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17 Exciting Day Trips from Las Vegas (+ Map)!

Looking for day trips from Las Vegas? If you are planning to visit Vegas and you’ve set aside a few days in your itinerary to explore outside Sin City, good for you!

Vegas is within day trip distance of some epic destinations, including national and state parks. You’ll be surprised by how much there is to do just outside Vegas, much of it in the great outdoors.

Located in Nevada on the fringes of the Mojave Desert, Las Vegas is not too far from scenic wonders and visit-worthy cities in Utah, Arizona, California, and of course, Nevada.

Lake Mead at Hoover Dam in Nevada

If you’re like us, you like to experience Las Vegas in smallish doses. Day trips are the perfect way to add a dollop of active adventure and a breath of fresh natural air to your Las Vegas stay. In fact, these day trips are some of the best things to do when you visit Vegas!

From expansive desert vistas to majestic sandstone formations, and from tall mountains to deep canyons, there is a wealth of natural beauty that you can access from Las Vegas. And there are man-made wonders to admire as well.

Some wonderful destinations near Las Vegas admittedly come with a long day and lots of driving, but trust me, each place on the list below is worth the effort. So fly into Sin City, rent a car, and prepare to head out for some fabulous, must-do day trips from Vegas!

If you are an outdoor enthusiast or a nature lover, you’ll want to return over and over to do these fabulous day trips. We pick a few every time we visit Las Vegas, and these day trips are inevitably the highlights of our visit.

Day Trips from Vegas Within Nevada
Day Trips from Las Vegas to Arizona
Day Trips from Las Vegas to California
Day Trips from Las Vegas to Utah

Day Trips from Las Vegas Within Nevada

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area Day Trip from Vegas

Red Rock Canyon is only about 15 miles from the Strip, but you can easily spend a full day here, so it counts as a day trip from Las Vegas. In fact, because this beautiful wilderness area is so close, it’s actually one of the best day trips from Las Vegas you can do.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservancy Area in Nevada

WHAT TO DO IN RED ROCK CANYON IN ONE DAY

First, do the 13-mile one-way scenic drive around the park, to get an overview of the different vistas in the park. You’ll see intense red rock formations, followed by more muted but still magnificent panoramas. Then head right back into the park to delve deeper into its attractions.

You can access Calico Hills, the gorgeous red rock formation you see close to the entrance, via a trail that starts at the Visitor Center and ends at Sandstone Quarry. Get on to the trail at one of several points along its length, and walk as far as you like before turning back. This trail gets you right up into the striking red rock of the most stunning formation in the park, and is a must-do.

Sandstone Quarry Red Rock Canyon NCA Nevada

After a picnic lunch at a shady spot, pick another trail to enjoy the wild beauty of another part of the park. Try the Ice Box Canyon Trail, or the Lost Creek Children’s Discovery Trail. Both trails offer fabulous views and wildflowers in the spring.

Apart from hiking (the park offers two dozen plus trails of varying difficulty), you can also bike and do rock climbing at Red Rock Canyon.

PLAN YOUR VISIT

Best time to visit: Spring, fall, and winter are all great times to visit
Driving Distance: 16 miles
Driving Time: About 30 minutes
Entrance Fee: For current entrance fees, click here. Red Rock Canyon is a Federal Recreation Area, and is included in the list of parks that can be accessed with an America the Beautiful Pass (Get yours online at REI!).

Prefer to tour Red Rock Canyon on a guided tour? Check out this fun 4-hour scooter tour, or this popular half-day e-bike tour! Both tours run from Vegas. If you want to hike, then this tour may be perfect for you.

Day Trip from Las Vegas to Valley of Fire State Park

With a multitude of magnificent red sandstone formations, the 40,000-acre Valley of Fire is Nevada’s oldest State Park. The road that connects its east and west entrances has been designated a Nevada Scenic Byway and is made for epic road photos. You’ll be constantly exclaiming in awe as you drive this route.

Elephant Rock at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada

WHAT TO DO IN VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK IN ONE DAY

Explore the sites where you can see petroglyphs left behind by the Anasazi that inhabited the region in ancient times. You can see fine examples at Atlatl Rock (you have to climb some metal steps to the top of the rock), or at Petroglyph Canyon, a half-mile trek from the trailhead at the Mouse’s Tank viewpoint.

