As fascinating as Las Vegas is, if you are anything like us, you can only enjoy the noise and intense commotion for a few days at a time. Luckily, Las Vegas is well placed for some excellent day trips.
For us, good candidates for day trips take around 2 hours or less. Anything getting towards the 3-hour mark typically deserves its own overnight stay.
So grab a rental car, and head off into the surprisingly beautiful desert that surrounds Las Vegas.
Only 40 minutes away, the most popular day trip from Las Vegas is to the famous Hoover Dam. An engineering marvel, the colossal dam is over 726.4 feet high, that’s approximately 60-stories! It’s free to visit the top of the dam, and tours of the inside are relatively inexpensive; however, some parking areas require fees.
Read more at our post on visiting Hoover Dam.
Also east of Las Vegas, Lake Mead is another popular outing. Fed by the Colorado River, this massive man-made lake is easy to tie in with a day trip to Hoover Dam.
Though there are several ways to access the lake, from Las Vegas the easiest way is along Lakeshore Road.
You can head straight to Boulder Beach, but we enjoyed making a few stops at the many lookout points along the road, like Rocky Point Overlook and Sunset View.
Grand Canyon West & Skywalk
We didn’t get a chance to visit this very popular tourist attraction, but it is definitely worth noting for its one-of-a-kind views.
Slightly over 2 hours from Las Vegas, the horse-shoe shaped platform of the Grand Canyon Skywalk extends 70-feet outward from the cliff of the canyon. Made of glass, visitors get a dizzying view of the canyon floor from right below their feet.
Grand Canyon West also includes the ability to immerse yourself in Native American culture, music and dance at the Native American Village.
As Hoover Dam is on the way, get up a little earlier so you can tie both areas into the same trip.
Valley Of Fire State Park
My personal favorite of our day trips from Las Vegas was the Valley of Fire State Park.
The park contains 40,000 acres of stunning multi-colored desert and is known for its many natural rock and sand sculptures.
Plus, another key highlight of the park are the 2000 year-old petroglyphs, which provide a peek into an ancient society.
Read more at our post on visiting the Valley of Fire State Park.
Red Rock Canyon
Only 20 miles west of Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon is the closest day trip to the city so can be quite busy.
Featuring a breathtaking 13-mile one-way scenic drive, the park has a ton of great stops along the way. With hiking opportunities for all fitness levels, there is a lot of encouragement to get out of the car.
Bonus: National Park passes are accepted here.
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
A little further west from Las Vegas is a little hidden gem, or rather an oasis in the desert.
There is an amazing amount of wildlife that can be found at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. The park’s 50 seeps and springs help make it home to the greatest concentration of endemic species in the U.S.
Read more from our post on exploring Ash Meadows National Park.
Death Valley National Park
The name conjures images of a flat, barren, and frankly, boring landscape; however, Death Valley is definitely not boring. We were surprised just how beautiful and unique it is.
It does take a little over 2 hours to reach the world-famous desert, but in a day trip you can easily cover the salt basin, Artist’s Palette, and a few of the other gorgeous highlights of the park.
Read more at our post on exploring Death Valley.