When visiting Las Vegas, you may find yourself craving a change of scenery and eager to explore the stunning landscapes surrounding the bustling city. Luckily, there are plenty of scenic drives and road trips to embark on, offering a perfect escape from the glitz and glamour. From the mesmerizing Red Rock Canyon to the breathtaking natural wonders of Zion National Park and the iconic Death Valley, the options are endless. So hop in your car and get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure through the picturesque landscapes that await you just beyond the Las Vegas Strip. Of course! Las Vegas, known as the entertainment capital of the world, is not only surrounded by bright lights and towering casinos but also offers some amazing natural wonders within driving distance. If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and explore the stunning landscapes of the Southwest, you’re in luck! Here are some scenic drives and road trips you can take starting from Las Vegas.
Valley of Fire State Park
About an hour’s drive northeast of Las Vegas lies the magnificent Valley of Fire State Park. As its name suggests, the park is known for its fiery red sandstone formations that glow vibrantly under the desert sun. The vivid colors and unique rock formations make it a paradise for photographers and nature enthusiasts alike. You can drive through the park on the Valley of Fire Road, which offers breathtaking vistas at every turn. Don’t forget to stop by the famous Elephant Rock and the petroglyph sites to admire ancient rock art created by Native Americans thousands of years ago.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Just west of Las Vegas, you’ll find the stunning Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The soaring red sandstone cliffs, dramatic rock formations, and abundant wildlife make it a must-visit destination for outdoor lovers. The 13-mile scenic drive within the park takes you through the heart of its natural wonders. Be sure to stop at viewpoints along the way to take in the panoramic views and perhaps even spot some bighorn sheep, desert tortoises, or wild burros. Hiking enthusiasts will also find a plethora of trails, ranging from easy strolls to more challenging hikes, to explore the hidden treasures of this desert oasis.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
If you’re craving some water adventures, a road trip to Lake Mead National Recreation Area is just what you need. Located less than an hour’s drive southeast of Las Vegas, this massive reservoir created by the Hoover Dam offers a variety of recreational activities. Whether you prefer boating, fishing, swimming, or simply lounging on the beaches, Lake Mead has it all. The 10-mile Lakeshore Road allows you to drive along the lake’s edge and take in the picturesque views of the surrounding desert landscape. Don’t forget to check out the historic Hoover Dam, which stands as a marvel of engineering and provides breathtaking views of the Colorado River below.
Escape the desert heat and head to Mount Charleston, just 35 miles northwest of Las Vegas. This alpine paradise offers a refreshing change of scenery with snow-capped peaks, dense forests, and cool mountain air. The scenic drive up Kyle Canyon Road takes you through charming mountain communities and provides access to numerous hiking trails. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a challenging summit hike, there’s something for everyone in Mount Charleston. During the winter months, you can even indulge in some winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding.
Death Valley National Park
For a truly unique desert experience, venture out to Death Valley National Park. Located about two hours west of Las Vegas, it is the hottest and driest place in North America, offering an otherworldly landscape that is a photographer’s dream. From the towering sand dunes of Mesquite Flat to the colorful badlands of Artist’s Palette, Death Valley is a place of extremes and contrasts. The Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America, and the breathtaking vistas from Dante’s View are not to be missed. Be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, as the desert sun can be unforgiving.
Zion National Park
A road trip from Las Vegas to Zion National Park will take you on a journey through some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in Utah. Just a two and a half hour drive northeast of Las Vegas, Zion National Park offers towering sandstone cliffs, deep narrow canyons, and lush greenery. The Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, which traverses through a series of switchbacks and tunnels, is a highlight of the drive. Once in the park, don’t miss the chance to hike the famous Narrows, where you can walk alongside the Virgin River between towering canyon walls.
Grand Canyon National Park
No list of road trips from Las Vegas would be complete without mentioning the Grand Canyon. Just a four-hour drive from the city, this natural wonder needs no introduction. The Grand Canyon offers unparalleled views, with its immense size and stunning colors leaving visitors in awe. As you drive along the rim, you can stop at various lookout points to see the canyon from different perspectives. For a truly unforgettable experience, consider taking a helicopter or airplane tour to get a bird’s eye view of this magnificent geological marvel.
Bryce Canyon National Park
If unique geological formations are what you seek, a road trip to Bryce Canyon National Park is a must. Around four and a half hours northeast of Las Vegas, Bryce Canyon showcases a collection of amphitheaters filled with thousands of hoodoos, towering spires of rock formed by erosion. The scenic drive along Bryce Canyon Rim Road offers breathtaking vistas of this lunar-like landscape. For a closer look, take a hike down into the canyon and explore the hoodoos up close. Sunrise and sunset are particularly magical times to visit, as the colors of the rock formations seem to come alive.
A trip to Antelope Canyon is like stepping into a surreal world of swirling sandstone waves and ethereal light beams. Located near Page, Arizona, approximately four and a half hours from Las Vegas, this slot canyon is a photographer’s paradise. The narrow passageways, sculpted by thousands of years of water erosion, create mesmerizing textures and patterns on the sandstone walls. Keep in mind that access to the canyon is by guided tour only, and reservations are recommended due to its popularity. Don’t forget your camera, as every corner of Antelope Canyon offers a picture-perfect moment.
For a classic American road trip experience, why not travel along Route 66? Although the historic highway no longer exists in its entirety, portions of it can still be driven starting from Las Vegas. Embark on a nostalgic journey as you cruise through small towns, quirky roadside attractions, and retro diners. From the neon lights of the Las Vegas Strip, you can follow Route 66 west towards California, immersing yourself in the nostalgia of this iconic highway. Take your time, stop at the roadside attractions, and soak up the Americana vibes that can still be found along this legendary route.
With these scenic drives and road trips starting from Las Vegas, you can escape the bright lights of the city and embark on unforgettable adventures. From the breathtaking formations of Valley of Fire State Park to the majestic wonders of the Grand Canyon, each destination offers a unique and awe-inspiring experience. So pack your bags, hop in your car, and hit the road to discover the natural beauty that surrounds Las Vegas. Happy travels!