Looking for the best national parks in Nevada near the city of Las Vegas? Explore national parks near Las Vegas that you can easily drive to not just in Nevada but in the states of Utah, Arizona, California, and Colorado. Also explore the best state parks, recreation areas, and stunning natural landscapes that are closest to Las Vegas. You might also like our post on the Best Things to do in Las Vegas.
One of the reasons we absolutely love Las Vegas is that it is the perfect outdoor destination for nature lovers. Sin City is the perfect base for exploring Nevada national parks as well as American southwest national parks including Utah’s Mighty 5, the Grand Canyon, and Arizona’s other lesser-known parks. In fact, we have road tripped from Vegas as far west as White Sands National Park and saw many other epic attractions along the way including Four Corners Monument, Aztec Ruins, etc.
But it’s not just limited to national parks. Many state parks, national forests, stunning recreation areas, and Native American lands are also close to Las Vegas and can be easily seen on a road trip from the city. Even eastern Californian attractions such as Alabama Hills, Joshua Tree, and Death Valley can be easily seen from Las Vegas if you can spend a few days on the road. Here’s an epic list of dramatic landscapes, unique geological features, and must-visit natural areas that you can add to your itinerary while you are visiting Las Vegas.
Best National Parks near Las Vegas
While many of these attractions are located just under 3 hours and can be easily seen in a day trip, many others are several hours away and are perfect for a multi-day road trip. For the purpose of this post, we have considered a maximum driving distance of under 10 hours from Las Vegas. All the state and national parks, as well as natural areas, are ranked according to their proximity to Las Vegas.
Death Valley National Park, California
Distance – 150 miles / 2 hours 20 minutes
Death Valley National Park, located on the California Nevada border, has stark desert beauty and rich storied history. This national park is the one closest to Las Vegas and a perfect day trip away from Sin City. Death Valley is also the largest national park in the lower 48 states. Death Valley was first settled by pioneers, miners, and homesteaders. Visitors can learn about the mining operations at the Harmony Borax Works Trail.
The park is famous for its unique landscapes including the Badwater salt flats, colorful Artists Palette mountains, and the Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes. Death Valley has an extreme environment. It has recorded the highest temperatures in the country and is also the driest environment in the USA. Additionally, Death Valley is also one of the lowest places in the world.
However, the National Park is not all about bare vistas and badlands. A variety of wildlife calls the Death Valley Desert home. Visitors can spot the desert bighorn sheep, desert tortoises, jackrabbits, and a variety of reptiles in the park. In spring the park blooms with the wildflowers and is incredibly beautiful to visit.
Best Place to Stay – Stovepipe Wells Village Hotel
Zion National Park, Utah
Distance – 160 miles / 2 hours 30 minutes
Zion National Park is, without a doubt, one of the best national parks to visit around Las Vegas. Zion is an incredible oasis in the middle of the Southern Utah desert. The park has wonderful hikes, beautiful landscapes, and plenty of opportunities to see wildlife. The famous Narrows Trail through the Virgin River and the vivid colors of the red sandstone canyon are what make Zion stand out from the rest.
Zion has many great hikes that are each unique and beautiful in their own way and you will be hard-pressed to choose a favorite. Observation Point takes you to the very top of the park and offers a majestic, jaw-dropping view of the Zion Canyon. The Zion Narrows Trail takes you along the bed of the Virgin River to the narrowest and most colorful sections of the canyon. Most of the time, you’ll be hiking in knee-deep water with tall sandstone walls closing in on you. The Narrows is a truly unique experience.
Angel’s Landing is the most famous hike in Zion and also the most crowded one. This trail has many switchbacks and requires hikers to scramble over rocks. In the final climb, you’ll be hiking along a narrow ridge perched high above the valley. The trail passes too close to cliff edges however there are railings and chains in this challenging stretch to hold onto. From the top of Angel’s Landing, you’ll get an incredible 360-degree panoramic view of all of Zion National Park.
At Zion, you’ll also be able to spot wildlife! Bighorn sheep and mule deer can be easily seen throughout the park. Eagles and peregrine falcons often circle overhead and if you are really lucky, you can spot one of the California Condors that call Zion home. With a wingspan of 3 meters, these endangered giants are one of the biggest flying birds in the world and amazing to see.
