Las Vegas day trips are among the best ways to spend time in Sin City. If you have more than a day in Vegas, tear yourself away from the bright lights, grab some road trip snacks, and hit the road. Downtown Las Vegas might be incredible, but all too many people get distracted by bright lights and partying and fail to see the surrounding attractions. If you want the Vegas visit of a lifetime, you must prioritize some day trips from Las Vegas.
Fun Day Trips from Las Vegas
This guide will cover the best day trips from Las Vegas. If you feel ambitious, Vegas is perfectly positioned to visit sights like Bryce Canyon National Park, Seven Magic Mountains, and even the Grand Canyon. So check out these top day trips and prepare to be seriously inspired.
Planning Your Trip To Las Vegas Right Now?
Below are some of the top day trip tours in Las Vegas. Don’t forget to plan ahead when visiting Las Vegas!
Top Day Trip Activities and Tours in Las Vegas:
- Grand Canyon West, Hoover Dam Photo Stop, Lunch, Optional Skywalk (Most Popular Day Trip from Las Vegas)
- Half-Day Emerald Cove Kayak Tour (Our Favorite Day Trip)
- Valley of Fire Hiking Tour from Las Vegas (Likely to Sell Out)
- Small-Group Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend Tour from Las Vegas (Best Deal)
1. Hoover Dam
The Hoover Dam is a spectacular engineering feat that straddles the iconic Colorado River. The Hoover Dam stands at around 221 meters in height and is positioned parallel to a massive bridge. The Hoover Dam and the Dam Bridge attract as many as 7 million tourists a year, many participating in adrenaline experiences like sky diving or bungee jumps.
These activities are subject to availability and often run at ad hoc times. However, if you fancy a flutter, check if any adrenaline events are running while you are visiting. Even just touring the dam, it is easy to see how its dramatic architecture inspires people to push themselves.
A Hoover Dam day trip is one of the best day trips from Las Vegas if you are pushed for time. The Hoover Dam is a 40-minute drive away, easily squeezed into half a day. And while there are no public transport options, you can also easily book a guided tour or shuttle experience.
We’ve added the Hoover Dam to this list because of how impressive this manmade construction is and how convenient it is to reach. With minimal effort and maximal reward, the Hoover Dam is a fabulous day trip within easy distance from Las Vegas.
2. Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is among the most popular yet ambitious Las Vegas day trips. The Grand Canyon is a staggering 4 hours and 20 minutes away from Las Vegas. And if it wasn’t the Grand Canyon, we wouldn’t recommend trying to squeeze it in. But because the Grand Canyon is such a bucket list attraction, it is worth the extra effort.
To reach it, you’ll need to either hire a car (preferably with multiple drivers insured so you can split the driving) or book a guided tour. The benefit of a guided tour is that they include round-trip transportation, meaning you don’t have to face nearly 9 hours at the wheel. Weigh up both options and see which most suits you and your trip.
Of course, when you actually get to the Grand Canyon, you’ll have plenty to do to reward your efforts. You can take a helicopter tour, hike the Canyon Overlook Trail, and explore both the West Rim and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The part which makes the Grand Canyon famous is the Great Unconformity – a missing gap in geological history where a layer of rock has wholly disappeared. It is an ongoing mystery that attracts millions of visitors a year, also lured in by the stunning canyon views.
3. Dixie National Forest
Dixie National Forest is a beautiful day trip from Las Vegas. When it comes to day trips from Las Vegas, there are so many desert-style areas of natural beauty that a forest is a welcome change of scenery. The national forest sprawls over 2 million acres, full of hiking trails, canyons, and lakes.
It is the perfect place to go if you want to spend a whole day hiking or biking from Las Vegas – or even go rock climbing if you can rent the necessary equipment. Dixie National Forest is a breath of fresh air after being around the bright lights and blaring music.
Dixie National Forest is a 3-hour drive from Las Vegas, so it is a long day trip. You should set off early in the morning to maximize your journey and aim to get multiple drivers on your insurance to split driving time. It is well combined with a scenic drive through Zion National Park, though, so if you fancy a road trip vibe, Dixie National Forest was practically made for you.
