Las Vegas is the realm of gambling, partying, and extravagance. But when you need a breather, day trips from Las Vegas whisk you away from the neon and into breathtaking canyons, nature reserves, and mountain resorts where the air is fresh and the scenery is phenomenal.
The following Las Vegas day trips vary from destinations that are located less than an hour from The Strip to dense national parks and unique natural wonders further afield.
Some options even take you out of Nevada and into neighboring states of California, Utah, and Arizona. It all depends on how much you are prepared to drive and what sights rank at the top of your wishlist!
To help you make the most of your time in Sin City, this guide curates the 18 best day trips from Las Vegas by car that you can do independently as well as via an organized tour. Buckle your seatbelt and let’s get started!
*Disclosure: This post contains a few affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through my link.*
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Table of Contents
18 Best Day Trips from Las Vegas
1. Valley of Fire State Park
Drive time: 45-60 minutes
Distance: 55 miles (88 km)
Entrance fee: $10 vehicle fee ($15 for non-Nevada vehicles)
Located northwest of downtown Vegas and formed over the past 150 million years, the Valley of Fire is the oldest state park in Nevada. This geologic wonderland is characterized by rust-hued and fiery red “Aztec” sandstone crags that were caused by natural erosion.
Taking a day trip to Valley of Fire State Park is definitely one of the best things to do in Vegas besides gambling! You can visit the park as either a half-day or a full-day trip but I would firmly recommend making this a complete day out.
Especially if you’re planning to take lots of photos! You will come across many amazing Valley of Fire photography spots and you’re going to need a full day to explore all of them.
You can drive around the main scenic road that cuts through the heart of the park and tick off a lot of the viewpoints and formations from the parking lots dotted around Mouse’s Tank Road (also known as White Domes Road).
But one of the best things to do in Valley of Fire State Park is hiking and there are dozens of trails to choose between. Consult my guide to these easy Valley of Fire hikes such as the Fire Wave and White Domes Trail and you’ll see that you can cover a lot of ground in a day trip.
The Valley of Fire State Park is one of the best day trips from Las Vegas that combines an equal share of driving and exploring on foot. If you are short on time, plan to visit as early as possible in the day before the park heats up or arrange to be there to catch the sunset.
For those of you traveling without a car, you can join a small-group Valley of Fire Tour which includes round transport from Las Vegas as well as entry to the park.
For those seeking a day of hiking, you can join an adventurous Valley of Fire Guided Hiking Tour from Las Vegas which gives you the option to choose easy, moderate, or difficult hiking conditions.
The park is open seven days a week, every day of the year, and is accessible between the hours of sunrise and sunset. The Valley of Fire Visitor’s Center is situated at the junction of the Valley of Fire Highway and Mouse’s Tank Road.
2. Red Rock Canyon
Drive time: 20 minutes
Distance: 17 miles (27.3 km)
Entrance fee: $15 per vehicle or $5 per person/cyclist
Located a short drive west of The Strip, Red Rock Canyon is one of the easiest day trips from Vegas that you can undertake independently or as part of a tour, so it’s a worthy addition to any Las Vegas itinerary.
The Red Rock Canyon features stunning rock formations in vivid colors. The best way to explore the park is by following an extraordinary 13-mile (20.1 km) scenic drive that forms a loop through the conservation area and is dotted with overlooks and laybys where you can pull over and admire the scenery.
If you want to stretch your legs then there are around 30 hiking trails that vary from easy 2-mile hikes such as the Moenkopi Loop to more challenging Calico Hills and La Madre Spring. Besides hiking, you can plan rock climbing, horseback riding, mountain and road biking, and picnic areas if you have more time.
Due to its close proximity to Las Vegas, you can visit the Red Rock Canyon for a half-day. But it’s easy to turn this into a full day out if you want to hit the hiking trails or add on any of the additional activities mentioned above.
It’s phenomenal at sunset so if you opt for a half-day, consider timing it so that you can witness golden hour from the peak of Pine Creek Canyon. The Red Rock Canyon Sunset Tour is perfect if you’re getting around without your own car.
The Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center on Scenic Loop Drive is open daily, 9 am-4.30 pm (9 am-12 pm on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day). Timed entry reservations are required for the scenic drive between the winter months of 1 October-31 May, with slots offered between the hours of 8 am-5 pm. You can book these online in advance.
It is also possible to book a Valley of Fire and Red Rock Canyon Day Trip. This combines these first two Las Vegas day trips and is ideal for travelers without a car or those on limited time.
3. Mount Charleston
Drive time: 45 minutes
Distance: 40 miles (64.3 km)
Entrance fee: Free
If the heat of Sin City is getting to you, then the resort town of Mount Charleston is one of the best day trips from Vegas to wind down in cooler climes!
Located northwest of Las Vegas within the Spring Mountains, Mount Charleston is named for the nearby Charleston Peak which, standing at a height of 11,916 feet (3,632 meters) is the highest point in Clark County.
The town itself has an altitude of 7,500 feet (2,286 meters) and you’ll notice how the landscape turns to lush green as you ascend through the valley. The Spring Mountains are regarded as a “sky island” as they provide an oasis for over 25 endemic plant and animal species.
If you visit Las Vegas during the winter months then you stand a chance of seeing the valley covered in snow – and having the option to sled down the mountains.
If you are short on time then you can visit Mount Charleston for a half-day and experience the scenic drive through the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area. But if you want to turn this into a full day out, fling your hiking boots into the boot of your rental and tackle some of the trails that dissect the mountains.
Easy, short trails include the Eagle’s Nest Loop and Echo/Little Falls while the Mount Charleston National Recreation Trail/South Loop and Cathedral Rock Trail are strenuous hikes.
If you want to reach the Charleston Peak summit then you can follow the difficult North Loop to Summit. Downloadable maps are available to help you plan the route.
The Spring Mountains Visitor Gateway is open 9 am-4 pm on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays where staff can provide details about the hikes.
For travelers without a car, you can join a day trip to Mount Charleston Resort from Las Vegas which includes your travel up the mountain and a guide to provide hiking advice.
4. Seven Magic Mountains
Drive time: 30 minutes
Distance: 26 miles (42 km)
Entrance fee: Free
The Seven Magic Mountains is an art installation created by the Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. Seven stacks of vibrantly painted rocks are balanced in the desert just south of Las Vegas with each monument registering a height of around 30 feet (9.1 meters).
Rondinone carefully chose this location as it is physically and symbolically positioned between nature – the desert and mountains – and the mega-cities of Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
The Seven Magic Mountains is one of the most Instagrammable places in Las Vegas and is perfect for content creators as well as art enthusiasts.
As it’s quite far to drive just for the art installation which only takes 10 minutes or so to explore and snap photos of, you might want to consider combining this with one of the other day trips from Las Vegas such as the nearby Sloan Canyon.
Towards the end of this blog, you’ll hear about the Mojave Desert and Joshua Tree National Park. The Seven Magic Mountains is a great stop off on the way back from either.
You can visit the Seven Magic Mountains at any time between sunrise and sunset although the earlier the better in order to avoid the crowds.
5. Sloan Canyon
Drive time: 25 minutes
Distance: 13 miles (20 km)
Entrance fee: Free
Home to over 300 rock panels with approximately 1,700 petroglyphs from the Puebloan, Patayan, and Southern Paiute people, the Sloan Petroglyph Site at Sloan Canyon is one of the most significant cultural resources in Nevada.
There is a well-marked hiking trail that takes you through the site in the west of the canyon and accounts for 4.1 miles (6.6 km) in length.
The conservation area covers a whopping 48,438 acres of land. Beyond the Sloan Petroglyph Site, the park contains volcanic peaks that tower above 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) in elevation.
Within the 14,763 acres of the North McCullough Wilderness, there are ancient past lava flows and shards of obsidian. Sloan Canyon is also the home of the Mojave Green Rattlesnake so take care!
Located south of Henderson, you can visit the Sloan Petroglyph Site for a half day. If you want to spend a full day at Sloan Canyon, then you might also want to visit the northeast segment which has additional hiking trails including Shadow Canyon and the McCullough Hills. The trails are marked on this hiking map.
