Vegas is great! We love it, but sometimes you need a break from it. When I want to clear my lungs with fresh air, get back to nature and away from the chaos, we head away from the strip. What a lot of people don't know about the area is that there are a lot of great day trips that you can take. All within two hours of Las Vegas, you feel like you are nowhere near the bright lights of Sin City.
The Best Day Trips from Las Vegas
It is well worth renting a car for this excursion, even if it is for the day. Many hotels have their own car rental agencies in their hotels. Otherwise, we have found that it is worth renting a car for flexibility and freedom.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area - 35 Minutes
This is perfect for a morning excursion in the summer and an afternoon excursion in the winter. Only 45 minutes away, you have ample time to explore as much as you want. Stop at the visitor center to get a map of the area. This is also start to 13 mile scenic drive that has multiple trailheads, rock climbing and fun overlooks.
Entrance Fee: You need reservations to enter this park. $17 per vehicle.
I would highly suggest making a stop along Spring Mountain Road for some amazing sushi, ramen, Thai or Korean BBQ. It is on the way to Red Rocks or the way back to Vegas.
Hoover Dam - 45 Minutes
Hoover Dam is something everyone should see and see soon. With water levels dropping it has changed, but it still is a sight to see. Walk the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman memorial Bridge for the best views or take a took to get more history and an in depth look inside. Fun fact about visiting the area is that each side of the Hoover Dam is in a different time zone. You can jump an hour and then jump back. There are clocks on the towers to let you know. If you want to spend more time, then there are a lot of trailheads and excursions from that area and along the Colorado River.
Parking: Free on the Arizona side, but very limited. $10 at the dam in their garage.
Valley of Fire State Park - 45 minutes
This is one of my favorite state parks in the United States. You won't be surprised when you learn that I love hiking through slot canyons, seeing amazing rock formation and the desert. Valley of Fire gives you one of the most unique rock colorations outside of The Wave in Arizona. Plus petrified tress and petroglyphs dating 2,000 years. Best in the Winter and Spring, this area can get really hot in the summer, so make sure you are prepared. So make sure to stop at the visitor center for a map for all the locations of the best hiking and attractions in the park.
Entrance: There is a $10/vehicle fee for NV license plates and $15.vehicle for non-NV vehicles. $2.00/bike. If you are there to camp, then it is $20/vehicle/night for NV license plates and $25/night/vehicle for non-NV Plates. If you want hook ups it is an additional $10/night.
Death Valley National Park - 2 Hours
Hottest, Driest and Lowest National Park in the United States. That's their tag line and if you are still interested it is a must see national park. This is the farthest day trip that we have done and it was 100% worth it! Now one of my top 3 favorite national parks in the United States, it had everything that I wanted. We didn't even get to see as much as I would have hoped, but what we did see, was amazing and well worth the drive. This national park, as with quite a few isn't easy to get to and so if you are even slightly close it is worth it. Our top attractions that you need to put on that itinerary: Zabriskie Point, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Stovepipe Wells (for lunch), Bogus Basin (lowest point in the US), Artists Palette and Golden Canyon.
I would have liked to make it to the Ghost Town and the Crater, but time didn't permit. We will definitely be back.