4. Spring Mountain Ranch State Park
Fancy a bit of historical immersion? Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is an old ranch now treated as a state park with regular historical re-enactments. It is an interesting hybrid between a natural destination and a cultural attraction – perfect if you are stuck between them.
Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is within the Red Canyon National Conservation Area and is just 30 minutes driving distance from Las Vegas. It is an effortless attraction to squeeze into a packed Vegas itinerary (which, let’s be honest, is definitely the norm).
Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is ideal if you want one of the more cultural day trips from Las Vegas. If you time things correctly, you can catch one of the live Broadway musicals at the Super Summer Theatre at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park. This outdoor theatre is a beautiful place to sit and be entertained, with a backdrop of mountains and endless green fields. You should also stop by the state park’s old Main Ranch House. The former ranch house is now an immersive museum offering videos and guided tours.
5. Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park is one of the most popular Las Vegas day trips. The 3.4 million acres of the national park is a gorgeous mixture of desert and mountains – a total dream for hiking and sightseeing. It is also the largest national park in the US outside of Alaska. There are almost 1,000 miles of roads to explore and reach different attractions. Luckily, considering the Death Valley National Park is so large, it is just a 2-hour drive from Las Vegas.
Even though you should choose some things to do in Death Valley National Park before you set off, you’ll need to have a bit of an itinerary to squeeze it into a day trip effectively. The top attractions in Death Valley are Ubehebe Crater, Mesquite Sand Dunes, and Wildrose Charcoal Kiln.
As one of the most iconic and popular day trips from Las Vegas, it’s easy to add Death Valley National Park to this list. Treat Death Valley National Park as a given when choosing day trips – the only question is what you will do when you visit. Check out our guide on the best things to do in Death Valley for extra inspiration or take a look at guided tours.
6. Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon is stunning. There are no two ways about it. The sandstone canyon swirls in photogenic formations and gets so narrow in sections that it transforms into a slot canyon. Antelope Canyon is well worth visiting if you like hiking (or even just tolerate hiking if it means reaching very scenic places).
The canyon sits on Navajo Nation lands, and you can arrange a tour with a Navajo guide – to learn about its beauty, geography, and cultural significance. There are even photo tours where you are accompanied by experienced photographers. It is easily one of the most memorable day trips from Las Vegas.
When deciding to visit Antelope Canyon, your two main choices are Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. Upper Antelope is the most popular and much easier to walk through. Lower Antelope Canyon is a little more tricky and less frequented because of this. Full disclosure, Antelope Canyon – whichever section you choose – is one of our most ambitious Las Vegas day trips.
Antelope Canyon is a 4.5-hour drive from Las Vegas, so definitely no mean feat. In an ideal world, you’d break down a trip to Antelope Canyon across a couple of days as a detour from Las Vegas. But if you need to squeeze it into a day trip, insure multiple drivers to split driving or invest in a guided tour that provides round-trip transportation.
7. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a beautiful day trip option from Las Vegas. It only takes a little guesswork to figure out that Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area gets its name from the amount of bright red rocks. It is full of sandstone that is particularly stunning at sunrise or sunset when golden hours set the whole Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area on fire.
The red colors are almost blinding at these times. And angle your visit to coincide with these hours. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is most famous for its scenic drive – a 13 miles stretch of road that cuts through some of the most dramatic scenery.
Aside from the famed scenic drive, there are petroglyphs, seasonal waterfalls, and hiking trails galore. If you can, plan to visit some of the attractions and finish with a sunset scenic drive. Distance-wise, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is one of the shortest day trips from Las Vegas.
You can reach the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area’s Visitor’s Center in 30 minutes, a convenient addition to your itinerary. For us, the photogenic red rocks are the main draw. It is somewhere that you can quickly tick off that Vegas desert experience.
8. Kaibab National Forest
Kaibab National Forest is a total of 1.6 million acres of stunning plateaus, peaks, and prairies. This is the sort of place to bring binoculars, as wildlife like grazing bison are just common sightings. The national forest sits on the Colorado Plateau and is a hotspot for wildlife sightings, flora, and fauna.
