What comes to mind when you think about Las Vegas? Casinos? Shows? The desert?

There really is so much to Las Vegas than many people realize; it isn’t just for gamblers and show-lovers. Las Vegas is for the adventurous at heart. It’s for people who want to see more than just a blackjack table or a stage. Head out of the city a few miles and you will be amazed at what you can see.

The wonderful mild weather makes traveling around Vegas a breeze and it provides for so many different trips and activities, you won’t know where to start.

So, what can you do?

You could take a day out of your trip to the city and go see one of these:

The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is a five-hour drive from Las Vegas, approximately 300 miles.

There is no other place that offers the kind of viewing opportunities that the Grand Canyon does. A spectacular national park, the Grand Canyon is a popular spot for millions of visitors every year and, although you can take a day trip out there, make it two – or three – and really make the most of your time in this spectacular place.

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And don’t forget; check the weather before you go!

Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam is approximately 34 miles from Las Vegas.

The Hoover Dam is one of the engineering marvels of the world. Built on the Colorado River between 1931 and 1936, the Dam is situated on the border between Nevada and Arizona, around 34 miles to the southeast of Las Vegas. It is one of the more popular excursions and, like the Grand Canyon, is visited by millions every year.

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Don’t just stop at the Hoover Dam though; head on past and enter Boulder City, built from the ground up by the Dam Workers. And don’t forget to head on to Lake Meade. Also, check out the tour companies where you can book a cruise on the river below Hoover Dam.

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon is approximately 20 miles from Las Vegas.

Drive just a  few miles west out of Vegas and you come to a different world. Far removed from the glamor, lights, and glitz of the City, Red Rock Canyon can be seen from almost every part of the Vegas Valley. Not far out of the city, you will start to see the red rocks, 500 million years old. The Canton is the first National Conservation Area in Nevada and is open all-year round, attracting around a million visitors every year.

You will find a visitor center, and more plant and animal life than you ever dreamed would exist in a canyon of this kind. Hike along 30 miles of trails, climb the rocks, have a picnic and tour the exhibit rooms and book store at the visitor center.

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The Visitors Center alone covers almost 200,000 acres and is the starting point of  scenic route that winds its way along a 13-mile hike through a mountainous are covering 130 miles of the Mojave Desert.

Hint –  When you visit Red Rock Canyon, make time to visit the Bonnie Springs Ranch too.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Lake Mead Recreational Area is around 30 miles to the southeast of the City.

Lake Mead is a man-made lake, the largest in North America, created with the Colorado River was dammed. Just 30 minutes from the hustle and bustle of the City, it is the perfect place for a little swimming, fishing, water skiing, boating and hiking. And if you want to stay longer than a day, why not rent a houseboat and explore more of the shoreline – it stretches 550 miles!

This is a very popular destination with the Recreation Area stretching around 110 miles upstream, heading for the Grand Canyon. The shoreline is framed by beautiful cliffs and canyon and is the perfect place to spend a day on the water or head off on a desert hike.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area – tel (702-293-8990) – information available Monday to Friday

Visitor Center – open 7 days a week

Driving Directions from Las Vegas

If you plan to drive yourself out to Lake Mead, head out of Vegas on US 93 South. Go through Boulder City and turn left onto Lakeshore Road (NV-166). Keep driving until you reach the lake.

If you want to make more of a journey of it, from Lake Mead keep driving on Lakeshore Road. Turn right onto NorthShore road. Take a left onto Valley of Fire Scenic Byway (NV-169) and then a right onto Visitor Centers Road. From there, you can return to the City on NV-169 West to I-15 South.

Bonnies Springs Ranch

Located in Red Rock Canyon, Bonnie Springs Ranch is an old-time western town, approximately 16 miles west out of the City. There you will find plenty of activities, including Western Shootouts, plenty of shops and even a Motel if you want to spend some time there.

Bonnie Springs Ranch was built in the 1840s and, for many years, it was a fully working watering hole and cattle ranch. Not far away is Old Nevada, a replica Old West Town where you can learn what it was like to live in the 1880s. Your kids will love this place (and so will you); there’s a gun-fighting cowboy show every day, a petting zoo, miniature train rides and even pony rides.

Driving Directions From Las Vegas

Take the route towards Red Rock Canyon to 1 Gunfighter Lane, Blue Diamond, NV 89004. Tel (702-875-4191) and visit their website at www.bonniesprings.com

Mt. Charleston

Mt. Charleston is 35 miles from Las Vegas.

