Las Vegas is a city that has no shortage of activities and entertainment. It almost has too many things to do that can be draining. You might want to getaway. These are some of the best day trips from Las Vegas worth exploring.
Las Vegas is known as The Entertainment Capital of the World – and for good reason. It offers something for everyone – shows, magic, gambling, concerts, fine dining, comedy, sports, people-watching.
While there is so much to experience in Vegas, it can become exhausting.
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Best Day Trips from Las Vegas Ranked
So if you’re looking for a little change of pace and places to explore in Nevada and bordering states, here are the 14 best day trips from Las Vegas by car (and sometimes helicopter).
At the top of my list of 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 you plan a day trip from Las Vegas.
And it’s something you absolutely 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 has the capacity to irrigate two million acres.
You can make the day trip from Las Vegas by car or make a reservation with a tour company.
Here’s what you can experience on the day trip from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam.
- Tour of the historic Hoover Dam power plant – 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.
- 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.
Check out these views of Lake Mead National Recreation Park and the Hoover Dam. This will make you want to visit.
Book your trip to the Hoover Dam with GetYourGuide and they will pick you up directly from Las Vegas.
Lower Antelope Canyon, Page, Arizona
Hiking in the Lower Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona is one of our family’s favorite vacations of all time. It’s a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Las Vegas, but worth the road trip. You will not be disappointed – only mesmerized.
Flash flooding created the stunning, surreal and natural art gallery.
Located on Navajo tribal lands, you must make reservations with a reputable company as Lower Antelope Canyon is only accessible with a Navajo guide.
This slot canyon has gained a lot of popularity since we visited a few years ago due to its exposure on Instagram.
We visited in early March and it was not crowded so definitely recommend visiting that time of year. Make sure to bring a coat or jacket as it does get chilly underground.
The Lower Antelope Canyon is less than one-mile roundtrip and is an easy to moderate hike as there is some uneven terrain, tight passages, and you are required to climb up and down ladders, stairs and steps (some have handrails).
See Related: Day Trips from Phoenix
Horseshoe Bend / Carl Hayden Visitor Center at Glen Canyon, Page, Arizona
As long as 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 seven miles from Lower Antelope Canyon.
Named because of the horseshoe-shaped bend the Colorado River takes, the views from 1,000 feet up are breathtaking.
It’s tempting to go to the very edge to take it all in, but use extreme caution as most of the rim on Horseshoe Bend is exposed. However, there is now a viewing platform with rails.
The hike from the parking area to the rim is about 1.5 miles roundtrip. It’s easy-going downhill, but going uphill could be a little challenging for some.
Five miles upstream (or you’ll most likely drive there) you’ll find the Carl Hayden Visitor Center at Glen Canyon Dam.
Here you can take photos of the impressive dam as well as a self-guided tour around the visitor center or the 45-minute guided tour of the dam.
See Related: Best Things to do in Las Vegas
Grand Canyon, Arizona
It is possible to take a day trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon. It will be a very full day but can be done.
It’s about nine hours roundtrip if road tripping it.
Or you can do what we did and invest in a helicopter ride with a landing on the Grand Canyon floor with a champagne breakfast.
My husband and I had visited the Grand Canyon a couple of 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.
To say you descended 4,000 feet to enjoy a champagne breakfast on the floor of the Grand Canyon, how cool is that? (Our son was a teenager at the time so he had apple juice.)
Book your trip to Grand Canyon from Las Vegas with ease and be completely hassle-free.
There is 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 are hearing? Check out our Grand Canyon itinerary to make the most of your trip.
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Death Valley, California
You can take a day trip from Las Vegas to Death Valley in California? Yes.
We did and absolutely loved it. It’s only about a two-hour drive to reach Death Valley, but expect to spend a full day of sightseeing.
You can drive yourself or sign up with a tour company.
Despite its name, Death Valley in the Mojave Desert is beautiful. Check out some scenes from our time exploring the Mojave National Preserve.
Here are some of the more popular spots in this U.S. National Park.
- Furnace Creek Visitor Center: 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: Located in the Badwater Basin, the protected salt flats cover about 200 square miles.
- Devil’s Golf Course: You’re not gonna 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. How hot? Death Valley recorded the highest temperature on earth – 134 degrees on July 10, 1913.
To echo the National Park Service, stay cool and stay safe!
See Related: How to Plan a Month-Long Vacation
Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas
The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is only a few miles west of Las Vegas if you’re looking for a quick road trip. With nearly 196,000 acres in the Mojave Desert, you’ll never run out of things to explore.
The geological formations include the Aztec sandstone cliffs, which are thousands of feet high and 180 to 190 million years old.
- 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
See Related: The Ultimate Scottsdale Itinerary for a Vacation
Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Utah
If you’re needing a break from the Strip, plan a day trip from Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.
It’s about a four-hour road trip one-way.
Here you’ll find not a single canyon, but rather several natural amphitheaters or bowls with hoodoos – 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 – about 2.5 hours away. This destination is popular due to its beautiful slot canyons and nearly 125,000 acres of wilderness where you can hike on more than 90 trails.
Note that some tour companies offer day-trip packages from Las Vegas to both Utah national parks (Bryce Canyon and Zion) so you could visit both in one day.
Check out this tour of the things to do and attractions in Zion from the ViaTravelers YouTube channel.
See Related: Best Day Trips from Zion National Park
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 stop in at the famous Pioneer Saloon – established in 1913 (it’s been featured in several movies and TV shows).
The saloon is said to be home for two ghosts – one of a gunshot victim as well as an old miner.
See Related: Best National Parks to Visit in November
Techatticup Mine, Nelson, Nevada
Located only 45 minutes away 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.
See Related: Best Things to do in Primm, Nevada
Valley of Fire, Overton, Nevada
Another one of the top day trips from Las Vegas is the Valley of Fire located in Overton, Nevada. This beautiful state park is only about an hour away and was voted as 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, 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 propelling are allowed in designated areas and cycling on roadways is also 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
Also located in Overton is the Lost City Museum (formerly known as the Boulder Dam Park Museum). It houses prehistorical 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 you 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 taking a day trip from Las Vegas to Area 51. It’s a real place – in fact, a military installation – 88 miles away from the Strip.
Area 51 is widely known for numerous UFO sightings although the official word is that it’s a flight testing facility. The mystery surrounding this place was fueled by many conspiracy theories over the years.
Believer of UFOs and aliens or simply curious, a road trip on your own or with a tour company will definitely provide some entertaining tales and take you through a scenic desert and the Joshua Tree Forest.
Some tours include a stop near LAS to see the secretive Janet Airlines.
You can also check out petroglyphs (prehistoric rock carvings) of what some say depict aliens while others have interpreted them like 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.
See Related: 15 Unknown Places to Visit in the US
Cathedral Gorge State Park, Panaca, Nevada
Volcanic activity and erosion over hundreds of thousands of years 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 where some lead into secret chambers.
A one-mile trail connects the Miller Point overlook to the park’s picnic area while you can access a four-mile loop trail in a more remote area of the park.
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.
See Related: Las Vegas vs Phoenix
Other day trips from Las Vegas?
So these are only 14-day trips from Las Vegas worth exploring. What destinations would you add as places to explore in Nevada or its bordering states?
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