Top day trips from Las Vegas
Top day trips from Las Vegas

Best Day Trips From Las Vegas:

Wanna get a little break from Vegas for the day?  Here are the top day and side trips we’ve taken from Sin City.

Joining A Tour Group Vs Car Rental:

Most of our top Las Vegas day trips can easily be reach with tour groups, but they have their down falls.  The biggest downfall of the group tours is that you don’t have the flexibility on when you leave.  With the late nights and hangovers involved with Las Vegas, it is better to have the schedule flexibility.  We prefer a rental car not just for this option, but also because they are quite cheap if you book them ahead of time.  Another huge perk with that almost every hotel will have free parking for guests so the amount of money you save on not taking a cab from the airport can also be put toward your rental car costs.

Top Day Trips From Las Vegas:
1. Hoover Dam (50 Minutes): One of the biggest construction projects in American History was the Hoover Dam and without the water and electricity it produces Las Vegas never would have been able to grow into the sprawling entertainment center it is today.  Building the behemoth structure required overcoming many challenges in a barren landscape to create one of the greatest engineering works in history.  Rated by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of America’s Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders, the Hoover Dam is truly a feat of American might.

The main purpose of the Dam was not just to generate electricity, but also to create a large reservoir for the growing population of the American Southwest.  They built finished it 2 years head of schedule and the final product of all the labor was 726 feet tall (60 stories), 1,244
feet long, 660 feet thick at the base, and 45 feet thick at the top.  Even if you don’t have the time to do a complete tour of the Power Plant or Dam Passageways, simply parking and walking around the Dam can be a great experience.  On the first visit we guarantee you won’t be able to wrap you head around the scale of the structure.  Check out our more in depth guide on visiting the Hoover Dam HERE.

2. Red Rock Canyon (30 Minutes):
Red Rock Canyon offers the best hiking near Las Vegas and it’s only 30 minutes outside of town.  The hiking routes are all very well marked and range from very easy to moderately difficult.

3. The Grand Canyon (Helicopter -or- 4 hour drive):
This amazing natural wonder is a great way to escape the man-made neon zoo of Las Vegas for a day. If you can fit it in the budget, a helicopter tour is the fastest and most fun to experience the canyon from Vegas. Driving is a very easy way to get there too, however, realize that from Vegas the popular south rim is a 4 1/2 hour drive each way and the north rim can be double that. Once you get to the Grand Canyon there are many things to do from taking in the views, pack riding to the bottom, or even rafting down the Colorado River.

Check out our guide on the tops sights In The Grand Canyon HERE.

4. Death Valley (2-3Hours):
Sitting in the sun of the Mojave Desert, Death Valley is the lowest, driest, and hottest area in North America.  Not only does this vast National Park get down to 282 below sea level, but it can get above 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the Summer.  The harshness of the Valley has created an huge amount of beauty from large salt flats, to flowing sands dunes, a large volcanic crater, slot canyons, and a jagged area known as the Devil’s Golf Course.  Adding to the experience of this a side trip to Death Valley are a series of mad-made wonders they the mysterious Scotty’s Castle. There is plenty of stuff to see both in Death Valley and on the way there to make a perfect day trip out of it.  Some of the sights you’ll see on your way to the valley are a creep 1800’s ghost town, a field of over-sized pop art sculptures, and historical markers showing 1950’s Nuclear bomb testing sites.

Check out our guide on the tops sights and suggested route for touring Death Valley HERE.

5. Los Angeles (3:45):

6. Grand Canyon West (2:30):
Grand Canyon West is basically the poorman’s Grand Canyon.  Don’t get us wrong, the views of the Canyon from here are still amazing, but is typically where people who can’t fit in a full Grand Canyon trip go to get a peak as it’s only a 2.5 hour drive instead of 4.

7. Havasu Falls (5 hour drive plus a helicopter or 11 hike): 
Located in Supai with its large secluded waterfalls and blue-green water, this is the closest thing to a fairytale oasis you can find anywhere. Because of the terrain, Supai is about a 5 hour drive from Vegas toward the Grand Canyon. Due to the drive time most visitors stay in the town of Peach Springs AZ only 85 miles out the night before so they can get to the falls early and rested. To get there from Vegas: take Hwy 93 south 108 miles to Kingman AZ, from here take Route 66 48 miles to Peach Spring AZ (last spot for gas), a little ways past Peach Spring go north on Indian 18 for 68 miles to the trail head parking lot, from here it is a 8 mile hike/pack horse/helicopter ride. Note: You must make reservations for horse/helicopter transport ahead of time and visiting the Supai Reservation requires a $35 fee per visitor.

Check out our guide on the tops tips and suggested route for visiting Havasu Falls HERE.

