Best Day Trips from Las Vegas

by , SmarterTravel Staff

Need a break from the debauchery? Here are seven great day trips you can take from Las Vegas.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

It's hard to believe the spectacular scenery of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is just about a 30-minute drive from Las Vegas. Outdoor enthusiasts of both the leisurely and strenuous varieties will find something to enjoy among the 19 marked hiking and walking trails. Want to see the sights from the car instead? Many of the interesting rock formations can be viewed from the 13-mile auto loop as well.

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Grand Canyon National Park

Step back. Move away from the craps table. If losing your life's savings to the house has left you feeling defeated, head east for an even more humbling experience: the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon's South Rim is approximately 270 miles from Las Vegas. Many tour operators offer helicopter packages that include a limo ride from your hotel to the tour's departure at McCarran International Airport, a bird's-eye view of the canyon, and lunch and a little bubbly below the rim.

Hoover Dam

You've probably heard that the Hoover Dam is an "engineering marvel," but you've got to see it in person to get a real sense of the 6,600,000-ton hydroelectric plant's overall size and impact on its surroundings. And, since it's just 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, getting up close with the dam is a perfect day trip. Learn about Hoover Dam tours on the Bureau of Reclamation's website.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

As the Grand Canyon proves, massive rocks are no match for the Colorado River's wrath. Leave it to man's engineering prowess, however, to build something that can tame the mighty Colorado: Lake Mead. (Thanks, Hoover Dam!)

Death Valley National Park

Two and a half hours from Sin City is another land of extremes: Death Valley. From mountains to valleys, the 3.3-million-acre national park offers record-breaking temperatures (134 degrees Fahrenheit, the highest ever recorded), waterfalls, sand dunes, and even the nation's largest salt pan—known as the Devil's Golf Course. The country's lowest point below sea level (282 feet) is Death Valley's Badwater Basin. Petroglyphs more than two millennia old and a geological phenomenon known as "sailing stones" (rocks that slide across the earth on their own) are alone worth the trip.

Valley Of Fire State Park

Jump from Death Valley's frying pan and step into the fire—Valley of Fire State Park, that is. Aptly named for its red sandstone formations, Valley of Fire is Nevada's oldest and largest state park. It is located about 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas and just north of Lake Mead.

As far back as 300 BCE, the area was home to Ancient Pueblo native peoples, the likely artists behind the well-preserved ancient petroglyphs.

Mt. Charleston

Mt. Charleston, also called Charleston Peak, is popular among Vegas-goers as it is located only about 35 miles northwest of the city and offers a beautiful and serene setting, with camping, hiking, and even skiing options. If you've ever longingly gazed out your Strip suite's window, you've seen Mt. Charleston's snowcapped peak off in the distance. Outdoor enthusiasts in particular can head to this nearby mountain, a peaceful setting that provides a place to sober up from the previous night's partying.

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