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Las Vegas is one of the most popular destinations in the United States.
People from all over the world flock to Sin City to party it up. And the common stereotype is that there’s nothing but the lifeless desert beyond the glimmer of the Las Vegas Strip.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Las Vegas is a true getaway to adventure. Within a few hours of the city, you can find dozens of amazing places to visit near Las Vegas by car such as national and state parks, refuges and scenic landmarks.
Booking a rental car in Las Vegas
If you need a break from the craziness and partying, all you need to do is get on a road! Just don’t forget to book your car before your trip. Las Vegas is a busy destination, and you don’t want to pay more because you booked your car too late. I recommend Discover Cars that offers a great inventory and affordable rates.
Check my complete guide to renting a car in Las Vegas to avoid mistakes and save money 😃
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Here’s my round-up of the best places to visit near Las Vegas by car:
1. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Distance from Las Vegas: 16.5 miles
Where to Stay: Hampton Inn & Suites Las Vegas-Red Rock/Summerlin
Best time to visit: Red Rock Canyon is beautiful during any time of the year, however because of the extremely hot temperatures in summer, it’s better to visit it from October through April.
Shortly called Red Rock by locals, this is by far one of the most popular places to visit near Las Vegas by car.
Red Rock sits about 25 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, and offers an amazing combination of stunning scenery and plenty of easy-to-moderate hiking trails.
PRO TIP: If you are visiting for the first time, consider booking a guided tour of Red Rock!
It’s also one of the most popular destinations for rock climbing in the United States, as scores of climbers from the colder parts of the United States come here during winter.
Red Rock Canyon sees a lot fo traffic, especially on weekends, so plan to visit early in the morning. During big holidays and weekends, it’s not uncommon to see the main entrance of the Red Rock closed because of the influx of visitors!
Entrance to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is $15 per vehicle.
Best guided tours of Red Rock Canyon from Las Vegas
Guided tours of Red Rock Canyon are excellent for those travelers who don’t have a car and still want to enjoy this outdoor gem. Organized tours depart daily from Las Vegas and include stops at all major points points of Red Rock Canyon accompanied by a professional guide.
PRO TIP: If you need help planning your trip and finding the best hikes in Red Rock Canyon, see my complete guide to Red Rock Canyon!
2. Valley of Fire State Park
Distance from Las Vegas: 50 miles
Where to stay: Unfortunately, there are no hotels near Valley of Fire State Park. Most visitors who come here do it either on a day trip from Las Vegas, or stop as they travel between Utah, California and Nevada.
Try Excalibur, one of the most budget-friendly hotels in Las Vegas!
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Best time to visit: Mid-fall through April. Similar to Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire State Park sees triple digit temperatures during summer, which is not ideal for hiking.
The largest state park in Nevada, Valley of Fire is a true photographer’s dream with its bright orange outcrops, narrow slot canyons and otherworldly landscapes that make for stunning photos!
Best tours of Valley of Fire from Las Vegas
Valley of Fire State Park is located in a remote area, and you need a car rental to get here. The good news is you can also join a guided tour of Valley of Fire, if you don’t want to rent a vehicle and plan your trip. A will depart from Las Vegas and take you around the park before brining you back in the evening.
Valley of Fire also offers many easy hikes that don’t require a lot of preparation or experience. Entrance to Valley of Fire State Park costs $10.
3. Lake Mead National Recreational Area + Hoover Dam
Distance from Las Vegas: 35 miles
Where to stay: Hoover Dam Lodge
Best time to visit: Year-round
Home to Hoover Dam, Lake Mead National Recreational Area offers access to tons cool activities such as hiking, kayaking, biking and jet skiing.
Best tours of Hoover Dam from Las Vegas
You can also take a day tour of Hoover Dam to learn its fascinating history. Due to its proximity to Sin City, Hoover Dam is one of the most popular places to visit near Las Vegas and it can get really busy, especially during summer which is the peak tourist season.
