While you could easily spend your days lost in the lights and action of the Strip, there are numerous day trips from Las Vegas that are worth your time.
Las Vegas is known for being a man-made city; each infamous attraction involves shows, lights, and stimulation. But, don’t let this distract you for too long from the natural beauty that surrounds the city. Depending on when you choose to visit Vegas, you can decide whether you want to escape to the mountains or to the desert. In both Nevada and Utah is an abundance of stunning scenery, majestic mountains, and incredible rock formations. So, take a few day trips from Las Vegas to experience the refreshing vacation that nature has to offer. We’ve compiled a list of our six favorite day trips from Las Vegas for you to pick from. Or, you can try and do all five! Whatever your plans, we hope you take some time to explore the surrounding attractions.
1. The Hoover Dam
Located on the Black Canyon of the Colorado river, the Hoover Dam is smack dab in between Utah and Nevada. An incredible feat of engineering, the Hoover Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam built in the 1930s during the Great Depression. While its main purpose is to provide hydroelectric power to the surrounding states, it is also a great attraction.
There are two guided tours to choose from, the Powerplant Tour and the Dam Tour. The first tour will allow you to see solely the powerplant. But, the Dam Tour will give you access to the whole Dam. The latter lasts approximately an hour. If you’d like to do a tour and enjoy all the activities of the visitors center and surrounding area, plan for at least two hours here. Children under the age of three and military members in uniform get in free.
So, if brilliants feats of engineering and massive turbines sound enticing, head on over to the Hoover Dam. It is truly one of our favorite day trips from Las Vegas. If you’re more of an outdoor sort, look into the rafting and river trips available at the base of the Dam. Either way, you are sure to be in awe during multiple points of your day trip to the Hoover Dam.
2. The Valley of Fire
The name itself simply beckons you to come explore Nevada’s oldest state park. The Valley of Fire is approximately 40,000 acres of stunning sandstone, limestone, granite, and shale. The park’s name comes from when the sun hits the rocks just so. It creates a stunning illusion that everything is on fire. One of the greatest attractions here is the over two thousand year old petrified trees and petroglyphs. This rock art is just one draw, though.
This state park is an easy family day trip from Las Vegas, being just about an hour northeast of the Strip. There are a variety of hikes, from tall and skinny slot canyons to interesting white domes. They range in ease, so there is an option for both the adventurous spirit and the family with little ones. While you’re hiking, keep your eyes open for the big horned sheep! They are a majestic creature that it is quite a treat to see. Lastly, make sure to take plenty of snacks and water with you, as it does get toasty in the desert.
3. The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is known all over the world for it’s glorious views and breathtaking scenery. It is a bit longer drive than some of our other day trips from Las Vegas, but it will be well worth the time. You can choose to take a bus from the city, taking the stress of driving out of the equation. But, if you choose to drive yourself, it will be about four and a half hours. You will pass the first day trip on our list though, the Hoover Dam.
When you get to the canyon, try not to be overwhelmed too much by the great size. The canyon itself is 18 miles wide, 277 miles long, and can be over a mile deep at points. This gives you just a small sense of how it can feel to stand at the bottom and look up.
This is one of our favorite family road trips from Las Vegas because of the extent of things to do here. You can take a hike, become a junior ranger, and explore the history of the area, all in one day. Don’t fret about getting around the park, either. The free park shuttle will let you see all the major sites in one day while taking out the hassle of transportation. In addition, if you’d like to get wet while here, look into the river trips in the canyon. From rafting to canoeing or kayaking, there is a myriad of options to help you tackle the Colorado River waves. So, pack those bags and head out on the most marvelous of day trips from Las Vegas!
4. Bonnie Springs Ranch & Red Rock Canyon
This is a stellar pick off of our list of day trips from Las Vegas. It lets you enjoy stunning natural rock formations and gives you a taste of a wild west town. You won’t be short on cowboys, saloons, or duels in the street in Bonnie Springs Ranch. It was created to replicate the western feel from years ago. There are live-action performances and real train and pony rides for the whole family. With great barbecue and a petting zoo for the kids, parents will also enjoy themselves at the old time cocktail lounge. So, make sure to stop here on your way to Red Rocks to enjoy everything from the action to the wax museum.
Once you’ve had your fill of the wild west, head just a few more minutes up the road to Red Rock Canyon. Encompassing 195,819 acres of the Mojave Desert, the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is expansive. It is a popular destination among rock climbers. The large boulders and rock faces have been sculpted perfectly over time to create world class climbing routes. But, hiking, biking, and a simple scenic drive are all delightful possibilities here. With stunning flora and fauna visible from the road, all ages and abilities can find something here.
So, whether you get caught in a duel at Bonny Springs Ranch or stand in awe of creation in Red Rocks, let this be on the top of your list of day trips from Las Vegas.
5. Mount Charleston
If the heat of the city and desert are starting to get to you, head up to Mount Charleston. Up here, it is usually about ten degrees cooler. This little bit of refreshment makes it one of the best day trips from Las Vegas to break up your days on the Strip. Mount Charleston majestically rises from the Mojave Desert, providing a well watered oasis. This alpine treat allows visitors and wildlife alike to thrive.
Whether you’re hoping to horseback ride or climb, both are quite easily accessible here. There is also a bit of off road driving if you have your jeep or dirt bike along with you. Mount Charleston is part of the Spring Mountains. These mountains have around twenty five endemic plant species, meaning they’re not found anywhere else on the planet! This provides a once in a lifetime opportunity for any nature lover.
So, take the whole family here for a variety of trails, including handicap accessible ones. To throw in a little history into your day, you’ll also see the Seven Stones Plaza and the Silent Heroes of the Cold War Memorial. The first gives tribute to seven Paiute tribes who once inhabited this place and considered it holy. The Cold War Memorial is the first of its kind. So, between the natural beauty, unique opportunities, and adventures to be had, Mount Charleston is one of the most well rounded day trips from Las Vegas.
From the stunning rock formations in Utah to the brilliant engineering at Hoover Dam, there are day trips from Las Vegas for everybody.
Day trips allow one to see so much more of a city or country than you could if you simply stayed put. So, take advantage of the proximity of Las Vegas to so many natural wonders. Whether you’re willing to drive just twenty minutes or a few hours, there is an option for you and your family.
While on your way home from one of these amazing day trips from Las Vegas, make sure to end your day well with the best food in Vegas. Don’t let the draw of the city keep you too long, but instead let yourself see more of what Nevada and Utah have to offer. Between water sports and hiking, wild west towns and visitors centers, you’ll have the whole family asking more day trips from Las Vegas!
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