Cool places to visit around Las Vegas

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If you have chosen Las Vegas as your travel destination, make sure to devote a couple of days to explore the wonders of nature, located all around the city. Yes! You can visit them by yourself, simply by renting a car for a day or two or by taking part in a tour. You can see most of the sights by leaving Vegas for the day and returning back to your hotel for the night.

The best way to get around Las Vegas and the surroundings is by car. We’d say it’s the only possible way to get around if you like to be on your own schedule and get off the beaten track just like we tend to do. 

Check out this car rental website for the best deals around Las Vegas if you are looking to hire a car. 

Take a half-day trip from Las Vegas by car

All attractions are located in 30 minutes to 1-hour drive from Las Vegas and it’s best to visit them in the morning and afternoon when the bustling city sleeps. This way you can save time if Vegas is part of your route through California or the southwest of the United States.

Some sites are located next to each other and are easier to visit one after another. For example, a trip to Red Rock Canyon can be combined with a visit to Spring Mountain Ranch. First, you can check out beautiful sandstone landscapes, and then relax on a lake and take in the views of the Wild Wild West.

Hoover Dam and Lake Mead

Distance from Las Vegas: 34mi (55 km)

Travel time: 45 minutes

Tickets for Hoover Dam: $10 for a visitor center, $12-15 for a half-hour tour, $30 for an hour tour. However, it's FREE to walk or drive across Hoover Dam and the Colorado River Bridge. The parking garage charges $10 per vehicle. 

Entrance to Lake Mead: $20 per car. There is an annual subscription to America the Beautiful National Parks available.

Lake Mead (Lake Mead National Recreation Area) is located southeast of Las Vegas and is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. On the lake, you can swim, rent a boat or have a picnic on the shore. But the highlight of the area is the Hoover Dam, another impressive human creation. Containing the Colorado River and forming Lake Mead, the dam generates electricity for more than a million people. You have probably seen the Hoover Dam in many American movies over the years.

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Red Rock Canyon

Distance from Las Vegas: 20mi (32km)

Travel time: 30 minutes

Entrance: $15 per car (an annual subscription to America the beautiful national parks is valid here).

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is full of impressive stone formations of bright red sandstone and gray limestone. The walls of the canyon are decorated with petroglyphs. A lot of wild animals live in the canyon and you might be able to spot them.

There are two options to explore the Red Rock Canyon: walk along simple and short walking routes or drive along a scenic road and stop at the observation points. The length of the ring road through the park is 13mi (21km) and it has one-way traffic.

Red Rock Canyon

Valley of Fire

Distance from Las Vegas: 50mi (80km)

Travel time: 1 hour

Ticket price: $10 per car

Valley of Fire is located northeast of Las Vegas, it got its name due to the formation of fiery sandstone. It is best to arrive early in the morning from 7 am to 10 am or before sunset to see the Valley of Fire in the best light possible. In summer, do not forget to take a large amount of water with you and protect yourself with sunscreen from the scorching sun as it is very hot in the park and a limited amount of shaded areas. The best time to visit the Valley is spring and autumn. Aside from unusual and even fantastic formations, you can see ancient petroglyphs (for example, on Atlatl Rock). Do not miss the symbol of the park - Elephant Rock. There is also a pink canyon that impresses with a combination of different colors and other amazing sandstone figures.

Valley of Fire

Floyd Lamb Park

Distance from Las Vegas: 19mi (30km)

Travel time: 30 minutes

Entrance: $6 per car or $1 per person

Floyd Lamb Park is a great place northwest of Las Vegas with picturesque ponds where you can go fishing (if you have a license), watch peacocks, ducks and geese, play volleyball, wander among the trees, and have a picnic. Do visit this park if you are tired of Nevada’s heat. Moreover, a peaceful lake is valuable for archaeologists: there has been evidence of life dating back thousands of years.

Spring mountain ranch

Distance from Las Vegas: 25mi (40km)

Travel time: 30 minutes

Admission is $10 per car.

Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is a great place located west of Las Vegas next to Mount Wilson. In addition to hiking and amazing views, you can also visit the historic ranch, a cemetery, a forge and the beautiful Lake Harriet. In summer, there is a musical theater.

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Mount Charleston

Distance from Las Vegas: 37mi (60km)

Travel time: 45 minutes

Mount Charleston is located northwest of Las Vegas. If you visit this place in summer, you’ll feel relieved from the heat and delighted by the scenery: cool mountain breeze, pine trees and an abundance of wild animals. There are many hikes, including those leading to the top of the mountain. You can also have a picnic and even stay overnight at the campsite if you have a tent with you. If you are visiting Vegas in the winter, then you can come to Charleston to go skiing or snowboarding but best of all you can simply just drive to the top of Mt.Charleston and enjoy the beautiful snowfall and enjoy a wonderful brunch.

Mount Charleston

Take a day trip from Las Vegas by car

I recommend that you take a full day to explore the following attractions. Just rent a car and go for it! Even if you return back to Las Vegas late in the evening, you will be tired and probably wouldn’t want to go to the casino or look at the fountains of the Bellagio hotel. 