Best Place to Stay – Zion Mountain Ranch
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Joshua Tree National Park, California
Distance – 190 miles / 3 hours
Joshua Tree National Park, located just over 3 hours from Las Vegas, is one of the nation’s most unique national parks. It is known for its bare rock formations, stark landscapes, and the iconic Joshua Tree. The park draws nature lovers from around the world to its desert habitats. The park can be easily visited on a road trip from Las Vegas.
There are many things to do in Joshua Tree National Park for visitors. You can go on a hike to see the rugged rock formations or the palm oases that grow in the desert. Visitors also like to look at the twisting Joshua trees up close and photograph them in the backdrop of the bare desert. Barker Dam Trail is an easy 1.5-mile track where you can spot wildlife at the namesake dam and see pictograms. For something a little more challenging, try climbing Ryan Mountain. This hike can take up to 3 hours but the views from the top are worthwhile.
Alternatively, drive to the panorama lookout at Keys View. At 5185 feet tall, you’ll be spoiled by views of the Indio Hills, Coachella Valley, Palm Springs, and even Signal Mountain in Mexico from the top of Keys View. You can also clearly see the San Andreas faultline from the viewpoint. Joshua Tree also has a dark night sky and camping in the park is amazing. One of the best campsites to stay is the Indian Cove Campground. The campsites are located next to the boulders and Joshua trees and have great views of the desert.
Best Place to Stay – Indian Cove Campsite
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Grand Canyon National park, Arizona
Distance – 252 miles / 4 hours 30 minutes
Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most visited national parks near Las Vegas. This natural wonder is on the bucket list of many visitors to the United States. The vast and deep canyon with its multitude of rock layers, geological formations, and hiking trails has been fascinating explorers for centuries.
The Grand Canyon National Park occupies a vast area – roughly about 1902 sq miles – and can be reached via two different entrances: the north rim and the south rim. The south rim is much more popular and accessible than the north rim. It is located 252 miles away and can be reached by a 4.5 hrs drive. The south rim has the most iconic views of the vast canyon. It also has a lot of facilities for visitors. Sun rays often light up the canyon, bringing delight to professional photographers. Many viewpoints are located at the south rim to see the canyon from different vantage points.
Grand Canyon Northern Rim is located about 268 miles from Las Vegas, so approximately a 5-hour drive one-way. The north rim is visited by fewer people and looks significantly different than the south rim. It also has fewer amenities than the south rim. Visitors can experience the true ruggedness of the canyon at the north rim. It is a paradise for advanced hikers and overnight campers. Many north rim hiking trails average about 6- 8 hours round trip. The north rim is inaccessible during winter.
Best Place to Stay – Bright Angel Lodge, South Rim or Grand Canyon Lodge, North Rim
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Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Distance – 260 miles / 4 hours
Located in Southern Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park is a great place to visit from Las Vegas. It is located just 4 hours away and is a fairy tale landscape of vivid red hoodoo rock formations. These spire-shaped rocks were formed due to years and years of weathering due to wind, water, and snow. The red sandstone looks even more vivid and bright crimson at sunrise and sunset making this the best time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park.
One of the top places to visit inside the National Park is Bryce amphitheater. This vast depression is filled with hoodoos and is the best place to see their expanse. You can hike along the Rim Trail to see the rock formations from above or hike down into the amphitheater to see the hoodoos up close from below. Hike along the Navajo Loop Trail and the Queen’s Garden Trail to see the most interesting rock formations.
During the winter Bryce Canyon National Park may be covered with snow, making late spring to fall the best time to visit the park. Visitors can also drive along Highway 12 which is the Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive to explore the National Park. Many trailheads and 13 scenic overlooks are located along the 38-mile long drive. Some of the best overlooks include Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point.
Best Place to Stay – Bryce Canyon Log Cabins
Great Basin National Park, Nevada
Distance – 300 miles / 4 hours and 30 minutes
Great Basin National Park is located in eastern Nevada near the Utah state line. It is the only national park in Nevada and one of the least visited in the country. The drive to the park lasts four and a half hours on lonely roads but the journey is worth it. Located in the Great Basin desert, the national park has a beautiful landscape of ancient conifers and abundant wildlife. The aromatic shrub, sagebrush, covers the low lying hills and stretches throughout the valley. At higher elevations, you will find the tall trees of pines, mahogany, firs, and junipers while the aspens grow on the tallest peaks.
