Sin City has one mega-secret – it’s actually an outdoor Mecca. Yea, you heard me, there are several amazing day trips from Vegas that will blow your freakin’ mind.
So step away from the hustle and bustle of Vegas (who wants that noise anyway) or plan an entire trip to Las Vegas without even stepping foot in a casino.
This list of amazing day trips from Las Vegas includes several amazing national parks and plenty of outdoor action.
In fact, I plan a trip out to this oasis in the desert every year just to indulge in several day trips from Vegas.
As a result, I’ve become a bit of an expert in getting outdoors near Las Vegas. However, with so much to do, I decided to enlist the help of expert bloggers to fill in a few gaps.
Enjoy this awesome guide to the best Las Vegas day trips so you can get outside like a local, not a tourist.
About this Guide to the Best Day Trips from Vegas
Inside this exclusive guide to the best day trips from Vegas you’ll find:
- Tips for things to do near Vegas that aren’t a casino.
- Reasons for staying in Vegas if you love the outdoors
- When to visit Las Vegas
- The absolute best day trips from Las Vegas
- Additional planning resources
Why Stay in Las Vegas?
Okay, I want to let you in on a little secret – Las Vegas is actually mega-awesome if you’re into the outdoors. Here’s why.
The city of Las Vegas is someone strategically located – you can reach so many amazing outdoor areas in just one day.
The airport offers a variety of flights (typically cheap too) which means you can either opt to home-base in Vegas, or rent a car and set out on an epic southwest road trip.
If you opt to stay, Las Vegas has an ABUNDANCE of reasonably priced AirBnBs to choose from. The market is saturated – which means you can score a mega-deal.
Not to mention, off the Strip you can find AMAZING cheap eats.
Wake up early.
See rad nature.
Eat bomb food.
See where I’m going here? It’s a win-win for everyone.
When to Visit Las Vegas for Outdoor Recreation
The best time to visit Las Vegas is either in spring (from March to May) or fall (September to November).
Not only are the crowds significantly thinner compared to the summer and winter months, but you’ll also find the most pleasant weather during spring and falls (winters can get pretty cold, and summer temperatures can exceed the hundreds).
Pro Tip: Keep in mind, the desert gets mega-hot. Plan on packing a cooler filled with water, electrolyte drinks, and salty snacks.
The Best Day Trips from Vegas
Get out and explore with this epic list of the most scenic day trips from Las Vegas. Plan to visit one (or ten) of these amazing places near Vegas.
Death Valley National Park
If you want to feel as though you’ve ended up on an entirely different planet, a trip to Death Valley National Park is the perfect day trip from Las Vegas.
Despite its somewhat morbid name, Death Valley manages to teem with dramatic landscapes and striking colors. There’s an insane amount of things to see and do in Death Valley, so make sure to start your day as early as possible to be able to make the most out of your getaway!
The best way to explore is on foot and by car. Some of the best hikes in Death Valley can easily be done in a day and will take you through eerie-looking rock formations, to walking above volcanic outcrops.
Moreover, you can also go on the scenic Artists’ Drive that’ll take you through ever-expanding salt flats and dry lake beds.
Seriously, a day trip to Death Valley from Las Vegas is the perfect way to really forget about the bustle and hustle of the city and spend amid some of the most magical (and somewhat abnormal) nature on the planet.
Valley of Fire State Park
Set just an hour-long drive from the strip, a day trip to Valley of Fire will transport you into a world of red Aztec sandstone outcrops, petrified trees, and ancient petroglyphs.
For a quick day trip from Vegas, you can explore Valley of Fire from the comfort of your car by curving your way through Mouse’s Tank Road, which will provide you with some of the most gawk-inspiring views of rock formations that come in all shades of pink, red and orange.
If you’d rather get up and close, though, you can do a lot of exploring on foot in just a day!
The best Valley of Fire hikes are short and sweet, which means you can tackle several trails in a few hours. A few must-do hikes for the best views at the end are Fire of Wave and Rainbow Vista!
Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area
Red Rock Canyon is one of the easiest day trips from Las Vegas considering it sits just a thirty-minute drive away from the city, but it still manages to stay a well-kept secret that very few people know about.
If you’re up for a day spent hiking or epic rock climbing amid a sea of stunning sandstone peaks, this little gem of a place is your go-to for an epic day spent in nature.
In fact, you could easily spend an entire week here trying your hand at the thousands of moderate multi-pitch trad climbing routes or exploring a few of the varied hiking trails on offer, but a day is just enough to get a taste of what this gem of a wilderness area has to offer.
If you’d rather not break a sweat, though, you can opt to drive one of the most scenic highways in Nevada: The Red Rock Canyon Drive, which is a 13-mile loop offering some of the best views of the area, including expansive vistas of canyon systems and sandstone peaks.
Pro Tip: It’s actually quite popular to road bike this scenic drive too! Just be sure to start early to beat the heat.
Bryce Canyon National Park
By Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the most iconic places in the United States. As one of the most beautiful day trips from Vegas, put Bryce on your list.
