Las Vegas is a popular destination for anyone looking to get away. However, if the glitz and glamour of the Strip isn’t your style or if you’re a local and have exhausted all of the usual hot spots, it may be time to explore what else the area has to offer.
From scenic mountain views, to magnificent natural wonders, to kayaking and even wine tasting, there are plenty of impressive places to visit that are just a couple hours away (or less) from the Las Vegas city limits. So grab a friend and gas up the car – here are 6 day trip destinations you’ll want to explore.
Distance from Las Vegas – approx. 35 miles
Located about 35 miles northwest of Sin City, Mt. Charleston is a popular year-round choice for Las Vegas locals and visitors alike. It’s the eighth highest mountain in Nevada and one of the most prominent peaks in the contiguous U.S. Due to the higher elevation, temperatures generally average about 30 degrees cooler than the Las Vegas Valley, which can be especially appealing for Vegas locals during the triple-digit heat of the summer. Besides the weather though, the area also offers unbeatable views of flora and fauna. There are a number of outdoor activities to enjoy: hiking, camping, horseback riding, mountain biking, and picnicking. And during the winter months, you can head over to Lee Canyon Resort for skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. Or if you’re looking for something a little more low-key, rent a cabin in Kyle Canyon and experience some spectacular views while sipping a cup of Mt. Charleston coffee at the Lodge.
Hoover Dam & Lake Mead
Distance from Las Vegas – approx. 35 miles
Built during the Great Depression, the Hoover Dam is located in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River on the Nevada-Arizona border. At the time of its construction, it was the largest of its kind and it continues to wow visitors today. Nearly a million people tour the landmark each year. Tickets for the guided tours of the dam and the power plant are available on a first-come first-served basis at the dam – you can’t buy them ahead of time online.
The Hoover Dam also formed Lake Mead, which is the largest reservoir in the nation (when at full capacity). In addition to boasting some of the country’s best sport fishing, visitors to Lake Mead can also enjoy swimming, boating, water skiing, kayaking and canoeing. A number of shaded picnic spots are located throughout the recreational area as well as campgrounds and RV Parks. Ranger-guided hikes are offered year-round.
Valley of Fire
Distance from Las Vegas – approx. 58 miles
Known for its notable “fire red” sandstone formations, Valley of Fire State Park is the oldest state park in Nevada. It covers approximately 35,000 acres. In addition to its impressive natural rock formations, the park boasts some beautiful cacti and wildflowers (especially colorful in the spring) and is home to a variety of wildlife including lizards, snakes, coyotes, foxes, rabbits and big horn sheep. More than 70 campsites are available as well as hookups for RV’s. Smaller picnic areas are located throughout the park along with three group areas that can be reserved for larger gatherings. If you’re interested in exploring some of the peaks up close, the visitor’s center can offer suggestions for day hikes as well.
Distance from Las Vegas – approx. 60 miles
The town motto is “Your Base Camp to Adventure” for a reason – located an hour west of Las Vegas, Pahrump offers a wide variety of attractions for visitors. Taste award winning wines at Pahrump Valley Winery and the Sanders Family Winery. And if you visit in October, be sure to check out the annual Grape Stomp. If golfing is more your style, you won’t be disappointed. The Mountain Falls Golf Course and Lakeview Executive Golf Course both offer lush fairways and great views. Enjoy various water sports at the Lake at Spring Mountain or strap on a water-powered jetpack and take flight. Outdoor enthusiasts will love to hit the local hiking trails or grab their mountain bikes for a ride.
Distance from Las Vegas – approx. 96 miles
Located an hour and a half south of Las Vegas on the Colorado River, Laughlin has become a popular tourist destination for gambling, entertainment and water sports. Take a dinner cruise along the Colorado River with Laughlin River tours, rent a jet ski for a quick afternoon ride (several companies offer launch points near the casinos), or if you’d prefer to stay on land, you can go horseback riding along the river with Pot A’ Gold Stables. Hit the links at one of the five nearby golf clubs or check out the Spa at Laughlin Ranch if you’re looking for some pampering and relaxation. And if you decide to make it more than just a day trip, you can check in to any one of the nine casino resorts along Casino Drive.
Grand Canyon West & the Skywalk
Distance from Las Vegas – approx. 130 miles
While it takes more than 5 hours to reach the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, you can reach Grand Canyon West in about half the time. Grand Canyon West is part of the Hualapai Indian Reservation and features the famous Skywalk. Best described as a “glass, horseshoe shaped bridge,” the Skywalk was built in 2007. It is suspended 4,000 feet above the riverbed and gives visitors the unique opportunity to walk “beyond the canyon walls.”
And if you want to take your Grand Canyon adventure to even greater heights, there are a number of helicopter tours available from the Las Vegas Strip to the Grand Canyon. They run anywhere from $350 per person for 2.5 hours round-trip to more than $800 per person for 12 hours round-trip, which also includes a river rafting stop.