Other must-visit rock formations in the park include the Beehive near the park’s west entrance, and the Elephant Rock, near the park’s east entrance.

Valley of Fire offers a number of hikes of varying difficulty. Try the Fire Wave Trail, starting at Parking Lot #3 in the park. A 30-minute walk from the trailhead through areas of sand, packed earth, and rock leads to a gorgeous rock formation marked with undulating wave patterns, similar to its more famous namesake in Page, Arizona. Keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep and other creatures that call the park home.

Fire Wave Valley of Fire Nevada

Or pick the stunning White Domes trail at Valley of Fire. This trail, a little over one mile long, even includes a short slot canyon. The views all along the trail are wonderful, and a little ways into the hike, you can see the remnants of a film set from many years ago.

PLAN YOUR VISIT

Best time to visit: Spring, fall, and winter are all great times to visit
Driving Distance: 53 miles
Driving Time: About one hour
Entrance Fee: For current entrance fees, click here.

If you don’t have a car, you can opt for a six-hour guided tour to the Valley of Fire State Park from Vegas. A popular guided hiking tour is also available.

Day Trip from Las Vegas to Lake Mead Recreational Area

Lake Mead Recreational Area is enormous, so you’ll only explore a little bit of it on a day trip from Las Vegas. It is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Nevada! If you drive to the park via Boulder City, you will enter the park at the Alan Bible Visitor Center.

View of Lake Mead in Nevada

WHAT TO DO AT LAKE MEAD IN ONE DAY

Start by walking part of the Historic Railroad Trail used by the trains to deliver the materials used in the construction of Hoover Dam. Next, head to the nearest marina, to rent a boat. Getting out on the water is a great way to enjoy the beautiful views all around.

Then drive the scenic Lakeshore Road. Have a picnic lunch at one of the many picnic areas along the drive. Explore some of the turnoffs and short trails to great water views.

Lake Mead near Hoover Dam in Nevada

For more great views and a relaxed afternoon, take a cruise of the Boulder Basin on the Desert Princess. Cruises depart from Hemenway Harbor. End your day with a walk along part of the 35-mile River Mountains Loop Trail, which runs along the western shore of the lake.

For a fun adventure, consider this ATV tour to Lake Mead and the Colorado River! The tour stops at Hoover Dam as well. You can swim in the warmer months, and enjoy a view of the dam from the bridge above.

PLAN YOUR VISIT

Best time to visit: All year long
Driving Distance: 31.5 miles
Driving Time: About 40 minutes
Entrance Fee: For current entrance fees, click here. Lake Mead is a Federal Recreation Area, and is included in the list of parks that can be accessed with an Annual or Lifetime America the Beautiful Pass.

Looking for a car rental for your Las Vegas getaway? Check out Discover Cars! They scour multiple providers to get the best price for you.

Day Trip from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam and Boulder City

Hoover Dam is a National Historic Landmark and a visit to the dam is one of the best day trips you can do from Las Vegas.

When you see the Hoover Dam, you’ll find it difficult to believe that it was constructed more than 80 years ago, before the age of computers. Considered a great engineering feat, the dam is located in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River. Lake Mead, the reservoir created by the dam, is the largest reservoir in the USA when it is full.

Hoover Dam in Nevada

WHAT TO DO AT HOOVER DAM AND BOULDER CITY IN ONE DAY

Take one of two tour options available for an in-depth look at the dam. You’ll view informative exhibits and tour the power plant or the power plant and parts of the dam itself, depending on the tour you choose. Seeing those mighty generators is an awesome experience.

Next, head to the Observation Deck on the top floor of the Visitor Center for Instagram-worthy views of Lake Mead and Hoover Dam. After you exit, cross the street to view the Winged Figures of the Republic, a large bronze sculptural piece designed by Oskar Hansen.

Detail of one of the Winged Figures of the Republic at Hoover Dam in Nevada

In Boulder City, visit the Nevada State Railroad Museum. Ride a train on a historic route, passing by the first casino in Nevada. In days gone by, the trains transported the materials used to build the Hoover Dam.

Also don’t miss the Boulder Dam Hotel, which was built in 1933, during the Great Depression, and is on the National Historic Register. On the second floor, you can tour a museum on the Great Depression and the impact of the Hoover Dam on the economy.