Spend a day hiking in the desert and gawking at some of the most beautiful scenery Utah has to offer (think canyon views and gravity-defying hoodoos!).
For such a small park that can be explored in a day, there are so many things to do in Bryce Canyon, so make sure to start as early as possible to make the most out of your day. I also recommend creating a plan beforehand so you can tackle the most out of your Bryce Canyon itinerary.
The best part about visiting is that you can explore the park in many different ways. If you’d rather have a relaxing day trip, you can opt to drive around and make a road trip out of it.
But, if you’re feeling up for an outdoorsy day, you can try a few of the amazing hikes in Bryce Canyon (yep, they can be done in a day and they aren’t too challenging, so you can tackle a lot in just a few hours!)
Pro Tip: Sunrises here are really special – so definitely get up for that early alarm!
Snow Canyon State Park
By Margie from DQ Family Travel
Just two hours away from Las Vegas, Snow Canyon State Park makes for a great day trip option for those looking to escape the city lights.
This Utah state park often gets overlooked by the famed Mighty Five, but it contains some of the best hiking in Southern Utah. Visitors can see red and white sandstone cliffs, cinder cones, petroglyphs, lava flow, and even sand dunes.
The variety of hiking trails found in Snow Canyon are sure to please hikers of all abilities and those looking for a scenic view. Some easy hiking trails include Jenny’s Canyon Trail, Johnson Canyon Trail, Petrified Dunes Trail, and Whiterocks Amphitheater.
For those looking for something a little more moderate, Scout Cave Trail and Lava Tube Trail are two fantastic options.
There are also a few scenic overlooks, rock climbing areas, and biking trails too for those who want a little more adventure.
On the way back, be sure to stop in for dinner in the town of St. George before crossing back into Nevada.
Image courtesy of Margie from DQ Family Travel
By Debbie Fettback from World Adventurists
Leave the hustle and bustle of the Las Vegas strip behind for a day adventuring in nature. Explore the gorgeous natural beauty of the most visited and most photographed slot canyon in the American Southwest, the Antelope Canyon.
As a day trip from Las Vegas, it’s essential to get an early start on the day. It will take a 4.5-hour drive (each way) to see Antelope Canyon, but it is worth every mile.
Antelope Canyon was formed by flash floods flowing into the cracks of the Navajo sandstone. The result is light reflecting off of the sandstone and creating a swirl of colors that you could spend a day marveling at!
When visiting Antelope Canyon, also take time to enjoy some other sights in Page, Arizona. The unique formation of the horseshoe-shaped bend of the Colorado River, the Hoover Dam, or Lake Powell are all magnificent sights to see.
Image courtesy of Debbie Fettback from World Adventurists
By James Ian from Parks Collecting
Sedona is set in the heart of Red Rock Country and offers sensational hiking and driving activities. Seriously drool-worthy!
The most famous rock formation is Cathedral Rock – drive to Red Rock Crossing for a classic view of it, or hit the trails and hike up to the saddle section.
If you haven’t had too much driving, the Red Rock Scenic Byway offers amazing views and gives a great overview of the beauty of this region.
Oak Creek Canyon is another sensational scenic drive and has more amazing hiking trails. For perhaps the most iconic view from a trail, hike to Devil’s Bridge Rock, which is a natural 45-foot high, narrow sandstone bridge.
Sedona also has a great food and wine scene, so an early dinner in town before heading back to Vegas is a great way to end your day.
A day trip to Sedona is a long day, as the drive there is just over four hours, but if you get an early start and head back in the early evening, you will have a full day out among some of the most beautiful scenery in the Southwest.
Or, if this inspires you to see and do more, you could overnight in Sedona and make a two-day trip of it.
By Jacoba from Op reis met Co
Route 66 is the most iconic road trip of the United States. From Las Vegas, you can explore a section of it for a day!
A must visit is the ghost town Amboy, which is located a 2-hour drive from Las Vegas. The drive there offers some of the best sights on Route 66 (make sure to grab a refreshing drink at Roy’s Motel and Café, where it still looks like it’s 1955!).
If you have a lot of time to spare, you can drive east to Needles and Oatman (Arizona). Oatman is a small village in the mountains and when you arrive you feel like you’ve traveled back to the 20s. It used to be a gold mining town and it still brims with historic architecture.
Be really careful when you’re driving around in Oatman because nowadays, the streets are ruled by donkeys! You can buy food in one of the souvenir shops and feed them for a super unique and fun experience! From Oatman, it’s a 2-hour drive back to Las Vegas.
Image courtesy of Jacoba from Op reis met Co
By Kristin from That Traveling Family
Kanab, Utah, is a fantastic getaway from the busy atmosphere of Las Vegas, especially for people who love spending time outdoors.
An early start will be required for a day trip, but getting there will be half the fun as you’ll drive through places like Zion National Park and plenty of gorgeous sandstone cliffs along the way.
Somehow still remaining a bit off the beaten path, Kanab is located at the center of a plethora of natural wonders that can be explored without the crowds. Snagging a day pass to hike to the world-famous Wave is one of the top things to do in Kanab, but will require plenty of advance planning.
