What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but that doesn’t mean tourists have to. When visitors want a break from the exciting shows and gambling of the Strip, the surrounding area offers many opportunities for fun day trips. These day trips from Las Vegas give tourists a chance to add variety to their vacation to Sin City. Most of these places charge very little to visit and are easily worth the travel time.
Zion National Park is a 2.5-hour drive away from Las Vegas. Located in Springdale, Utah, this national park features awe-inspiring views that may make some people want to stay for more than the day. The park is known for its variety of color with white, red, and pink rock formations among gorgeous greenery from the conifer forests and plethora of color from the wildflowers. The park has desert areas as well as ponds and waterfalls accessible by hiking trails.
Las Vegas tourists looking for a fun day trip with their kids should check out Bonnie Springs Ranch, a 115-acre area located around 30 minutes away. The ranch has Wild West-style fun for the whole family, including a zoo, train, museums, and horseback rides. The town is open Wednesday to Sunday, and has gun fights and shows to entertain visitors. In addition to the Old West attractions, Bonnie Springs has modern fun like karaoke and Sunday football viewing. The stables are open daily and has pony rides for children. Kids can see a variety of animals at the zoo, including wolves and a Canadian Lynx.
Only half an hour to 45 minutes from the Strip is Lake Mead, the 16th biggest man-made lake in the world. Lake Mead National Recreation Area is the perfect place to enjoy the sun and work on one’s tan during the day, and then head back to Vegas to party all night. There’s swimming, boating, hiking, and jet skiing for people in an active mood. There are also shaded areas for picnics and plenty of beach area for lounging around on the 820 miles (1320 km) of shoreline. Lake Mead offers year-round fun. Visitors are treated to unique views of lava hills, Joshua trees, bighorn sheep, and red sandstone rocks thanks to the positioning of the lake where the ecosystems of the Great Basin, the Mojave desert, and the Sonoran desert meet. Showers, restaurants, and other amenities make a trip to Lake Mead a pleasant experience.
About an hour away from Las Vegas is the oldest Nevada State park. The Valley of Fire State Park is only 6 miles (10 km) from Lake Mead and offers wonderful opportunities for photographers, hikers, and nature lovers. Visitors can explore historic site where the Basket Maker people and the Anasazi Pueblo farmers once visited. Rock art from prehistoric people is viewable in some areas of the state park. There are also trails and picnic areas. The area gets its name from the fiery red sandstone, though there are many interesting rock formations. The Visitors Center houses interpretive displays.
Death Valley National Park is a two to three hour drive from Las Vegas, though travelers can get there faster with a 40-minute flight. The faster route is on route 95, but people who have time for the scenic route can take 160. Although regarded as the driest and lowest place in North America, Death Valley offers a variety of outdoor activities, flat plains, valleys, and simple beauty. Guided tours are available at the Visitors Center, including a paleontology tour sure to please any dinosaur fans. Although the center is a great place to start exploring Death Valley, visitors should make time to see Scotty’s Castle in Grapevine Canyon, an incredible estate in an oasis just 90 minutes from the Visitors Center.
For a good, long hike or just a short jaunt through nature, Red Rock Canyon offers tourists a relaxing day trip away from the bright lights of Vegas. The park has 19 hiking trails ranging from easy to difficult, and offers views of thousands of plants and wildlife. The wild tortoises and stunning rock formations are highlights for most visitors. A 13-mile (21 km) scenic drive is another popular option. Depending upon what time of the year people visit Red Rock Canyon, there are various events happening much of the time. Guided hikes, bird watching, and art projects are among the typical events.
Around 3,000 people travel to the Hoover Dam every day. At 726 feet (221 meters) tall, the enormous curved wall is an architectural marvel, that was constructed to control flooding, produce electricity and provide irrigated water. Visitors can tour the Hoover Dam, including a short video about the dam’s history and interactive displays. From the overlook, visitors get stunning views of the dam, Lake Mead, the Black Canyon, and the Colorado River. Tours of the power plant are also available for a small fee. The Hoover Dam is only 35 miles (56 km) south of Vegas in Boulder City. Drivers can reach the attraction on U.S. Route 93.
The Grand Canyon is one of the greatest natural wonders of the world. Millions of people take a trip to the Grand Canyon annually, and many make the day trip from Las Vegas either by car or helicopter. There are two main routes from Vegas: the West Rim through a Native American reservation or the South Rim, which is maintained by the US government. The latter is farther and takes around five hours to drive if there’s no traffic.
The West Rim has some dirt roads that could slow some vehicles down but beautiful views and a shorter drive time that makes it ideal for day trips. Taking this route also gives visitors access to the popular Skywalk attraction, a horse-shaped cantilever bridge over an area of the Grand Canyon West area. A helicopter tour is a quicker option and reveals views one simply cannot see from the ground. Many packages include pickup at Vegas hotels.