15 Best Day Trips From Las Vegas — From National Parks to the Extraterrestrial Highway

Need a break from Sin City? Here are 15 great day trips from Las Vegas.

A crowd of people walking around taking photos among the art installation Seven Magic Mountains

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Las Vegas is already a fantastic destination that people travel from far and wide to experience. But, after a day or two of playing at the blackjack tables, sitting by the rooftop pools, and digging into a few world-class meals, you may have a hankering for a little escape. Luckily, there are plenty of places within driving distance from Las Vegas that will make you feel like you’re a whole world away. Here are 15 of the best day trips from Las Vegas.

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Grand Canyon

Mule team transversing up the South Kaibab trail from the bottom of the valley in the Grand Canyon

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The Grand Canyon is one of America’s greatest treasures, and it happens to be located within driving distance of Las Vegas. However, the drive can take about five hours, so instead, we suggest splurging on a helicopter tour instead. Companies like Maverick can get you to the Grand Canyon for a flyover and even bring you back for a little aerial sightseeing over the Las Vegas Strip all in one glorious trip.

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Hoover Dam

View of the Hoover Dam

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Check out one of man’s most impressive engineering marvels by driving just 45 minutes outside the city to see the Hoover Dam. Visitors can tour the whopping 726-foot tall dam that spans the Colorado River and learn all about how it generates power for thousands of people.

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Lake Mead

View from above of boats in Lake Mead with mountains in the distance

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Want more man-made fun? Drive just 40 minutes from Vegas to see Lake Mead, the largest man-made reservoir in the United States. Guests here can explore the perimeter by bike or take to the water on a boat tour to cool off (but be sure to check the water levels before you go).

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Mount Charleston

Wild mustang horses grazing on Mount Charleston

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Sure, for the most part, Las Vegas is a pretty hot place all year round, but in the winter months, skiers and snowboarders can make the one-hour drive to Mount Charleston for a little snow-filled adventure. According to Vegas.com, it even sees an impressive 240 inches of average snowfall a year, making it a prime place to visit if you’re a powder hound.

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Valley of Fire

The famous rock formation "The Wave" in Valley of Fire State Park

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Seek out one of Mother Nature’s most beautiful scenes at the Valley of Fire, a state park just one hour outside Vegas. The landscape looks more like a watercolor painting made with neutral tones thanks to the ever-shifting sandstone that gives the area its distinct swirls. Visitors can also spot a few petroglyphs left over from several millennia ago if they look hard enough.

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Cathedral Gorge State Park

Depths of Cathedral Gorge and its slot canyon tributaries

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Those seeking more towering stones can find them at Cathedral Gorge State Park, about a 2.5-hour drive from the Strip. The state park offers visitors more chances to explore, including its plentiful hiking trails and expansive caves. Get the best view by walking The Millers Point Trail, a short trail that ends with a spectacular view.

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Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada

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Red Rock Canyon is perhaps the most classic and popular day trip from Vegas, and with good reason. The national conservation area is just a quick 20-minute drive from the city and offers visitors gorgeous hiking trails and vistas galore. And, if you come in spring, you could be treated to a wildflower bloom unlike any other.

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Magic Mountains

A crowd of people walking around taking photos among the art installation Seven Magic Mountains

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Those seeking a little outdoor art and culture can find it about 30 minutes away at Seven  Magic Mountains. The colorful art installation made out of boulders was created and opened to the public in 2016 by artist Ugo Rondinone. The structures, according to the website, are meant to symbolize the space “mid-way between the natural and the artificial.”

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The Extraterrestrial Highway

Large sign indicating research center in Area 51

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UFOs and aliens are getting a lot of attention at the moment, so what better time to make a quick day trip to Area 51 than now? Lean into the subculture fun by visiting the kitschy cafes and shops like the famed The Little A Le Inn Bar and Motel and taking a drive down the Extraterrestrial Highway.

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Bryce Canyon National Park

Wide scenic shots of Bryce Canyon

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Driving to Bryce Canyon and back can be a bit of a haul at four hours each way. But, those who are dedicated will be rewarded by getting to spend time in one of the most beautiful national parks in America. Come for a hike or camp overnight so you can look up at the dazzling stars blanketing Utah’s night sky.

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Mojave National Preserve

Joshua Tree National Park

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Make the one-hour drive from Vegas and cross over the California border to visit the Mojave National Preserve. A visit here feels like you’re being transported to another planet, filled with massive sand dunes, towering Joshua trees, and plenty of hiking trails for exploration. Don’t miss Kelso Depot Visitor Center, a one-time railway station dating back to the early 20th century. 

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Horseshoe Bend

Wide scenic shots of Horseshoe Bend

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If you’ve spent any time on Instagram, odds are you’ve come across a photo of Horseshoe Bend. It’s a lengthy drive from Las Vegas at about 4.5 hours, making it a prime place for an overnight trip. Located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the Colorado River literally bends around a massive rock formation, creating a gorgeous horseshoe-shaped curve in the river. Get your photos, but remain cautious and respectful of boundaries put in place by the National Park Service.

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Death Valley National Park

Racetrack beach with long lines created by "sailing stones" in Death Valley

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Make your way back to California once more for a visit to Death Valley National Park, located  2.5 hours from the city. The massive park boasts some of the hottest recorded temperatures on Earth, so make sure to plan your trip accordingly. While there, check out the salt flats and the racing rocks for two fantastic scenes. And, if you can, stay until the sun goes down and look up at the stars, as Death Valley is well known for its delightfully dark skies and brighter-than-bright stars.

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Willow Beach

Colorado River at Willow Beach near Las Vegas Nevada

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Who says the desert can’t have a beach? Willow Beach, located an hour from Las Vegas, offers visitors a watery respite from the heat. Come dive into the waters, take a paddle boat ride, or just enjoy a day on the shore.

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Zion National Park

Zion National Park

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Head out for one more exploration to Zion National Park, another 2.5-hour drive from Vegas. The park is known for its deep canyons and jagged cliff sides, which you can climb down to wade through Virgin River on a hike along The Narrows. Find more water at the Emerald Pools, where you’ll be rewarded with lush landscapes on all sides.

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