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Away from the glistening lights and casinos is a whole world waiting to be discovered. All of the Las Vegas day trips by car mentioned in this guide are short and sweet, affordable, and fun!

For most of my life, travel urges had to be satisfied with cheap trips. Limited funds forced me to get creative and search surrounding areas that were affordable and satisfying enough to hold me over until the one big vacation per year.

I’m grateful, because I may have never discovered these gems. Like many people, I too took where I lived for granted. That’s why I urge you to get out and discover your backyard.

Psst…I have a guide on how to plan a staycation.

Las Vegas attracts millions of people annually, many only visiting The Strip. While this is a unique part of the city, I encourage you to spend time exploring the areas both off The Strip and outside the city. Rent a car and hit the road, Jack.

“What is there to do outside of Las Vegas?”

Outside of Las Vegas is a world of adventures such as Grand Canyon West, Boulder City, Zion National Park, and more. In this post, I’m going to cover not one but 19 various day trips from Las Vegas with round trip distance calculated from the city center. We will discuss the following:

  • Best places to rent a car in Las Vegas
  • Road trip essentials
  • Best day trips based on interest and season
  • Overnight stay options

Estimated costs are at the very least a tank of gas and snacks making this a budget-friendly adventure.

Let’s wander where the wifi is weak

Rental Cars in Las Vegas

Unless you drove to town or live here, you will need a rental car. My go-to site for all my road trips is RentalCars.com. They have the largest selection for good (and new) cars at great prices. If you don’t want to book in advance than most of the hotels should have rental car counters. If not, you can go to the McCarran Rental Car Center.

Can I rent a car in Vegas at 21?

Yes. You can rent a car under the age of 25 with a valid drivers license and credit card. They will just charge an extra fee. To know more you will have to contact the rental car company directly.

Las Vegas Day Trips By Car

Dante’s View Death Valley

Road Trip Essentials for a Day Trip

Here are my recommended road trip essentials. I’m talking to you co-pilot. This is mainly your job.

  • Spare gas: While I never ran into the issue of not being able to make it to a gas station, it’s best to play it safe and bring a spare jug of gas. Remember you are in the middle of the desert (i.e. Death Valley). If you run out of gas, it could be a long time before the sight of anyone or a gas station, not to mention, limited cell reception.
  • Music playlists: Music is essential for road trips. I love making playlists on Spotify and Apple Music. You are bound to find old school Eminem, Emo Rock and Taylor Swift on my playlist, and these days, a few podcasts.
  • Charging Cord: This is the exact one I use all the time. It’s nylon braided and doesn’t break on the end, unlike the cheap plastic ones.
  • Auxillary Cord: If you’re renting a car without Bluetooth capability you will need at the very least, an auxiliary cord to use.
  • Snacks and TONS of water: I bring my Thermoflask and Camelback buy large jugs of water to refill it.
  • Road Atlas: Go retro and grab a paper map. They can always be found at truck stops. At the very least, screenshots for when you lose cell signal and Google Maps decides to stop working
  • Camera: My most recent camera is the Canon M50 mirrorless. It’s lightweight and perfect for carrying around. For my complete and growing list of equipment check out my photography & video equipment list.
  • Change of Clothes for the car ride home: After being outside all day I don’t smell the best. My hair and clothes smell like dirt and sweat. No one wants to ride home like that. I usually change into comfy clothes for the car ride home.
  • Blankets to cover the seats: This is more so if you’re taking your car. This makes the clean up easier. Let the dirt sit on the blankets and less on your seat. If you are super OCD then grab these car seat covers instead.

 

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Las Vegas Day Trips By Car

Boulder City is just a short drive from Las Vegas. Here you will find adorable mom and pop shops and The Coffee Cup. A restaurant made famous for its appearance on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

Top 10 Las Vegas Day Trips By Car

These are my top 10 favorite things to do outside of Las Vegas. The places I’ve enjoyed the most and often revisit.

1. Boulder City & Hoover Dam

A great place if you’re interested in vintage shops, locally made goods, and small-town vibes. Since Boulder City is “the city that built the dam”, you have to make sure you stop in passing for a look at the Hoover Dam.

Total Travel Time: 1 hour

2. Death Valley National Park

Nowhere else around Las Vegas can you experience the magic, heat, and unexplainable wonder of Death Valley. It’s a remarkable place with tons of hiking and driving trails.

Total Travel Time: 4 hours

3. Grand Canyon West

Check a big item off your bucket list and visit the Grand Canyon.