Most people think of deserts and searing heat when they picture Las Vegas and nothing causes more of a surprise than a snow-capped mountain! Mt. Charleston is just a 45 minute drive west from Las Vegas and, standing at an impressive 3,633 meters (or 11, 918 feet), snow tops the mountain for 7 months of the year.

Mt. Charleston is an oasis, an evergreen island in the middle of the Mojave Desert. The temperature is, on average, around 20 to 30 degrees lower than Las Vegas, the perfect respite from the 100-degree+ heat in the height of summer! Here you go skiing, hiking, have a picnic or go on a horseback ride. Hotel accommodation is available all year around, as are tours and full-service camping is in operation between May and September.

Driving Directions from Las Vegas

Take I-5 South to Highway 160 (the Blue Diamond cutoff) and then follow Highway 160 to Highway 159, turning right if you want to go to Red Rock Canyon or the Spring Mountain Ranch State park. Continue along Highway 159 and take I-15 North to Kyle Canyon (NV-157), following up to Mt. Charleston Peak.

To get back to Las Vegas, follow 95 South.

Make sure you fuel up – Mt. Charleston Highway does not have a fuel service on it!

Death Valley

Death Valley is approximately 135 miles from Las Vegas, in California.

If National parks are your thing then Death Valley should definitely be on your bucket list. One of the most scenic places in the US, Death Valley boasts the lowest elevation on the continent – 280 feet below sea level.

Red hot summer heat fades into icy winter nights and, if you want an idea of what to expect there, think place names like Furnace Creek, Bad Water, and Devil’s Hole.

Driving directions from Las Vegas

Head south out of Vegas and drive on 1-15 for about 90 minutes. Take RT-127 to the National Park and expect total driving time of about 3 hours each way.

Contact Death Valley National Monument – (619-786-2331)

Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire State Park is around 55 miles from Las Vegas.

Heading northwest out of Las Vegas, the open desert will turn to fabulous landscapes, red rock formations never seen anywhere else before, hidden canyons, petroglyphs and even the remnants of an ancient Indian civilization.

Valley of Fire is the oldest State Park in Nevada, not to mention the biggest. It covers 36,000 acres and it was named after the amazing colors of the sandstone formations, formed 150 million years ago when the sand shifted significantly. They continue to change shape today though water and wind erosion.

You wont see rock formations like these anywhere else and the Valley Of Fire provides some of the best hiking opportunities in Nevada. The visitors center offers plenty of information for tourists and the park is open 365 days a year. There are fees for park entrance and overnight camping – check before you go.


29450 Valley of Fire Road, Overton, Nevada 89040

Website – www.parks.nv.gove/vf.htm

Driving Directions from Las Vegas

Head north on 1-15 out of Vegas and take exit 75. If you want a more scenic route, continue on I-15 and take the Lake Mead Boulevard east. Turn onto Northshore Road (NV-167) and head north to the Valley of Fire exit. The first route is around an hour’s driving while the second is about 90 minutes.

Entrance fees to the park are $10 per vehicle, regardless of how many people you can get inside it!

Information – tel (*702-397-2088)

Zion National Park

Zion National Park is approximately 158 miles from Las Vegas, into Utah.

Sandstone canyons of many colors, cool plateaus covered in forest and hot deserts make up the Zion National Park. The Virgin River has carved its way through the white and red sandstone and the canyon walls soar 2000 to 3000 feet above the river and the trees and grass covering the floor of the canyon.

A great place for winter skiing, try Bryan Head, a long and winding ski run down the fields of powder.

Driving Directions from Las Vegas

Plan to spend at least one night in the area; the drive will take you 2 to 3 hours on the I-15 out of Las Vegas.

Hiking in Las Vegas

If you want hiking then Las Vegas is the place for you. Check out these places:

  • Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area – 22 miles from the Strip, here you can go hiking, biking and rock climbing, or just take one of the many scenic drives
  • The Lake Mead National Recreational Area –5 miles from the Strip, do a bit of fishing, head off on a hike and then go for a dip.
  • Mount Charleston – 43 miles from the Strip, go on a hike, a bike ride, get on a horse, and, if you can, head up for some snow barding and skiing fun.

Stay tuned for more updates about fun day trips you can take in Las Vegas.