25 Greatest Day Journeys from Las Vegas You Can’t Miss
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Whenever people find out we lived in Las Vegas, the most common response by far is “Wow, how was that?” Most people only think of the Strip when they’re visiting Vegas, but our favorite part of living there was how much there was to explore outdoors.
15 BEST DAY TRIPS FROM LAS VEGAS
THE LIST [ CLICK LINKS TO SKIP AHEAD ]
- Red Rock Canyon NCA
- Bonnie Springs Ranch
- Boulder City
- Mt Charleston
- Valley of Fire State Park
- Mojave National Preserve CA
- St George UT
- Red Cliffs NCA + Snow Canyon UT
- Grand Canyon West AZ
- Death Valley National Park NV + CA
- UFOs + Extraterrestrial Hwy
- Lake Havasu City AZ
- Zion National Park UT
- Cathedral Gorge State Park
- Route 66
+ More Day Trip Ideas Under 3 Hours
1. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Distance: 16.4 mi / 20 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Calico Hills, Scenic Loop, Red Springs Loop Hike
What to Eat: Other Mama, DW Bistro, Aloha Kitchen
Red Rock Canyon is technically in Las Vegas, but when we lived there, we considered it more like a day trip. It’s nice for a day hike or scenic drive. It’s also a huge climbing destination, and tons of climbers travel here since there are hundreds of boulders and sport climbing routes! Sadly, we got into climbing after we left Vegas, but got our first chance to climb there while visiting last year.
2. Bonnie Springs Ranch, Nevada
Distance: 26.7 mi / 34 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Old Town, Horseback Riding, Petting Zoo
What to Eat: Bonnie Springs Ranch Restaurant, Suzuya Patisserie, Tonkatsu Kiyoshi
Originally built in 1843, this is a great spot to experience what the west used to be like. You can watch daily reenactments honoring the Old West, check out the shops, or visit the petting zoo. This is a popular spot for families.
photo: Miss Shari
3. Boulder City, Nevada
Distance: 26.2 mi / 31 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Zipline Bootleg Canyon, Gold Strike Hot Springs, Hoover Dam
What to Eat: The Coffee Cup, Fox Smokehouse BBQ, Southwest Diner
Boulder City is close by but it feels completely different than Vegas. Downtown is a great area to eat and shop, but there is also plenty to do in the area. You can zipline, check out the natural hot springs, go shooting, or tour the iconic Hoover Dam.
4. Mt. Charleston, Nevada
Distance: 39.1 mi / 45 min (map)
What to Do / See: Mt. Charleston Scenic Byway, Spring Mountains Visitor Center, Bristlecone Trail
What to Eat: Mt Charleston Lodge, Kame Omakase, Cutting Board Filipino Gastropub
Mt. Charleston is the perfect place to get away especially on days that are blistering hot in the city. It’s typically 10 degrees cooler and gets you away from all the crowds of the strip. Go for a hike, have a picnic, or just enjoy the views along the byway.
5. Valley of Fire, Nevada
Distance: 49.1 mi / 55 min (map)
What to Do / See: Fire Wave Hike, Elephant Rock, Rainbow Vista
What to Eat: Carly’s Pizza, Sugar’s Home Plate, Just Eat in Vegas
This was one of our favorite spots to explore near Vegas. There are plenty of hikes to check out, including the Fire Wave, or if it’s really hot, you can enjoy the views from your car on the scenic drive. Seeing the night sky from the park is amazing too!
6. Mojave National Preserve, California
Distance: 58.5 mi / 53 min (map)
What to Do / See: Lava Tube, Kelso Dunes, Rings Trail
What to Eat: No restaurants in the preserve, eat in Vegas or pack food.
We drove by Mojave National Preserve a lot going to and from LA or SD but only stopped by once. Just like Death Valley, it covers a huge amount of land, so we recommend only trying to see a portion of it at a time as a day trip.
7. St George, Utah
Distance: 119 mi / 1 hr 45 min (map)
What to Do / See: St George Utah Temple,Pioneer Park, Red Hills Desert Garden, Kayenta
What to Eat: Painted Pony, Benja Thai & Sushi, Cliffside Restaurant
Desert red rock meets alpine mountains in St. George, Utah. You can explore museums, shop in town, or enjoy all the amazing outdoor scenery. It’s an easy getaway for a day trip but can easily fill your whole weekend too. It’s also the closest “big” city to Zion National Park.
photo: Carl Berger
8. Red Cliffs National Conservation Area + Snow Canyon State Park, Utah
Distance: 121 mi / 1 hr 45 min (map)
What to Do / See: Silver Reef Trail (Dinosaur Tracks), Chuckwalla Trail, Anasazi Trail
What to Eat: Angelica’s Mexican Grill, Roys Pizza & Pasta, Irmita’s Casita
There are roughly 45,000 acres of public land in the Red Cliffs NCA. It’s surrounded by small communities, and you can easily access the amenities you need before or after visiting. Once in the area, there are a ton of hikes and trails to explore. You can also check out Snow Canyon State Park which is nearby. It is made up of beuatiful red and white Navajo sandstone.
photo: junaidrao (left), Thomas Jundt (right)
9. Grand Canyon West, Arizona
Distance: 122 mi / 2 hr 10 min (map)
What to Do / See: Grand Canyon Skywalk, Hualapai River Runners, Helicopter Ride
What to Eat: Sa Nyu Wa Restaurant. Not many great options, so pack food.