One of my favorite places within Lake Mead National Recreational Area is Black Canyon. It’s the ultimate place for boating and kayaking. Here you can rent a kayak and explore the scenic canyon and hot flowing streams and warm pools of water throughout the area.
4. Black Canyon/Emerald Cove
Distance from Las Vegas: 55 miles (57 minutes)
Where to stay: Best Western Hoover Dam Hotel
Best time to visit: Any time
Part of the Lake Mead Recreation Area, the Black Canyon, and the nearby Emerald Cove is the best-kept secret of Las Vegas. Black Canyon is one of the best places to visit near Las Vegas thanks to a relatively quick distance from Sin City and the incredible scenery that makes you feel like you are hundreds of miles away from the nearest city.
I recommend a half-day kayaking tour of Black Canyon that includes a stop at the gorgeous Emerald Cove which forms the border between Nevada and Arizona. The tour begins at the scenic Willow Beach where you can grab your paddles, and life jackets and jump in a kayak. From Willow Beach, you will paddle for the next 5 miles down the Black Canyon along with your guide.
This is an incredibly scenic place – so don’t forget to bring your camera! The area boasts steep rugged cliffs, natural hot springs, and remnants of indigenous settlements. Many tourists who come to Las Vegas miss out on this gem, so make sure to visit it!
As an alternative, you can join this off-road ATV or UTV adventure from Las Vegas that allows you to explore El Dorado Canyon and the Techatticup gold mine. During the tour, you will get a chance to explore the back canyons and remote regions of this spectacular area.
5. Cathedral Gorge State Park
Distance from Las Vegas: 165 miles
Where to stay: Pine Tree Inn and Bakery near Panaca
Best time to visit: Although Cathedral Gorge State Park sits a few hours north of Las Vegas, it still can get pretty hot in summer. Winters at Cathedral Gorge are slightly more chilly, that’s why it’s better to plan your trip between August and November.
If you are looking for a place off the beaten track, head to Cathedral Gorge State Park.
This hidden spot boasts Martian-like landscapes, so you absolutely have to bring your camera when you come here! The good part about visiting Cathedral Gorge State Park is that it’s very compact and you can explore the entire place on foot.
6. Death Valley National Park
Distance from Las Vegas: 142 miles
Where to stay: The Inn at Death Valley
Best time to visit: As with many scenic places in the Mojave Desert, it’s better to plan your visit from mid-fall through mid-spring. This rule is especially true for Death Valley that has some the hottest temperatures in North America!
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While this place has become famous because of its scorching heat (temperatures in the park reach up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit during summer), Death Valley is also home to many enigmatic landscapes such as Racetrack Playa, Badwater Basin and Zabriskie Point.
Best day tours of Death Valley from Las Vegas
Visiting Death Valley on a day tour from Las Vegas is a popular option, especially among those travelers who don’t have a car rental. Visiting Death Valley with an organized tour from Las Vegas allows you to explore the park with a licensed guide and see all the highlights without having to plan the entire itinerary.
PRO TIP: While many travelers skip Death Valley and head straight from Las Vegas to Yosemite and Sequoia National parks, I recommend taking at least a day to explore it. Despite the common stereotype, Death Valley is a lot more than just a piece of barren desert.
Death Valley is actually a perfect place for thrill-seekers!
Some of the landscapes at this national bark look like they were taken straight from the sci-fi movie and when you drive through Death Valley, you might even feel like you are completely cut off from the civilization, it’s that desolate.
As with other national parks near Las Vegas, a fee to enter Death Valley is $35 per car.
PRO TIP: This is one of the biggest national parks in the United States, so plan your trip accordingly. If you are short on time, and still want to experience this magical place, go on a guided tour of Death Valley from Las Vegas.
Check my guide to the most incredible places to visit in Death Valley to make your planning process easier.
7. China Date Ranch Farm
Distance from Las Vegas: 87 miles
Where to stay: Delight’s Hot Springs Resort
Best time to visit: Mid-fall through mid-spring
If you are going to visit Death Valley, make a stop at China Date Ranch Farm.
