11 Day Trips From Las Vegas
DAY TRIPS FROM LAS VEGAS
Day trips from Las Vegas are the perfect way to temporarily escape the hustle and bustle of this city that never sleeps. Las Vegas is filled with fun for pretty much any type of person under the sun.
From gambling and dining to spectacular shows and art, there is always something to do in Las Vegas, but it can be exhausting. Sometimes the bright lights of Vegas can take a toll on visitors, and a day trip from Las Vegas is the perfect break.
Nevada has so much more to offer outside of Las Vegas. From colorful mountains to abandoned gold mines, every Las Vegas itinerary should allow time for day trips to explore the rest of southern Nevada. These are some of my favorite day trips from Las Vegas.
Hoover Dam Postcard Tour on the Colorado River
This Colorado River trip to visit Hoover Dam is the perfect day trip from Las Vegas, especially if you are short on time. Black Canyon Adventures is the only outfitter authorized to run this Colorado River tour that gives you a unique perspective of Hoover Dam.
The Colorado River may not seem like the perfect destination, but it’s actually an amazing excursion. Hoover Dam is an engineering marvel and one of the Industrial Wonders of the World.
Most travelers will visit the Hoover Dam on a day trip from Vegas that includes a trip to the Visitor Center and a guided tour of the dam. The Black Canyon Adventures Postcard Tour gives you a totally unique perspective by taking you on a raft to view the dam from below.
Not many people get to experience this unique vantage point, which makes it all the more thrilling. Cruising through the crystal clear aqua blue waters of the Colorado River until the Hoover Dam loomed 700 feet above our heads is an experience I will never forget.
Combined with the history and background we received from our tour guides, plus the chance to tie up on a sandbar and splash in the freezing cold Colorado River, this is one of the best day trips from Las Vegas!
Most flights into Las Vegas pass over Lake Mead on the approach from the east. From the air, Lake Mead is pretty stunning, but seeing it up close is even better.
Lake Mead was created when Hoover Dam was erected on the Colorado River, creating Lake Mead National Recreation Area, comprising over one million acres of land and water. Just 20 miles from Vegas, the 550 miles of shoreline offer endless recreational opportunities, making Lake Mead one of the best day trips from Las Vegas.
While most of Lake Mead is best explored by boat, there are a few land adventures you can have as well. If you’re up for a short hike, you can take a trail to visit the ghost town of St. Thomas. The town was buried when the lake was created, but lower lake levels have exposed the town once again. You’ll need to drive three miles down a dirt road from the Overton Arm area, and then it’s just a short hike to view the townsite.
If you haven’t brought your own boat to Lake Mead, there are still plenty of opportunities to get out on the water. For a more natural, serene experience, consider touring Lake Mead by kayak or canoe. Navigation can be a challenge with so many side canyons and coves, so if you’re not sure of your GPS skills, it’s best to hire a tour to take you out.
Most tours depart from Boulder City, but you can also find an outfitter to arrange your entire day trip from Vegas, with transportation to and from your Las Vegas hotel. From Boulder City, you can also join a riverboat cruise or a rafting tour of Lake Mead.
Boulder City is the gateway to Lake Mead and is a fun day trip from Vegas if you want to visit a Nevada town that doesn’t allow gambling, which is pretty rare! Less than 30 miles from Vegas and you can be in a totally different environment, free from the constant ring of slot machines.
The town itself was only founded at the time of the Hoover Dam construction and was meant to house the workers of the dam. The entire town was planned and built by the U.S. Government, making it a unique place to visit, especially for history buffs.
Today, Boulder City is one of the top places to retire in the US, thanks to the low cost of living and easy access to the services and amenities of Las Vegas.
Mojave Desert ATV Tour
Heading out to the Mojave Desert with Vegas Off-Road Tours is by far my favorite day trip from Las Vegas. I went out with Craig and Mel for the Gold Tour, which includes 2 ½ hours of ATV time, plus a shuttle to and from your Las Vegas hotel.
I’m an adrenaline junkie, so I find a lot of “adventure” tours to be overhyped and underwhelming. That was definitely not the case with this tour. We rode brand new ATV’s into the Mojave Desert, and I was blasting through the sand at 65 miles per hour!
This ATV tour is really as adventurous as you want to make it. There are two people to an ATV, so make sure whoever you ride with is someone you trust, as this isn’t a Disney ride. It can be dangerous, especially at high speeds.
On top of an adrenaline-packed day, we got to see wild horses out in the desert. I’ve traveled all over the world and this was a first-time experience for me. The Gold Tour claims a 75% chance of seeing these beautiful wild horses during your trip. At $475 for two people, it’s on the pricy side, but totally worth the splurge!
If you only take one day-trip from Vegas, make it this one!
Seven Magic Mountains
Seven Magic Mountains are an art instillation on the outskirts of Las Vags less than 30 minutes away from the Strip, created by internationally renowned Swiss Artist Ugo Rondinone. Seven Magic Mountains is a perfect place to get the perfect instagram photo on your trip to Nevada, and makes for a perfect quick day trip from Las Vegas.
Comprised of 7 pillars of colorful boulders placed on top of one another in the middle of the desert, Seven Magic Mountains is worth a visit. The instillation, which was created in 2016, was originally supposed to stick around for 2 years. However, in 2018 the Bureau of Land Management extended the permit, allowing the piece of art to remain on view through the end of 2021!