Finally, walk the historic main street of Boulder City, for art deco architecture and great photo ops.

PLAN YOuR VISIT

Best time to visit: All year long
Driving Distance: 36 miles
Driving Time: About 45 minutes
Entrance Fee: For current entrance fees to Hoover Dam, click here. For entrance fees to the Railroad Museum, click here.

Do a guided tour to the Hoover Dam! This highly rated tour offers a 45-minute Walk on the Top tour, along with a tour of the power plant and the visitor center. You’ll get fabulous photos! Lunch and entrance are included.

Touring Hoover Dam in Nevada

Kayaking Trip to the Emerald Cave from Vegas

For a different way to see the spectacular Hoover Dam, consider a Colorado River kayaking day trip from Vegas! The 5-mile round trip tour of the Black Canyon departs from Willow Beach, and features spectacular scenery and a chance to enjoy the outdoors on your day out from Vegas.

What to Expect on the Emerald Cave Kayaking Trip

You will begin by paddling upstream into the Black Canyon of the Colorado River. Enjoy the beautiful scenery and look for desert bighorn sheep, falcons, and bald eagles as you paddle.

A desert bighorn sheep

Stop at a historical overlook for photos of the river before paddling on to the Emerald Cave, which is located about two miles from Willow Beach. Your guide will provide informative commentary. Overall you will spend about three hours on the river, for an active adventure from Vegas.

This section of the Colorado River is designated a National Water Trail, and offers coves and beaches, hot springs, historical sites associated with the building of the dam, and the opportunity to view wildlife and birds.

Book the Colorado River guided kayaking trip!

PLAN YOUR VISIT

The full day tour lasts about six hours (10 a,m. to 4 p.m.), and you will be picked up at a resort on Las Vegas Boulevard and dropped off there at the end of the day.

Day Trip from Las Vegas to Mt. Charleston

The highest peak in the Spring Mountains, Mt. Charleston is a great year-round day trip option from Las Vegas. In the summer, the cooler temperatures offer a welcome respite from the heat in the city. Changing leaves in the fall and wildflowers in the spring offer color. In the winter, snow covers the area and turns it into a wonderland.

North Loop Trail Springs Mountains National Recreation Area Nevada

WHAT TO DO AT MT. CHARLESTON IN ONE DAY

If you hike, you will find trails of varying difficulty levels at Spring Mountains National Recreation Area.  Some trails actually lead to the peak of Mt. Charleston, almost 12,000 feet above sea level.

Try the Sawmill Trail, an easy trail of about 2.6 miles through pinyon and juniper trees with lots of wildflowers in season. For great views over the Mojave Desert, walk the short distance to the Desert View Overlook.

Echo  Cliff Spring Mountains National Recreation Area Nevada

For a much more challenging experience, hike the Cathedral Rock Trail to the summit. This trail features spectacular wildflowers in the summer, and there’s a fabulous view from the top. Break your day with a relaxed picnic lunch at one of the many picnic areas in the park.

The drive through the area is scenic, with lots of photo ops. You can also bike and climb. And enjoy the flora and fauna, and the wildflowers that carpet the area from spring through fall.

PLAN YOUR VISIT

Best time to visit: You can visit Mt. Charleston all year round. We enjoyed our visit in the summer, with pleasant temperatures perfect for hiking.
Driving Distance: 43 miles
Driving Time: About 45 minutes
Entrance Fee: None

Cathedral Gorge State Park Day Trip from Las Vegas

Like Valley of Fire State Park, Cathedral Gorge State Park is a must-visit for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Located in a narrow long valley, the park features dramatic eroded rock formations created over millions of years. The shapes and textures of the rock formations offer beautiful photo ops.

Cathedral Gorge State Park in Nevada

WHAT TO DO AT CATHEDRAL GORGE STATE PARK IN ONE DAY

Hiking is the main activity in Cathedral Gorge State Park. A four-mile loop allows you to explore the park in depth. There are shorter trails as well. a one-mile loop runs from the picnic area to the Miller Point Overlook.

The Eagle Point Trail takes you to the eponymous viewpoint. A short 0.5-mile Nature Loop trail traverses the area close to the picnic area in the park. You can hike any or all of the trails in the park to admire the stunning scenery and to see the rock formations up close.