8. Area 51 (2 Hours):
Aliens? A cloud of mystery has always surrounded this top secret base north of Las Vegas known as Area 51.  Deep within a US Air Force Base, on the shores of Groom Lake, Area 51 one has always been mentioned with UFO conspiracy theories. If you are brave enough to investigate the hype, an adventure awaits you. Just remember to stay off restricted ground so you don’t get shot.

It’s 2 hours to the mailbox, 2.5 hours to Campfire Hill

9. Sedona (4:15):
Sedona is probably the most beautiful city in all of Arizona, if not the American Southwest.

10. Flagstaff (3:45):
Flagstaff is sometimes overshadowed by the natural beauty of Sedona, but it definitely packs a punch of its own.  The city marks the line of demarcation where you start climbing out of the Southern Arizona desert into a more lush mountain area.  No matter which direction you come, you’re sure to notice the explosion of plant life in Flagstaff.  The city itself is dominated by a series of urban mountains including Mount Elden which offers some great views and Humprey’s Mountain which offers Arizona’s best skiing.

For us the highlight of any visit to Flagstaff is a stop at the ancient Sunset Volcano Crater.  It is a huge black ash covered volcano that you has a very defined caldera as you drive up to it, but why stop at driving as you can actually hike right into it!  Other worthy nearby attractions are the Coconino’s Lava Tube Cave, the Wupatki Pueblo Monument and wide Meteor Crater.

11. Zion National Park (2:45):
Zion isn’t that far away, but because of the vast amount of hiking and natural sights to check out, we recommend at least two days and one overnight stay.  Here is a helpful guide until we get more into up:

12. Bryce Canyon (4 Hours):
If you were to picture the most hellish landscape you could think of, the fields of jagged spires that make up Bryce Canyon would likely be included.  The same ruggedness that makes Bryce Canyon hellish is the same one that makes it absolutely beautiful, picturesque, and draws in tens of thousands of tourists a year.  Most of the major attractions and viewpoints are right off the main park roads which makes visits very convention.

13. Lake Havasu (2.5 Hours):
  There was nothing at Lake Havasu until business man Robert McCulloch came up with a development plan to create a man made lake and develop a resort oasis. To speed up development McCulloch bought the London Bridge from London fro $2.4 Million to be relocated to development he was building in Arizona.  In 1968 the Bridge was dismantled, shipped to the United States and rebuilt by 1971.  McCulloch’s plan worked and the city quickly grew into a top vacation spot in Arizona.  Seeing the development’s success many spiteful Londoners made up a story that McCulloch was made when he first saw the Bridge rebuilt as he thought he had bought the more iconic Tower Bridge.  Because Robert personally oversaw the purchase and dismantling in London the Tower Bridge rumor is definitely not true.

Today Lake Havasu may be best known as a popular high school and college Spring Break hotspot but it’s beautiful waters and beach are a great getaway for anyone.  It’s not quite as good as the beaches of the of San Diego or Los Angles, but is worth a stop if you want a taste of beach life.

14. Nuclear Testing Site (2:15):
  Whole area called Yucca Valley looks like a moonscape from Nuclear bombing and the biggest crater  is the Storax Sedan Crater.  This crater was formed from a 104 kiloton nuclear bomb that was set off 635 feet below the ground on July 6th 1962. The crater is 320 feet deep; 1,280 feet wide; has a 100 foot tall lip; and moved 12 million tons of material and you can tour it.

There are special tours you can take to visit it once a month:

15. Michael Heizer’s City (4 Hours):
Artist Michael Heizer’s Earthscape sculpture called Complex City. It is the size of the National Mall in Washington D.C. and made out of earth, rock and concrete. Mike started in 1972, plans everything to less than an inch and has spent tens of millions of dollars on his work. His goal is to build a piece of art that will survive for thousands of years after all other works have been turned to dust.

16. Salton Sea Area (5 Hours):
  The Salton Sea is a great day trip as you can see Palm Canyon, the Salton Sea, Mecca Beach, Date Palm Farms, a ghost town, Dos Palmas Oasis, the mudpots, Salvation Mountain, and the Imperial San Dunes all in one day, not to mention that it is right next to Palm Springs and the Joshua Tree National Park. Click here for our Salton Sea section for more details.

17. Phoenix (4:30):

Left Off Of Our List:

Lake Mead (1 Hour): Lake Mead is not cool and is a below average lake on many levels. Boating and jet skiing are fine but are not anywhere close to the level of any Midwestern Lake or even other Southwestern reservoirs such as Lake Powell.  If you are going to water ski, the waters will be unbelievable smooth, but as a normal tourist there are no beaches and not really a ton to do.  The pier has 1000’s of nasty sucker fish begging for food and the boating isn’t really that satisfying.

Kelso Dunes in Baker