Access to Sloan Canyon is permitted from 1 October to 31 May, daily, from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm, or from 1 June to 30 September on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm.
Despite its close proximity to Vegas, Sloan Canyon is strangely off the radar for a lot of tourists so it’s great if you are looking for someplace offbeat. With no public transport or tours serving the canyon at present, Sloan Canyon is one of the best day trips from Las Vegas by car.
6. Hoover Dam
Drive time: 40 minutes
Distance: 40 miles (64.3 km)
Entrance fee: $15 to enter to dam exhibition site or free to view it externally
Hoover Dam is one of the most iconic man-made sights in the Nevada Desert, right on the cusp with Arizona.
The structure was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression with its purpose being to tame the Colorado River. It also provides irrigation water to the local farm fields as well as water and power to major cities in the Southwest.
Now that this remarkable feat of engineering has morphed into a top tourist site, there are several viewpoints scattered around the dam as well as a visitor’s center where you can fully understand the history and significance of the dam.
There are also wonderful views from the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge if you want to skip the admission charges and just scope it out from across the river.
Besides being one of the classic day trips from Las Vegas by car, the Hoover Dam is also a staple of a Southwest United States road trip. Luxury seekers can even book helicopter flights to see it from above!
If you do not have your own method of transport then there are plenty of service providers to take you out to the dam. The Hoover Dam Express Shuttle or Deluxe Tour gives you the option of a half or full-day visit which includes transfers and guide service.
Alternatively, you can book a Grand Canyon West Bus Tour with Hoover Dam Stop which only includes a photo stop at the dam on the way to one of the most famous natural wonders in the country.
7. Lake Mead
Drive time: 30 minutes
Distance: 25 miles (40.2 km)
Entrance fee: $25 vehicle fee (free with the America the Beautiful Pass)
Continuing its course eastwards to Colorado from the Gulf of Mexico, the Colorado River briefly intersects with the arresting blue waters of Lake Mead. In fact, Lake Mead is a reservoir formed by the Hoover Dam.
The huge body of water covers 247 square miles (640 km2) and accounts for North America’s largest national recreation zone. It is possible to swim in the cobalt blue waters and there are 9 hiking trails that enable you to explore the canyons and rock formations.
The trailheads are scattered along the western (Nevada-side) of the lake and there is a handy trail guide that shares the starting points and provides background on the walks. If you visit during the summer months then hiking is not recommended due to the sizzling temperatures.
Lake Mead is one of the best day trips from Vegas if you have a car as the place is not easily accessible without your own means of transport. With beautiful swimming spots, beaches, and campgrounds, it’s perfect for families and relaxing days out.
I recommend combining a trip to Lake Mead with Hoover Dam and turning it into a full day out. The Lake Mead Visitor Center is situated in the southwest corner of the lake and is open seven days a week, 9 am-4.30 pm.
8. Eldorado Canyon
Drive time: 45 minutes
Distance: 45 miles (72.4 km)
Entrance fee: Subject to what activities you pick
The Eldorado Canyon and Techatticup Mine sit south of Boulder City off I-95 and comprise a series of abandoned mines, a ghost town, and scenic walks along the Colorado River.
Visiting the historic town is like stepping into a Western film, with wooden saloons, costumed folk, and – if you’re not too skeptical – wandering ghosts! Tour guides are on hand to take you down into the disused mines for tours, fill you in on the grisly past, and share details about the resident spooks.
The whole area is brimming with backdrops for photos including rusty trucks, plane wrecks, retro gas stations, and industrial relics. In fact, Eldorado Canyon has made several appearances as a movie backdrop.
Despite its theme park facade, Eldorado Canyon has a fascinating and dark history. Because of its remote setting, vigilantism became the law of the land and murder was commonplace.
The Ghost Town Wild West Adventures Day Trip is a great option if you’re without wheels as it involves round transfers from Vegas, a tour service, photo ops, and lunch. You’ll see a few other ghost towns in the region and cruise along the Historic Route 66. Adventurous souls might prefer this Eldorado Canyon ATV and Gold Mine Trip.