Dramatic Rock Formations at  Cathedral Gorge State Park in Nevada at Sunset

The Cathedral Caves formations are beautiful for photography and easily accessed, and the trails, which weave through the long slot canyons, are great fun. The day use area has shaded picnic facilities, so bring a picnic lunch to enjoy in the park!

Look for wildlife as you explore the park: you may see cottontails and jack rabbits, mule deer, and maybe even a coyote or a kit fox.

PLAN YOUR VISIT

Best time to visit: Visit Cathedral Gorge State Park from fall through spring for pleasant hiking weather.
Driving Distance: 165.5 miles
Driving Time: About 2 hours and 30 minutes
Entrance Fee: $5.00 per vehicle day use fee at the time of writing

Day Trip to Area 51 from Las Vegas

Area 51 is a classified United States Air Force facility in south Nevada. You can’t tour it, of course, and lots of signs warn you against trespassing. But the area is the subject of UFO theories, and tourism has sprung up in neighboring areas along nearby State Route 375, also called the Extraterrestrial Highway.

Extraterrestrial Highway, Nevada, features beautiful desert scenery.

WHAT TO DO ALONG THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL HIGHWAY IN ONE DAY

After travelers reported sightings of UFOs and other alien presence along the road, the state officially named State Route 375 the Extraterrestrial Highway in 1996. The 98-mile road between Crystal Springs and Warm Springs is fun to drive, somewhat like Route 66 through the desert.

At Hiko, near Crystal Springs, pose for a photo with the ET mural, try some local jerky, and shop for souvenirs at the Alien Research Center, the local gift shop.

Rachel, which styles itself the UFO Capital of the World, is a small desert town along the highway that caters to tourists. Stop at The Little A’Le’Inn (pronounced Alien!), a restaurant and bar in the town, for an Alien Burger.

Sign for Rachel, Nevada

Crystal Springs and Warm Springs are both ghost towns you can tour. Look for petroglyphs, and photograph the beautiful desert landscapes.

PLAN YOUR VISIT

Best time to visit: Visit the Extraterrestrial Highway and Area 51 from fall through spring for pleasant weather.
Driving Distance: 109 miles to Crystal Springs
Driving Time: About 1 hour and 40 minutes

Prefer a guided tour? This highly-rated tour takes you around the Area 51 region, with incredible desert scenery to admire and cool stops along the way, from a mutant Joshua Tree Forest to a mysterious Dry Lake, alien petroglyphs, and the famous Black Mailbox.

Day Trips from Las Vegas to Arizona

Day Trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon South Rim

If you just can’t spend a few days on a visit to the Grand Canyon, you must at least do a day trip to the South Rim. If you drive yourself, be prepared for a long day of driving. On a day trip from Vegas, you will only get a few hours in the park, so plan ahead to use your time well.

Grand Canyon National Park from Desert View

The South Rim is the Grand Canyon you must see: the actual National Park, UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the seven natural wonders of the world. (Although you can visit the West Rim, which is closer to Vegas, know that it’s not part of the National Park.)

At almost 277 miles long, the gorge carved by the Colorado River is as deep as 18 miles in places. That is one deep hole!

WHAT TO DO AT THE GRAND CANYON IN ONE DAY

Start at the Visitor Center in the Village, but before you step in, walk to Mather Point for that OMG moment when you get your first look at the magnificent Grand Canyon.

At the Visitor Center, view the short film to get an introduction to the park. From the Village, you can drive to either the Hermit’s Rest or Desert View, stopping at the various scenic points along the route. Then return to the Village and do the other side.

The Grand Canyon in Arizona, just after sunset

Free shuttles operate in season if you want a break from driving, but on the Desert View side, they go only a part of the way. From end to end, the drive is about 30 miles.

View one or two of the historic structures in the park: the old El Tovar Hotel, the Train Depot, and Hopi House are all great choices for touring, to get a feel for the history of the park.

And finally, you have to walk at least a little way down into the Canyon, to complete your experience. The Bright Angel Trail and the South Kaibab Trail are the most famous. Remember that you have to climb back uphill on the return, so go only as far as you feel comfortable.