Visitors to the park can drive the 12 miles long Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive to Wheeler Peak. This is the main scenic road in the park. The mountainous road winds up the South Snake ranges and has amazing overlooks over the Great Basin desert. Many trailheads are also located along the drive. At the end is Wheeler Peak. With an altitude of 13,000 feet, this is one of the popular attractions of the park. It is a great spot for adventure lovers that want to climb up the trail to the summit.
When visiting Great Basin National Park, visitors can also tour the Lehman caves and see ancient bristlecone pine tree groves in the forests surrounding the park. Besides the amazing scenery, the national park also has camping, photography, biking, fishing, and other interesting things to do and places to visit including Stellar Lake.
Best Place to Stay – Stargazer Inn in Baker, Nevada
Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Distance- 328 miles / 5 hours
Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden gem in the Utah desert. It is filled with unique geological features including monoliths, domes, and sandstone cliffs. The park has a unique rock formation with white sandstone domes that resembles the US Capitol building in Washington DC and earns the park its unique name. Getting to the park from Las Vegas takes about 5 hours and is possible throughout the year with the shortest route being through Interstate 15. The most accessible section of the park is the Fruita region which has orchards and a scenic drive.
Capitol Reef Park’s several geological features make it an interesting park to explore whether you are visiting for a half-day or an entire weekend. The most popular and often visited features in the park include the Capitol Dome, a white-colored sandstone formation, and Chimney Rock, which is a sandstone pillar that stands 400 feet tall. Other features worth seeing include the Cathedral valley which is home to massive red rock monoliths that are several feet high.
Hiking is the major tourist activity in Capitol Reef Park with several trails open to the public. Visitors especially love to hike to the Hickman Bridge Arch where they can see two natural bridges as well as archaeological ruins. Other popular trails include Chimney Rock Loop and Cassidy Arch. Hikers are accompanied by guides to help them move safely from one destination to another. On the hikes, visitors can see diverse plant life and animal life that calls the park home.
Where to stay – Glamping in Capitol Reef Resort
Yosemite National Park, California
Distance – 342 miles / 5 hrs 30 mins
Many people plan a trip around Nevada and Eastern California by visiting the beautiful Yosemite National Park from Las Vegas. This is one of the top-visited national parks in the country and the scenic route via Highway 395 is amazing to drive. The time to drive this road is late spring through fall when the Lee Vinings Road to Yosemite is open.
Since you will be entering the popular national park by its back door, you will encounter fewer crowds. You will be treated to outstanding views of the crystal clear Mercer River and the wildflower-filled Tuolumne Meadows. You will also be able to spot Yosemite’s wildlife including bears, deer, and coyotes. You can hike to far-flung places in the park and enjoy trails like Mirror Lake loop and the Mist Trail.
However, Yosemite Valley is where the hub of tourist attractions within the National Park is located. The valley has all kinds of amenities from a visitor center and ranger-led tours to scenic drives like the one to Glacier Point. The valley is bounded by the granite peaks of Half Dome and El Capitan and is a fantastic place. The park’s famous waterfall, the Yosemite Fall is located in the valley. Beyond the valley, Yosemite is also famous for its Giant Sequoia tree groves.
Best Place to Stay – The Pines Resort near Bass Lake
Also Read: Ultimate California Road Trip Itinerary
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Distance- 361 miles/ 5 and a half hours
Petrified Forest National Park protects over 135,000 acres of petrified trees and natural land in Arizona. This is one of the popular destinations for those interested in nearby Vegas National Parks. The park has a rich landscape filled with unique features such as steppes and badlands. It is divided into two sections; the south section has large concentrations of petrified wood while the north is filled with arid land and sparse vegetation.
The park is famous the world over for its large deposits of petrified wood. It is also one of the best places to see fossils from the era of the dawn of the dinosaurs. The majority of features in the park are best explored on foot. Hike along trails to get an up-close view of the fossil logs. The main trails to see the petrified wood include Crystal Forest Trail and Giant Logs Trail. It is fascinating to see the ancient trees turned to stone due to volcanic activity.
The national park also has lots more to offer visitors. One of the top attractions is the Painted Desert which is full of colorful badlands and rock striations. It is a great place for those looking for solitude and contemplation in the quiet outdoors. Camping in the Painted Desert is a popular activity. Explore fascinating areas such as Blue Mesa badlands and sections of Old Route 66. See the ancestral pueblo homes at Puerco Pueblo and spot the Native American petroglyphs. Other tourist activities include cycling, horseback riding, photography, and biking.