For a day trip, start off with the short out and back hike to the Toadstool Hoodoos, followed by a drive past the Pariah Rainbow Mountains, and on to hike through Wire Pass slot canyon.
After all the hiking, grab a late lunch in Kanab before stopping at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park for dune boarding or dune buggying through the giant sand dunes along the way home.
Image courtesy of Kristin from That Traveling Family
Grand Canyon, Arizona
By Mayuri from ToSomePlaceNew
Grand Canyon National Park makes for an amazing day trip from Las Vegas. In one day in Grand Canyon itinerary, the highlights of the south rim can be easily explored combining a short hike, scenic views, and historical learning.
Pro Tip: There are so many things to do in the Grand Canyon, you’ll definitely want to plan your day in advance.
Start the day trip early, and head to Grand Canyon, driving from Nevada to the state of Arizona. Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon takes about 4+ hours, one way. Along the way, make a quick stop at Hoover Dam, the stunning engineering marvel – a dam built over the Colorado River.
Most travelers arrive in the Grand Canyon by noon, so stop for lunch and then head to the South Rim entrance. Next, head over to the visitor center and explore the Yavapai Geology Museum. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the geology of the region.
Don’t forget to soak in some of the best views of the Grand Canyon along the way.
From the museum, make sure to do the Trail of Time. This trail runs from the Yavapai Geology Museum to Verkamp’s Visitor Center – an easy trail of 1.7 miles or 2.9 km in length. It is doable in one hour.
Another option is to hike the South Kaibab Trail that goes into the depths of the Grand Canyon. This trail can be done in a short time as well, as it has many turnaround points.
Grand Canyon is one of the natural wonders of the world, and also a popular USA destination, and a visit to the canyons is never disappointing!
Image courtesy of Mayuri from ToSomePlaceNew
Joshua Tree National Park
By Ale Leon from Sea, Salt & Fog
Joshua Tree National Park is a land seemingly out of this world. The desert landscape is dotted with Joshua trees – twisty, spindly, tree-like yucca plants, for which the park is named after.
Additionally, you’ll find incredible rock formations, cholla cactus, bighorn sheep, and gorgeous vistas. Making a day trip to Joshua Tree from Las Vegas is easy. It takes about 3 hours (one-way) to get to Joshua Tree, but you can see the biggest attractions in the park in half a day.
To make the most of a single day, drive the scenic main park road until you get to the cholla cactus garden, about halfway through the park.
At the cholla cactus garden, you’ll see fuzzy, teddy bear cholla as far as the eye can see. This is a great place to photograph in the early morning light!
Heading back towards the north side of the park, stop at Arch Rock, Skull Rock, and Split Rock – a few of the best hikes in Joshua Tree. All of these are super cool, huge rock formations, with short (optional) hikes attached to them.
Image courtesy of Ale Leon from Sea, Salt & Fog
By Jenny Kotlyar from Limitless Hiker
Havasupai is a paradise nestled in the desert where turquoise waterfalls flow against bright red and orange canyon walls in Arizona. It’s a secret gem that has become popularized by social media and for good reason.
The trailhead to Havasupai is around a 4 hour drive from Las Vegas, so make sure to get an early start to make the most of your day trip!
There are several different waterfalls you can explore once you’re down at Havasupai, and if you go during the spring, summer, or fall months, the warm weather makes it perfect for hanging around in the river and swimming under the falls.
The only way to get to this beautiful place is to backpack the 10 miles one way to the campground. Advanced permits are required and usually open up on February 1st, here is more information on Havasupai and how to get permits.
The campground sits right between Havasu and Mooney Falls. Once you’re down to Mooney Falls, you can keep going further down the canyon to Beaver Falls which is 6 miles round trip from the campground.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also keep hiking to the Confluence which is where Havasu Creek meets the Colorado River, this is a 16-mile round trip hike.
Get an early start on the hike down from the car! There is no water or shade along the trail and it can get hot, so make sure to bring enough water and food with you to make it the full 10 miles.
Image courtesy of Jenny Kotlyar from Limitless Hiker
Lake Havasu City
By Wanderlus Living
Located around 2.5 hours away from Vegas, Lake Havasu City is a great place to visit on the same day as the Hoover Dam.
The most popular thing to do in the town is to have some fun on the lake! It’s really just a part of the Colorado River, but generally, calm other than the windy days. Consider renting a jet ski or a boat for exploring the 60 miles of a continuous lake or fishing the clear waters.
Lake Havasu is also lined with secret beaches and coves to explore and spend the day, making it one of the best places in California for a relaxing day.
Lake Havasu City is also famous for having the real London Bridge, which connects an island to the actual town. It was disassembled and relocated to Arizona in 1967. There are plenty of shops, restaurants, and beaches to keep you busy the entire day.
The entire area surrounding Lake Havasu is desert and mountains, which makes for great off-roading. There are limitless trails and companies to rent UTV’s from for an entire day of fun, and they can be driven on the road.
Additional Planning Resources
Looking for more amazing things to do in the Western US? Check out these resources: