Crazy parties, gambling, and star-studded shows.
That’s what most people picture when they think about Las Vegas.
But that’s not everything that there is to Sin City.
Besides being one of the popular places to visit in the United States, Las Vegas sits within a few hours of driving to many national parks on the West Coast.
Many tourists who come to Sin City also take a road trip to national parks near Las Vegas. You too, should spare at least a few days to explore some of the most scenic places in America that are located just a few hours away from the famous Las Vegas Strip.
And if you need help navigating national parks near Las Vegas and planning your trip of a lifetime, my guide is for you!
Planning your trip to national parks near Las Vegas
Plan to visit multiple national parks near Las Vegas? Consider purchasing America the Beautiful National Parks pass.
Here’s why you should do it:
The entrance to a national park in the United States costs about $35 on average, while a pass costs $80 and allows you to access most parks within the National Park System.
Renting a car for your trip
To explore national parks near Las Vegas, you will NEED a car. Make sure to book it ahead of your visit, especially if you travel during summer which is the busiest time in Las Vegas.
And, if you plan to spend a few weeks on the road, and don’t want to spend a fortune on hotels, consider renting a van. RV Share is a popular company for renting vans, as they offer a great inventory and reasonable prices.
Best National Parks Near Las Vegas
1. Death Valley National Park
Where to stay: Amargosa Opera House
Distance from Las Vegas: 120 miles
Death Valley is one of the most enigmatic places in the American Southwest, and one of the most popular national parks near Las Vegas, particularly with international travelers. Besides being the hottest and driest place in North America, it is also home to many beautiful landscapes, hiking trails, and amazing dark skies.
While it can be really hot in summer and even early fall, Death Valley is a perfect destination during winter months.
From December through early March temperatures hover between the high 50s and low 70s degrees Fahrenheit. While it’s a popular day trip from Las Vegas among many travelers, I recommend spending more than just a day in Death Valley.
If you only have a day, and want to make the most out of your time, consider a guided tour of Death Valley from Las Vegas.
Best Tours of Death Valley from Las Vegas
Visiting Death Valley on a day tour from Las Vegas is a popular option, as it doesn’t require a car rental and allows you to tour the park with a licensed guide who can tell you about all major points of interest in Death Valley.
Death Valley is the largest national park in the lower 48 states, and its overlooks, hikes, and points of interest are very spread out, so you will have to do a lot of driving.
It’s a bit tough to visit all of the cool spots of Death Valley if you have a limited time, however, if you plan your trip right, you can still do it!
And my guide to 10 most incredible places to visit in Death Valley can help you in your planning process.
2. 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 sits only 2,5 hours away from Las Vegas by car and just under one hour if you take a 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.
If you come to Grand Canyon, 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!
3. Zion National Park
Where to stay: Zion Canyon Lodge
Distance from Las Vegas: 160 miles
Zion is one of the most popular national parks in America. It’s also one of the best national parks near Las Vegas that offers a reprieve from the scorching desert heat of Las Vegas especially in late spring in summer.
Best Tours of Zion National Park 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.
While Zion is a relatively small park, it boasts gorgeous scenery: a 15-mile Zion Canyon stretches for 15 miles and is covered with lush vegetation. If you happen to visit Zion during summer months, you can also tread the waters of the Virgin River in the Narrows.
Feeling the adrenaline rush?
Try a dizzying hike to Angel’s Landing, the highest point at Zion National Park. Although the hike requires good physical shape and an ability to handle the trail along the steep, narrow ledges, the incredible view at the top makes the effort well worth it!
4. Bryce Canyon National Park
Where to stay: Bryce Canyon Lodge
Distance from Las Vegas: 270 miles
Famous for its hoodoos, the bright orange spire-like rock formations, Bryce packs on plenty of adventure. Here you will find amazing hikes and scenic beauty that will leave you speechless.
Best Tours of Bryce Canyon National Park From Las Vegas
Bryce Canyon is a close neighbor of Zion. Many travelers combine these two parks in one trip, because they are about 1 hour and 20 minutes apart from each other.
While Bryce Canyon gets busy in summer, winters here are less crowded. And when the bright orange rock formations get covered by the dusting of snow, the landscape becomes pure magic!
My guide to Bryce Canyon National Park will tell you about some of the park’s most beautiful spots that you can hit in just ONE day!
5. Yosemite National Park
Where to stay: Mariposa Hotel Inn
Distance from Las Vegas: 370 miles
Yosemite National Park is a true treasure and an unmissable stop on your California itinerary.
It’s home to many incredible sights such as Yosemite Falls, the highest waterfall in North America, the iconic Half Dome, Glacier Point, and countless hiking trails for all levels.
