Guide to Best Day Trips from Las Vegas
Las Vegas is so much more than just casinos, bright lights, and entertainment. It is also the most convenient jumping off point for the stunning scenery of the desert Southwest.
There are so many great day trips just outside Las Vegas city limits. They range from the Mojave Desert to Grand Canyon vistas. There are incredible outdoor excursions in every direction!
In this guide, we’ll cover a few of our personal favorite Las Vegas excursions and include tips, photos, and suggestions to help you decide which of these fantastic destinations is right for you.
Planning Las Vegas Excursions
If you are one of the more than 40 million annual visitors to Las Vegas each year, be sure you take the time to explore the treasures just outside the city limits. When planning your Las Vegas excursions, Papillon offers a number of visitor guides that cover the most spectacular destinations.
There are day trips in every direction from Sin City. You can drive to the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Death Valley, Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon, Mt. Charleston, and many other beautiful locations.
Renting a car is easy and affordable in Las Vegas and the best option to get out to see various sights. Distances are vast and public transportation options are limited.
There are, however, daily bus tours to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas if you are looking for someone else to do the driving!
Las Vegas to Grand Canyon Road Trip
Of all the classic road trips you can enjoy here, the Las Vegas to Grand Canyon National Park drive is the most exciting. Grand Canyon trips from Las Vegas travel through vast, open desert spaces, over historic Route 66, and pass through colorful sandstone and towering mountains. This drive has it all!
The Park is huge (1.2 million acres, 1,900 square miles) and you have three primary areas to choose from; the South Rim, West Rim, or North Rim. Check out our Grand Canyon National Park Guide for in-depth planning tips.
Upon arrival at Grand Canyon National Park consider a Grand Canyon helicopter tour to save you time. There is nothing quite like seeing the Grand Canyon’s breathtaking landscapes, without the crowds, from above.
It’s just more than four hours, about 275 miles, to make the drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon Village, which is located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
The South Rim is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and the Grand Canyon Village houses many of the park’s most iconic buildings and attractions, including Bright Angel Lodge, dramatic canyon overlooks, such as Mather Point, and iconic postcard perfect views from Desert View Watchtower.
Many visitors coming from Las Vegas visit the West Rim, known as Grand Canyon West, which is the closest part of the park to Sin City.
This destination is just over 2 hours away, or 125 miles. These lands are owned by the Hualapai tribe and house the famous Grand Canyon Skywalk.
The drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas is one of the most beautiful in all of America. Cutting an adventurous 260 mile, four and a half hour route across Nevada, Utah, and Arizona, it terminates at the 8,000 foot North Rim. Only about 10% of visitors to canyon county make it up to this cooler, forested gem.
Grand Canyon West & Skywalk
Since Grand Canyon West is the closest option for those traveling from Las Vegas ( 2 hours vs. 4 hours for the South Rim) this might be the best option for you, especially if you are short on time.
Our Grand Canyon West Destination Guide outlines what you can expect upon your arrival at this beautiful outpost located on Hualapai territory.
The viewpoints here are spectacular and are some of the most dramatic in the entire canyon.
Guano Point, with its 360-degree vantage point far out over the canyon, contains the historic remains of an aerial tramway used to mine a guano cave thousands of feet below, deep in the canyon, in the 1950s.
Eagle Point at the West Rim offers a self-guided Native American village tour and other options to immerse yourself in Hualapai culture. This is also the setting for the famous glass bottomed bridge that floats over the canyon thousands of feet above the river below, the Grand Canyon Skywalk.
A variety of tours from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon Skywalk are offered and are all contained on Papillon’s Skywalk at Grand Canyon Tours page.
Hoover Dam, Lake Mead & Boulder City
Just 20 miles from Vegas, the 550 miles of Lake Mead shoreline offer one of the best day trips from Las Vegas. This year-round playground is massive – 1.5 million acres of diverse landscape – including two vast lakes (Lake Mead and Lake Mohave), mountains, deep canyons, hot springs, nine wilderness areas, and much more all surrounding the Colorado River.
Hike, camp, rent a houseboat, swim, or just take in the beautiful sights of America’s largest reservoir.
Beautiful Boulder City, adjacent to Lake Mead, is the gateway to the National Recreation Area. While just 30 miles from the Strip, Boulder City has an entirely different vibe. The historic town, founded at the time of the Hoover Dam construction, doesn’t allow gambling and its quaint downtown of artisan shops is a favorite amongst history buffs.
If you make the short drive out to this area, be sure to make a stop at the Hoover Dam. This engineering marvel, constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression offers dam tours full of history. For a memorable and thrilling experience, be sure to sign up for one of many Hoover Dam Helicopter Tours.
Red Rock Canyon
Just a short drive west of Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon will wow you with colorful desert views and a wilderness vibe. The Canyon National Conservation Area is famous for rock climbing, hiking, and some of the most magnificent rock formations in the entire desert Southwest. All of this is less than 20 miles from the Las Vegas Strip!
