Looking for the best day trips from Las Vegas? If you’re visiting Las Vegas and decided to explore the amazing destinations outside of the city, you will not be disappointed with all the options.
Las Vegas is conveniently located near some pretty incredible natural destinations, including some of the most famous national parks in the country.
Of course, there are a ton of great things to do when visiting Sin City, but if you’re looking for a reprieve from all the lights and glamor, these nearby destinations are a great way to spend a day out of the city.
1. Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park is an incredible national park that is worthy of a day trip from Las Vegas. There is so much to see in this park it can’t possibly be explored in one day.
But even though you can’t see it all, you can still enjoy all the top sights on your day trip from Las Vegas. In fact, you can even see many of the best views right from your car.
Some of the best viewpoints are Dante’s Viewpoint and Badwater Road. Of course, don’t forget to also stop at the visitor center to view the exhibits and learn about this park’s desert landscape.
There are a lot of great hikes you can do in this park as well, and depending on how early you get up, you might even be able to do two.
If you are looking for the best hike to do on your visit, check out Zabriskie Point Hike. This hike is only 0.5 miles long but offers some of the most incredible views of the park. The trail is also paved, so this is an accessible hike that offers breathtaking views.
Another hike you should add to your itinerary is the Badwater Salt Flat Hike. This 1-mile trail will lead you through the salt flats, one of the coolest landscapes in all of Death Valley.
The boardwalk will take you down onto the flats, where you can then walk in any direction as far as you want. Just be sure to walk on previously walked paths to not disturb the delicate salt crystals.
2. Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon is one of the most famous Las Vegas day trips, and for a good reason. This gorgeous slot canyon is one of the prettiest in the world, and you really can’t find anything to compare it to.
There are two different canyons to discover, Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon, and many people decide to visit both for the different unique experiences each one offers.
Upper Antelope Canyon is where you can see the famous light beams that shine down from the small crack at the top of the slot canyon. This canyon is easier to walk through and attracts 1,000s of visitors monthly.
Lower Antelope Canyon doesn’t have any light beams, but it still has gorgeous wavy walls and bright orange, pink, and red hues. This canyon isn’t as accessible as Upper Antelope Canyon, as you have to ascend and descend a series of steep stairs to get through the canyon.
3. Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend is just a few miles from Antelope Canyon, so it’s definitely worth it to see both on your trip. Horseshoe Bend is an overlook of the canyon the Colorado River cut out from the rocks over 1,000s of years.
The river meanders in a horse-shoe-like bend creating the famous overlook where you can see the river still flowing over 1,000 feet below you.
This spot is great for sunsets and attracts a lot of people, so be prepared for crowds. It’s also worth noting that an overlook area is built where people can view the canyon safely, but it is easy to walk off the boardwalk and stand right on the canyon’s edge.
Many people have fallen and died here, so please be careful when visiting and know your limits, as well as keep a close eye on small children.
4. The Hoover Dam
The Hoover Dam is one of the closest and most popular day trips from Las Vegas and is only a 1-hour drive away from the city. The Hoover Dam is quite a marvel to see, and everyone should see it once!
There are a few different guided tours that you can take of the dam to learn about how it was built and the history behind it.
The cost ranges depending on the tour, and you used to be able to buy tickets in advance, but tickets are now sold on a first-come-first-served basis. If you want to just check out the dam, it’s free to walk around and across the top of it.
One of the most popular tours of the Hoover Dam is the Grand Canyon West Rim Bus Tour & Hoover Dam Photo Stop with Optional Skywalk.
This full-day tour from Las Vegas includes a hot breakfast, photos at the Hoover Dam, lunch, and a drive-by of an ancient Joshua Tree Forest. The VIP bus access allows you to spend more time at Grand Canyon West, where you will enjoy a lunch overlooking the rim and can add an optional Skywalk.
Overall the Hoover Dam is an incredible engineering feat and worth spending a day checking out if you have the time!
5. Lake Mead
Lake Mead is a lake that was created by the Hoover Dam. It’s a huge recreation area offering many great day trip activities. Besides the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead has hiking trails, boating opportunities, restaurants on the water, and much more.
One of the best things to do when visiting Lake Mead is hiking the Historic Railroad Hiking Trail used by trains to bring in the materials to build the Hoover Dam. This trail will take you through old train tunnels that are no longer in use and some incredible scenery.
After checking out the hiking trail, drive the scenic Lakeshore Road, where you can see plenty of gorgeous overlooks of the lake, and stop off at the many viewpoints for a picnic lunch.
Another awesome thing to do at Lake Mead is head to the marina to rent a boat for the day. There’s nothing quite like having the flexibility to motor around a lake, check out all the pretty coves, and swim at your leisure.
6. Willow Beach & Emerald Cave
Willow Beach and Emerald Cave are just a short distance away from Las Vegas, making this an easy and great day trip.