And between prairies and mountain peaks is a dense blanket of pinyon-juniper and ponderosa pines. You can fully embrace the national forest with over 300 miles of hiking trails. Or, for the whole ‘summer camp’ throwback, head out boating or fishing. Kaibab National Forest is one of the most wholesome day trips from Las Vegas. You’ll love it.
Admittedly, Kaibab National Forest is a long day trip from Las Vegas. Allow a 3-hour drive to reach the forest from Sin City, and consider allowing extra time to detour to Flagstaff for skiing or the Grand Canyon, which is located just north of Kaibab National Forest. Extend Kaibab National Forest from a day trip to an overnight stay if you can. This way, you can combine it with a visit to other famous nearby attractions. Kaibab National Forest has a lot of potential – day trip or otherwise – so we had to include it.
9. Zion National Park
Zion National Park is a beautiful day trip and a greener version of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. It has the same red sandstone rock formations and a stunning Zion Canyon. Still, it also has the Virgin River cutting through the national park. Greenery and forests have popped up along its banks – creating a stunning hybrid between the desert and abundant green space.
Less than 150,000 acres in size, Zion National Park is a very feasible day trip from Las Vegas and full of excellent hiking trails where you can embrace contrasting landscapes. You can hike to the Emerald Pools for some scenic water scenery. It is also notably home to Angels Landing, renowned as one of the best hiking trails in Zion, if not the US.
It is a 2.5-hour drive to Zion National Park, just over the Utah border near St. George. It is super easy to visit if you hire a car and set off early enough to allow a full day in the park. You can always stop for a break in St George, which has the impressive Bloomington Petroglyph Park and the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. It is a fantastic halfway point.
10. Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire State Park is another red rock attraction feasible as a Las Vegas day trip. It is a fabulous place to tick off that red rock experience, and the sandstone is incredibly stunning at sunrise and sunset. What makes Valley of Fire State Park different from the other red rock options, though, you may rightly ask?
Primarily its more challenging hikes and the fact it is home to petrified logs. Silica Done is an awe-inspiring hiking attraction to tackle. While the Petrified Logs Loop is perfect for getting up close to fossilized trees. Valley of Fire State Park is approximately 46,000 acres and is full of activities. The petrified logs and unique hiking make it worthwhile for us – they are some fantastic things to do in Valley of Fire State Park.
Valley of Fire State Park is just an hour’s drive from Las Vegas, so a very feasible day trip. It is also excellently combined with a trip to Lake Mead since one driving route takes you directly past the north shore of the lake. You could go hiking and then dip in Lake Mead to cool down.
11. Seven Magic Mountains
Seven Magic Mountains is one of the most bizarre day trips from Las Vegas. Apart from the word ‘magic’, the name Seven Magic Mountains may sound unassuming, but this attraction is anything but ordinary. The striking structures consist of a line of brightly colored rocks stacked on each other with a dramatic backdrop of mountains behind them. The ‘mountains’ are essentially a giant art display. And millions of tourists flock to snap photos and gaze at this beautiful display.
Admittedly, Seven Magic Mountains is a 15-minute attraction to visit. If you don’t time your visit right, it can be heaving with camera-happy tourists and dust. But the main selling points are that Seven Magic Mountains is free to enter, alluring to creative enthusiasts, and just a 20-minute drive from Las Vegas. For us, these pros won the day and snuck Seven Magic Mountains onto our list of the best day trips from Las Vegas.
12. Cathedral Gorge State Park
Cathedral Gorge State Park is a brilliant addition to your day trips from Las Vegas if you like outdoor activities. The nearly 2,000-acre park is most famous for its Cathedral Gorge canyons, which get their bright colors and unique erosion from ancient lakebeds. Cathedral Gorge State Park is full of bizarre spires and fascinating rock formations. If you want somewhere to hike, snap photos, and are interested in geology, you are on to a winner.
Cathedral Gorge State Park is a medium distance from Las Vegas – approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes by car one way. It is our northernmost attraction in this guide and provides a brilliant insight into local geology. You’ll drive through the Desert National Wildlife Range, pass the Stonehenge replica, and even the Alien Research Center. There is a ton to stop off and see on the way, which also convinced us to add Cathedral Gorge State Park to our guide.
13. Lake Mead
Lake Mead is a huge reservoir created by the Hoover Dam and fed by the Colorado River. While it is primarily a water source (supplying over 25 million people), it is also a place for recreation. And in some designated areas, even swimming is perfect in summer months to escape the Las Vegas heat. The best swimming spots are Willow Beach and Boulder Swim Beach, which have shallow waters and rocky beaches.
Lake Mead is a fantastic place to visit from Las Vegas and one of the most popular day trips from Las Vegas in summer. With its staggering water capacity, Lake Mead is also the largest reservoir the US has – a lofty title. So, it is apparent why Lake Mead is an iconic day trip from Las Vegas.
Lake Mead is just a 40-minute drive from Las Vegas, depending on the whereabouts of the lake that you visit. The most tempting part of this day trip is undoubtedly the swimming opportunities. However, Lake Mead also has some stunning desert scenery; what more dramatic backdrop could you want? And if swimming isn’t your forte, then there is boating and fishing to enjoy. Lake Mead is scenic, fun, and refreshing.
14. Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is very cool. We are talking rock spires, overlooks, and a natural amphitheater. As far as day trips from Las Vegas go, this 35,000-acre park is a worthy candidate. Its rock formations are striking and photogenic enough to justify its grand collection of hiking trails. Natural Bridge, Bryce Point, and Fairyland Point are all fantastic attractions in Bryce Canyon National Park.
As a destination in its own right, Bryce Canyon National Park is well worth a 4-hour drive into Utah. Bryce Canyon National Park has all the gusto to rival larger, more popular national parks. So we’ve added it as an ambitious day trip from Las Vegas, ideal for those wanting to branch out from Nevada into neighboring Utah.
Logistics-wise, hiring a car that multiple people are insured to drive is obviously better. If you can split the driving between two people, Bryce Canyon National Park will be feasible as one of your day trips from Las Vegas. It is fantastic to combine with Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Zion National Park, and Dixie National Forest – all of which you drive directly past. Otherwise, you could extend your driving time to head south and incorporate the Grand Canyon. Driving to Bryce Canyon National Park from Las Vegas is as intense as a day trip. Still, it has one of the best road trip itineraries in the US.
15. Extraterrestrial Highway
Extraterrestrial Highway is one of the most exciting day trips from Las Vegas – whether you are a believer or not. The Extraterrestrial Highway is a 98-mile stretch of road encompassing some of the US’s most incredible alien-themed attractions. Starting from Las Vegas, you head up the Nevada 375, aka the sight of the most UFO sighting in the US. There have been so many UFO sightings along this highway that the Nevada state renamed it.
And true to its namesake, it makes for one of the best alien-themed road trips with a mixture of natural and manmade attractions, even if you don’t see a real-life UFO. You can see the sailing stones at Death Valley Inn, peer from the top of Tikaboo Peak at Area 51, stop by the Alien Research Center (more on that later), or go UFO gazing at Lower Pahranagat Lake.
The whole drive should take approximately 3 hours one way, so pick out the highlights that most stand out to you. Extraterrestrial Highway is easily a full-day activity if you drive the whole length. If you don’t drive, it is worth looking into guided tours that provide round-trip transportation to specific attractions. Extraterrestrial Highway is one of the wackiest day trips from Las Vegas, but definitely a fan favorite simply for its outlandish novelty.
16. Snow Canyon State Park
Snow Canyon State Park is tiny at just 7,400 acres. But for such a small area, it sure packs a punch. At Snow Canyon State Park, you can ride horseback between sandstone canyons, hike past lava tubes, and check out the extinct Santa Clara volcano. There are around 16 miles of shared-use trails for riders and hikers – more than enough to keep you entertained for a day on one of your day trips from Las Vegas.
Snow Canyon State Park really stands out for its volcanic element. Between lava tubes and extinct volcanoes, you’ll indeed have a lot of geological history and unique landmarks to learn about and sightsee. Its smaller size also makes it a super feasible day trip.
Snow Canyon State Park is a 2-hour drive from Las Vegas. It is easily combined with the other attractions in southwest Utah, like Red Cliffs National Conservation Area and Zion National Park. Or you can just treat it as a half-day adventure.