With its family-friendly appeal, history, and adrenaline, Eldorado Canyon is one of the best day trips from Las Vegas for every type of traveler and is awesome for groups. If you visit independently then you can choose to visit as a half-day trip.
9. Mojave Desert
Drive time: 1 hour
Distance: 63 miles (101.4 km)
Entrance fee: Free
Located within the Mojave National Preserve among the ranges of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Mojave Desert is one of the driest parts of the United States. The preserve covers 1.6 million acres and offers options for hiking, horseback riding, and 4-wheel driving.
In addition to the Mojave National Preserve, some of the best West Coast national parks such as the Joshua Tree National Park, Death Valley National Park, and Lake Mead National Recreational Area are all part of the same stretch of desert.
Comprising xeric desert land, the landscape is arid with harsh conditions and haunting landscapes setting the tone. It’s characterized by its vast swathes of sand dunes, cinder cone volcanoes, Joshua trees, and even wildflowers during the spring season.
Highlights of one of the most visually spectacular Las Vegas day trips include driving Cima Road, the Joshua trees, tackling the Kelso dunes hiking trail, and touring the Mitchell Caverns. You can also visit one of the most peculiarly named towns in the United States: Zzyzx, formerly Soda Springs.
Easy hikes that you can factor into your day trip include the Hole-in-the-Wall Nature Trail, Lava Tube, and the Rings Loop. Trail advice is available online to help you plan.
The Mojave Desert is open 24-hours a day, 365-days a year although you’ll want to stay clear of the hiking trails after sunset. As the area is colossal, you will need to make this a full-day trip.
Car camping is permitted in the three official campgrounds while there are also a further 300 rustic campsites in case you fancy spending a night in the wilderness.
10. Area 51
Drive time: 2 hours to Rachel
Distance: 148 miles (238.2 km) Las Vegas to Rachel
Entrance fee: Subject to the tour price
Area 51 is the classified United States Air Force (USAF) facility located in the Nevada desert which is a subject of conspiracy theories about aliens, UFOs, and dubious activities. The specific location, somewhere near the town of Rachel, is off-limits to tourists so it is not possible to visit Area 51 independently.
The good news is that it is possible to experience the base of one of the top-secret day trips from Las Vegas as a part of a tour.
This Area 51 Full-Day Tour from Las Vegas starts with a trip to see the airline that “doesn’t exist” at McCarran International Airport before whisking you away to the desolate patch of desert off the Extraterrestrial Highway.
This day out comes with heaps of stories about the base as well as photo opportunities with alien artifacts, the mysterious dry lake, “photography is prohibited” signs, Indian petroglyphs, and the infamous Black Mailbox.
11. Death Valley National Park
Drive time: 2 hours
Distance: 126 miles (202.8 km)
Entrance fee: $30 (valid for 7 days, free with the America the Beautiful Pass)
Another of the United States’s driest tourist destinations, the Death Valley National Park is awash with Martian-like landscapes and extreme temperatures.
Steady drought and record summer heats make Death Valley one of the most dangerous places on earth yet winter brings snow and when rain does strike the terrain, it leaves beautiful wildflowers in its wake.
The national park spans 3 million acres of designated wilderness as well as hundreds of miles of backcountry routes. The park contains a diverse variety of terrain, heritage spots, flora, and fauna.
Highlights of Death Valley National Park include the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Artist’s Drive, Badwater Basin, and such viewpoints as Zabriskie Point and Artist’s Palette. Although the park is huge, spending one day in Death Valley is the perfect amount of time to see the highlights!
Most of the hiking trails involve clambering up canyons, inching across salt flats, or scaling ridges. There are options ranging from easy 1-mile (1.6 km) walks to the challenging 14-mile (22.5 km) Telescope Peak.
Hiking is only permitted between October and May due to the soaring temperatures making this one of the best Vegas day trips for winter.
Death Valley National Park is accessible with or without your own vehicle. This Full Day Death Valley Group Tour squeezes in a generous amount of the park and lets you tick off the major highlights of the park.