Best Place to Stay – Best Western Arizonian Inn in Holbrook
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, California
Distance- 379 miles / 6 hours
Gigantic sequoia trees and wilderness trails are the main features that make up the dramatic landscape of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National park. The two park units are located close to each other and administered as one, making them one of the largest parks in California. From Las Vegas, the parks are 379 miles away and take about six hours to reach while driving. The only entrance to the park is from the west of the Sierra Nevadas, making them less popular to visit than the famous Yosemite.
The national park is divided into five areas of Cedar Grove, Mineral King, Grant Grove, Foot Hills, Lodgepole, and Giant Forest. Each of these areas has distinct highlights, features, and climate. The parks also have a variety of landscapes from Mt. Whitney, which is the tallest peak in the lower 48 states to the crystal clear Kings River and the canyon. The park is also home to General Sherman which is the largest tree in the world.
The most popular activities inside the parks include touring the Crystal Cave to see the sparkling stalagmites and stalactites and seeing the mightiest of the Sequoias in the Giant Forest. Some areas of the park are open year-round and winter activities such as skiing or snowshoeing attract snowbirds to the park.
Best Place to Stay – Wuksachi Lodge
Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Distance- 465 miles / 7 hours
Canyonlands is the largest national park in Utah. It is located in Moab just 30 minutes away from Arches National Park. Canyonlands attracts visitors year-round to its striking desert landscape and panoramic vistas. The park is spread over 337,000 acres of land and is a spectacular sight. The park is split into three units having distinct features: the Maze, Island in the Sky, the Needles, and the Green & Colorado Rivers. The Island in the Sky district is most accessible with a 34-mile scenic drive and is the most popular. The Maze is Canyonland’s most dangerous unit and is recommended for the most experienced hikers.
In spite of being the largest national park in Utah, Canyonlands is remote and hence often overshadowed by the state’s remaining parks. With its miles and miles of hiking trails, wildlife, and fewer crowds, it is a marvelous playground for outdoor lovers. The park landscape consists of unique geological formations including flat-top mesas, rock pinnacles, canyons, and white water rapids. Visitors can also see Native American paintings in the Horseshoe Canyon of Maze district. The park has numerous activities for adults and kids to explore the park. Visitors can go climbing, hiking, and horseback riding on designated trails.
The National Park is especially famous for its mountain biking. The most popular trail with bikers is the hundred miles long White Rim Road at the Island in the Sky district. Camping for a few days on the park grounds is another way to engage with nature and enjoy the solitude. Campers also get to stargaze at the dark night sky and experience the park after sunset. The green and color red or river units are popular with rafters, kayakers, and other water sports enthusiasts.
Where to stay – Needles Outpost Campground
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Distance- 514 miles / 8 hours
Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado, while 8 hours away from Las Vegas, is a pretty popular attraction. The road to Mesa Verde passes through many attractions such as Zion National Park, Lake Powell, Antelope Canyons, Monument Valley, and Four Corners Monument making it a spectacular road trip. The national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must for history and archeology buffs.
The park is home to very well preserved cliff dwellings that belonged to the Ancestral Pueblo people. The indigenous people built entire villages on the cliff faces at Mesa Verde to protect them from weather and enemies. Archaeological sites at the national park consist of a total of 4,000+ cliff dwellings. The on-site museum has several exhibits depicting the lifestyle of the native people. One of the stunning dwelling structures is the Cliff Palace which has over 150 rooms, 23 kivas, and several towers. Visitors can see the Cliff Palace on a guided tour.
For those up to the adventure, a must is the one-hour long ranger-led Balcony House Tour. This cliff dwelling has 40 rooms and visitors need to climb up and down staircases, ladders, and stone steps, descend into a canyon, and crawl through a tunnel to see the entire abode. After seeing the dwellings and the museum, explore the landscape of the national park. Drive along the Mesa Top Loop Road to see cliff dwellings and overlooks including the panoramic Sun Point Overlook. The park also contains petroglyphs; hike the Petroglyph point trail to see them.
