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Day Trips Near Las Vegas, Nevada and Road Trips From Las Vegas (Vegas Hacks)

Day Trips Near Las Vegas, Nevada &

Road Trips From Las Vegas (Vegas Hacks)

 

It is easy to spend a whole week-long vacation in Las Vegas because there is so much to see and do.

However, some people eventually get tired of the crowds and hustle and bustle. Other people simply prefer a more laid-back and beautiful attraction once in a while.

For an article about activities in Las Vegas, but off-Strip (not on the Las Vegas Strip or Fremont Street), click here.

There are many world-class attractions, historic locations, and places of natural beauty found within a 5-hour drive of Las Vegas, which means you can get there and back in one day from your hotel in Las Vegas.

You should consider these day trips when you are in Las Vegas if you have your own vehicle or a rental car and you have the time. There are group bus tours to many of the major tourist attractions listed below as well.

Out of Town Activities (not in Las Vegas, but an easy day-trip or excursion):

Sightseeing & Hiking

If you order an “America The Beautiful” pass, you can save money if you plan to visit more than one of these State Parks, National Parks and National Conservation Areas.

Death Valley

Death Valley National Park is 160 miles away from Las Vegas to the West.

This park is the hottest, driest and lowest elevation national park in the USA.

In addition to admiring the haunting desert landscape, you will see a surprising variety of wildlife.

Death Valley is most famous for being a filming location for a few of the Star Wars movies.

If you visit Death Valley in the Summer months, beware of the heat because it can reach high temperatures of +40 to 50 Degrees Celsius.

Rhyolite Ghost Town is on the edge of Death Valley National Park. It is worth checking out if you are making the trip to Death Valley.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

If your trip permits enough time, we suggest you visit Grand Canyon National Park, a 1,200,000 acre National Park in Northwestern Arizona.

It is absolutely spectacular, which is why it is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. You can wander trails along the cliff tops and find breathtaking observation decks. You can also venture to the bottom of the canyon for a totally different experience.

To get to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, you can take bus tours or even helicopter tours.

The South Rim is great for first-time visitors for its abundance of visitor services and lower cost. It’s quite a drive, as it is a 4.5 hour trip without taking any detours along historic Route 66.

Grand Canyon West Rim and the Grand Canyon Glass Skywalk are closer to Las Vegas (closer to a 2-hour drive), but the cost is higher and it is not part of Grand Canyon National Park.

Explore Grand Canyon Caverns, which is 200 feet below ground and is the largest dry cavern in the USA.

Use one of the rafting outfitters in this article to experience kayaking, river rafting, and whitewater rapids on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

Mt. Charleston

Mount Charleston is in Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, which is 39 miles West of Las Vegas and not far from Red Rock Canyon.

If you go here during the Winter, you can experience the beauty of snowy slopes and try skiing at the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort.

In the Summer, you can enjoy outdoor activities such as horseback riding, which is highly recommended, and hiking.

Be sure to stop at Gilcrease Orchard for apple and pumpkin picking or to sample homemade apple cider.

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is only 17 miles West of the Las Vegas Strip.

Of all the off-strip attractions, this one seems to be the the most recommended on the social media posts that we have seen.

This area offers a scenic drive and hiking on 26 trails through a 13 Mile Loop with a magical overlook viewpoint.

Visitors can have a picnic and walk among a variety of plant and animal life under 3,000-foot-high red rock formations. Keep an eye out for 800 year old petroglyphs (rock wall drawings).

The more adventurous might even do a bit of rock climbing here.

Travel a few miles South of Red Rock Canyon to find Bonnie Springs, which is a reproduction of an 1880s Western mining town.

Springs Preserve

Las Vegas Springs Preserve is only 3 miles West of downtown Las Vegas.

Springs Preserve is home to natural beauty and history.  You’ll be amazed at all of the things to do there, such as:

– Boomtown 1905, a life-sized, re-creation of the Las Vegas streetscape from 1905 with free admission,

– a Butterfly Habitat,

– hiking on nearly 4 miles of trails,

– a narrated, full-sized locomotive train ride around the historic 2.2 mile Exploration Loop Trail,

– bike rentals (only on weekends),

– live animal shows,

– the 8-acre Gardens at the Springs Preserve botanical gardens with 1,200 species of desert plants,

– Origen Museum (containing 3 galleries, a traveling exhibit, a theater, and live animals), and

– the 70,000-square-foot Nevada State Museum.

Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire is a 46,000 acre state park located 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

The picturesque red rock formations look like they are on fire, especially on a sunny day.

As you hike around and explore, you might see 2,500 year-old petroglyphs and dinosaur fossils.

Zion National Park

Zion National Park is located in Southwestern Utah, approximately 270 kilometers Northeast of Las Vegas.

The park is 229-square-miles large and elevations range from 3,666 feet at Coalpits Wash to 8,726 feet at Horse Ranch Mountain.

The most prominent feature here is Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles long and up to 2,640 feet deep. The canyon walls are reddish, pink, and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone eroded by the North Fork of the Virgin River.

Located at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert regions, the park has mountains, canyons, buttes, mesas, monoliths, rivers, slot canyons, and natural arches to explore.

Lake Mead

Watersports

Black Canyon River Rafting

The Black Canyon is located at the base of the Hoover Dam, where the canyon walls rise 2,000 feet above you.

The Black Canyon Raft Tour departs from the Lake Mead RV Village and takes you down the Colorado River to Willow Beach Marina.

Lake Havasu

Lake Havasu, where you will find Lake Havasu City 250 kilometers south of Las Vegas, was formed after the Parker Dam was built in the 1930s. It is most famous for the London Bridge that was originally built in the 1830s and formerly spanned the River Thames in London, England until it was moved to Lake Havasu in 1970. Today,

Lake Havasu City is a popular vacation destination offering a range of recreational activities such as swimming, golf, beaches, parks, and even fishing. This lake offers many water activities and you can rent houseboats, paddle boats, kayaks, jet skis and other water sports equipment.

Lake Havasu has everything you would expect in a resort town, including hotels, restaurants, & stores.  It has 400 miles of coastline.

Lake Mead

Lake Mead is located 24 miles southeast of Las Vegas right beside the Hoover Dam.

Lake Mead is a man-made lake on the Colorado River formed by the construction of the Hoover Dam. It is the largest water reservoir in the United States and provides water to the states of Arizona, California, and Nevada.

Lake Mead has a recreation area where you can go to a museum, rent a boat or kayak, or take a lovely and relaxing charter cruise.

Off-road tours

Motorsports

ATV and dune buggy tours

Off-road driving tours are offered by many tour operators that take you to different places and use different vehicles such as all-terrain vehicles and custom-made dune buggies. The tours start in Las Vegas and then you are taken out in the desert for some off-road wild rides in cool vehicles. Check out the attraction ratings and comments on TripAdvisor to help select the tour that is right for you.

Race car driving

Some thrill seekers dream of driving exotic luxury sportscars or race cars. You can live this dream through a variety of companies like Dream Racing, Exotics Racing, NASCAR Racing Experience, Richard Petty Driving Experience, and Speed Vegas. Many are located at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Hoover Dam

Other Activities & Attractions near Las Vegas, Nevada

Boulder City

Boulder City is located near the Hoover Dam.

This historic town is home to the Nevada State Railroad Museum, many antique stores, and an antique market. Boulder Dam Brewing Co. is a popular dining spot. There are a few unique things to do nearby. Go to Hemenway Valley Park to view a herd of up to 60 Bighorn Sheep. Pedal a railbike downhill for 4 miles along the railroad tracks through the Nevada desert, River Mountains and Eldorado Valley. To save some energy, you can also take a scenic 35-minute train ride on the Nevada Southern Railway.

Buffalo Bill’s Hotel & Casino

Buffalo Bill’s is located in Primm, Nevada, approximately 40 miles South of Las Vegas near the California state line.  It is currently closed due to the pandemic, but a nearby sister property called the Primm Valley Resort & Casino is open.

Of course, you can have fun gambling or enjoy a nice meal at these resorts, especially during a pit-stop if you are travelling between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

To us, the most interesting reason to stop used to be the thrilling attractions such as the Adventure Canyon Log Flume, 225-foot tall Turbo Drop drop ride, Desperado Roller Coaster, and 3-D simulator called “The Vault” at Buffalo Bill’s. Unfortunately, these attractions are all closed as of April 2021 and it is unclear when they will re-open, if ever.

You will also find a golf course and outlet mall in the area.

Extraterrestrial Highway

UFO-hunters and alien conspiracy theorists travel Nevada State Route 375 towards Area 51, which is why it is called the Extraterrestrial Highway.

Some people believe crashed alien spaceships are stored & tested at Area 51. What we know is that advanced military aviation technology is tested there.

Since people can’t actually enter Area 51, which is on a military base, they meet at the Little A’Le’Inn in the nearby town of Rachel, Nevada or at a nondescript black mailbox in the middle of nowhere on the side of the road between Rachel and Alamo, NV. Some people leave letters addressed to the little grey men in the black mailbox.

The drive is a daunting 150 miles each way if you are up for it.

Here, you might meet people with similar interests to swap stories or make plans to watch the sky for unknown aerial phenomena.

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam is on the way to Grand Canyon at the border between Nevada and Arizona, and is right next to Lake Mead.

Hoover Dam is a concrete arch-gravity hydroelectric dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River. It provides electricity to parts of Nevada, California, and Arizona.

Visitors can take guided tours inside the dam to learn about how this engineering marvel was constructed in the 1930s and how it works.

Seven Magic Mountains

Seven Magic Mountains is a free art installation by Ugo Rondinone consisting of seven towers of colorful, stacked boulders standing more than thirty feet high.

It is located 10 miles south of Las Vegas in the Ivanpah Valley.

Visitors love to take memorable pictures here, but maybe not for much longer. The outdoor exhibit might not exist after 2021 because it was built on public land with a time-limited permit.

Nelson Ghost Town

Ghost Towns

We will not go into detail about the ghost towns listed below, but if you want to see what life was like a 100+ years ago in Nevada, visit one of these ghost towns.

Eldorado Canyon, which is a 1-hour drive Southeast of Las Vegas, has a “living ghost town” called Nelson Ghost Town you can explore. You can also tour the abandoned Techatticup mine near the town of Nelson, Nevada.

Belmont ghost town is 200 miles northwest of Las Vegas. By the 1870s, 2,000 Belmont residents enjoyed 4 stores, 2 saloons, 5 restaurants, a post office, an assay office, a bank, and a school as well as 2 newspapers and a courthouse. Dirty Dick’s Belmont Saloon is one of the best bars in the state.

Nearby Tonopah is also a nice place to visit for history (check out the Central Nevada Museum) and attractions above such as the Extraterrestrial Highway. This is not a ghost town, but Tonopah’s Creepy Clown Motel is a creepy and weird place to visit. The Clown Motel was named “America’s Scariest Motel” because of its clown theme and proximity to the cemetery where many miners were laid to rest after the Tonopah-Belmont Mine Fire of 1911. This motel houses 2,000 clowns from every era and part of the world. One big drawback is that it is very far away – 200 miles Northwest of Las Vegas.  There are a few mines in the area that offer tours.

Close to Tonopah, you will find Goldfield, which is a historic mining town from the wild west that is 160 miles away from Las Vegas in central Nevada. Goldfield was the largest city in Nevada from 1903-1910. The living ghost town’s main street has shops and historic buildings. It is best known for the 100-year-old Santa Fe Saloon, where you might meet the meanest bartender in the country.  It is also worth visiting the Goldfield Historic Cemetery, where you can read some wild epitaphs on headstones and might see a ghost at night. Don’t get it confused with Goldfield Ghost Town in Arizona, which is 300 miles away from Vegas and is where you can pan for gold, tour inside the historic Mammoth Gold Mine, visit the Goldfield Museum, and watch a staged old west gun fight.

Another ghost town near Tonopah is Manhattan, which is located in scenic Big Smoky Valley, 200 miles north of Las Vegas. Many prospectors were drawn to Manhattan in the mid 1860s to partake in a silver mining boom and again for a gold rush in the early 1900s. There are not many buildings in this small town, but you will see an old bank and church, gold mines, and other ghost towns nearby.

Reno, Nevada has its own history preserved from its mining glory days if you look and you will find a few more ghost towns near Reno.

 

Not everyone wants to gamble, drink, and see shows every day of their Las Vegas vacation. Others just want a break from the crowds where they can see or do something special.

Let us know in the comments below if you try any of our suggestions or if you have experienced them before. Also, please share any other great ideas for great activities to do on a road trip from Las Vegas.

 

* AUTHOR NOTE: Access to businesses, attractions, and parks are subject to change, especially due to pandemic health restrictions and related tourism and business conditions. Please check the website or call before going to avoid disappointment, especially if you are driving an hour or more to get to some of these locations. 

 

Happy Travels,

Kevin & Tina

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