if you aren’t interested in such activities or need to do something indoors, various spots in the park show educational films that can help you learn more about the Canyon’s environment and history.

check out the Visitor Center for helpful tips, the schedule for ranger-led talks and other useful information to help you plan your route.

ⓘ TIP: The canyon’s southern part will give you even more gorgeous vistas, with views of El Tovar Hotel and Lookout Studio. The hotel is significant as several celebrities chose this place as their stay.

ALSO READ:
5 Things to Know About Visiting the Grand Canyon

2. Hoover Dam

This marvel of civil engineering is just an hour away from Sin City. Visiting Hoover Dam and witnessing this architectural masterpiece is one of the top activities you can add to your list of things to do while in Vegas. You will be able to appreciate it even more if you have connections to civil engineering and understand architecture.

The dam is a whopping 700-feet high and is the primary source of power to Nevada, southern areas of California, and Arizona. This piece of art is also responsible for irrigating around 2 million acres of land.

The activities here will include a full tour of the power plant that carries historical significance. The Visitor Center of Hoover Dam will offer you several resources to educate yourself on the construction process that also witnessed the Great Depression.

While standing on the dam, you will get a full panoramic view of the Colorado River, Tillman Memorial Bridge, and Lake Mead. You can also experience the feeling of standing in two states simultaneously. The dam connects Arizona and Nevada.

Aerial view of Hoover Dam, a popular Las Vegas day trip

3. Lake Mead

Just minutes away from Vegas, Lake Mead National Recreation Area is America’s largest national recreation park and a Hoover Dam reservoir.

It’s a pet-friendly park around the lake that offers several recreational activities in serene natural surroundings such as biking, fishing, boating, cruising, paddling, skiing, etc.

The fun and adventure never end here! You’ll be out of your comfort zone, in the middle of the desert, enjoying your time in solitude or having a picnic with the family. When you love solitude or the party on a cruise, camping in the wilderness, or hiking, Lake Mead never fails to delight.

Lake mead as seen from a boat

4. Red Rock Canyon

Having many geological wonders of nature, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area has some of the most vibrant landscapes in the Mojave Desert. If you are searching for an escape from the high vibrance of Vegas, this one-day trip is a fantastic option.

The activities here include hiking trips that offer a wide range of beginner- to professional-grade trails. Red Rock Canyon provides a total number of 19 trails that offer visitors a scenic view of numerous wildlife plants. While you are planning the visit, be sure to find the right set of activities for the time of year.

The various activities include experiences such as bird watching, art projects, etc. Going there by yourself will give you the flexibility of experiencing these trails at your leisure. Or opt for a guided tour if you want to get the best of your vacation and understand these natural wonders’ intricacies.

Trees and rocks in Red Rock Canyon, an easy Las Vegas day trip

5. Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend is another natural getaway from Vegas’ chaotic hustle-bustle. The place is a fabulous site for some fantastic photo-ops and sits only a 10-12 minute drive from Lower Antelope Canyon. Come here to get some Instagram-worthy photos!

The Glen Canyon Dam offers a 45-minute detailed tour to help visitors understand its architecture and geographical significance.

You’ll appreciate the true beauty of this place once you witness it from 1000 feet up. The site got its name from the Colorado River, which winds around and created a shape that resembles a horseshoe. The authorities have now constructed a rim section with sturdy rails as a viewing point. However, if you are going further, it is advised to take extreme precautions.

The hike that visitors will need to go on is 1.5 miles (3 km) from the parking lot. To get to the Carl Hayden Visitor Center, visitors will need to drive up there or take a boat and go 5 miles upstream.

ⓘ TIP: If you want to visit Antelope Canyon, you MUST book a tour. The canyon is located on Navajo Indian Tribal Lands, and they require that visitors have a tour guide, licensed by the tribe, as an escort.

Aerial view of Horseshoe Bend, a popular day trip from Las Vegas

6. Death Valley

Death Valley National Park is just a couple-hour drive from Sin City, and you’ll be amazed by this scenic marvel.

The name is not the appropriate way to convey the beauty of this place. The valley in the Mojave Desert has various sites that you can include in your tour.

The best place to start is at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center, where you’ll get the answers to all your questions.

There will also be a 20-minute movie at this place, and you will also get some snacks and use the restroom. It’s the right spot to start exploring Death Valley. Next, I went to Badwater Basin. It’s the lowest point in the US, 282-feet below sea level, to be precise.

INTERESTING TRIVIA: Death Valley is the driest and hottest desert in the world. The hottest temperature that Death Valley has experienced is 134°F (57°C) back in 1913! For an unparalleled view from one of the highest points, head to Dante’s View (5,475 feet). From there, you can see Badwater Basin, one of the lowest spots on earth.

Parched sandy ground in Death Valley

7. Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park has something distinctive that you can’t afford to miss: a high concentration of hoodoos. Hoodoos are irregular pinnacle-shaped rocks, and while they are found in every continent, you’ll rarely find such a high concentration of them. Once you’ve seen the hoodoos, you’ll understand why people can’t resist seeing this natural wonder.

Bryce Canyon’s hoodoos are best appreciated from above. There are four main overlooks inside the park: Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, and Sunrise Point. There are also many trails that you should do if your time allows.