While Yosemite is not one of the most easily accessible national parks near Las Vegas, it’s worth the effort. The drive to Yosemite from Las Vegas takes between 5 and 6 hours, however, you can make it easier by stopping at Death Valley along the way. Other places that you should check on your way to Death Valley are Alabama Hills, Mono Lake, and Mammoth Lakes.
After visiting Yosemite, some travelers head to other popular destinations in Northern California such as South Lake Tahoe or San Francisco, and if you have a few weeks, you might want to do something similar.
To your trip to Yosemite National Park, and learn about of the most scenic hikes in Yosemite Valley, the heart of the park, read my guide.
6. Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park
Where to stay: Stony Creek Lodge
Distance from Las Vegas: 380 miles
Home to General Sherman, the largest tree in the world, Sequoia National Park is a big bucket item on many travelers’ lists.
Walk along the grove of sequoias to see the true magnitude of these giants and hike to scenic overlooks. Morro Rock is my favorite spot in Sequoia that provides 360-degree panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
However, Sequoia National Park isn’t one of the closest national parks near Las Vegas, and requires between 6-7 hours of driving, which is why it’s a good idea to combine it with a visit to Yosemite or other destinations in California.
It sits on the other side of the mountains from Yosemite and is more suited for travelers who make their trip to Los Angeles after visiting Las Vegas and then head to northern California.
The drive from Yosemite to Sequoia is over 200 miles, so if you want to visit both, start with Sequoia and go north to Yosemite from there.
Looking for another beautiful place to visit in Northern California not far from national parks? Try South Lake Tahoe a town on the shores of one of the largest alpine lakes in North America!
7. Joshua Tree National Park
Where to stay: 49 Palms Oasis Escape
Distance from Las Vegas: 155 miles
If you are going to drive from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, a stop at Joshua Tree National park is a must.
Joshua Tree is located just under two hours east from Los Angeles near Palm Springs which makes it one of the most popular places for recreation among Southern California residents.
What makes this national park so special is its stunning collection of Joshua Trees that populate its desert landscape. Along with Joshua Trees, you will find rugged mountains, boulders in all shapes and forms and other quirky rock formations that make this park such a special place.
Joshua tree is a popular place with rock climbers and it also has a good variety of easy and moderate trails, which makes this place ideal for all hiking levels.
From October through May when temperatures cool down in the desert, it’s a popular place for camping.
8. Great Basin National Park
Where to stay: Stargazer Inn
Distance from Las Vegas: 307 miles
Nevada’s only national park, Great Basin, is the state’s best-kept secret.
Here you will find the incredible scenic beauty similar to those of the more famous national parks near Las Vegas but will not encounter anywhere near as many people.
Great Basin is one of the less-visited national parks in the United States, and definitely one of the least famous national parks near Las Vegas because of its remote location.
But that’s exactly what makes it so cool!
The skies at this national park are so crazy clear, that it’s quickly becoming one of the most popular places for stargazing on the West Coast.
If you want to enjoy the pristine alpine lakes, explore the underground caverns and climb the Wheeler Peak, the highest mountain in Nevada, you should spare a couple of days for your visit to Great Basin National Park!
9. Channel Islands National Park
Where to stay: Hotel Californian
Distance from Las Vegas: 330 miles
Located off the coast of Central California, Channel Island National Park is one of the least visited national parks in the United States.
But if you end up driving to Los Angeles and further up California Coast, Channel Islands is a great stop along your itinerary. If you make your way here, I recommend stopping for a couple of days in nearby Santa Barbara, one of the most beautiful towns along Central California Coast.
Nicknamed the Galapagos of North America, Channel Islands boast an incredible array of biodiversity that can’t be found anywhere else on the planet.
Channel Island National Park makes a great day trip from Santa Barbara as it can be accessed only via a boat ride from the neighboring Ventura.
Similar to other less crowded national parks near Las Vegas, Channel Islands boasts pristine dark skies. Here you can rent a kayak and take a fun ride in the waters of the Pacific. It’s an amazing place if you want to disconnect and enjoy the nature.
10. Arches National Park
Where to stay: Adventure Inn Moab
Distance from Las Vegas: 500 miles
One of the most iconic places in the southwest, Arches National Park boasts over 2,000 sandstone arches scattered throughout the park. Besides the arches, this park has plenty of scenic natural sights and a lot of easy hikes.
While the drive to Las Vegas from the Arches isn’t exactly a breeze, the park is located along a popular travel route along Interstate-70 which makes it one of the most popular national parks near Las Vegas.
11. Canyonlands National Park
Where to stay: Red Cliffs Lodge
Distance from Las Vegas: 465 miles
If you are going to visit Arches National Park, combine your visit with Canyonlands National Park, one of the most overlooked national parks near Las Vegas.
