Las Vegas Day Trips: 11 Things to See and Do Off the Strip

These day trips will have you trading the casino floors for the great outdoors.

You can get to many incredible national parks by taking a quick day trip from Las Vegas

5min read

Published 4 April 2024

Flight Centre Author

By

Kaitlyn Funk

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These day trips will have you trading the casino floors for the great outdoors.


There's more to Sin City than casinos, nightclubs and circus shows... all you need to do is venture off the Las Vegas Strip. Look at a map and you'll see that this desert oasis is situated at the southern tip of Nevada, giving you easy access to Utah, Arizona and California — all of which are home to some pretty popular national parks and natural wonders.

Whether you want to escape the city for a short time or go far into the wilderness, we've rounded up some of the best day trips from Las Vegas



< 1 hour from the Strip

These destinations and attractions are all less than an hour away — meaning you can start the day with some wholesome outdoor fun, and then get back to the party. (We've even provided distances from some of Sin City's iconic resorts to prove it.)

Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam, Nevada

Distance from Mandalay Bay: 59km
Approximate driving time: 45 minutes

The Hoover Dam may not be as beautiful as the Eiffel Tower or as ancient as the Great Pyramid of Giza — but it’s an impressive man-made structure nonetheless! Join a tour to learn about the power it generates or simply walk across the top and take in the views of the Colorado River. Since the Nevada and Arizona state line goes right through the middle of the dam, you can even have A Walk to Remember moment and stand in two places at once.

Don’t forget to stop by Boulder City on your way in or out. The town, originally built in the 1930s for dam construction workers, is filled with historic buildings, antique shops, museums and old-school diners.

Seven Magic Mountains, Nevada

Distance from the Bellagio: 35km
Approximate driving time: 30 minutes

If you want a little art and culture mixed into your outdoor adventure, this is one of the best day trips from Las Vegas that you can do. Artist Ugo Rondinone’s installation (comprised of seven towers of stacked neon-coloured boulders) opened to the public in 2016 and has been appearing on traveller’s Instagram feeds ever since. 

Located along Interstate 15, the piece symbolizes the “mid-way between the natural and the artificial” and is free to view.

Lake Mead
Lake Mead
Lake Mead

Lake Mead, Nevada

Distance from Circus Circus: 50km
Approximate driving time: 45 minutes

Despite what Las Vegas may have you thinking, a sparkling resort pool isn’t the only way to escape the Nevada desert heat. This man-made reservoir, formed by the Hoover Dam and fed by the Colorado River, offers plenty of ways to cool off — from swimming and boating to kayaking and scuba diving! There are also plenty of hiking and biking trails around Lake Mead, making it easy to have some of your most memorable day trips here.

Mount Charleston, Nevada

Distance from Resorts World Las Vegas: 67km
Approximate driving time: 1 hour

Las Vegas probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of skiing and snowboarding destinations — but Mount Charleston can change that. If you’re visiting during the winter months, this is one of the day trips from Las Vegas that you absolutely must do.

The mountain’s Lee Canyon area gets approximately 250 inches of snow each year, and currently boasts five lifts and 28 runs that range in difficulty from green to double black diamond. If you happen to be visiting Las Vegas during the summer months, no worries! Mount Charleston also has some great hiking trails.

2–3 hours from the Strip

Feel like you need a bit of a longer break from the bright lights and loud music on the Strip? These day trips from Las Vegas will make you feel worlds away — largely due to the fact that they get you out of the city and into nature. 

Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park, California

Distance from Las Vegas: 203km
Approximate driving time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

As the lowest, hottest and driest place on earth, Death Valley has earned a reputation for being one of the world’s spookiest and most dangerous destinations. But even so, it attracts a ton of visitors each year. That’s because this national park is teeming with wildlife (including coyotes, desert bighorn sheep and foxes), hiking trails and a ton of cool attractions. 

Not sure what activities to prioritize here? We recommend:

  • Going on a scenic drive to the Artist Palette. Parts of Star Wars IV: A New Hope were filmed in these colourful desert hills.
  • Listening to the singing sand at Eureka Dunes. The sand that falls from the steepest face of the highest dunes will emit a sound reminiscent of the bass note of a pipe organ.
  • Stargazing in the Badwater Basin. There’s so little light pollution in Death Valley, it’s been been classified as a “Gold Tier” International Dark Sky Park.
A person admiring the natural beauty of Zion National Park
A person admiring the natural beauty of Zion National Park
A person admiring the natural beauty of Zion National Park

Zion National Park, Utah

Distance from Las Vegas: 245km
Approximate driving time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

If you’re in Las Vegas, don’t miss your chance to visit Zion National Park! Located where the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin and Mojave Desert regions intersect, it has a geography unlike anywhere else — and is also quite lush compared to some of the other national parks we’ve included on this list.

