Las Vegas is a city with no shortage of activities and entertainment. Las Vegas is known as The Entertainment Capital of the World. It offers something for everyone – shows, magic, gambling, concerts, fine dining, comedy, sports, and people-watching. If you want to get away, we’ve created this list of the best day trips from Las Vegas worth exploring.
If you’re looking for a change of pace and places to explore in Nevada and its bordering states, and you plan on renting a car in Las Vegas, check out our list of the best day trips from Las Vegas by car (and sometimes helicopter).
Show Table of Contents
- Day Trips from Las Vegas, Nevada
- Hoover Dam
- Arizona Day Trips from Las Vegas
- Lower Antelope Canyon, Page, Arizona
- Horseshoe Bend / Carl Hayden Visitor Center at Glen Canyon, Page, Arizona
- Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
- Grand Canyon Day Trip from Las Vegas − Guided Tours
- Three-Hour Black Canyon Tour
- Grand Canyon West Rim Bus Tour
- Grand Canyon Seven Magic Mountains
- Other Nevada Day Trips From Las Vegas
- Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas
- The Ghost Town of Goodsprings, Nevada
- Techatticup Mine, Nelson, Nevada
- Valley of Fire, Overton, Nevada
- Lost City Museum, Overton, Nevada
- Area 51, Groom Lake, Nevada
- Cathedral Gorge State Park, Panaca, Nevada
- Utah Day Trips from Las Vegas
- Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Utah
- Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah
- Cool California Day Trips from Las Vegas
- Death Valley National Park
- Los Angeles and Hollywood Day Tour from Las Vegas
- How long is a day trip to the Grand Canyon from Vegas?
- What is within 2 hours of Las Vegas?
- Is Joshua Tree near Las Vegas?
- What are the best day trips from Las Vegas by car?
Day Trips from Las Vegas, Nevada
I’ll start with perhaps the most popular and famous Las Vegas day trip of them all:
At the top of my list of the best day trips from Las Vegas is the Hoover Dam. Less than an hour away, this National Civil Engineering Landmark is a convenient destination when planning a day trip from Las Vegas. It’s something you need to see in person to appreciate the engineering and architectural work of art.
More than 700 feet high, the Hoover Dam provides power to southern California, Nevada, and Arizona, and it can irrigate 2 million acres. You can make the day trip from Las Vegas by car or book a reservation with a tour company.
Here’s what you can experience on a day trip from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam:
- Tour the historic Hoover Dam power plant — a fascinating look inside some incredible architecture and engineering.
- The Hoover Dam Auditorium and Visitor Center provide educational resources to learn more about how the dam was built over four years during the Great Depression.
- Walk along the dam.
- Enjoy panoramic views of Lake Mead, the Colorado River, and the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.
- Stand in two states at the same time — Arizona and Nevada.
- See great views of Lake Mead from the approach to the dam from downtown Las Vegas.
- After you’ve seen all there is to see of the Hoover Dam, take a trip to Boulder City for further excitement.
These views of Lake Mead National Recreation Park and the Hoover Dam from our YouTube video will make you want to visit. Book your trip to the Hoover Dam with GetYourGuide, and you’ll get picked up directly from your hotel in Las Vegas.
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Arizona Day Trips from Las Vegas
How you travel to Las Vegas from Arizona will determine the length of your trip. If you’re taking a road trip, you can expect it to take approximately 7 hours, leaving you very little time to see the sights while you’re there.
However, if you want to take a short day trip, you can get from Arizona to Las Vegas by plane in under an hour. With that in mind, let’s see what Arizona has up its sleeves:
Lower Antelope Canyon, Page, Arizona
Hiking in the Lower Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona is one of our family’s favorite vacations. It’s a 4.5-hour drive from Las Vegas, but it’s definitely worth the road trip. You won’t be disappointed – only mesmerized.
Flash flooding created a stunning, surreal, and natural art gallery. It’s located on Navajo tribal lands, and you must make reservations with a reputable company, as Lower Antelope Canyon is only accessible with a Navajo guide. This slot canyon has gained much popularity since we visited it a few years ago due to its exposure on Instagram.
We visited in early March, and it wasn’t crowded, so we definitely recommend visiting at that time of year. Bring a coat or jacket, as it tends to get chilly underground.