Alternatively, the Death Valley Trekker Tour includes a detour via Area 51 before entering the national park via Hell’s Gate.
12. Joshua Tree National Park
Drive time: 3.5 hours
Distance: 218 miles (350.8 km)
Entrance fee: $30 per vehicle (free with the America the Beautiful Pass)
The Joshua Tree National Park sits within the Mojave Desert south of the Mojave National Preserve in the state of California. It is a vital component of the desert ecosystem as it provides a safe habitat for resident birds, mammals, insects, and lizards.
The park is made up of hiking trails of varying ability and length, with some being suitable to attempt during the summer months, only you would have to hit the trail before 9 am.
The Joshua Tree Visitor Center is located just off the Twentynine Palms Highway and is open daily, 7.30 am-5 pm. You can pick up maps and seek hiking advice here prior to entering the park. Although the park is open 365 days a year, opportunities to get out and explore on foot during the summer are limited due to the heat.
If you want to be chauffeured around the park in style while learning about the flora, fauna, geology, and history of the park, consider booking the Joshua Tree National Park Driving Tour. A heads up that this tour departs from the Palm Desert, not Las Vegas, so you still have to get to the Palm Desert with your own car.
As there is a long drive involved to reach the Joshua Tree National Park, you will need to allow an entire day for one of the most ambitious day trips from Vegas. However, since the park is quite small, spending one day in Joshua Tree National Park is sufficient enough to see the highlights.
13. Zion National Park
Drive time: 2.5 hours
Distance: 160 miles (257.5 km)
Entrance fee: $35 per vehicle (valid for 7 days, free with the America the Beautiful Pass)
Zion National Park is situated northeast of Las Vegas in the southwest corner of Utah along the edge of the Colorado Plateau. The crown jewel of the park is the narrow slot canyon which features steep sandstone cliffs in pink, red, and orange hues dotted with crystal clear pools of water.
Zion National Park is extremely popular and is perfectly designed to welcome tourists with hiking trails and adventure activities. Short hikes are accessible from the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, with the Emerald Pools, Angel’s Landing, and the Riverside Walk offering some of the finest scenery.
If you decide to camp overnight then you can tackle longer, moderate hikes.
This 1-hour White Mountain Horseback Tour invites you to explore the slot canyon from a different perspective. Alternatively, you can indulge your inner daredevil with this Slot Canyon Exploration and UTV Tour which takes you off-road to a privately accessed slot canyon that few visitors will get to see.
It is also possible to combine Zion National Park with the next of the Las Vegas day trips, Bryce Canyon. This Zion and Bryce Canyons Small Group Tour includes transport for the entire day as well as food, drink, and a tour guide who will take you off the beaten path.
Zion National Park is open every day of the year with the visitor centers being staffed between 8 am-5 pm.
Important info: Utah is in the Mountain Time Zone while Nevada is in the Pacific Time Zone, therefore Las Vegas is 1 hour behind Zion National Park.
14. Bryce Canyon National Park
Drive time: 4 hours
Distance: 260 miles (418 km)
Entrance fee: $35 per vehicle (free with the America the Beautiful Pass)
Bryce Canyon National Park is the neighbor of Zion, located around an hour’s drive from the slot canyon. It is distinguished by its massive concentration of “hoodoos” – irregular columns of rock.
Erosion in the area has led to the formation of the “Grand Staircase” – a string of colorful cliffs that connect the Bryce Canyon with Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon.
Bryce Canyon Road weaves its way past all the hoodoos and to be honest, you will see enough without even getting out of your car. After passing through the towns of Bryce and Bryce Canyon City, the road culminates at Yovimpa Point which provides an incredible 360-degree view.
Along the way, you can stop at various overlooks such as Piracy Point, Bryce Natural Bridge, and Black Birch Canyon to soak in the surroundings.
As Bryce Canyon requires a long drive, it’s highly advisable to visit it in combination with Zion using the Zion and Bryce Canyons Small Group Tour. Otherwise, it’s a substantial drive to undertake unless you decide to stay overnight.
If you do have time then there are hiking trails that you can add to your itinerary. The shortest hikes take around one hour with options available to take you down into the canyons and along the rims.