Distance: 4 hours 15 minute

4. Valley of Fire

Come for incredible hikes, scenic drives, and Instagram-worthy photo spots.

Total Travel Time: 3 hours

5. Nelsons Ghost Town

A short and sweet trip for photography lovers especially.

Total Travel Time: 1.5 hours

6. Pahrump Valley Winery

For vino lovers looking to bottle their own wine while exploring small-town life in the desert.

Total Travel Time: 2.5 hours

7. ET Highway

If you enjoy cruising while taking in the views from the seat of your car. The E.T. highway sign is decked out with dozens of stickers and magnets. Be sure to join in and leave your mark.

Total Travel Time: 3.5 hours

8. Laughlin, Nevada

Getaway to Laughlin for fewer casino crowds and water activities on the Colorado River. Home to the popular River Regatta.

Total Travel Time: 3 hours

9. Lake Mead

Come here for diving, cliff jumping, fishing or simply spend the day floating around soaking up the (hot) sun.

Total Travel Time: 1.5 hours

10. Mount Charleston

Swap city and desert life for a cooling day in the mountains. Mount Charleston has dining, lodging, and recreational activities catering to all seasonal interests.

Total Travel Time: 1.5 hours

Day Trips From Las Vegas in Winter

Don’t let the desert fool you. There are great winter spots around. Vegas might not be a popular winter destination, but a short drive away, you can find snow and lodges to get cozy over some hot cocoa (with marshmallows please).

Las Vegas Day Trips By Car

Valley of Fire

Enjoy Cooler Temps at The Valley of Fire

The name may represent the red rock formations but the temperatures can often feel like fire on the skin. It’s so hot in the dead of summer. No one should ever be here in the middle of summer. Instead, come during winter to enjoy the much cooler temperatures. You will want to wear something cool and windproof. My favorite windbreaker jacket is this one.

Total Travel Time: 3 hours

Gold Strike Hot Springs

These hot springs got nice and warm for you during summer making it a perfect winter getaway. Unfortunately, the National Park Service temporarily shut this area down due to many accidents but I’m leaving it on the list just in case they reopen with new safety measures.

Total Travel Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Las Vegas Day Trips By Car

Mary Jane Falls hike in Mount Charleston

Get Cozy and Hit the Slopes at Mount Charleston

Mount Charleston would be fun to go sip hot chocolate in the lodge by the fire, build a snowman and/or visit the Lee Canyon Ski Resort. Make sure to try their famous Sasquatch Burger.

Total Travel Time: 1.5 hours

Day Hiking Trips From Las Vegas

Hiking is very popular around here. I remember listening to a stand-up comedian (I wish I remember his name) who said, “I love hiking because turns out, hiking is just walking”. I was laughing because it’s so true. Yet, hiking is good for burning fat. Kill two birds with one stone, that is fitness and travel, with a day hiking trip from Las Vegas.

Seeing as you will be hiking in the desert, you will want to make sure you are up before dawn to make it before it gets too hot. Please read my hiking safety tips guide to ensure you are fully prepared. Total mom moment right there, but I love ya’ll and can’t have you out in the desert dehydrated AF.

Saint George and Red Cliffs National Conservation Area

Located north of St. George, Utah, this scenic reserve was created to protect the endangered desert tortoise, but please don’t be disrespectful. Let them live their life and appreciate their cuteness from a distance. There are strict rules against this to protect wildlife.

Like many areas in the Southwest, it’s hot in the summer and bone-chilling cold in the winter. It’s always the wind that does it. That said, I recommend visiting in the spring to enjoy the wildflowers or fall to enjoy the perfect temperatures. The most popular spots are the Red Cliff Nature Trail.

Total Travel Time: 5 hours

Las Vegas Day Trips By Car

The Upsidedown or Valley of Fire?

Valley of Fire

Valley of Fire again makes the list because of the many hiking trails with the following being the most popular: Rainbow Vista, Elephant Rock, White Domes

Total Travel Time: 3 hours

Las Vegas Day Trips By Car

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

Known for the red sandstone peaks, Red Rock is a geological favorite among hikers and 100% worth visiting. They have a 12-mile scenic drive through the park, or you can choose from one of many hikes – ranging easy to difficult. My favorites are Calico Tanks and Turtlehead Peak.

For a complete list of all the hikes and trails at Red Rock Canyon click here.

Total Travel Time: 1 hour

Las Vegas Day Trips By Car

Dante’s View Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley is the driest and hottest national parks in the country. It’s also the lowest point in America at 282 feet below sea level. This may not be the best words to describe Death Valley but the magnificent beauty and mystery outweigh the extreme climate.