PLAN YOUR VISIT

Best time to visit: You can visit the Grand Canyon all year round. In the summer months, you’ll experience  crowds at the popular spots, so try to visit in March-April, or in October, for still pleasant weather but less crowds.
Driving Distance: 277.9 miles
Driving Time: About five hours
Entrance Fee: For current entrance fees, click here. The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is included in the list of parks that can be accessed with an Annual or Lifetime America the Beautiful Pass.

GUIDED TOUR

Several guided bus tours are offered from Las Vegas, both to the South Rim and to the West Rim. You can also splurge on this highly rated helicopter tour or an airplane tour!

Check out this highly rated airplane tour that includes a deluxe ride to the South Rim in an executive-style plane! At the South Rim you’ll have time to hike and enjoy the views before returning to Vegas.

Day Trip from Las Vegas to Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend

On this day trip from Vegas, you can see two iconic spots in the American Southwest. Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon that is incredibly popular with visitors from all over the world.

At Horseshoe Bend, the Colorado River has carved an almost circular canyon, the stuff of dream Instagram photos. Both spots are located near the town of Page in Arizona.

Horseshoe Bend in Arizona

WHAT TO DO AT ANTELOPE CANYON & HORSESHOE BEND IN ONE DAY

At Antelope Canyon, walk the corridors carved by the erosive action of wind and water over thousands of years. Look for the beams of sunlight that cut through the curvy walls to create that perfect photo you’ll treasure.

There are actually two very similar canyons: the Upper Antelope Canyon and the Lower Antelope Canyon. The light filtering phenomenon is more reliable in the Upper Antelope Canyon, but as a result it’s usually more crowded. It’s easier and quicker to access, whereas the Lower Antelope Canyon requires a walk and climbing down a staircase.

Upper Antelope Canyon in Page Arizona

At Horseshoe Bend, walk up to the edge of the viewing area and look down at the perfect blue-green horseshoe-shaped river below. And take a million photos.

Just be warned that the scenic overlook is hugely popular and finding a parking spot can be challenging. Allow for extra time in case you can’t find a parking spot and have to return.

PLAN YOUR VISIT

Best time to visit: To see the famous light beams at Antelope Canyon, you should visit between May and September. Around mid-day is the best time of day to see the light beams.
Driving Distance from Las Vegas to Antelope Canyon: 284.5 miles
Driving Time: About 4 hours and 45 minutes
From Antelope Canyon to Horseshoe Bend: 9.9 miles
Driving Time: About 15 minutes

GUIDED TOUR

If you’d rather sit back and enjoy the sights, consider joining a small group tour! It’s a long day, but you get to see the two amazing sights without having to drive.

Day Trip from Las Vegas Along Route 66

If you haven’t driven historic Route 66 before, take advantage of the fact that Vegas is located not too far from the route! Route 66 goes through Arizona and California south of Las Vegas, and in less than a couple of hours you can be driving the Mother Road!

Route 66 West of Seligman in Arizona

What to Do on Route 66 in One Day

We’ve described a route going into Arizona along Route 66, but you can also head to Needles and drive it into California instead. The California section of Route 66 goes through the Mojave Desert and features awesome scenery and some of those iconic Route 66 signs and attractions that make the route fun to drive.

If you decide to do Arizona, head down to Kingman, and then drive Route 66 up to Seligman and back. Along this stretch of the route, just under 90 miles, you will pass the little towns of Hackberry, Valentine, Truxton, Peach Springs, and Yampai.

At Kingman, visit the Historic Route 66 Museum and the Kingman Railroad Museum. At Hackberry, old rusted cars are beloved Route 66 photo stops. The Hackberry General Store is worth a quick visit as well.

Old automobile along Route 66 in Hackberry, Arizona

Near Peach Springs, stop at the Grand Canyon Caverns, more than 200 feet below sea level. Peach Springs is part of the Hualapai Reservation. At Seligman, known as the Birthplace of Historic Route 66, you can tour lots of old motels, and photograph cool signs.

The drive through the desert is scenic and generally free of too much traffic, so it makes for an easy day trip from Vegas.

PLAN YOUR VISIT

Best time to visit: Spring, fall, and winter are all great times to visit.
Driving Distance: 107 miles via US 93 S to Kingman, AZ
Driving Time: About 1 hour and 40 minutes

Day Trips from Vegas to California

Day Trip from Las Vegas to Death Valley National Park

At over 3 million acres, Death Valley National Park in California is the largest national park in the contiguous United States. Although the park is huge, you can still hit most of the highlights on a day trip from Vegas. Just start early and expect to do a lot of driving over the course of the day.