China Date Ranch Farm is a little oasis nestled in the heart of the harsh Mojave Desert – by the way, if you are a fan of adrenaline, there are many excursions on ATVs in this desert for you, such as this one. I discovered China Date Ranch only because a friend told me about it, and really enjoyed its amazing atmosphere!
China Date Ranch is a family-operated farm where you can purchase delicious products made from fresh dates and walk along the date palms, towering cottonwoods and watch amazing wildlife. This place is located near the town of Tecopa south of Death Valley National Park.
PRO TIP: My guide to China Date Ranch near Death Valley will help you to plan your adventure!
8. Nelson Ghost Town
Distance from Las Vegas: 45 miles
Where to stay: There are no hotels in Nelson Ghost Town. If you want to stay somewhere nearby, you can take a look at hotels in the nearby Boulder City.
Best time to visit: Late September through March
There are dozens and hundreds of ghost towns in Nevada. Since the state history was built on mining, you will find them in every corner of the state!
This tour of Nelson Ghost Town is super popular. It also includes stops at Seven Magic Mountains, Boulder City and Hoover Dam. This is perfect if you want to get a break from Las Vegas 🙂
One of the most famous ghost towns near Las Vegas is Nelson Ghost Town. Located near the historic Eldorado Canyon in the middle of the rugged Nevada desert, this place has become popular among photographers and videographers because of its Wild West-like scenery.
You can also tour the historic Techatticup Mine with a licensed guide. Tours have to be arranged in advance online or over the phone.
Check out my guide to Nelson Ghost Town and learn about how to get a permit to take photos at this place.
9. Page, Arizona
Distance from Las Vegas: 271 miles
Where to stay: Comfort Inn & Suites Page at Lake Powell
Best time to visit: Year round. However, keep in mind that summer brings hot temperatures that could make being outside a bit tough.
Page used to be a sleepy town in northern Arizona that very few people knew about.
Then photos of Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon popped up online and thousands of tourists from all over the world started making their way to this place.
Today, Page is one of the most popular destinations in the Southwest and one of the most popular places to visit near Las Vegas by car. Visitors typically spend about 2 days in Page exploring Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powell.
Lower Antelope tours from Las Vegas
Tours of Lower Antelope Canyon from Las Vegas depart early morning and last about 15 hours before brining your back late in the evening. Tours include stops at Lower Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, as well as a quick lunch stop. Admission to Lower Antelope Canyon is included in price.
PRO TIP: Antelope Canyon in Arizona is one of the most popular places to visit in Page. Now you can wait up to a few hours in line if you visit this spot during the high season.
To avoid mistakes and enjoy your trip, read my guide to Antelope Canyon in Arizona!
10. Zion National Park
Distance from Las Vegas: 165 miles
Where to stay: Econolodge Hurricane – Zion National Park Area
Best time to visit: Summer is by far the busiest time at Zion. Plan your trip for fall or mid-to-late spring.
There is a good reason why Zion National Park has become of the most popular national parks in the United States.
Surrounded by the towering red cliffs, and lush with greenery, this place offers a welcome respite from the Las Vegas desert.
Best day tours of Zion from Las Vegas
If you don’t have a car rental, consider visiting Zion National Park with a guided tour from Las Vegas. These tours are popular among many travelers who want to visit Zion on a day trip.
Zion National Park has a steady flow of tourists during all seasons but it gets really busy in summer, and in recent years, overcrowding has become a big issue here.
Angels Landing, the highest point of the Zion National Park will give you an ultimate adrenaline rush, as the trail toward the peak goes along a knife-edge ridge.
But if you are afraid of the heights, you could go to the Narrows, a picturesque hike that snakes along the Virgin River and offers incredible scenery. It takes less than 3 hours from Las Vegas to Zion, so if you are looking for a perfect day trip from Las Vegas, this national park should be on your list.