Experts suggest spending at least 3 hours to get the most out of your visit. Certainly you’ll want to soak up the vistas and explore trails, but don’t miss the chance to participate in a ranger program and spend some time in the park’s museum as well.

ⓘ TIP: Note that there’s a parking charge if you’re bringing your own truck.

Hoodoos at Bryce Canyon National Park. Pine trees on left of image

8. Zion National Park

Zion National Park is probably best-known for its 125,000+ acres of hiking trails and the range of wildlife that it has to offer. There are 90 trails, and you can find one suitable for your skill level, whether you’re a beginners or a professional.

The mix of red, pink, and white colors gives this park a vibrant pop that attracts many visitors. As getting there is quite a time-consuming task, I would recommend you for a guided tour that will cover all the park’s essential points.

Many tours from Vegas offer packages that cover both Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon in a single day. But if time allows, you should give each of the parks one day to get the full experience.

ⓘ TIP: If your goal is to create lasting memories, a slightly pricier option is the Zion National Park & Bryce Canyon Helicopter Tour. That’s bound to make an impression!

River running thru Zion National Park, mountains in background

9. Valley of Fire State Park

The most convenient Las Vegas day trip has to be Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park. It’s got everything you could want:

  1. It’s close to the city
  2. It’s not too expensive, and
  3. You’ll get into the Nevada desert.

The Valley of Fire gets its name from its fiery red sandstone formations, impressive enough to make it Nevada’s first state park in 1935.

Couple the vibrant landscape with petrified trees and thousand-year-old petroglyphs, and you’ve got the perfect destination for photographers, hikers, and nature lovers.

You can explore historic sites where the Basket Maker people and the Anasazi Pueblo farmers once lived, enjoy the park’s trails and picnic areas, and visit a Visitors Center that houses interpretive displays.

ⓘ TIP: On your way to the Valley of Fire, make a stop at Seven Magic Mountains, an unusual art installation.

River running thru Zion National Park, mountains in background

10. Area 51 and the Extraterrestrial Highway

In the mood for a something different that doesn’t involve hiking trails and scenery? Anyone who believes “the truth is out there” will enjoy a day trip from Las Vegas to the top-secret military base known as Area 51. Officially, it’s a test flight facility, but others say it holds the truth about UFOs and extraterrestrials.

This is one day trip that’s all about the journey, a road trip along the Extraterrestrial Highway. Along with the scenic Mojave Desert landscape, there are quirky attractions such as 6′ tall Alien Petroglyphs, alien murals at E.T. Fresh Jerky, and the Alien Research Center gift shop. Stop and leave a message for other voyagers at the infamous “Black Mailbox” (if it hasn’t been abducted – it’s somebody’s real mailbox).

Of course, your trip isn’t complete without eating at Little A’Le’ Inn. You sort of have to. It’s the only business in Rachel, Nevada (population 96).

Your final stop will be the infamous Area 51. You won’t be able to enter the base, but you can stop close to the Perimeter and try to sneak a photo of the famous Camo Dudes who guard the facility.

ⓘ TIP: The Extraterrestrial Highway is a remote stretch of road and doesn’t see much traffic. Bring snacks and plenty of water, fuel up before leaving town, and ensure you have a spare tire. Cell signal along this route may be non-existent or spotty at best.

Security signs saying "keep out" at Area 51

Ready to plan your Vegas adventure?

What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but that doesn’t mean you have to!

Vegas is more than glitzy shows and casinos. The day trips that I have mentioned are only the beginning of what a visit to Sin City has to offer.

Whether you do a road trip on your own or go with a tour company, you will definitely provide some entertaining tales with your Las Vegas day trip.

Bookmark this article for later, and it’ll be ready when you are!

Want to save this for later? Pin it to your favorite Pinterest board!

Bus in front of a rock formation. Text overlay says Las Vegas 10 epic day trips

Please share this story with your friends.

Written by Linda

Linda is multilingual and has been to around 60 countries. Her insatiable love of travel, cuisine, and foreign languages inspired her to create As We Saw It with her husband Dan, a professional photographer. Her goal is to make travel easier for others and to offer a brief escape to another land.

You may also like...

We often link to affiliate products and services that we believe will benefit our readers. As Amazon Associates, we earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more here,

4 thoughts on “10 Best Day Trips From Las Vegas”

  1. Truth is that Las Vegas is a wonderful place to visit not only for the city itself, but also for the many beautiful trips you can take around it. I’ve been on all of these trips you list here and they are all lovely. My favorite is Red Rock Canyon, which we only discovered two years ago.

    Reply
    • We enjoyed Red Rock Canyon too, Anda. To be honest, it took us by complete surprise, as we had no idea how beautiful it would be. We rather regretted not being able to spend more time exploring, but it was a last-minute stop en route to another spot.

      Reply
  2. Very good list of day trips from Las Vegas. We’re based here so we’ve done them all. There is so much more to Vegas than gambling. Sad that a lot of people don’t realize that. We can probably count on one hand how many times we’ve been to the strip in the last year, but couldn’t tell you how many times we’ve left the city to explore everything else there is to offer. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • It’s super nice to hear that we’ve crafted a good list, Nick. Coming from a local, that’s high praise! Do you have a favorite place to take friends when they come to visit?

      Reply

Leave a Comment