Zabriskie Point Death Valley National Park

WHAT TO DO IN DEATH VALLEY IN ONE DAY

Once you arrive at the park, you can pay at the self-pay kiosk, unless you have a National Parks pass. Then make your way to Dante’s View for panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valley.

Next, stop at Zabriskie Point, where the otherworldly landscape will make you gape in awe. Both Dante’s View and Zabriskie Point are excellent places to be at sunrise and in the golden hour.

Then head to the Visitor’s Center at Furnace Creek. View the exhibits and learn more about the amazing desert landscapes at the park, and its flora and fauna.

Your next set of stops is on Badwater Road, just south of the Visitor Center. On this road, you will see the famous salt flats at Badwater Basin. The flats are home to the lowest point in North America.

On your way back, drive the picturesque one-way loop through the colorful canyons of Artist’s Drive. Don’t miss the stop at Artist’s Palette, where you can actually walk on to the colored mineral deposits.

The Artist's Palette Viewpoint at Death Valley National Park in California

Drive back to the main road and continue north towards Stovepipe Wells, where you can hike at Mosaic Canyon. Stretch your legs and see the beautiful marbled walls of the canyon. Finally, marvel at the amazing Mesquite Sand Dunes, the undulating hills of gold sand at Death Valley.

Retrace your route south and back to Vegas the way you came, or continue north to the ghost town of Rhyolite and then on to Beatty and down to Vegas.

PLAN YOUR VISIT

Best time to visit: Spring, fall, and winter are all great times to visit.
Driving Distance: 125 miles via NV160-W and CA190-W
Driving Time: About 2.5 hours
Entrance Fee: For current entrance fees, click here. Death Valley National Park is included in the list of parks that can be accessed with an Annual or Lifetime America the Beautiful Pass.

Like the idea of a guided tour? Check out this highly rated tour of Death Valley NP from Vegas: the 10-hour tour takes you through all the major sights in the park!

Day Trip from Vegas to the Mojave National Preserve

The Mojave National Preserve in Southern California is home to spectacular scenery, the densest stands of Joshua trees on the planet, tall sand dunes, and historic sites from the times of the railroad and gold mining. It makes for a fabulous day trip from Las Vegas for nature lovers, landscape photographers, outdoor enthusiasts, and history buffs.

View from the Teutonia Peak Trail near Cima in the Mojave National Preserve

WHAT TO DO IN Mojave National Preserve IN ONE DAY

Drive south to Primm, and then drive the scenic Morning Star Mine through the Ivanpah Valley to Cima. At Cima, take the Cima-Kelso Road to Kelso. This drive is very scenic with lots of Joshua trees and wildflowers in the spring. Teutonia Peak is a beautiful hike.

At Kelso, visit the historic Kelso Depot, now a visitor center for the preserve, and hike Kelso Dunes. The tallest of the dunes at Kelso is about 650 feet in height, and the hike up can be challenging because the sand is loose. Bring a board if you want to ride down.

Kelso Dunes in the Mojave National Preserve in California

You can continue the drive, past cinder cones, to US Route 40 before heading back. The entire drive features spectacular desert scenery and the rare opportunity for solitude. Bring some music to play, or just enjoy the silence! Remember to start with a full tank of gas. A 4WD is suggested.

PLAN YOUR VISIT

Best time to visit: Spring, fall, and winter are all great times to visit.
Driving Distance: 43.9 miles via US 15 S to Primm, NV
Driving Time: About 40 minutes
Entrance Fee: There is no entrance fee for Mojave National Preserve at the time of writing.

Day Trips from Vegas to Utah

Day Trip from Las Vegas to Zion National Park

Utah’s first national park makes for one of the most fabulous day trips from Las Vegas you can do. Humans have lived in and around Zion for 10,000 years! With its stunning red and pink sandstone cliffs, and its wealth of flora and fauna, Zion National Park offers a variety of activities for the day visitor.

Zion National Park in Utah

WHAT TO DO AT ZION NP IN ONE DAY

Start at the Visitor Center, and attend a Ranger presentation if one if being offered around the time you reach. Then, in season, use the free shuttle to get around the park, as private cars are not allowed when the shuttles are running. The Zion Canyon Shuttle stops at nine locations on the scenic drive through the park.