11. Mount Charleston
Distance from Las Vegas: 35 miles
Where to stay: Golden Gate Casino Hotel
Best time to visit: Year-round
Snow in the desert?
Charleston Peak or Mount Charleston, as it’s called by locals, is the highest mountain near Las Vegas that stands almost 12,000 feet tall. One of the easiest places to visit near Las Vegas by car, Mount Charleston provides a nice retreat from the scorching desert heat in summer, as temperatures here are at least 10 degrees lower than in the Las Vegas Valley.
In winter, Mount Charleston is the main destination for skiing and snowboarding near Las Vegas.
Whether you want to hike, camp or just relax, Mount Charleston is a perfect getaway from the Las Vegas Strip.
12. Grand Canyon National Park
Where to stay: Budget Inn Flagstaff
Distance from Las Vegas: 250 miles
Many tourists combine their Las Vegas getaway with a stint to Grand Canyon.
This national park is only 2,5 hours away from Las Vegas by car and just under one hour by helicopter tour. In recent years, Grand Canyon has become one of the most popular national parks near Las Vegas, with a few million people visiting it from all over the world.
Visiting Grand Canyon by helicopter is a perfect alternative to driving, if you are short on time and already have a long list of places to visit near Las Vegas.
But if you decide to drive to Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, make sure to visit some of the most beautiful spots such as Havasu Falls, the Rim Trail, and the North Rim, which is less crowded than the South Rim.
Best Tours of Grand Canyon from Las Vegas
Similar to Death Valley, Grand Canyon gets hot in summer, so don’t forget to bring plenty of water and put on sunscreen when you come here.
When you prepare for your trip and get all the proper hiking gear and study trails, your trip to Grand Canyon can become one of your best memories!
13. Seven Magic Mountains
Where to stay: Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas
Distance from Las Vegas: 25 miles (30 minutes)
Best time to visit: Any time
Seven Magic Mountains is a colorful piece of art along Interstate-15 just outside of Las Vegas. Created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, Seven Magic Mountains are pyramids made out of neon-colored boulders stacked on top of one another.
This spot has become one of the most popular roadside attractions as many people stop here to snap a colorful photo for their social media. It is also one of the best places to visit near Las Vegas by car, if you don’t want to drive too far.
If you decide to come here, make sure to bring a hat, some sunscreen as well as plenty of water and snacks because the area has no amenities.
14. Sloan Canyon
Where to stay: Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas
Distance from Las Vegas: 17.3 mi (20 minutes)
Best time to visit: Mid-fall through late spring
If you are looking to disconnect and get some exercise, head to Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area which spans over 49,000 acres of the gorgeous desert.
The area boasts dry lake beds, stunning landscapes, and many overlooks, but the most famous feature of this area is the Sloan Canyon Petroglyph Site with over 300 panels of carved rock art and 1,700 individual design elements created by Native American tribes thousands of years ago.
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GOOD TO KNOW: Remember NOT to touch them, as oil in your hands can damage these fragile panels.
To test your stamina, try the Black Mountain Trail, a strenuous 7.6-mile hike that brings you to the peak with a panoramic view of the Las Vegas Strip and even stretches into Arizona to the east and California to the southwest.
Visiting Sloan Canyon is just one of the best places to visit near Las Vegas which doesn’t require a long drive. To learn about other fun things to do in Las Vegas besides gambling, check my complete guide.
15. Mojave National Preserve
Where to stay: Bellagio
Distance from Las Vegas: 150 miles
There’s a good chance you have never heard about Mojave National Preserve, a hidden gem of Southern California just about 1,5 hours from Las Vegas.
This vast area looks somewhat similar to Death Valley National Park with dark mountains, towering dunes, and thousands of Joshua Trees and makes one of the best road trips from Las Vegas if you are looking to visit a place less explored.
Unlike national and state parks in the region, Mojave National Preserve has no entrance fees and receives only a small fraction of visitors that Death Valley and Joshua Tree national parks see.