My recommendation would be driving to Dante’s View followed by sunset at Zabriskie Point. Death Valley is massive! These are going to be your best spots to experience the park and get home at a decent hour.

Total Travel Time: 4 hours

Half-Day Trips from Las Vegas

If you want to get away but don’t want to be gone ALL DAY LONG then here are some great half-day trips. A short distance from the city center with ample time to see it all.

half day trips from las vegas by car

Lake Las Vegas. Close to Vegas but feels like a world away. Leave Vegas and feel as though you just landed in Italy.

Lake Las Vegas

Lake Las Vegas is what I like to call the red-headed stepchild of Vegas. Great and under-appreciated. It is getting more attention though with various dining options, wine bars, shops, and activities opening up. They host many events including movie nights on the lake. Be sure to grab your raft and popcorn.

Total Travel Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Las Vegas Day Trips By Car

Spring Mountain Ranch

Spring Mountain Ranch State Park

Red Rock’s neighbor and a nice escape from the city. I’ve had multiple picnics here, afternoon hikes, and yes, even my Christmas photos. I may or may not have brought an artificial tree to this park, decorated it, and set up my tripod for a festive Instagram picture. Of course, it was not cold that day but I made the best of it.

Total Travel Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Las Vegas Day Trips By Car

7 Magic Mountain (Left) Dry Lake Beds (Right)

Seven Magic Mountains and Jean Dry Lake Beds

I love this area. Seven Magic Mountains is known all over Instagram. The rock sculptures are so cool. Right down the road are the Dry Lake Beds. One of my favorite places to watch the sunset. Both spots are great photo locations.

Total Travel Time: 1 hour

Camping Trips from Las Vegas

These trips can be done as a day trip or weekend getaway. Depending on how much time you are willing to sacrifice I recommend at least 1 overnight stay at these camping spots.

Joshua Tree National Park

A desert gem filled with unique trees, wildlife and some of the best stargazing spots around. Joshua Trees (the famed trees) average lifespan is 150 years old, but some have been claimed to live much, much longer. Guess that’s what happens when there is little threat. There is a ton to see at this park, but the best thing, in my opinion, is looking up at the night sky and seeing the milky way galaxy. That’s why I recommend staying overnight.

The most adorable hotels in the state park are The Castle House Estate, Hicksville Trailer Palace, and Made in the Shade.

Total Travel Time: 7 hours

Estimated cost: $300

 

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“If you know wilderness in the way that you know love, you would be unwilling to let it go…. This is the story of our past and it will be the story of our future.” -Terry Tempest Williams • Happy National Wilderness Month! Zion National Park consists of 148,732 acres and 84% of that is designated as wilderness. Wilderness is defined as a natural environment that has not been significantly modified by human activity. • There are many ways to interact with nature, from going camping to taking a hike to watching a sunrise or sunset. What are some things that you do to enjoy the great outdoors? • If you want to learn more about Zion National Park’s wilderness areas, go to: https://www.nps.gov/zion/learn/nature/zion-wilderness.htm • #Zion #nationalpark #wilderness #nationalwildernessmonth

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Zion National Park

Zion is the first national park in Utah and home to the scariest hike in America, Angel’s Landing. Would you dare? The last half mile is incredibly narrow. Hikers have to hold on to a chain bridge as they ascend to the top. Those who survive will be met with views overlooking the entire park. Angel’s Landing can take a few hours to complete depending on how busy the trail is. After you complete this hike, I recommend checking out The Narrows.

The best hotels in Zion are Zion Luxury Camping.

Total Travel Time: 5 hours

Estimated Cost:

things to do outside of las vegas

Bryce Canyon National Park

From scenic vistas to pink cliffs, Bryce Canyon is a great weekend getaway choice. Tons of trails in the great outdoors. If you enjoy skiing and snowboarding, you absolutely have to visit. Bryce Canyon offers tons of opportunities for white wonderland fun.

The best hotels in Bryce Canyon are Bryce Canyon Resort and Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn.

Total Travel Time: 8 hours

Estimated cost: $200

Sometimes all you need is a quick road trip away. It’s a nice fix for those who work full-time or want to have fun for less. Even one day away can help you relax and reset. So if you think that’s not enough, think again and jump in the car. Hopefully, you found these spots fun.

Psst. . . Looking for more Vegas fun? Check out these fabulous guides:

Which day trip sounds the most exciting to you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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