Best Place to Stay – Holiday Inn Express Mesa Verde / Cortez
Arches National Park, Utah
Distance- 530 miles / 8 hours
Arches National Park offers a stunning natural landscape of vivid colors and unique landforms to its visitors. Located in northwestern Utah, the park is known for its over 2000 naturally occurring arches. The bright red sandstone arches stand out among other geological forms like giant bare boulders, majestic fins, windows, and pinnacles. The road trip from Las Vegas to the park is about 530 miles but the drive passes along many other Utah parks and can be easily done as a multi-day road trip.
The famed red rock arches are as delightful to see up close as they look in the pictures. The national park also has many trails of varying difficulties to see the most popular rock formations. The park colors are most magnificent at sunset; partly because the red sandstone color looks even more bright at that time and partly because of the low pollution and great air quality within the park. The night sky also looks amazing and capturing the galaxy against a natural arch is every photographer’s dream.
Some of the most famous arches and rock formations include Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch in Devil’s Garden, the Balanced Rock formation, Double Arch and Corona Arch. Drive the scenic drives to enjoy views of the La Sal Mountains and the Window Section. For a spectacular view of various arches connected by hiking trails within the park, go to the Devil’s Garden. Camping in the park is one of the best ways to fully explore the park’s grounds.
Best Place to Stay – Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab
White Sands National Park, New Mexico
Distance – 800 miles / 11 hours 30 minutes
At almost 12 hours driving distance, White sands National Park in New Mexico is one of the farthest parks on this list. However, the trip that passes through Nevada, Arizona, and parts of New Mexico can be easily planned as a 5 to 7-day road trip that passes through attractions such as the Grand Canyon National Park, Flagstaff, Petrified Forest National Park, and Albuquerque before going to White Sands.
The primary reason we recommend visiting White Sands National Park from Las Vegas is because of its breathtaking landscape of pristine white sand dunes. White Sands contains the largest gypsum deposits in the world. The National Park and its dramatic dunes look stunning and are extremely photogenic. The National Park is definitely one of the hidden gems and most underrated attractions in the country.
There are many things for visitors to do at the National Park. Hike through the dunes on the Interdune Boardwalk Trail or the Dunes Nature Trail to understand how the dunes were formed and how wildlife has adapted to thrive in the gypsum dunes. Drive along the scenic dunes drive to admire this amazing landscape. You can also go sandboarding and sledding on the dunes. Camping in the park is also great fun as the dunes look stunning in the moonlight.
Best Place to Stay – White Sands Motel
Best State Parks near Las Vegas
Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
Distance – 50 miles / 1 hour
Valley of Fire State Park is a recreation area and nature preserve 50 miles (about a one hour drive) northeast of Las Vegas. The park is primarily known for its eye-catching red Aztec sandstone formations but is also home to a collection of ancient petroglyphs and petrified trees.
Valley of Fire is best enjoyed by taking a scenic drive through the park. There are two scenic drives in the park – the Valley of Fire Highway and the White Domes Road. The latter is six miles long and more scenic than the main highway. Along both the drives, there are trailheads, viewpoints, and colorful rock formations. Some of the must-see rock formations are Elephant Rock and Balancing Rock.
Another great way to enjoy the colorful landscape and stunning vistas is by hiking through the state park. There are several hiking trails of various lengths and difficulties that are worth exploring; most of the popular trails are located along the scenic routes. Good short trails to complete on your first visit are White Domes Loop, Fire Wave Trail, Pink Canyon, and Mouse’s Tank. On the Mouse’s Tank trail, you can see ancient Native American petroglyphs.
Camping is another popular activity at Valley of Fire State Park. The park has two campgrounds and both have great views of the rock formations. All campsites are first-come, first-served, and can often be full. If you’re unable to get a campsite, you can still enjoy a day trip to the park.
Best Place to Stay- Atlatl Campground
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Lake Havasu State Park, Arizona
Distance – 152 miles / 2 hours 30 minutes
Lake Havasu State Park is located near Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Comprising the scenic shoreline of Lake Havasu, there are plenty of things to do in this unique tourist attraction. A highlight of the park is the white sand beach along the lakeshore that is at odds with the surrounding desert landscape. The state park also has a grassy picnic area and has spectacular views of the mountain ranges and lake at sunset.
The park has hiking trails and campgrounds for outdoor lovers. The most popular hike is the Mojave Sunset Trail. Water enthusiasts will enjoy swimming along the shores and launching boats in the lake. Kayaking and canoeing are also popular here. Another unique attraction located outside the state park is the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City. This is the Old London Bridge which when replaced by a new bridge was transported piece by piece from London to Lake Havasu City and rebuilt here. It is a fun attraction to visit while nearby.