The Lower Antelope Canyon is less than a 1-mile round trip. It’s an easy to moderate hike, as it has uneven terrain and tight passages, and you must climb up and down ladders, stairs, and steps (some have handrails). Like what you’re hearing? Check out these best hotels in Page, Arizona, to ensure you see all the sites.
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Horseshoe Bend / Carl Hayden Visitor Center at Glen Canyon, Page, Arizona
If you’re in the neighborhood and took that long day trip from Las Vegas, make sure to also stop by Horseshoe Bend for some great photo ops. It’s only about 7 miles from Lower Antelope Canyon.
It was named for the horseshoe-shaped bend the Colorado River takes, and the views from 1,000 feet up are breathtaking. It’s tempting to go to the edge to take it all in, but you should use extreme caution, as most of the rim on Horseshoe Bend is exposed. However, it now has a viewing platform with rails.
The hike from the parking area to the rim is about 1.5 miles round-trip. It’s easy-going downhill, but going uphill could be a little challenging for some.
You’ll find the Carl Hayden Visitor Center 5 miles upstream at Glen Canyon Dam. Here you can take photos of the impressive dam and enjoy a self-guided tour around the visitor center. You can also take a 45-minute guided tour of the dam.
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Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
It’s possible to take a day trip from Las Vegas to the world-famous Grand Canyon National Park. The trip will take a full day, but it can be done. A Grand Canyon day trip from Las Vegas is about 9 hours round-trip by car. Make your road trip more manageable by visiting the Grand Canyon’s West Rim.
You can also do what we did and invest in a helicopter ride that lands on the Grand Canyon floor for a champagne breakfast. This is a great opportunity to see one of the world’s seven natural wonders.
My husband and I had visited the Grand Canyon several times before, but this was the first time we visited as a family. Exploring the Grand Canyon by air is a little spendy, but the half-day experience was priceless.
My son and I sat in the front of the chopper while my husband was in the back, and we all had great views. Our flight even took us over the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, so that was cool to see from an aerial perspective.
How cool is it to say you descended 4,000 feet to enjoy a champagne breakfast on the floor of the Grand Canyon? (Our son was a teenager then, so he had apple juice.) Book your trip to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas easily and completely hassle-free.
There’s a reason why the Grand Canyon is one of the most beautiful places in the world. You’ll be pretty amazed once you get there. Like what you’re hearing? Check out our Grand Canyon itinerary to make the most of your trip.
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Grand Canyon Day Trip from Las Vegas − Guided Tours
Looking for more Grand Canyon day trips from Las Vegas? Here are a few more options to consider as you plan your vacation itinerary.
Three-Hour Black Canyon Tour
On this 3-hour Black Canyon tour, you’ll be on a motorized raft as you escape the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas. You’ll board the raft on the Colorado River and relax as you trip through the canyon landscape. As you ride, you’ll enjoy the scenery of the Hoover Dam, rock cliffs, caves, and riverside beaches.
Grand Canyon West Rim Bus Tour
Ready for a Hoover Dam photo stop? This Grand Canyon West Rim bus tour allows you to avoid the usual Grand Canyon crowds while you enjoy your tour and see all the sights the West Rim has to offer. The tour guide will explain everything about the Grand Canyon and Hualapai Indians.
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Grand Canyon Seven Magic Mountains
This Grand Canyon Seven Magic Mountains small group VIP tour lets you experience the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam in 1 day while you skip the crowds. You’ll have plenty of time for a photo-op at the Las Vegas sign. You can view the Seven Magic Mountains art installation and Grand Canyon West on your tour. Take a walk on the Grand Canyon Skywalk for even more incredible views.
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Other Nevada Day Trips From Las Vegas
If you thought that was all Nevada had to offer, think again!
Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas
If you’re looking for a quick road trip, the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is only a few miles west of Las Vegas.
With nearly 196,000 acres in the Mojave Desert, the conservation area offers many things to explore. The geological formations include the Aztec sandstone cliffs, which are thousands of feet high and 180 to 190 million years old.
Highlights of Red Rock Canyon include:
- A 13-mile scenic drive (my husband and son took an exotic car tour through Red Rock Canyon)
- 26 hiking trails
- Rock climbing
- Biking on the one-way scenic drive
- Off-road driving in designated areas
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The Ghost Town of Goodsprings, Nevada
As you plan the best day trips from Las Vegas by car, you may want to consider Goodsprings, Nevada. Only 40 minutes from Las Vegas, this ghost town was once home to a vibrant mining community.