The Canyon offers you the opportunity to explore on foot. There are a number of trails of varying difficulty leading from the shuttle route. Try the easy Lower Emerald Pool trail from Zion Lodge. The trail is a little over a mile out and back, and leads to the pool and waterfalls. From the lower pool, you can choose to continue on a moderately difficult trail, to the Upper Emerald Pool.

Or try the easy Riverside Walk, from the Temple of Sinawava. This is a little over two miles out and back, and follows the Virgin River at the bottom of the canyon.

Hiking the Narrows in Zion National Park Utah

Zion is known for two famous hikes: Angel’s Landing and the Zion Narrows. While these two famous hikes are epic activities, both involve a significant time commitment and you’d want to plan a longer visit to Zion National Park to enjoy one or both of these hikes.

After you explore the park, if you have the time, drive the scenic route to Mt. Carmel before you head back. The route follows the Virgin River and offers numerous stunning photo ops.

PLAN YOUR VISIT

Best time to visit: Spring and fall are beautiful times to visit. Fall foliage generally peaks in the first two weeks of November.
Driving Distance: 163.6 miles
Driving Time: About 2 hours and 45 minutes
Entrance Fee: For current entrance fees, click here. Zion National Park is included in the list of parks that can be accessed with an Annual or Lifetime America the Beautiful Pass.

GUIDED TOUR

You can join a small group guided tour that combines Zion and Bryce. You get a decent amount of time at each park, and it’s an efficient way to combine two parks in one day if you are short on time.

Day Trip from Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce National Park is a wonderland of hoodoos. In fact, at Bryce, you can see the largest concentration of hoodoos anywhere on the planet! Hoodoos are vertical rock pillars that are formed by the erosive action of water on limestone.

The park’s unique landscape and stunning rock pillars make for wonderful vistas. Bryce Canyon is not huge, so you can explore the highlights in a day.

WHAT TO DO AT BRYCE CANYON NP IN ONE DAY

Bryce is home to tons of birds and animals. You can see Peregrine falcons, wild turkeys, jays and swallows, and even the mighty California condor. You can also see many species of mammals here. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife as you explore the park!

A squirrel in Bryce Canyon NP Utah

Stop at the Visitor Center, to see the short film that tells you about the park, and to pick up a map. Start your exploration of the park by driving the Rim Trail to take in the views from the various scenic points. Or take the park shuttle, in season. The four major stops are Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point.

Next, do one or more of the several short hikes at Bryce. The Queens Garden trail is considered the easiest trail into the canyon. It’s 1.8 miles round trip. For a short moderate hike, try the Navajo Trail for a slot canyon experience. This trail begins at Sunset Point and goes down into the amphitheater. It’s a more forested trail, with lots of Douglas Firs.

Bryce Canyon NP Utah

PLAN YOUR VISIT

Best time to visit: You can visit Bryce all year round, although you may see snow dusting that wonderful red rock in winter.
Driving Distance: 263.4 miles
Driving Time: About four hours
Entrance Fee: For current entrance fees, click here. Bryce National Park is included in the list of parks that can be accessed with an Annual or Lifetime America the Beautiful Pass.

If you’d rather not drive, you can join a small group guided tour that combines Zion and Bryce. The tour is especially useful if you have limited time in the area but wish to see the highlights of both parks.

Day Trip from Vegas to Snow Canyon State Park and Red Cliffs National Conservation Area

Snow Canyon State Park features lava flows and sandstone cliffs for beautiful desert vistas. Part of the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, the park protects the endangered Mojave Desert tortoise. Red Cliffs National Conservation Area is also part of the reserve, and protects at-risk species while providing superb outdoor recreation opportunities.

Red Cliffs National Conservation Area Utah

WHAT TO DO AT SNOW CANYON SP and RED CLIFFS NCA IN ONE DAY

Snow Canyon State Park offers many miles of scenic hiking trails, numerous photos spots, and opportunities for wildlife viewing. You will see lovely wildflower displays in season. Look for coyotes, kit foxes, quail, roadrunners, leopard lizards, and falcons. You may even see the protected desert tortoise or gila monster!