Best Place to Stay – London Bridge Resort in Lake Havasu City
Best natural attractions other than national or state parks close to Las Vegas
Seven Magic Mountains, Nevada
Distance- 10 miles / 1 hour
The Seven Magic Mountains are a stunning, unique art installation located a few miles from Las Vegas in the Nevada desert. The Seven Magic Mountains are brightly colored stone totem pillars that stand 30 feet tall. The art installation was created through a collaboration between the celebrated Swedish artist, Ugo Rondinon, and the Nevada Museum of Art. Located 10 miles outside Las Vegas, the seven towers can be seen clearly when driving on Interstate 15 and are a favorite Las Vegas attraction for tourists.
The colorful artwork is located on public land and is free to visit, making it a must-stop when in Nevada. The art installation is envisioned as a symbol of the contrast between the extensive arid desert environment and the utopian structures of Las Vegas. The Seven Magic Mountains are extremely photogenic and taking creative photos with them for the ‘gram is a must. Visitors enjoy getting up close with the bright painted stones and posing for a variety of photos.
Best Place to Stay – Excalibur, Las Vegas
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada
Distance – 15 miles / 30 minutes
If you have less time, then the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is your best bet for national parks near Las Vegas. It is located just 30 minutes – 15 miles – away from the Las Vegas Strip and lies in Nevada’s Mojave desert. Although the canyon is close to Las Vegas there is virtually no cell phone reception inside the park and you are instantly drawn into nature.
Outdoor lovers love Red Rock Canyon for many reasons. The large red rock formations inside the park look stunning against the desert landscape. Visitors are often taken aback by how beautiful the desert can really be. It is oftentimes a forgotten part of our ecosystem, but a visit to the Red Rock Canyon will garner a new appreciation for the desert. The visitor’s center has information about the desert and exhibits to learn more about the ecosystem and animals that survive there. You can also see Desert Tortoises in their live habitats.
After enjoying the exhibits in the visitor’s center, it is time to drive the scenic loop road to see the beauty of the canyon. If you do not plan to hike or make frequent stops, the 13-mile route will take 30 – 35 minutes. If you plan to stop at the pullouts and trailheads, plan to spend at least 2 hours here. For avid hikers, there are over 25 hiking trails of varying difficulty that explore the buttes, chimneys, and other features of the canyon. Besides hiking trails and scenic drives, Red Rock Canyon is popular for biking and rock climbing.
Where to stay: Wyndham Desert Blue Las Vegas
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Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada
Distance – 40 miles / 45 minutes
Lake Mead National Recreation Area is very close to Las Vegas and is one of the most famous outdoor things to do in the city. The national recreation area is located in both Nevada and Arizona. The primary attraction of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area is the famous engineering marvel, the Hoover Dam. Visitors can walk over the concrete arch-gravity dam, learn more about its construction at the visitor center, see panoramic views of the dam and its reservoir from the Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, as well as take guided tours of the Powerplant and the Hoover Dam that go deep within the construction tunnels.
But besides the Hoover Dam, there are many other things to do in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The area comprises over 1.5 million acres and has a stunning landscape of the Nevada desert, mountains, valleys, and the blue lake. There are plenty of scenic drives and hiking trails all around the lake. Of course, water sports are the #1 popular activity in the region. Visitors can go swimming, launch their pontoons and boats, canoe, and kayak to hidden beaches, as well as fish for many species that call the lake home. Many campgrounds are also located around Lake Mead and camping is a popular activity.
Best Place to Stay – The Bellagio, Las Vegas
Grand Canyon West Skywalk, Arizona
Distance – 130 miles / 2 hours 15 minutes
The area known as the Grand Canyon West offers a unique experience to visitors. Here they can experience this natural wonder of the world like never before from a transparent glass bridge known as the Skywalk. This attraction is located on the Hualapai Indian Reservation and is operated by the Hualapai Tribe. The skywalk is horseshoe-shaped and extends many feet over the deep chasm of the Grand Canyon. Walking over the glass bridge 4,000 ft over the canyon floor is very thrilling and a unique tourist attraction.