Willow Beach is located along the Colorado River between Lake Mohave and Lake Mead, which is part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. There are 235 miles of shoreline to explore at this beach, and kayak, paddleboard, and boat rentals to help you do so.
One of the most famous things to do at Willow Beach is rent a kayak and head to Emerald Cave, a cove along Willow Beach with a small cave with gorgeous emerald-colored water and steep canyon walls.
It takes 4-6 hours to kayak to Emerald Cave from Willow Beach, so be prepared for a long day of kayaking and exploring. There are some great beaches to stop at along the way and have a picnic lunch, so make sure you pack something to eat.
There is a popular Half-Day Emerald Cove Kayak Tour that takes a maximum of 15 people paddling up the river with a guide. You will stop twice along the way for pictures, swimming, and a rest from paddling. It’s a great option for those who prefer to have a guide with them.
7. Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire State Park is one of the best day trips from Las Vegas, as it’s only a 45-minute drive from the city and has incredible landscapes and hiking trails for everyone.
Many people think that Valley of Fire is just as pretty as some national parks, so you know you’ll love your time here.
The Fire Wave Trail is one of the best hikes and most famous viewpoints in the park. This trail is 1.5 miles and has 230 feet of elevation, so it is a fairly easy hike. You’ll see lots of beautiful rock formations along the trail as well as the famous swirling sandstone fire wave at the end.
If you’re excited about the idea of walking through a slot canyon, check out the White Dome trail at Valley of Fire. It’s a 1-mile long trail that takes you through a short slot canyon and some incredible landscapes that will leave you in awe.
Besides the incredible hiking trails, you will have the opportunity to spot wildlife in this park, so keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep, lizards, and rattlesnakes.
8. The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon Skywalk is one of the closest day trips from Las Vegas and is only a 2-hour and 18-minute drive from the city. The Skywalk is an incredible 10-foot wide, horse-shoe-shaped glass bridge that extends out over the enormous canyon so you can see straight down 1,000s of feet below you.
Some people won’t enjoy the Skywalk if they are afraid of heights, but if you’re not one of those people, this is a day trip you can’t miss.
The Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and there is so much to explore here. If you want to visit Grand Canyon National Park, it is a bit further away but still doable as a day trip.
Most people visiting fly into Las Vegas as it’s one of the closest airports to the Grand Canyon. It’s also one of the cheapest airports to fly into as well as the easiest since there are so many connections to Las Vegas from all over the United States.
Grand Canyon National Park is located on the east side of the enormous canyon and offers unparalleled views, incredible hiking trails, and a really fun bike path that offers constant views while you’re enjoying your ride.
9. The Extraterrestrial Highway
If you’re into aliens, you’re going to love this road-trip-style destination with plenty of alien-themed stops along the way.
The Extraterrestrial Highway is a 50-mile stretch on Nevada State Route 375 that had so many reports of UFO sightings that it got its nickname, The Extraterrestrial Highway.
Starting in Vegas, head north towards Alamo and then make your way to Rachel. A fun stop along the way for nature lovers is Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, located in Alamo. You will see a variety of different bird species here, and it’s a nice drive through the park.
The first stop on this alien-themed road trip is ET Fresh Jerky, a little shop located about 12 miles north of Alamo. Get some delicious jerky and dried fruit and nuts, and browse the alien knickknacks. Also, don’t forget to sign your name on the wall before heading out on the rest of your trip!
As you drive along the Extraterrestrial Highway, you’ll pass one of the most famous sites, Area 51. Since trespassing is illegal at Area 51, there’s no way to actually see anything, but it’s still fun to gaze off and wonder what all the talk is about.
The next stop is the Alien Research Center, a very kitschy souvenir stop where you can find all things alien such as hats, t-shirts, mugs, and magnets.
The last stop on this interesting drive is the legendary Little A’le’inn. Little A’le’inn is an alien-themed motel that also has a bar with alien-themed drinks. You can stay in one of the rooms or camp at one of the camping sites.
10. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Red Rock Canyon is a great quick day trip from Las Vegas. It’s only a 30-minute drive from the city, and you will find plenty of fun activities out in nature, such as hiking, horseback riding, and bird watching.
Red Rock Canyon has a 13-mile scenic drive with many scenic stops and trailheads along the way. You can hike one of the 26 hiking trails in the area or even bike the scenic loop instead of driving it.
Don’t forget to stop at the visitor center during your visit, where you will find a desert tortoise habitat as well as other interesting outdoor exhibits.
Sedona is known for its gorgeous red rock scenery, mountains, and of course, its incredible sunsets.
Even though Sedona could be done as a day trip, it’s better to spend one or two nights here as it’s a 4.5-hour drive from Las Vegas.
There are plenty of great hikes to keep any outdoor enthusiast entertained, as well as some beautiful swimming holes to cool off in the summer.