FUN FACT: There are more Joshua Trees in Mojave NP than in the famous Joshua Tree National Park! And since most trails here are primitive, you have the perfect opportunity to enjoy them without all of the crowds.
Get lost in the expansive 1.6-million acres of the outdoor playground where you can find historic ghost towns, spectacular hiking trails, and climb the towering Kelso Dunes. The area also has several primitive campgrounds, where you can enjoy the pristine desert landscapes.
With no gas stations, stores, or restaurants in the area, Mojave National Preserve is a perfect getaway that has a Wild West feel to it. Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks, and don’t forget to put on a hat and some sunscreen because it can get hot here, especially in summer.
16. Extraterrestrial Highway
Distance from Las Vegas: 100+ miles ( the entire loop from Las Vegas is 470 miles)
If you think the truth is out there, you gotta check out the Extraterrestrial Highway, arguably the most famous road in Nevada that gained worldwide fame because of the many UFO sightings that have been reported here.
After being featured in many shows documentaries and articles, the road has become famous among road trippers, paranormal enthusiasts and UFO believers who flock here in droves. But even if you don’t belong to any of these groups, the Extraterrestrial Highway is one of the best day trips from Las Vegas, because it is really unlike anything else you’ve ever seen!
Best guided tour of Area 51 from Las Vegas
When you get on the road, keep your eyes peeled: the road runs right next to Nevada Test and Training Range that is home to the famous Area 51 – a secret base that the government has long kept secret and where UFO sightings has been reported.
While you can’t visit the base, and trespassing is strictly prohibited, you can enjoy many alien-themed business that cater to UFO chasers such as the Black Mailbox and Little A’Le’Inn where you can spend the night.
Although you technically can visit this place on a day trip from Las Vegas, driving the whole loop requires more time, as you will be traversing some of the remote parts of Nevada.
I recommend at least two days for your adventure.
17. Lake Havasu City
Where to stay: The Nautical Beachfront Resort
Distance from Las Vegas: 153.3 miles
Located in the middle of the desert, Lake Havasu City is just more than 2 hours from Las Vegas by car. Most activities in Lake Havasu City (officially nicknamed “Jet Ski capital of the world”) revolve around the lake. Whether you want to jet ski, kayak, or paddle board, you can do it all here!
Lake Havasu is also known fo its restaurant and party scene, so you can easily combine fun with adventure.
The main area of the city is the Bridgewater Channel that continues from Lake Havasu to Thompson Bay for about 2.5 miles. The Bridgewater Channel is more-or-less the central hub of Lake Havasu City, surrounded by hotels, bars, and restaurants.
If you are visiting in winter, make sure to explore the surrounding desert terrain, as the city is surrounded by the Mojave Mountains. One of the most famous hikes in the area is Arizona Peace Trail that spans from Kingman to Yuma on the border of Mexico and Arizona.
18. Kodachrome Basin State Park
Where to stay: Bryce Country Cabins
Distance from Las Vegas: 276.3 miles (4 hours 32 minutes)
Just 30 minutes outside the famous Bryce Canyon National Park, sits another hidden treasure – Kodachrome Basin State Park which has a very similar scenery to Bryce but far fewer visitors.
This state park is one of the best places to visit in Utah that has been flying under the tourist for years – but now it’s slowly starting to get discovered. Kodachrome is not one of the most typical road trips from Las Vegas, as most visitors come to Utah to see its famous national parks, which is why it’s a good idea to combine a stop in Kodachrome with your trip to Bryce Canyon.
Best tours of Bryce Canyon National Park from Las Vegas
Some of the best hikes in Kodachrome are Shakespeare Arch and Sentinel Trail, a 1.7-mile loop that offers a gorgeous overlook of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument; and the 1,5-mile Angel’s Palace Trail.
The landscape of Kodachrome is dominated by hoodoos, and sand pipes, which are thought to be the remains of geysers that used to dot this area. As the sandstone eroded, the layers of sediment became exposed giving this place unique colors ranging from pink to orange and red.
