Art, Natural Wonders, And Aliens?! 9 Good Day Trips From Las Vegas
If it wasn’t already clear, we’re huge fans of Las Vegas. After all, we’re not called Travel Gay Vegas for nothing!
And even though we love throwing money down on the blackjack table and sunning ourselves for hours at the pool, sometimes it’s nice to get a break from the incessant pinging of the slot machines and the blinding neon hotel signs.
Luckily, there are loads of good day trips from Las Vegas. From breathtaking nature to creepy paranormal sights, every traveler will find something exciting to do.
Keep reading to see our top nine day trips from Las Vegas.
1. Lake Mead
Distance from Las Vegas: 26.1 miles (30 minutes)
Whether kayak, pontoon boat, or waverunner, Lake Mead is best enjoyed by boat.
If you arrived in Las Vegas from the east by plane, there’s a good chance you’ve already seen Lake Mead. And while it’s beautiful from the air, it’s even better up close.
Lake Mead was formed when the Hoover Dam was built on the Colorado River. The resulting area was named the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The park is made up of over one million acres of land and water. There are also 550 miles of shoreline, providing the opportunity for all kinds of recreational activities.
Exploring Lake Mead by boat is the best option. For a calm, close-to-nature experience, consider renting a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard. For those more in the mood to laze around for the day, sport boats and pontoon party boats are also great options.
The many side canyons and coves on Lake Mead make navigation a challenge. So if you’re a bit shaky with GPS, consider taking a guided tour instead.
2. Hoover Dam
Distance from Las Vegas: 37.8 miles (45 minutes)
Visit Hoover Dam on your own, or opt for a guided tour.
Not far from the center of the Strip sits the engineering marvel that is the Hoover Dam. For more than 85 years, it has provided power to Nevada, Arizona, and California. But more than that, it’s one of the United States’ most recognizable landmarks.
You have several options for visiting, depending on how much time you have. If you only have a couple of hours, take a quick peek at the lake and dam vistas from the top of the dam for free. If you’ve got the whole day free, we recommend taking a tour of the visitor center and the powerplant.
3. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Distance from Las Vegas: 21.1 miles (33 minutes)
Thanks to its proximity and beauty, Red Rock Canyon is a good day trip from Las Vegas.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area may only be a half an hour drive from the Strip, but it feels like another world. This nature conservancy is about as far as you can get from the crowds and chaos in Las Vegas.
While there, you can embark on the one-way, 13-mile scenic drive, hike dozens of trails, admire wildlife, or poke around the gift shop for a unique souvenir. No matter what you do, you’ll enjoy unobstructed views of the Mojave Desert and the Aztec Sandstone cliffs. Be sure to charge your phone and/or camera—you’ll want to take lots of photos.
4. Seven Magic Mountains
Distance from Las Vegas: 21.3 miles (28 minutes)
Get a taste of art and nature at the Seven Magic Mountains installation.
For another incredible desert experience, head to the Seven Magic Mountains art installation. Located near Jean Dry Lake and Interstate 15, the Seven Magic Mountains is a large-scale site-specific public art installation by renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone.
The installation is made up of seven pillars of colorful boulders stacked on top of each other, with each pillar standing more than 30 feet high. According to Rondinone, the artwork is “a creative expression of human presence in the desert” and is designed to provide a burst of form and color to the Mojave.
Originally created in 2016, the installation was meant to stay for two years. However, due to the site’s popularity, the Bureau of Land Management extended the permit until the end of 2021.
5. Eldorado Canyon And Techatticup Mine
Distance from Las Vegas: 44.4 miles (45 minutes)
Visit a real-life wild west town at the Eldorado Canyon and Techatticup Mine.
Located in the official township of Nelson, Techatticup Mine is the oldest, richest, and most famous gold mine in Southern Nevada. The area was originally claimed by the Spanish in 1775. They called it Eldorado in honor of the gold they found there.
One hundred years later, the canyon was inundated with prospectors and miners hoping to strike it rich. Not surprisingly, there were plenty of arguments and shootouts over the mine’s ownership. As such, the area became a true wild west town.
When visiting, the guided tour will take you not only the Techatticup Mine, but also the Techatticup Millsite and the Savage Mine. Or, for a different perspective, rent a canoe or two-person kayak to row through the Colorado River that runs through the canyon.
6. Area 51
Distance from Las Vegas: 87.9 miles (1 hour and 20 minutes)
Almost every business in Rachel, Nevada has something to do with aliens.
Do you believe there’s life on other planets? Have you ever spotted a UFO? Even if you don’t believe in extraterrestrials, visiting Area 51 is still a good day trip from Las Vegas.
Located in Rachel, Nevada, Area 51 is a highly classified U.S. Air Force Facility. In fact, the CIA didn’t even acknowledge the existence of Area 51 until 2013! Due to the top-secret nature of the area, conspiracy theories about aliens, UFOs, and other space oddities abound.
While you can’t visit Area 51 itself, Area 51 tours are available. During the tour, you’ll ride along the Extraterrestrial Highway, hear alien folklore, and stop at the Little A'Le'Inn for a bite to eat.
7. The Grand Canyon (West Rim)
Distance from Las Vegas: 130 miles (2 hours and 14 minutes)
The west rim of The Grand Canyon is the closest to Las Vegas, making it a good day trip.
What list of good day trips from Las Vegas would be complete without The Grand Canyon? This is certainly one of the bigger day trips you can make, but the views more than make up for the long trip.
While most first-time visitors opt to visit the South Rim, the West Rim has features you can’t find anywhere else in The Grand Canyon. For example, you can get an aerial view of the Canyon through the glass Skywalk, take a white water rafting tour, or soar over cliffs on a zipline.
If you want more flexibility, renting a car is the best option. However, if you’d rather sit back and relax, there are plenty of bus tours leaving directly from Las Vegas.
8. Death Valley National Park
Distance from Las Vegas: 123 miles (1 hour and 55 minutes)
Most sites at Death Valley live up to the name, but you be surprised to find wildlife as well.
This is another day trip that requires a bit of driving, but don’t let that scare you off. Located on the Nevada-California border, Death Valley National Park is a must-see.
Billed as the hottest, driest, and lowest national park, Death Valley is a land of extremes. You’re likely to see sand dunes and towering peaks, but you may also see fields of wildflowers or lush oases filled with fish. In other words, Death Valley is home to a diverse ecosystem despite its morbid name.
The area is also known for ghost towns, the Badwater Basin’s salt flats, and the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.
Your options for visiting are endless. Rent a car and drive yourself, go on a guided ranger tour, or sign up for a full-day tour complete with transportation to and from the park.
9. Zion National Park
Distance from Las Vegas: 159 miles (2 hours and 49 minutes)
Mixing history and nature, Zion National Park is another good day trip from Las Vegas.
Another good day trip from Las Vegas for nature lovers is Zion National Park in Utah. Here you’ll follow the paths of native peoples and pioneers while you gaze up at the cream, pink, and red sandstone cliffs. It’s the perfect combination of history lesson and outdoor adventure.
Explore the park’s trails, canyons, and rivers alone, or join a ranger-led activity like wildlife watching excursions, guided walks, or museum presentations.
Which Las Vegas Day Trip Will You Choose?
Regardless of what you’re into—nature, art, or history, you’ll have no trouble finding a good day trip from Las Vegas. In fact, the hardest part will probably be choosing just one.
If you have questions or need advice, please feel free to contact us.