Go here to see and explore the 2,000-foot-deep canyon formed by the Virgin River, impressive rock formations like the Kolob Arch, unique desert flora and fauna, and a collection of waterfalls (from the popular falls at the Emerald Pools to the lesser-known Pine Creek Waterfall). 

Road sign on the Extraterrestrial Highway
Road sign on the Extraterrestrial Highway
Road sign on the Extraterrestrial Highway

Extraterrestrial Highway, Nevada

Distance from Las Vegas: 251km
Approximate driving time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

We told you these day trips from Las Vegas would transport you to a different world! The Extraterrestrial Highway (State Route 375) is a stretch of road that features some amazing alien attractions. Why? Because this is where most of the country’s UFO sightings have occurred. It’s also super close to Area 51.

Whether you want to try to spot aliens yourself or just want to have a little space-themed fun, this is the spot to be. Popular stops include the Alien Research Centre, Little A’Le’Inn restaurant and the E.T. Fresh Jerky shop. 

Snow Canyon State Park, Utah

Distance from Las Vegas: 208km
Approximate driving time: 2 hours

Lava tubes, cinder cones, extinct volcanoes, petrified sand dunes — is there anything Snow Canyon State Park doesn’t have? Despite spanning across an area of just 7,400 acres*, there’s a lot to explore here, and many of its attractions are suitable for all ages. 

Ready to take in the park’s scenic beauty? Hike the Snow Canyon Overlook Trail. Eager to reach new heights? Try rock climbing at Aftershock Wall. Want to cover more ground in less time? Explore via biking or horseback riding instead of walking.

Pro tip: Spend some extra time outdoors by stopping at the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area (located just 15 minutes away).

*For comparison, Death Valley National Park is 3.4 million acres.

Cathedral Gorge State Park
Cathedral Gorge State Park
Cathedral Gorge State Park

Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada

Distance from Las Vegas: 267km
Approximate driving time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

If you’re anything like Ross Geller and had a “Geology Rocks” sticker on your school backpack, make sure to put this Las Vegas day trip on your to-do list. Cathedral Gorge State Park is home to some weird and wonderful rock formations that you have to see to believe. 

Thanks to millions of years of volcanic activity, erosion and other geological processes, the area is covered in cathedral-like spires (you can see where the park got its name!), cliffs and caves. You can take it all in while hiking on the park’s many trails, including the 1.6km Miller Point Trail that leads to an incredible viewpoint.

4+ hours from the Strip

Pack your road trip snacks! These day trips from Las Vegas require you to make a fairly long drive — but we promise you, the stunning scenery you’ll get at these beautiful national parks is worth it.

A person taking in the views at the Grand Canyon
A person taking in the views at the Grand Canyon
A person taking in the views at the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Distance from Las Vegas: 443km
Approximate driving time: 4 hours, 15 minutes

Of course the world-famous Grand Canyon is on our list of the best Las Vegas day trips! This is one of the most popular natural wonders on the planet, welcoming more than 6 million people each year — and it’s easy to see why. First and foremost, the views are incredible. Second, there’s a lot to do here. Depending on how early you hit the road, you may have time for hiking, biking and watching the sunset

The distance and driving time we’ve provided above are for the South Rim, but you can also choose to do a shorter day trip to the West Rim (approximately 2.5 hours outside Las Vegas), where the glass-bottomed Grand Canyon Skywalk is located. Or you could even splurge on a helicopter tour that’ll take you over and above the Strip and the canyon.

A group of hikers in Joshua Tree National Park
A group of hikers in Joshua Tree National Park
A group of hikers in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Distance from Las Vegas: 393km
Approximate driving time: 4 hours

According to the National Park Service, Joshua Tree National Park “protects more than 838 documented archaeological sites, 160 historic structures and five cultural landscapes”. So, what are you waiting for? Head out on your Las Vegas day trip and start exploring! Here’s where you can see iconic Joshua trees in the wild, walk through a cactus garden, discover unique geological formations (Skull Rock, Penguin Rock and Heart Rock, to name a few) and more.

The best part? Pretty much every trail and major attraction is accessible by car. This makes it easy to see a lot of the park in a short amount of time — and comes with the added bonus of air conditioning.

 

Have these day trips inspired you to visit Las Vegas? Check out our current deals or chat with a travel consultant today — they can help with everything from booking flights and accommodations to renting cars.

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