Kodachrome is surrounded by the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, an outdoor playground with millions of acres of wilderness perfect for multi-day hiking and backcountry camping.
19. Snow Canyon State Park
Where to stay: Inn On The Cliff
Distance from Las Vegas: 128 miles
Although Zion National Park often gets the title of one of the best road trips from Las Vegas, southwest Utah offers plenty of alternatives! One of them is Snow Canyon State Park – a spectacular outdoor playground with mind-blowing views and few visitors.
Located just 11 miles away from St. George, Snow Canyon State Park offers plenty of red-rock scenery and top-notch hiking trails totaling about 16 miles. Contrary to the name, this cozy state park rarely receives any snow, and it was named after Utah leaders Lorenzo and Erastus Snow.
You can also enjoy superb trails for mountain biking, rock climbing, and see wildlife.
Book your tour of the gorgeous Snow Canyon here.
Snow Canyon State Park offers a small campsite with 14 sites for RVs featuring water and electrical hookups and 17 multi-use campsites suitable for tents. The best time to visit is mid-spring and early to mid-fall as summers tend to be very hot in Southern Utah.
This lesser known state park is one of the best places to visit near Las Vegas by car, if you want to get off the beaten track, and escape busy national parks in the area.
Check skateparks.utah.gov ahead of your visit to see updates and conditions at individual state parks.
20. Dixie National Forest
Where to stay: Iron Springs Lodge And Spa
Distance from Las Vegas: 181.6 mi (3 hours)
Best time to visit: late spring through mid-fall
Located just outside of Cedar City in Utah, Dixie National Forest is a popular recreational area that offers wonderful opportunities for camping, hiking, and biking in summer and skiing in winter.
Dixie National Forest offers a nice change of scenery and plenty of space if you already visited Zion and Bryce National Parks and want to see a less busy place. The forest offers hundreds of miles of untouched scenery, which is perfect for adventure lovers.
With free camping and hundreds of hiking trails, this place is an explorer’s paradise. If you have a car rental and want to spend one-night camping and enjoying the outdoors without crowds, Dixie National Forest is one of the best places to visit near Las Vegas by car!
Where to stay in Las Vegas
Whether you are going to spend a few weeks exploring Las Vegas and surrounding areas, of just a few days, you will need a good place to stay. There are many hotels in Las Vegas for all budgets and types of travelers.
Best hotels on Las Vegas Strip
The Strip is home to some of the most famous hotels in Las Vegas such as the LINQ, a photogenic stay with a pool, photogenic rooms and the unbeatable location in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip; Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino that offers a great view of the Bellagio fountains; and ARIA, an eco-sustainable property that offers treatment rooms, massages, and salon services in addition to several outdoor pools.
Best hotels in downtown Las Vegas
Downtown Las Vegas (shortly DTLV) is the historic Las Vegas where most of fun stuff was prior to Las Vegas Strip. Many visitors come to DTLV to visit some of the best museums like the Mob Museum, the Neon Museum or the Old Mormon Fort. The area is also home to the famous Fremont Street, as well as the Las Vegas Arts District with many colorful murals and the Container Park where you can find many restaurants.
Some of the most popular restaurants in downtown Las Vegas are The D Las Vegas, Circa Resort, one of the newest hotels in Las Vegas and the tallest structure north of the Las Vegas Strip and the Golden Gate, a historic hotel along the Fremont Street.
Best hotels on North Las Vegas strip
The North Las Vegas strip is home to many budget hotels in Las Vegas. While many hotels in the heart of Las Vegas Strip tend to be more expensive, the northern end has many less expensive accommodations where you can stay for a fraction of the price. Some of the most popular stays in the area are SAHARA and Circus, Circus Hotel.
More inspiration for your road trip
A few final words
I hope you enjoy your tour of the Las Vegas area. Please let me know if you have any questions, and I will do my best to help you plan your trip!