One of the most popular features of the park is the Mesa Arch attracts tons of photographers especially during the sunrise. If you don’t feel like waking up so early, you can visit right after the sunrise around 7 and 8 a.m. when the Mesa Arch is mostly empty.
Some of my favorite hikes at Canyonlands National Park are Upheaval Dome that can be reached via Upheaval Dome Trail. If you are looking for something easier, White Rim Overlook is a trail under 2 miles perfect for beginner hikers. Another cool hike is Grand View Point that provides incredible vistas of the park at many overlooks.
12. Capitol Reef National Park
Where to stay: Red Sands Hotel
Distance from Las Vegas: 327 miles
The least visited of all national parks in Utah, Capitol Reef is a treasure trove of unspoiled beauty. If you ask me, I’ll say that it’s one of the best places to visit in Utah if you want to enjoy the state’s stunning backcountry without the crowds of Zion and Arches.
Capitol Reef might not as famous as other Utah national parks in the “Mighty 5,” but it boasts many unexplored places that will blow you away! Cathedral Valley is one of the most popular stop at Capitol Reef, although you need a 4X4 vehicle to get there, as this is a day trip to the remote part of the park along unpaved roads.
If you want a quick lesson in history, stop at the Petroglyph Panel at the beginning of the park where you can see amazing collection of prehistoric drawings that were done by the tribes that once called this part of Utah home.
13. Petrified Forest National Park
Where to stay: Quality Inn Holbrook
Distance to Las Vegas: 5 hours 30 minutes
Located within Navajo and Apache counties in northeastern Arizona, Petrified Forest National Park is one of the most underrated national parks within a driving distance from Las Vegas. Petrified Forest boasts over 200 million years of history and a huge collection of petrified wood – hence its name.
Millions of years ago, this area was covered by lush vegetation, however, hot volcanic lava destroyed everything on its way and whatever was left of it became embedded into the natural sediment. The petrified wood that you here today was obscured by erosion over time and today travelers from all over the country come to see this wonderful natural phenomenon.
Today, this area is home to many viewpoints, several camping areas and a verity of hikes.
Within the park, there’s also portion of historic Route 66. Head to the Painted Desert Inn located within this historic route.
PRO TIP: If you plan to visit some of the best national parks near Las Vegas, consider extending your trip and visiting other national parks along the West Coast USA. This guide will help you to plan your itinerary across some of the best national parks in the region!
Best state parks near Las Vegas
Did you know that in additional national parks there are also many cool state parks near Las Vegas? Here are some of my favorites:
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!
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 just over an hour north Las Vegas, 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! And the good news is you can also join a guided tour of Valley of Fire, if you don’t feel like driving.
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.
Cathedral Gorge State Park
Distance from Las Vegas: 165 miles
Where to stay: Pine Tree Inn and Bakery
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.
Snow Canyon State Park
Where to stay: Inn On The Cliff
Distance from Las Vegas: 128 miles
Located in Utah, 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. 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
Check skateparks.utah.gov ahead of your visit to see updates and conditions at individual state parks.
Things to know before visiting national parks near Las Vegas
- Bring plenty of water and snacks. Some national parks near Las Vegas are remote and have limited food services (Death Valley, for example). This means that it might take you an hour or so before you get to the nearest store where you can get food and water.
- Don’t rely on your cellphone. Cell phone service can be sporadic and sometimes even non-existent in many national parks around Las Vegas. Make sure to download offline maps or grab paper maps at the visitor center.
- National Parks near Las Vegas CAN be dangerous! Some hiking trails in places like Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks require superb navigation skills as they are located in the wilderness and can be challenging for a novice hiker. If you want to hike one of the more advanced trails, it’s better to hike with other people.
- It can be very hot. Some national parks in the southwest like Death Valley, Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree see triple digits in summer, especially in recent years, as temperatures have been on the rise. Take this into account if you plan on hiking or spending time outdoors.
- Make sure to check your car. Many of the national parks near Las Vegas are remote and have very limited cell phone service, which means you need to make sure your car is in the sound condition. Check your tires, oil and battery before hitting the road.
If you plan to spend at least a week on the road, it’s also a good idea to invest money in health insurance. WorldNomads is an excellent choice as it protects you in case of hospital visits, lost and stolen luggage and various accidents.
Final word on visiting best national parks near Las Vegas
Whatever national parks you decide to near Las Vegas, I hope you have an adventure of a lifetime. People from all over the world flock to America’s West Coast because of its scenic beauty and iconic cities (besides Las Vegas) that boast so much culture and entertainment.
Additionally, you can read my guide to the West Coast national parks that will help you to avoid the mistakes and get ready for your adventure of a lifetime!
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