Today, you can tour the ghost town, take a haunted tour, or visit the famous Pioneer Saloon, established in 1913 (featured in several movies and TV shows). The saloon is said to be home to two ghosts — a gunshot victim and an old miner.
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Techatticup Mine, Nelson, Nevada
Located only 45 minutes from Las Vegas, the Techatticup Mine is another place to explore in Nevada. The oldest and richest gold mine, operational from 1861 to 1942, is now a tourist attraction in Nelson, Nevada.
The 1.25-mile walking tour will take a little over an hour. Be sure to bring a light jacket, as the mine interior can get a little breezy and cool. During the tour, you’ll see the quartz veins where the gold and silver ran back in the day. Reservations are required for the mine tours, which are held at 9 a.m., 12 p.m., and 2 p.m.
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Valley of Fire, Overton, Nevada
Another one of the top day trips from Las Vegas is the Valley of Fire and Fire State Park, located in Overton, Nevada. This beautiful state park is only about an hour away and was voted the most scenic drive in southern Nevada.
Here you’ll find 40,000 acres of ancient red Aztec sandstone formations, multicolored landscapes, rock arches, narrow slot canyons, petrified trees, and ancient rock carvings (petroglyphs) that go back 2,000 years. Some landmarks thousands of years in the making include:
- Elephant Rock
- Arch Rock
- Fire Wave
- Atlatl Rock (which features petroglyphs from 3,000 years ago)
Rock climbing and repelling are allowed in designated areas, and roadway cycling is popular. Valley of Fire also includes many trails with different levels of difficulty. Mouse’s Tank Trail is known to have the largest number of petroglyphs in Nevada. Open daily year-round, the Valley of Fire visitor center offers a number of exhibits to learn more about this state park.
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Lost City Museum, Overton, Nevada
The Lost City Museum, formerly the Boulder Dam Park Museum, is also in Overton. It houses prehistoric artifacts excavated from the area when the Colorado River was dammed to form Lake Mead. These artifacts include tools, baskets, pottery, and more.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Lost City Museum was created to preserve the ruins of the Basketmakers and Pueblos. The museum includes three exhibition galleries, a screening room to watch film features, and a museum store.
On the grounds, you can find a Native American pit house (built underground by Basketmakers), and reconstructed pueblos can enter. The structures of the Lost City are pretty elaborate — some pueblos were constructed with 20 or more rooms.
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Area 51, Groom Lake, Nevada
Are you an X-Files fan? Then you might be interested in a day trip from Las Vegas to Area 51! Area 51 is a real place — Edwards Air Force Base. It’s a military installation where they test out experimental aircraft, just 88 miles away from the Las Vegas Strip.
The base is widely known for numerous UFO sightings, although the official word is that it’s a flight testing facility. Many conspiracy theories over the years have fueled the mystery surrounding Area 51.
Whether you believe in UFOs and aliens or are simply curious, a road trip on your own or with a tour company will provide some entertaining tales and take you through a scenic desert and the Joshua Tree landscape.
Some tours include a stop near LAS to see the secretive Janet Airlines. You can also look at some petroglyphs (prehistoric rock carvings) that some people say depict aliens, while others interpret them as frogs.
Please note Area 51 is a U.S. Air Force facility, so you’ll want to follow and respect all laws and any restrictions in the area. If you trespass, the best outcome you can expect is immediate arrest and charges brought against you by the feds. However, they signpost the area with warnings that trespassers will be shot, so make what you will of that.
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Cathedral Gorge State Park, Panaca, Nevada
Over hundreds of thousands of years, volcanic activity and erosion have carved out stunning cliffs and cathedral-like spires in this canyon. The dramatic landscape of Cathedral Gorge State Park also includes slot canyons with narrow passageways and some lead into secret chambers.
A 1-mile trail connects the Miller Point overlook to the park’s picnic area, and you can access a 4-mile loop trail in a more remote area. It’s a perfect road-trip destination for hikers, photographers, and nature lovers. This state park is a 2.5-hour road trip that I’m definitely adding to my bucket list of places to explore in Nevada when visiting Las Vegas.
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If you’ve had your fill of good times in Sin City, there are a couple of incredible day trip destinations just over the border in Utah!
Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Utah
Here you’ll find not a single canyon but several natural amphitheaters or bowls with hoodoos, which are irregular spires of rocks.
The four main viewpoints are Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, and Sunrise Point. Because of its popularity, a shuttle service runs from April to October to reduce traffic.
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Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah
One of the top day trips from Las Vegas is Zion National Park, which is about 2.5 hours away. Zion National Park is popular due to its beautiful slot, deep canyons, and nearly 125,000 acres of wilderness, where you can hike on more than 90 trails.
Some tour companies offer day-trip packages from Las Vegas to Utah national parks (Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park), so you could visit both in 1 day. This is the place to be if you’re looking for an iconic desert landscape in southern Utah.
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Cool California Day Trips from Las Vegas
Death Valley National Park
Can you take a day trip from Las Vegas to Death Valley in California? Yes. Yes, you can. We did, and we loved it. It’s only about a 2-hour drive to reach Death Valley, but expect to spend a full day, so you can go sightseeing and visit the Mojave National Preserve.
You can drive yourself or sign up with a tour company. Death Valley National Park in the Mojave Desert is beautiful despite its name. Check out some scenes from our YouTube channel of us exploring the Mojave National Preserve. Here are some of the more popular spots in this U.S. National Park.
- Furnace Creek Visitor Center: This is a great place to get all your questions answered by park rangers, buy snacks, use the restroom, and watch a 20-minute movie about Death Valley.
- Badwater Basin: This is the lowest elevation in the continental United States — 282 feet below sea level.
- Salt flats: The protected salt flats in the Badwater Basin cover about 200 square miles.
- Devil’s Golf Course: You’re not going to want to play golf or even walk on this course, as it’s extremely rough terrain formed by halite salt crystals.
- Zabriskie Point: If you’re a U2 fan, you may recognize this place as the shooting location for their Joshua Tree album.
- Dante’s View: From this lookout, at an elevation of 5,475 feet, you can view the Badwater Basin and salt flats.
Death Valley is the hottest and driest place on earth but also one of the best national parks in the US. How hot? Death Valley recorded the highest temperature on earth — 134 degrees Fahrenheit, on July 10, 1913. Don’t forget your sunscreen and aloe! To echo the National Park Service, stay cool and stay safe!
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Los Angeles and Hollywood Day Tour from Las Vegas
This Los Angeles and Hollywood Day Tour is a small group guided tour with round-trip transportation from Las Vegas. On this day trip, you’ll see the best of Los Angeles, famous Hollywood sites, and Los Angeles County staples, such as the Santa Monica Pier and glamorous Beverly Hills.
How long is a day trip to the Grand Canyon from Vegas?
A day trip to the Grand Canyon from Vegas is a one-day excursion to the Grand Canyon National Park that starts and ends in Las Vegas. The duration of the trip can vary depending on the mode of transportation and the activities included in the itinerary, but it typically takes around 12-14 hours.
Visitors can travel by car, bus, helicopter, or airplane and may have the opportunity to hike, sightsee, or take a guided tour of the park.
What is within 2 hours of Las Vegas?
Within 2 hours of Las Vegas are several popular day trip destinations. These include the Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Valley of Fire State Park, and Mount Charleston. Visitors can enjoy outdoor activities nearby, such as hiking, boating, and sightseeing.
Is Joshua Tree near Las Vegas?
Joshua Tree is not located near Las Vegas but in Southern California. The national park is approximately 3 hours driving distance from Las Vegas. Joshua Tree is known for its unique rock formations, desert landscapes, and diverse plant and animal life.
What are the best day trips from Las Vegas by car?
Day trips from Las Vegas by car can be taken outside the city to explore the surrounding natural wonders and attractions. Some popular destinations for day trips include the Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon, and the Grand Canyon, all of which can be reached within a few hours by car.
It’s critical to plan and bring plenty of water and snacks, as well as to check for any road closures or weather conditions before embarking on a day trip.
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A former hockey mom entering her fourth year as an emptynester, Karen Mellott-Foshier (aka kmf) recently resigned from the corporate life after 25+ years as a journalist, corporate communications manager, writer, and editor.
After microblogging about her travel adventures on social media for more than a decade, kmf is now a full-service travel agent and author of the travel and lifestyle blog, kmfiswriting.com, where she shares destination inspiration, travel tips, book reviews, and updates on her quest to find the best mac and cheese.