One of the most famous hikes is Devil’s Bridge, a natural bridge overlooking the incredible Sedona landscape. This is a super famous hike, and if you want a picture standing on the bridge, you will most likely have to wait in line.
To avoid crowds, try being the first person on the trail or going late in the afternoon. If you have a 4×4 vehicle, you can drive to the closest trailhead, and your hike will only be 2 miles to Devil’s Bridge. If not, you must park further back and hike the 4×4 road, making your hike 4.2 miles long.
Besides hiking, there are some other awesome things to do in Sedona, like checking out the downtown area, which has some delicious restaurants and great shopping. Another fun thing to do is go on a Jeep 4×4 tour of the area, where you can see some incredible landscapes that are hard to reach, even for hikers.
Mt. Charleston is a perfect location to escape the summer heat of Las Vegas, as it sits at 7,510 feet above sea level. You might even catch a glimpse of the mountain from the city since it’s only about an hour’s drive away.
There are plenty of hiking trails to enjoy the breezy cool weather, as well as camping, horseback riding, rock climbing, and more.
In the winter, you can rent skis, snowboards, or tubes and have a fun time enjoying the snow. There are even sleigh rides during the holidays, which are a fun experience for kids!
If you’re up for a challenge, you can actually hike to the summit of Mt. Charleston, which sits at 12,000 feet. This hike is not for the faint of heart as most of the hike is done at altitude, so make sure you are prepared.
If you’re looking for a more chill time spent on the mountain, there are lots of options for cute cabin rentals where you can spend time relaxing, reading a book, or cozying up around the fire.
13. Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area
Only a 30-minute drive from Las Vegas, you’ll find Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area. Sloan Canyon offers one of Nevada’s most noteworthy petroglyph sites, where you’ll find over 300 rock panels and 1,700 designs representing native cultures from the Archaic to the historic era.
This conservation area is not as well known as others nearby, so you will find some pretty unique and untouched natural areas. This usually means you’ll have a better chance of seeing wildlife, so keep your eyes peeled.
If you’d like to see the petroglyphs, you can go on a 4-mile hike that will take you to some of the most significant ones. All visitors must check in at the visitor center before hiking the trail and be off the trail by 4:30 pm.
There are also Bureau of Land Management guided hikes through the canyon where you can learn about the history of the canyon and the petroglyphs as well as the different flora and fauna in the area.
14. Zion National Park
Utah’s famous national park offers an incredible day trip from Las Vegas for anyone looking to spend some time in nature.
Zion National Park has incredible hiking trails, out-of-this-world views and vistas, and stunning pink and red colored cliffs.
To start your day visiting Zion, head to the visitor center, where you can get a map, talk to a ranger about the best trails for you, and hear a ranger-led presentation.
Once you’re ready to head out into the park, catch the Zion Canyon Shuttle, which will take you to areas you can only explore on foot.
There are a variety of trails in Zion for all different hiking levels. Check out the Lower Emerald Pool trail that starts at Zion Lodge for an easy hike where you can add on a moderate stretch at the end to Upper Emerald Pool.
For another easy hike, the Riverside Walk is a two-mile out-and-back trail that follows the Virgin River that flows along the bottom of the canyon. Expect to see lots of different bird species and beautiful flora and fauna on this trail.
Zion is also widely known for the two famous hiking trails, the Narrows and Angel’s Landing. You can only hike the Narrows and Angel’s Landing at certain times of the year, so make sure you know the best time to visit Zion National Park.
Both trails take some effort and extra planning, so if you want to hike these trails during your visit, make sure you plan in advance.
15. Bryce Canyon National Park
Fairly close to Zion National Park is Bryce Canyon, another incredible national park that is definitely worth a stop.
This park is known for its bright orange-colored hoodoos rising from the earth, which are tall spired shaped rock formations. The main overlook of Bryce Canyon is of the Bryce Amphitheater, a depression filled with 1,000s of hoodoos.
You can spend your time just driving along the scenic road and stopping at all the viewpoints to view the hoodoos, or you can actually hike down into them. Seeing them from above and then getting up close and having the hoodoos tower above you is an incredible experience.
One of the best trails to check out the hoodoos from below is on the Navajo Trail, a 1.3-mile hike that will take you down into the amphitheater to see the hoodoos up close. To get into the amphitheater, you’ll have to zig-zag your way down some incredibly scenic switchbacks before it flattens out.
Once you’re on the canyon floor, you’ll wind through slot canyons and towering walls with scenic views popping out at every turn.
Conclusion: Top 15 Best Day Trips from Las Vegas
With so many different and incredible destinations outside of Las Vegas, it’s hard to choose just one.
From alien-themed road trips to kayaking emerald water caves, scenic national parks, slot canyons, and so much more, you’re bound to find something for everyone on a day trip from Las Vegas.
One thing is for certain, no matter which day trip you choose, you’ll definitely have a great time discovering all the beautiful landscapes and natural destinations just outside of Las Vegas.
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