Additionally Grand Canyon West is the rim that is closest to the city of Las Vegas and hence visited by many tourists. Apart from the skywalk, the western of the Grand Canyon also has many other popular attractions and great activities including helicopter tours over the Grand Canyon, pontoon boat tours down the Colorado rivers, white water river rafting over mighty Colorado, and experiencing western style cowboy attractions at the Hualapai Ranch.
While cars are not allowed inside the reservation, visitors can take a free shuttle to many viewpoints located along the Grand Canyon West Rim. The most popular viewpoint is the Eagle Point Viewpoint where visitors can see a Native American village located on the rim and purchase handmade jewelry and craftwork. To see amazing views of the Grand Canyon, visit the Guano Point overlook.
Best Place to Stay – Hualapai Ranch
Horseshoe Bend, Arizona
Distance – 270 miles / 4 hours 25 minutes
As the name suggests, Horseshoe Bend is the famous horseshoe-shaped meander in the Colorado River located near Page, Arizona. The attraction is located inside the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and is one of the most Instagrammable spots in the country. The Horseshoe Bend is about 1,000 ft deep and is a stunning natural wonder. To reach the Horseshoe Bend, Drive along US Highway 89 to the parking lot and trailhead.
After parking your car, you can hike to the overlook. The trail is 1.5 miles long round trip and goes over sandy, hilly terrain. It can be a bit difficult for families and beginner hikers but the stunning view of the Horseshoe Bend from the overlook is worth it. There are no railings located near the overlook, so visitors are recommended to watch their steps. From the overlook, you can see the Colorado River as it makes the famous bend through the sandstone rock. The view at Horseshoe Bend looks spectacular at sunset.
Best Place to Stay – Marble Canyon Lodge
Antelope Canyons, Arizona
Distance – 280 miles / 4 hours 30 minutes
Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona is one of the best natural wonders in the world. It’s a sandstone slot canyon located in Navajo Nation. The slot canyon is formed due to weathering and is famous for the swirling patterns in red canyon walls. Antelope Canyon is actually composed of two separate slot canyons – Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. Though both the canyons are equally stunning, travelers mostly prefer Upper over Lower because of the unique light beams phenomenon seen in the Upper Antelope Canyon.
Visitors need to plan their visit to the Upper Antelope Canyon at the right time of the year and day to see the beautiful light beams stream through the canyon. The light rays are best seen during April and October from 10 am to 12 pm. Lower Antelope Canyon is more narrow than the upper canyon and the hike through the canyon is more strenuous. The lower canyon also has unusual and beautiful patterns. It can be best visited from 12 pm to 1 pm as it looks vivid and gorgeous in the afternoon light.
Navajo Nation manages Antelope Canyon and they can be seen via guided tours only. There are separate tour operators for the Upper and Lower canyons. Make sure to book in advance, especially if you plan to visit during the peak season. Whichever slot canyon you choose to visit, you will be awe-struck by the vivid colors that change with the light. The entire experience is other-worldly and makes Antelope Canyons one of the best places to visit near Las Vegas.
Best Places to Stay – Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham Page Lake Powell
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Lake Powell – Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah
Distance – 309 miles/ 8hours
The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area lies on more than 1.2 million acres of land in Utah. The Glen Canyon and its attractions are a popular destination to visit from Las Vegas. This stunning recreation area comprises geological wonders and scenic landscapes. It is surrounded by rich Native American history and tribal lands. Page, Arizona is the gateway to most tourist activities in the recreation area. The most popular attractions inside the area include the Horseshoe Bend and Rainbow Bridge National Monument.
The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is home to the popular Lake Powell, one of the most visited lakes in the American Southwest. The lake has a shoreline of over 2,000 miles and deep blue waters. Lake Powell is a man-made lake that was created due to the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam. The lake is a perfect boating destination and famous for its water sports. It is an ideal vacation for families, couples, as well as solo travelers. Some of the popular things to do in the waters of Lake Powell include fishing, boating, canoeing, and various sports.
Visitors that prefer non-water based activities can enjoy hiking and camping in the canyon grounds. The lake has scenic routes that are perfect for driving and hiking trails of varying difficulty levels. The steel arch bridge, Navajo Bridge, is a pedestrian bridge that spans the Colorado River near Lee’s Ferry in Arizona. The bridge was instrumental in connecting Utah and Arizona during early times and is of historic importance. Visitors can walk across the bridge and check out the Visitor Center located nearby. The recreation area is also good for wildlife watching and birding.