When you take a tour with Vegas Off-Road Tours, you’ll start and end at the Pioneer Saloon in Goodsprings, about 40 miles south of Vegas. This desert watering hole is a total throwback to the Wild West and glamour days of Old Hollywood.
The Saloon was built in 1913 by Sears and Roebuck. One of the pivotal moments in the history of the Pioneer Saloon is when Carole Lombard, wife of Clark Gable, died in a plane crash on nearby Potosi Mountain in 1946. Legend has it that Clark Gable, the “King of Hollywood,” waited at the Pioneer Saloon for three days while the recovery efforts were underway. In fact, you can still see the spot where he stubbed out his cigars, a spot which today draws Hollywood fans who want to touch this piece of history. Carole Lombard and several others are now said to haunt the saloon to this day.
Hollywood history and ghosts are not the only cool things about the Pioneer Saloon. The saloon offers patrons the chance to have their own barrel of whiskey. For $3,500, you can flavor the whiskey with the notes of your choice, and it will remain under lock and key until you’ve drained the barrel. You will be given the combination to your whiskey lock, and you can come tap the barrel any time you’d like. Have friends passing through Goodsprings? Give them the combination to your barrel and they can enjoy some of your whiskey as well! Even if you don’t go on the ATV tour, the Pioneer Saloon is the perfect little day trip from Vegas.
45 miles south of Vegas lies the Techatticup Mine in Eldorado Canyon. Another Wild West experience in easy reach of Las Vegas. Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours is a great place to learn about the Gold Rush and the process of mining for gold.
You might picture plucking away with a pick-axe as gold flakes come out of the rock, but it’s actually a much more painstaking process. Gold is typically found in quartz veins in the rock and has to be leached out using cyanide. When you tour the Eldorado Canyon Mine, you can actually see the quartz veins that led the original miners to strike gold. I toured a gold mine in Poland, and although it was a cool experience, it didn’t compare to this Wild West adventure.
It’s also rumored that the mine was haunted for 12 years, an auspicious number in Native cultures.
Outside the mine, the surrounding area has become a collection area for abandoned artifacts from all over. Several Hollywood movies have been filmed here, and many leave pieces of the set behind to add to the ghost town feel. The 2001 movie “3000 Miles to Graceland” starring Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner features a plane crash, and the plane remains in the town of Nelson outside the mine today.
If this is your one and only day trip from Las Vegas, make sure you take advantage of the canoe and kayak rentals on-site and go for a spin on the Colorado River. The Techatticup Mine offers a great viewpoint of the river, and I highly recommend getting out on the Colorado River at least once during your Nevada vacation!
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
One of the most popular day trips from Las Vegas is a trip to Red Rock Canyon, just 17 miles west of Las Vegas. This is the perfect place to get some fresh air and amazing desert views.
Start with the 13-mile scenic drive, before choosing from 26 hiking trails for a Vegas desert adventure. If you are traveling solo and don’t want to wander the desert alone, check the calendar as they have a full roster of guided hikes and nature programs that you can tag along on.
Inside Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is a great place to catch a sunrise or sunset. The one-time working ranch has historic buildings to explore and is surrounded by mountains that turn fiery red as the sun rises and sets.
Valley of Fire State Park
Another popular Las Vegas day trip is Valley of Fire State Park, at the northern end of Lake Mead, 60 miles from Vegas. Aztec sandstone formations give an otherworldly look to the landscape here.
Like Red Rock Canyon, you can join guided hikes and programs, or set off on your own hike. There are 12 hiking trails in Valley of Fire State Park and many of them are around one mile, meaning you can explore several different trails and still make it back to Vegas in time for dinner!
The Grand Canyon is a possible day trip from Vegas, although if you ask me, a destination this magical deserves more than just one day. However, many travelers visit the Grand Canyon and return to Vegas at night and there are plenty of guided tours willing to whisk you from Vegas to the canyon.
Most Grand Canyon day trips from Vegas go to Grand Canyon West, which is not part of the National Park, but part of the Hualapai Indian Reservation. These tours are typically by helicopter or bus, and you can head out for a Colorado River whitewater trip or take a walk around the glass-bottom SkyWalk that juts out over the canyon. Other Las Vegas trips to the Grand Canyon include scenic flights or bus trips to the South Rim.
You can also drive this in a very long day trip from Vegas, but taking a tour is advised so you can rest during the trip there and back.
No, you can’t actually “storm” Area 51, as it remains a highly classified U.S. government facility. Many people believe UFOs have been discovered here, as the CIA did not even acknowledge the existence of Area 51 until 2013.
While you can’t visit Area 51 itself, you better believe the surrounding towns take full advantage of the alien folklore and welcome curious tourists. State Route 375 is even called the “Extraterrestrial Highway” and the tiny town of Rachel, Nevada is home to the Little A'Le'Inn where you can purchase UFO merchandise, or even spend the night. If you want to see what all the hype is about, plan a day trip along the Extraterrestrial Highway.
No matter where you decide to spend your time in Southern Nevada, there is so much more to experience than just Las Vegas. Be sure to check out some of the best Nevada has to offer by getting out of the city of Las Vegas, even if it’s just for a day trip!