17. Emerald Cave Kayaking
Emerald Cave is a stunning cave with depths of up to 24 feet and a striking green color. The mixture of sunlight and algae lights up the cave in translucent green. This attraction really is natural beauty at its best. Emerald Cave is a beautiful reason to escape the big city. Its good looks guarantee it a spot on our guide.
Emerald Cave is just an hour’s drive from Las Vegas. It is located just outside of Willow Beach and on the Colorado River. This section of the Colorado River is serene and peaceful, and heading through the cave and bright green waters is a beautiful day trip from Las Vegas. You can kayak from Willow Beach to Emerald Cave in as little as 1.5 hours – booking a guided tour or renting a kayak independently.
18. Climb Mount Charleston Peak
Hiking Mount Charleston is a challenging feat. The Charleston Peak South Trail takes nearly 11 hours to complete and is considered a challenging route. As far as day trips from Las Vegas go, Mount Charleston is the most tricky. You’ll tackle an elevation gain of 1,541 meters, traversing switchbacks up Echo Cliffs and the South Rim Plateau. Mount Charleston stands at 3,632 meters in height and is one of Nevada’s highest peaks.
Luckily, Charleston Peak is just a 45-minute drive west of Las Vegas. So you won’t have far to go after walking for 11 hours. The drive is pretty scenic, too, taking you through Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. For fitness enthusiasts and experienced hikers, climbing Charleseak is a must.
19. Mojave National Preserve
Mojave National Preserve is one of the most convenient day trips from Las Vegas. At approximately 1.5 million acres in size, it spans a vast area. It is home to a massive population of Joshua trees – perfect if you still need to venture as far as Joshua Tree National Park. The varied landscape rolls from lava tubes to a more classic sand dune-style desert wilderness. Mojave National Preserve is great fun to explore. And you can choose horseback riding, 4WD, or enjoy the hiking trails.
Mojave National Preserve is 2.5 hours from Las Vegas by car. However, if you take the scenic route, which loops you through the national preserve, it takes 2 hours and 40 minutes to reach the Hole-in-the-Wall Information Center. It is a brilliant road trip with plenty of fun driving, diverse scenery, and many stop-off points.
20. Go Whitewater Rafting on the Colorado River
Going whitewater rafting is one of the best day trips from Las Vegas for adrenaline junkies. And for the ultimate rafting experience, you just have to book a day trip to the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon is sliced in half by the infamous Colorado River and is the ideal place to jump your heart into your mouth.
The rapids on the Grand Canyon’s section of the Colorado River are 1-10 scale, with some super sketchy areas and more beginner-suitable rapids if you want to dip your toes in. Most white water rafting tours in the Grand Canyon tackle up to Phantom Ranch – a point right in the heart of the canyon. You’ll be in for a treat if you haven’t white water rafted before. While if you have, the novelty of rafting through the Grand Canyon is the real deal.
Regardless of which tour operator you choose, the Grand Canyon is around a 4.5-hour drive from Las Vegas, so you can expect a full day out if you go whitewater rafting in the canyon. The exhilaration will make it all worthwhile, and the excitement makes it so popular.
21. Lake Havasu City
Lake Havasu City is hardly a tiny town. However, it is a much calmer alternative than staying in Las Vegas for another full day. If you need a break from the Vegas antics, Lake Havasu City is an ideal candidate and is just 2 hours and 20 minutes away. It has stunning lakeside beaches and a ridiculously scenic state park that hugs the Lake Havasu shoreline.
Another massive draw of Lake Havasu City is London Bridge which was transported from England in the 1970s and is one of the largest antiques ever sold. The London Bridge was dismantled and restructured in Lake Havasu City, now explorable independently or as a walking tour. So you’ll be well entertained for a day between London Bridge and the Lake Havasu State Park and beaches.
Lake Havasu City is famous for its iconic lakeside locale and the novelty of London Bridge. There isn’t anywhere you can enjoy a quiet beach apart from Lake Havasu City near Vegas, so that is the main reason we’ve added it to this guide. Lake Mead National Recreation Area is fantastic but extremely busy and mainstream in tourism, so Lake Havasu City is an excellent alternative destination. You can also stop at Boulder City or Willow Beach on the way.
22. Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is a long day trip, approximately a 3-hour and 20-minute drive from Las Vegas. Its iconic Joshua trees sprout throughout the nearly 800,000 acres of the desert landscape. Joshua trees are spiny trees that just up branchless like cacti or palm trees and only have leaves at the very ends of their branches. People tend to see Joshua trees as symbols of strength and beauty, and the trees coined their names from Mormon settlers who felt guided by the trees during this 19th-century journey.
If you love hiking, Joshua Tree National Park is one of the best day trips from Las Vegas. You can check out the Hidden Valley Nature Trail, Cholla Cactus Garden Trail, or the Arch Rock Nature Trail. Even driving through Joshua Tree National Park is beautiful, though, so be prepared to bask in scenic drives.
Despite its distance from Las Vegas, Joshua Tree National Park is definitely worth a day trip – just because of its famous and fantastic scenery. Its good looks won our vote. And if you have a bit longer, you can always stop overnight in Palm Springs or camp to make the whole experience more relaxing on the driving front.
23. Nelson Ghost Town
Ready for a bit more of an unusual day trip from Las Vegas? Nelson Ghost Town is an atmospheric gold mine that was abandoned around the 1930s and is now like a time capsule to days gone by. It is like stepping into the past, with buildings restored to their former glory and retro signs and relics everywhere.
Many people liken it to a Disney-style experience because it is so well-maintained. However, it is an impressive historical attraction and fantastic for anyone wanting a more cultural day trip from Vegas. The ghost town element is just the cherry on top, adding a bit of novelty to the experience.
At just a 45-minute drive from Vegas, Nelson Ghost Town is hardly a lot of effort to incorporate into an itinerary. You can park alongside many old retro vehicles, which adds to the historical allure. Nelson Ghost Town really itches that historical and cultural spot that last Vegas can lack, so we just had to add it to our list. It’s also perfectly combined with an Eldorado Canyon tour, and there are tons of mine sightseeing hiking trails nearby if you want to extend your experience.
Day Trips from Las Vegas: FAQs
Day trips from Las Vegas are so exciting, whether you drive to Dixie National Forest or stop by the Alien Research Center. There is tons of variety and different landscapes. In summer months, the Colorado River might call your name. The Mojave Desert and Joshua Tree National Park can be explored leisurely at lower temperatures in winter. But what else do you need to know? Here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions.
Is Zion a day trip from Las Vegas?
Yes, Zion is within driving distance from Las Vegas, so it is a feasible day trip. It takes approximately 2 hours to drive to Zion National Park, so set off nice and early to maximize your time for sightseeing and enjoying hiking trails.
What is within 2 hours of Las Vegas?
There are loads of things to do within 2 hours of Las Vegas. You can visit Zion National Park, Lake Mead, Mojave National Preserve, Death Valley National Park, and smaller cities like Boulder City.
Is Joshua Tree near Las Vegas?
Joshua Tree is just 3 hours away so within easy driving distance from Las Vegas. It might be a long day trip, but it is definitely feasible if it is your bucket list destination.
How many days in Vegas is enough?
3 days in Las Vegas is enough to squeeze in one day trip and see a bit of the Vegas Strip. However, ideally, you’d stay a minimum of 5 days to really make the most of the city and its day trips.
Day trips from Las Vegas are really worth drawing yourself away from Las Vegas Strip. Sin City is actually fantastically positioned to explore more natural destinations – the Virgin River, Magic Mountains, or one of the nearby national parks. You can rent a car and arrange day trips from Las Vegas independently; all of these best day trips are within driving distance from Las Vegas. Alternatively, book a guided tour that transfers you from Las Vegas. There are many tours, like a Grand Canyon West tour that includes transfers from Las Vegas, meaning you get to kick back and avoid driving.
Looking for more Vegas inspiration? Here is our guide on where to stay in Las Vegas. Finding a good accommodation as a base is vital for getting the most out of your Vegas trip – so get the low down on neighborhoods and best hotels before booking.