Start with the Conservation Area’s 13-mile scenic drive before choosing from more than 20 developed hiking trails, many which cut deep into cool, oasis slot canyons.
Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is another treasure in the Conservation Area. Part working ranch, part former luxury retreat, it contains a 1860s blacksmith shop and other historic buildings in a remarkable setting.
Just 40 miles from Las Vegas, a year-round mountain getaway destination awaits with a ski area, hiking amongst ancient bristlecone pines, and 11,916 foot Mount Charleston.
On the short drive, you leave the desert floor and ascend up into the Springs Mountains National Recreation Area, where Lee Canyon and Kyle Canyon are located, to experience the cool, lush sky island ecosystem.
Don’t miss a chance to see the oldest living species on the planet as you hike the Bristlecone Pine Trail, located on the flanks of Mount Charleston.
Valley of Fire
Two thousand year old petroglyphs and 40,000 acres of massive red sandstone formations make Valley of Fire State Park one of Nevada’s hidden gems.
Just a one hour drive from Las Vegas, be sure to bring your camera and hiking boots when checking out the 150 million year old shifting sand dunes that have made this location a world-renowned park.
Valley of Fire State Park’s spectacular scenery offers the perfect backdrop for weddings and special occasions. Often, you’ll see adventurous couples tying the knot out in this beautiful space and a Valley of Fire Helicopter Proposal is even available!
A number of trails, including the famous White Dome Loop, let you experience this geological playground up close and personal, and on-site campgrounds are available to lengthen your experience.
Seven Magic Mountains
Las Vegas might not have a famous urban art museum, but an art installation on the outskirts of the city has become a favorite Instagram photo op.
Just 25 miles from the Las Vegas Strip, internationally renowned Swiss Artist Ugo Rondinone erected Seven Magic Mountains, massive pillars of colorful boulders in 2016.
The bright kaleidoscope of colors offset by the surrounding desert landscape (the art project is located on Bureau of Land Management property just off Interstate 15 near Jean, Nevada) is visually stunning.
Death Valley National Park
A remote and stunning 150 mile drive (2.5 hours from Las Vegas) takes you to Death Valley National Park. Despite the name, it is not just desolate nothingness out here; you’ll find lush oases, some of the world’s largest wildflower blooms, sand dunes, and towering snow clad peaks.
It truly is the land of extremes and it’s one of the most photogenic landscapes on our entire planet.
Hiking the lowest point in North America, Badwater Basin, a 200 square mile salt flat will blow you away.
Only in Nevada can you experience the Alien Highway.
The extraterrestrial highway runs alongside Area 51, a secret part of the Nevada Test Site that the government didn’t even admit existed until 2013.
It’s about 150 miles (just over 2 hours) to Rachel, Nevada which sits on this quirky corridor. Here, you can feast on alien jerky, read all about first-hand UFO encounters as you dine at the Little A’Le’Inn, and drink and ice-cold Alien Amber Ale.
Zion National Park
Utah’s Zion National Park is a 3-hour drive from Las Vegas. Utah’s first national park is famous for massive rock towers and interesting slickrock formations.
Located near the southern Utah city of Springdale, Zion’s 54-mile Park Scenic Byway should not be missed. It runs along the Virgin River taking in beautiful red rock scenery, up steep switchbacks, and through hand blasted tunnels high up Zion Canyon.
Zion is a hikers paradise, with classic hikes such as Angel’s Landing bucket list items for intrepid explorers.
Day Trips From Las Vegas Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Grand Canyon a day trip from Las Vegas?
Yes. Grand Canyon West is the closest option for those traveling from Las Vegas. It’s only 2 hours away. To travel to South Rim, it takes 4 hours. The more remote North Rim is 4.5 hours away.
How much does a road trip to the Grand Canyon cost?
It cost $35 for a private vehicle to enter Grand Canyon National Park. Rental car options in Las Vegas are extensive but book early for the best deals.
We recommend hopping on one of Papillon’s scenic bus tours from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon to make your trip relaxing and affordable.
What else is there to see on a Grand Canyon road trip?
Popular stops en route to the Grand Canyon include historic Route 66 which runs through Williams, Arizona, Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, Willow Beach, Bearizona and the Skywalk at Grand Canyon West.
What is There to Near Las Vegas During the Day?
On the hunt for the best things to do in Las Vegas? Papillon's helicopter, bus, airplane, and adventure tours are the perfect way to experience the numerous Southwestern destinations surrounding Sin City. Discover the world-renowned Grand Canyon National Park, take a day trip to the Grand Canyon West Rim, or board a helicopter for a flight over Sin City.
Learn more about all of Papillon's world-class Las Vegas sightseeing tours today.
Are there any ghost towns near Las Vegas?
Nevada has more ghost towns than actual populated cities. Hit the open road and see one for yourself. Less than 2 hours from Las Vegas, Rhyolite ghost town, with a huge collection of still-standing buildings, is a photographers dream. You can also check out the Techatticup gold mine in El Dorado Canyon, just 45 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip.