Your guide to the best day trips from Las Vegas

Sign post covered in stickers making the start of the ET Highway near Rachel,Nevada,USA. Rachel is one of the best day trips from Las Vegas.

Peter Unger/Getty Images

By The Nevadan Staff

June 7, 2024

Looking to escape the glittering lights of Las Vegas for a day and explore some hidden gems in the surrounding areas? From majestic natural wonders to historical landmarks, there are plenty of exciting day trips just a short drive away. If you’re eager to discover the best day trips from Las Vegas, then buckle up and get ready for an unforgettable adventure.

Step Back in Time at the Hoover Dam

Distance from Las Vegas: 42 minutes

Just a short journey from the neon jungle of Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam is a colossal structure, nestled between the borders of Arizona and Nevada. The Hoover Dam is one of the 20th century’s most impressive accomplishments. When it was completed in 1935, it was the largest dam in the world, capable of irrigating 2 million acres.

Upon arriving at this historic marvel, you’re greeted by concrete walls rising from the rugged desert landscape, surrounding the powerful Colorado River. The dam’s colossal scale is humbling, and if you participate in a guided tour, you’ll learn more about the perseverance and ingenuity that brought this giant to life during the Great Depression, providing jobs to thousands. The Hoover Dam offers an unforgettable journey into America’s past.

Revel in the Beauty of Red Rock Canyon

Distance from Las Vegas: 23 minutes

Find solace in the stunning landscapes of Red Rock Canyon, just a mere 23 minutes from Las Vegas. This natural sanctuary offers a striking contrast to the neon lights, and as you enter the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, the city’s clamor fades to silence. The area’s namesake red rock formations rise dramatically from the earth, their fiery hues blazing under the Nevada sun.

You can expect to find over 26 marked hiking trails that vary in difficulty, and each trail offers its own unique view or experience, from panoramic views of the canyon floor to intimate encounters with ancient petroglyphs. For those who prefer to explore on wheels, the 13-mile scenic drive provides a spectacular overview of the conservation area’s diverse ecosystems with numerous stop-off points.

For the more adventurous type, Red Rock Canyon’s towering sandstone walls offer more than 2,000 climbing routes. Red Rock Canyon is a reminder of the immense power of the natural world, lying in wait just beyond the city limits.

Discover the Charm of Boulder City

Distance from Las Vegas: < 30 minutes

Boulder City offers a refreshing pause from the fast-paced casino life, inviting visitors into its tranquil, history-rich embrace. This quaint town boasts picturesque streets, and you can expect to find outdoor adventures, cultural richness, and an appreciation of history, especially since the area has close ties with the monumental Hoover Dam project. This connection is celebrated within the walls of the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum, where interactive exhibits bring to life the stories of the men and women who braved the harsh Nevada desert to create this engineering marvel.

As you wander through Boulder City, you’ll find yourself enchanted by the artisan shops, local eateries, and the vintage charm that permeates the air. For the outdoor enthusiast, Boulder City provides access to the River Mountain Loop Trail and the nearby Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Boulder City invites you to slow down, breathe, and savor the moment in this charming enclave of Nevada.

Encounter the Extraterrestrial in Rachel

Distance from Las Vegas: 2 hours~

Rachel is a small town shrouded in mystery, and it’s at the heart of America’s extraterrestrial folklore. Situated within a stone’s throw from the notorious Area 51, Rachel offers an otherworldly day trip experience that is as unique as it is intriguing. Rachel is a quintessential desert town, but with a twist that attracts visitors from across the globe.

Here, the Little A’Le’Inn, an alien-themed inn and diner, serves as the unofficial welcome center for extraterrestrial enthusiasts. Its walls are adorned with stories and artifacts of unidentified flying objects and alleged encounters, making it the perfect spot to immerse yourself in the lore of Area 51.

Grab a bite, and perhaps you’ll hear tales from locals and fellow travelers, each adding another layer to the enigma that surrounds this area. For the bold and the curious, a visit to the gates of Area 51 might be enough to pique your curiosity. A day trip to Rachel, Nevada, offers an adventure that invites you to ponder the mysteries of the cosmos on a backdrop of the serene and sublime desert landscape.

Experience Magic at Valley of Fire State Park

Distance from Las Vegas: 50 minutes

The Valley of Fire State Park offers an extraordinary escape into a landscape that seems forged from the flames of the desert sun itself. This park invites you to step into a world where the earth itself radiates warmth and wonder.

As you navigate your way to Valley of Fire State Park, the terrain shifts, and suddenly, you find yourself surrounded by formations of Aztec sandstone, their surfaces ablaze with shades of vermilion, scarlet, and gold. This natural canvas of color and form offers an awe-inspiring backdrop for adventurers and photographers alike. Scattered throughout the park are ancient petroglyphs, etched into rock faces by the Ancestral Puebloans who once called this otherworldly landscape home.

Valley of Fire State Park is crisscrossed with trails that invite exploration. From the easy meanderings of the Mouse’s Tank Trail, where water collects in natural basins, to the challenging ascent of the Fire Wave, each path offers its own unique perspective on the park’s stunning geology and vibrant ecosystems. Along these routes, you might catch a glimpse of the park’s diverse wildlife, from bighorn sheep navigating the rugged terrain to desert tortoises taking refuge in the shade. A visit to Valley of Fire State Park is an invitation to experience the enchantment of the Nevada desert.

Read more: Fun and safe summer camps to consider for kids while out for the summer

This story was generated in part by AI and edited by The Nevadan staff.



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