Bryce Canyon National Park is open every day of the year. The visitor center is located in Bryce Canyon City and is open daily, 8 am-4.30 pm.
Important info: Utah is in the Mountain Time Zone while Nevada is in the Pacific Time Zone, therefore Las Vegas is 1 hour behind Bryce Canyon.
15. Dixie National Forest
Drive time: 3 hours
Distance: 182 miles (293 km)
Entrance fee: Free
Dixie National Forest occupies almost 2 million acres of land and stretches for close to 170 miles (274 km) across southern Utah – straddling the divide between the Great Basin and the Colorado River.
This gigantic forest is split into four geographic areas of varying elevations. Sparse, desert-type plants dot the lower levels with pinyon pine and juniper dominating the mid-elevations and aspen and spruce marking the upper sections.
Boulder Mountain, one of the largest high-elevation plateaus in the United States, is dotted with hundreds of small lakes 10,000 to 11,000 feet above sea level.
As Dixie National Forest is one of the Vegas day trips that requires a longer drive, you will need to plan in advance which parts of the park you visit.
The Cedar Breaks National Monument features a scenic high-altitude drive that offers sweeping views across the canyons, mountains, and forest. You will see the stripes in the rocks caused by erosion and find short hiking trails such as the Ramparts Trailhead which take around one hour to complete. Note that the passage is only open from May until October.
North of Cedar Breaks, Brian Head is a ski resort with yet more exceptional views of the scenery.
Dixie National Forest is open every day of the year and offers spectacular views throughout all four seasons. However, as certain roads are closed during the winter months you will need to prepare your route in advance.
There are visitor centers located at both Cedar Breaks National Monument and Brian Head.
Important info: Utah is in the Mountain Time Zone while Nevada is in the Pacific Time Zone, therefore Las Vegas is 1 hour behind Dixie National Forest.
16. Grand Canyon
Drive time: 2 hours to the West Rim or 4 hours to the South Rim
Distance: 126 miles (202 km) to the West Rim or 273 miles (440 km) to the South Rim
Entrance fee: $39 per person for the West Rim or $35 per vehicle for the South Rim (valid for 7 days, free with the America the Beautiful Pass)
The Grand Canyon is one of the classic icons of the United States, located in northern Arizona. It is believed that it was formed around 5/6 million years ago when the Colorado River sliced a channel through the layers of rock.
It measures over 270 miles (435 km) in length, 18 miles (29 km) in width, and 1 mile (1.6 km) in depth.
This mile-deep gorge actually has 4 different parts that you can visit: the South Rim, Grand Canyon West, Grand Canyon East, and the North Rim.
Grand Canyon South Rim
What many people refer to as “the true Grand Canyon” is the South Rim, which is the most visited part of the canyon. It’s quite far away from Las Vegas though (more than a 4-hour drive), which makes it hard to visit as a day trip.
It’s best to spend at least 2 full days at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon but if your heart is set on getting a glimpse of this part of the canyon, you can of course still visit it in one day.
In this case, I would highly recommend booking a South Rim bus tour from Las Vegas to avoid driving 8+ hours in one day.
One of the unmissable spots at the South Rim is Mather Point which offers great views of the canyon. If you’re up for some hiking, you can check out both the Bright Angel and South Kaibab Trail.
In case you’re visiting with your family, you can’t miss the Grand Canyon Village and the Junior Ranger Program which is one of the best things to do in the Grand Canyon with kids.
Grand Canyon West Rim
Grand Canyon West is the closest part to Las Vegas so if you’re not keen on driving (or sitting on the bus) for 8 hours, this is your best bet. It’s important to note that the west rim is located on Hualapai Indian Tribal Lands and it’s not part of the Grand Canyon National Park, therefore it has a separate entrance fee.
You can easily spend a whole day at the West Rim exploring the views and splashing out on adrenaline activities. The Grand Canyon Skywalk at Eagle Walk is accessible for a fee and means that you get to walk 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) above the canyon floor.