Death Valley

Distance from Las Vegas: 143mi (230km)

Travel time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Ticket price: $20 per car. It also has annual America the Beautiful season pass.

Death Valley National Park is one of the most famous national parks located northwest of Las Vegas in California. The valley is known for its unforgiving heat as it holds the hottest temperature in the world the past two years in a row.  Aside from the heat and the harsh name death Valley is a must for all of us who love nature and unusual places.

It is interesting to know: Death Valley is the lowest place on the North American continent – the level below the World Ocean is located in the Badwater salt basin. 

The attractions of the park are incredibly diverse. There are multi-colored badlands, salt marsh, Ubehebe Crater, and Scotty Castle. 

You can also go to Racetrack – a flat dry lake best known for its strange moving rocks. Make sure to rent a four-wheel-drive car, as the road is extremely rough.

Check out the best car rental options in Las Vegas.

Our recommendation: if you leave from Las Vegas early while it’s still dark, you can catch the dawn at Zabriskie Point and see the amazing badlands in all their glory.

Death Valley

Rhyolite 

Distance from Las Vegas: 118mi (190km)

Travel time: 2 hours 

Rhyolite is a ghost town in Nevada northwest of Vegas. Rhyolite has been built at the beginning of the 20th century, during the Gold Rush, to accommodate the mineworkers that were extracting rhyolite rock. The city even has an abandoned station serving the railroad to Las Vegas.

Rhyolite didn’t last long – people left the city as soon as the main deposit was exhausted. Another indirect reason why Rhyolite has been abandoned was the San Francisco earthquake and the financial panic that immediately followed.

Now tourists can visit and walk among the ruins of the town.  One of the cool facts about this ghost town is that the movie "The Island" with Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson was filmed there.

Pro Tip: You can combine a visit to Rhyolite with a trip to the Death Valley.

Rhyolite 

Grand Canyon - West Rim and the Skywalk

Distance from Las Vegas: 124mi (200km)

Travel time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Entrance: $81 (this includes all permits for staying on the land of the Native Americans and tickets for Skywalk).

The West Rim is located on the territory of the Hualapai Indians and is the closest section of the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas. The road that leads there is not the best so be careful. A visit to this part of the canyon is limited to several viewing platforms, including the famous Skywalk with a transparent floor.

Grand Canyon - West Rim and the Skywalk

Take a two/three days trip from Las Vegas by car

If you have a few days free from gambling, you can rent a car and head out of town for a few days. From Las Vegas by car you can go in two different directions:

Southeast: to see the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Round trip – 506mi (900km).

Northeast: to Zion and Bryce National Parks, which are located in Utah. The round trip distance is about 500mi (800 km).

Grand Canyon

Distance from Las Vegas: 273mi (440km)

Travel time: 4 hours 30 minutes

Admission: $30 per car. It also has annual America the Beautiful season pass.

The Grand Canyon (Grand Canyon National Park) is the most famous natural attraction of the US, which is located southeast of Las Vegas, in Arizona. South Rim is the most visited part of the Grand Canyon. There are many viewing platforms, trails, which also lead to the bottom of the canyon, where the Colorado River flows. The symbol of the southwestern United States is called Grand for a reason: its length is 446 km, its width is 16, and its depth is 1500 m! The Grand Canyon stretches over most part of Northern Arizona.

We think that it is best to arrive at the Grand Canyon in the afternoon, walk around and enjoying the impressive changing colors of the canyon during the day and then, see the sunset. It is best to spend the night in the park or nearby. In the morning, wake up for sunrise and do a few hiking trails, and then return to Vegas.

Grand Canyon

Zion National Park

Distance from Las Vegas: 162mi (260km)

Travel time: 3 hours

Admission: $30. There is an annual subscription to America the Beautiful National Parks.

Zion National Park is one of the most beautiful parks in the world according to many travelers. It is located northeast of Las Vegas and is Utah's most popular national park. The park offers a selection of a large number of hiking trails along the Zion Canyon, the views of the impressive 600 meters high cliffs made of multi-colored sandstone. 

From April to November you can explore the park only on by a shuttle, which stops at all significant places. The rest of the time is a personal car is allowed. Take one of the short trails that start near the parking lot and they will lead you to the 26 km long main walking route through the entire canyon. It is better to spend the whole day in the park, carefully planning your visit in advance.

Zion National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Distance from Las Vegas: 261mi (420km)

Travel time: 4 hours

Admission: $30. There is an annual subscription to America the Beautiful National Parks.

Bryce Canyon is unlike any other park in the US. Located at an altitude of 2400-2700 meters in Southern Utah, it offers unforgettable views of the finest and most distinctive geological structures of bright red, gold and white. Nature has worked here wonderfully! Particularly beautiful stone Rock patterns look particularly beautiful on the background of green forest and blue sky. It is especially magical to see Bryce in winter when the red rock is covered in snow.
In the park, there is a picturesque road 19mi (30km) long with observation platforms and trails. The best sunrise view is at Sunrise Point and Sunset Point, as they both face east. In summer, you can take a shuttle which stops at each of the observation platforms.

Bryce Canyon National Park