Grand Canyon West is the closest part of Grand Canyon from Las Vegas. It’s a great spot to get a taste of how amazing this canyon is. You can walk along the skywalk or do something more adventurous, like white water raft or ride a helicopter. There’s so much to see and do at the Grand Canyon that we prefer making it longer than a day trip, but we have done it in a day when we were limited on time.
10. Death Valley National Park, Nevada and California
Distance: 142 mi / 2 hr 11 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Zabriskie Point, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Badwater Basin
What to Eat: Toll Road Restaurant, Timbisha Village Frybread Tacos and Shave Ice, Panamint Springs Resort Restaurant
Death Valley National Park is a huge park! You can be in the middle of sand dunes at one moment, then amongst some of the most colorful hills you’ve ever seen the next. If you’re headed up for a day trip don’t try to do it all. Focus on one region of the park. Everything is so far apart. To help you get started, check out these 9 incredible things to do!
11. UFO Road Trip, Nevada
Distance: 147 mi / 2 h 13 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Rachel, Extraterrestrial Hwy, Black Mailbox / Area 51
What to Eat: Little A’Le’Inn, Windmill Ridge, Alamo Diner
If you’re into aliens or just looking for something weird and quirky to do, this is a great road trip with lots of stops. Take photos with the Extraterrestrial Highway Sign, stop at ET Fresh Jerky, or pick up a gift a the Alien Research Center Gift Shop. You’ll also drive through Area 51 and can spend your afternoon wondering what’s going on!
photo: James Marvin Phelps (left), Caacrinolaas (right), Chris Moran @ TravelNevada (bottom)
12. Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Distance: 154 mi / 2 hr 26 min (map)
What to Do / See: Lake Havasu, London Bridge, Rotary Park
What to Eat: Cha-Bones, Barley Brothers Brewery, Shugrue’s Restaurant & Bakery
Lake Havasu is known as a spring break spot, but the beautiful waters are worth visiting without all the crowds. It’s a great way to get in some beach time without heading to the coast. Also, don’t forget to check out London Bridge. In the 60s, the London Bridge was dismantled and shipped to Lake Havasu, so you can actually cross the bridge in Arizona!
13. Zion National Park, Utah
Distance: 160 mi / 2 hr 35 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Angels Landing, Zion Narrows (Bottom-Up), Canyon Overlook Trail
What to Eat:
Zion National Park definitely deserves more than just a day, but being so close, you can absolutely pop up there for just for a day. We drove up just to hike Angel’s Landing. There are plenty of other amazing day hikes in Zion, or you can just enjoy the views from the valley.
14. Cathedral Gorge State Park
Distance: 165 mi / 2 hr 35 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Miller Point, Cathedral Caves, Moon Caves
What to Eat: Silver Cafe, Ghost Town Art & Coffee Co
We visited Cathedral Gorge State Park during our Ultimate Nevada Road Trip and it was one of our favorite spots by far! It has such a unique landscape and so many corners to explore. There are also a couple of other state parks nearby to check like like Kershaw-Ryan State Park and Echo Canyon State Park, but you can easily fill your day playing at Cathedral Gorge.
15. Route 66 to Seligman, AZ
Distance: 190 mi / 3 hr (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Giganticus Headicus, Keepers of the Wild, Grand Canyon Caverns
What to Eat: Diamond Creek Restaurant, Westside Lilo’s Cafe, Mr. Dz’s Route 66 Diner
For those of you who love road trips, head south to Route 66 and drive to Seligman, AZ. Enjoy the views along this scenic drive and appreciate why this is such an iconic trip.
photo: Randy Heinitz
More Day Trip Ideas under 3 Hours
- Lake Las Vegas (20.2 mi / 31 min / map)
- River Mountains Loop Trail, Henderson (21.0 / 24 min / map)
- Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area, Henderson (28.2 mi / 33 min / map)
- Lake Mead (31.8 mi / 37 min / map)
- Pioneer Saloon (38.3 mi / 41 min / map)
- Nelson, NV (43.7 / 43 min / map)
- Willow Beach (48.7 mi / 56 min / map)
- Eldorado Canyon & Gold Mine, NV (52.6 mi / 1 hr / map)
- Pahrump, NV (63.1 mi / 1 h 10 min / map)
- Overton – Lost City Museum (64.1 / 1 hr 2 min / map)
- Nipton, CA (64.4 mi /1 hr 2 min / map)
- Mount Tipton Wilderness Area, AZ (82.8 mi / 1 hr 30 min / map)
- Armagosa Valley (87.9 mi / 1 h 17 min / map)
- Shoshone, CA (90.1 mi / 1 h 34 min / map)
- Laughlin, NV (97.6 mi / 1 h 30 min / map)
- Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, CA (112 mi / 1 h 43 min / map)
- Rhyolite Ghost Town (120 mi / 1 h 49 min / map)
- Dixie National Forest, UT (182 mi / 2 h 40 min / map)
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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust
ESTHER + JACOB
Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 50 travel blogs in the world. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city every year and are currently in NYC.
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