As the skywalk is popular, it is worth securing your tickets in advance. With this Grand Canyon West Rim bus tour, you have the option to include the skywalk in the tour and it also includes a bonus stop at the Hoover Dam Memorial Bridge for photos.
If you’re not short on dollars, then this Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour with Champagne is a true once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Important info: Arizona doesn’t apply daylight saving time while Nevada does, so Las Vegas might be 1 hour behind Grand Canyon. Make sure to always check the local times in advance!
17. Antelope Canyon
Drive time: 4.5 hours
Distance: 279 miles (449 km)
Entrance fee: Subject to which tour you’re attending
Nearing the end of my list of day trips from Vegas, Antelope Canyon is another of the more ambitious as it requires a long day behind the wheel unless you elect to join a tour which is advisable.
Antelope Canyon is a sandstone slot canyon situated on Navajo land, Arizona. It has been shaped by millions of years of erosion from water and wind and was named for the herds of pronghorn antelope that used to rove the area.
Antelope Canyon includes two different sections: Lower Antelope Canyon and Upper Antelope Canyon. Both canyons are open to the public but they can only be visited with a Najavo guide, therefore you have to book a tour in advance. A tour usually last for 1-1.5 hours so it’s actually possible to visit both canyons in one day if you time it right!
With it’s upside down “V” shape, Upper Antelope Canyon is the most popular one to visit. If you visit in the middle of the day, you might be lucky to catch the beautiful light rays shining through the cracks!
Tours to Upper Antelope Canyon usually sell out pretty fast. If this is the case, you can opt to visit the Lower Antelope Canyon instead! This canyon has the shape of a “V” which means it’s more open, therefore easier to photograph. As a bonus, tours cost a lot less compared to Upper Antelope Canyon as well.
I’ve visited both canyons during our Southwest USA road trip and actually I ended up liking Lower Antelope Canyon a lot better!
Alternatively, if both canyons are fully sold out or if you’re looking for a quieter experience, you can check out Canyon X. This is a relatively newly opened canyon with only one tour operator offering guided tours.
Important info: Arizona doesn’t apply daylight saving time while Nevada does, so Las Vegas might be 1 hour behind Antelope Canyon. Make sure to always check the local times in advance!
18. Horseshoe Bend
Drive time: 4.5 hours
Distance: 275 miles (443 km)
Entrance fee: $10 per vehicle
Horseshoe Bend is a remarkable viewpoint that overlooks the Colorado River on a curve of the waterway and is part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
It’s incredible as the blue of the river is juxtaposed with the ruby, scarlet, and rust-colored sandstone cliffs that frame the water. There isn’t much hiking involved here, it’s just a short 1.5 miles (2.4 km) out and back stroll from the parking lot which makes it accessible to everyone.
However, bear in mind that there is zero shelter at the viewpoint and you’ll need tonnes of water and a sunhat. If possible, try and coincide your visit with sunset.
As Horseshoe Bend is located a 10-minute drive from Antelope Canyon, it makes sense to combine these day trips from Las Vegas as one. Tours are available to take you out to the sites from Vegas and save the long drive. Together, the canyon and viewpoint are the dream destinations for photographers!
This Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend Tour with Pickup includes travel, lunch, admission fees, and a Navajo guide.
Important info: Arizona doesn’t apply daylight saving time while Nevada does, so Las Vegas might be 1 hour behind Horseshoe Bend. Make sure to always check the local times in advance!
Map of the Best Day Trips from Las Vegas
Below you can find a customized map that includes all the locations mentioned in this article. A yellow star marks Las Vegas on the map while the Las Vegas day trips are marked with their respesctive numbers.
As you can see, some of the best day trips from Las Vegas are quite close to each other so you can easily combine them and tackle two (or three!) destinations in one day.
If you open up this post on your phone and you click on the bracket in the upper right corner of the map, it will open up in your Google Maps app so you can always have it with you. Super convenient, right?
Planning a trip to Nevada?
Then you might want to take a look at all our other travel guides about Nevada. I promise, they are just as awesome as this article was!
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Valley of Fire State Park:
- 17 Best Things to Do in Valley of Fire in One Day
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- 8 Easy Valley of Fire Hikes You Can’t Miss