Hike the Lava Flow Overlook Trail in Snow Canyon State Park. It is a short trail, with magnificent views and a few overlooks from which to take photos. Johnson’s Canyon is another must-do trail: the easy 2-mile hike features fabulous views of red rocks.

View from the Lava Flow Overlook Trail in Snow Canyon State Park Utah

Red Cliffs National Conservation Area features over 130 miles of trails. The short Silver Reef Trail offers the chance to view dinosaur tracks from the Jurassic era. Walk the Anasazi Trail to tour the prehistoric site used by Ancestral Puebloan farmers. There are picnic tables in the park, so bring a picnic lunch to enjoy!

PLAN YOUR VISIT

Best time to visit: Visit Snow Canyon and Red Cliffs NCA from fall through spring, when temperatures are pleasant. Bring layers in the winter.
Driving Distance: 129 miles to Snow Canyon SP
Driving Time: About two hours
Entrance Fee: For current entrance fees to Snow Canyon SP, click here. Red Cliffs Recreation Area charges $5.00 per vehicle for day use at the time of writing. National Parks Passes are accepted.

Day Trip to Saint George in Utah from Vegas

Surrounded by beautiful nature, the city of St. George in southwestern Utah makes for a pleasant day trip from Vegas. Downtown Saint George is packed with beautiful buildings, and the shopping and dining is great as well.

Fifth Judicial District Courthouse in Saint George Utah

WHAT TO DO AT SAINT GEORGE IN ONE DAY

Walk downtown Saint George to admire the architecture. There are museums, art galleries, and historic homes you can tour. Visit the Daughters of Utah Pioneer Museum to learn more about local history. Browse the boutique shops, and have lunch at one of the many quality eateries you will find here.

Walk around the pretty Red Hills Desert Garden. Pioneer Park offers fantastic views of red rocks and many hiking trails to enjoy. Tour the Brigham Young Winter Home. Snap a photo of the pristine St. George Utah temple. The grounds make for a beautiful stroll.

Art lovers must make a stop at Kayenta Art Village, where you can view the art and look for a unique souvenir to bring back home.

PLAN YOUR VISIT

Best time to visit: Visit Saint George from fall through spring. Spring or fall is an ideal time to visit. Bring layers in the winter.
Driving Distance: 119.4 miles
Driving Time: About 1 hour and 45 minutes

General Tips and Suggestions for Day Trips from Las Vegas

SELF-DRIVING VS. ALTERNATIVES FOR LONGER TRIPS

As you can see, some of these trips involve several hours of driving each way. We suggest doing these day trips as self-drives only if you have at least two drivers. Start early in the day, to allow for at least a few hours at your destination before you have to start the drive back.

Alternatively, consider a ground coach tour. While it does not cut down on the length of the day, you can relax in the coach instead of driving.
Or, if your pocketbook allows, splurge on a combination air and ground tour to shorten the transit time. Plus, you’ll get fabulous aerial views.

The advantage to driving yourself is, of course, the freedom to do what you want at the destination, wait as long as needed for perfect photos, and head back when you want.

MAPS & DIRECTIONS

If you are driving yourself (and we did, for the many day trips from Las Vegas we have done), print out hard copy driving directions (all legs of your route to and fro) and related maps. You may not always have good cellphone reception in the desert.

GAS

Make sure your gas tank is topped up before you leave Las Vegas, and know where gas is available on your route for the day. In many of these areas, gas stations will be few and far between.

FOOD & DRINK

Invest in a cooler and load it with beverages and food for the day. Also carry non-perishable snacks and fruit. Local options for food at many of your destinations may not be extensive, and carrying food and water is a must.

Map of Day Trips from Las Vegas

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Discover the best day trips from Las Vegas, Nevada! From national parks and state parks to road trips and cities, there's a lot to see and do around Vegas!

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Other Great Destinations in the USA

San Diego: What to Do on a Weekend Trip to San Diego!
Boston: 10 Fun Things to Do in the Boston Public Garden
California: The Most Spectacular Weekend Getaways in California
Palm Springs: The Best Things to Do in Greater Palm Springs
Las Vegas: What to Do in Vegas if You Don’t Gamble or Party!


Dhara

Dhara's travel interests are eclectic, spanning everything from natural wonders to history, culture, art and architecture. She has visited 22 countries, many more than once, plus almost all 50 states of the USA, and has amassed a hoard of cherished travel moments.

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