Best Place to Stay – Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas
Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Utah
Distance – 309 miles/ 8hours
Rainbow Bridge is the tallest natural bridge in the world. It is located on the shores of Lake Powell inside the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The Rainbow Bridge National Monument protects the 290 feet tall bridge and is a stunning natural wonder near Las Vegas. The bridge is made from red sandstone and measures over 270 feet in width. The bridge is sacred to the Navajo people.
Due to its remote location, the Rainbow Bridge National Monument is most easily accessed by boat tours on Lake Powell. The cruises depart from Wahweap Marina on the shores of Lake Powell. Other ways to access the Rainbow Bridge include hiking or horseback riding. The trails are located on Navajo land and require a permit. The hikes are over 13 miles long and recommended only for experienced hikers. Visitors can also take scenic airplane tours over the Rainbow Bridge.
Best Place to Stay – Hyatt Place Page / Lake Powell
Monument Valley, Arizona
Distance – 395 miles / 6 hours 20 minutes
Monument Valley is a magical landscape in the American Southwest located near the Arizona Utah border. It is located in Navajo Nation and is famous for its unique sandstone rock formations of buttes. Buttes are isolated steep hills that are several feet tall. The buttes in Monument Valley rise up 1000 feet from the valley floor. Monument Valley’s unique landscape has been featured in many movies including classic westerns. To visit Monument Valley, drive towards the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.
The best way to explore this stunning landscape is by driving the Monument Valley Scenic Drive. The drive is 17 miles long and takes three to four hours stopping at all the overlooks. Monument Valley also has many hiking trails and the Visitor Center is worth a stop. Monument Valley is also extremely photogenic and a favorite with photographers. The towering red sandstone buttes look spectacular at sunset and in the dusk while their silhouettes look majestic against the night sky. Visitors can also camp near Monument Valley to experience the majesty of this unique landscape.
Best Place to Stay – Hat Rock Inn
Four Corners Monument, Arizona
Distance – 450 miles / 7 hours
Four Corners Monument is a unique geographic marker in the country. It is the only spot in the USA where the borders of four states meet. At Four Corners Monument, the states of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona meet with each other. The point is shared by all states and is a unique tourist spot. At Four Corners Monument, visitors can stand in 4 states at once. The monument is located in Navajo Nation and has an on-site Visitor Center. To reach the monument, drive on US Highway 160.
Because of its unique attractions, the Four Corners Monument is on the travel bucket list of many visitors and makes a delightful side trip from Las Vegas. The monument is located in the middle of nowhere and there are hardly any facilities in the area. Visitors need to stock up on gas, food, water, and cash before reaching the monument. At the monument, you will also see flags of Navajo Nation, Ute National, as well as the state flags. There is a tribal market/trading post located at the monument where visitors can buy turquoise jewelry, Native American art, souvenirs, as well as eat fry bread.
Best Place to Stay – Ute Mountain Casino Hotel
Lake Tahoe, California/ Nevada
Distance – 450 miles / 7 hours 30 minutes
Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake that is located on the California Nevada border and can be easily accessed from Las Vegas on a road trip via SR 395. The road goes through other attractions such as Death Valley and Yosemite and makes for a fantastic road trip from Sin City. Lake Tahoe is the largest Alpine Lake on the continent and is a favorite holiday destination for many people.
During summer Lake Tahoe is known for its beaches and water sports while in the winter it is a haven for snow and ski enthusiasts. Visitors can drive the scenic Lake Tahoe loop which has many stunning viewpoints over the lake. This road is especially spectacular during the fall when the aspens that grow around Lake Tahoe change color. Lake Tahoe is also great for hiking and biking.
A special favorite with the visitors is Emerald Bay State Park located on the southwest shores of Lake Tahoe. The water of the lake looks really stunning blue from here. The state park also has a Nordic Castle named Vikingsholm that is amazing to explore on a guided tour. The Nevada side of Lake Tahoe also has many casinos and the town of Stateline is a popular base for those who like to combine gambling with outdoor activities.
Best Place to Stay – Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel
We hope you liked our epic guide to the best natural areas, scenic state parks, national monuments, attractions located on tribal reservations, and famous national parks to visit near Las Vegas. Did we miss out on any famous natural attraction or hidden gem near Sin City? Let us know in the comments.