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If there were somehow a way that someone can’t find what they’re looking for in Las Vegas, there are always plenty of incredible day trips available. Coincidentally or not, many of the best trips get travelers out into nature (presumably to escape the lights and bustling style of the Strip).
Here’s a selection of some top day trips in the surrounding area:
Grand Canyon, Arizona
One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon attracts millions of visitors each year. Although the four-plus hour drive can be a bit much for one day, helicopter tours to the area are very popular and take only 45 minutes. The West Rim offers the Skywalk, a cantilevered U-shaped walkway that hovers 4,000 feet above the canyon floor.
The Grand Canyon White Water Rafting Trip from Las Vegas gives travelers the chances to raft through 40 miles of the Colorado River, giving them a chance to spot the many hidden waterfalls in the canyon. Best of the West Rim takes guests to the Grand Canyon via airplane, and then brings them down to the river for a pontoon ride by a quick helicopter decent. Adding on a trip to the SkyWalk is also possible. Grand Canyon in a Day: Hummer Tour from Las Vegas brings guests on an offroad tour along the West Rim and Joshua Tree Forest.
Zion National Park, Utah
A two and a half hour drive through Nevada, Arizona, and a bit of Utah where travelers can watch the brown desert turn to walls of green, red, pink, and white. It may be difficult to stay for only one day with the variety of trails and terrain available. In addition to the colorful cliffs, forests and waterfalls are also located in the park.
Zion National Park Day Tour from Las Vegas brings guests from their hotel on a driving tour of Zion National Park. The small group sizes allows for a personalized experience. Similarly, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks Small-Group Tour from Las Vegas is a driving day tour, in a mini coach, to both Zion and Bryce Canyon.
Hoover Dam/Lake Mead, Nevada/Arizona Border
The Hoover Dam is located along the Colorado River, which flows through the Grand Canyon, and fills Lake Mead, the United States’ largest reservoir when full. All threem locations can be done in one tour but that leaves only a couple hours per stop. Tours of the Hoover Dam’s passageways and power plant are available, while travelers can swim, hike, jet-ski, and rent boats at the lake.
On the Ultimate Hoover Dam Tour guests will be taken to the Hoover Dam to experience the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge, a powerplant tour down into the Black Canyon, and a guided Walk on the Top tour to see the spillway. The Hoover Dam Tour With Lake Mead Cruise splits times between a Black Canyon tour and a 90-minute cruise on the lake. An offroad tour is also available with the Hoover Dam Hummer H2 Tour, where guests ride an elevator into the Black Canyon, tour the Nevada wing of the power plant, and enjoy panoramic views of Lake Mead and the Colorado River from the observation deck.
Death Valley National Park, California
The lowest, hottest, driest place in North America is, in fact, a tourist attraction. Tours from the Visitors Center take guests through abandoned mines, ghost towns, and jagged salt formations – they even offer paleontology lessons. In 1913 the hottest temperature on Earth was recorded in an area called Furnace Valley at 134 degrees Fahrenheit.
Both the Small-Group Death Valley National Park Day Trip from Las Vegas and Death Valley Day Trip from Las Vegas offer stops at
Furnace Creek and the salt flats of Badwater Basin. The former also stops at Zabriskie Point, Artist’s Palette, and Dante's View, while the latter stops at Ubehebe Crater and Rhyolite Ghost Town.
Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
Only one hour from Las Vegas, the Valley of Fire State Park is home to plenty of history: the red sandstone, which gives the valley its name, dates to the time of dinosaurs, while rock art from prehistoric people is viewable in some locations. The landscape even resembles Mars, which resulted in portions of Total Recall being filmed there.
The Valley of Fire and Lost City Museum from Las Vegas gives travlers the chance to visit the sacred Indian lands in the Valley of Fire, with a stop at the Lost City Museum, one of the most complete collections of the early Pueblo Indians. On the Valley of Fire Hiking Tour from Las Vegas hikers choose an easy, moderate, or difficult guided hike. Stops at the Valley of Fire State Park visitor center and the Moapa River Indian Reservation are included.
Bonnie Springs Ranch, Blue Diamond, Nevada
Just a short 30-minute drive from Vegas, Bonnie Springs Ranch offers a fun getaway for families. The 115-acre ranch has its own zoo, complete with wolves and a Canadian Lynx, and offers train, horseback, and pony rides, scripted gun fights in town, and even karaoke and football specials.
El Dorado Canyon & Gold Mine, Nevada
A gold and silver mine, complete with abandoned general store, gas station, and cars – all less than one hour from Vegas. Tours of the mine are available and usually last just over an hour. They even rent canoes and kayaks to take onto the Colorado River (located five miles away).
This little town, just over an hour away from the strip, boasts the only two wineries in southern Nevada. The town is also home to several golf courses and Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch, and offer water-powered jetpack lessons on the lake. Mötley Crüe front man Vince Neil will even be opening a bar here in the near future.
Limo tours of the Pahrump Valley Winery, recipient of over 300 national wine awards since 2004, are available with door-to-door service from Vegas. In addition the winery, the tour stops at a rose garden and Symphony's, a Zagat-rated upscale casual restaurant, and drives through the Red Rock Canyon.
Area 51, Nevada
While the military base is strictly off-limits and very private, the surrounding area has become a popular tourist location, including the town of Rachel located along the “Extraterrestrial Highway.” Tours to the area, located 83 miles from Las Vegas, are available and make stops at McCarren International Airport to view unmarked planes and the remote Little A’le’Inn, an alien-themed bar.
Las Vegas Motor Speedway: Located only 15 minutes off the strip, the Speedway offers plenty of attractions from NASCAR races to exotic car racing. Guests have the opportunity to test a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Porsche or Audi.
Vegas Mini Baja Chase: Like the Speedway, the Baja Chase tours are offered just off the strip and can easily be done in one afternoon. Custom dune buggies of one, two, four, and six seats are available.
Los Angeles/Hollywood, California: For guests who hop in a plane, this trip can be completed in under one hour each day and isn’t an uncommon trip. However, the drive can be four to five hours, and it’s more of a destination of its own than a daytrip.