Life is a Highway: Five Las Vegas Day Trips

A world of Southwestern landscapes await with a day trip away from Las Vegas.

Mountains, stunning red rock canyons, desert landscapes and a huge man-made lake can be found with a day trip out of Las Vegas and into nature, all within 55 miles of the city.

Lakemead National Recreation Area

Boulder City

The entryway to Lake Mead National Recreation Area and the Hoover Dam sits about 30 miles from Las Vegas, with Boulder City anchoring the journey. This non-gaming town got its start in the 1930s when workers building the dam settled in the area. Now, the historic Boulder Dam Hotel and historic Old Town district with its quaint shops create a fun stop on the way to either. 

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

Just outside of Boulder City, the Hoover Dam features a 726-foot tall, arch-gravity dam, considered one of the engineering wonders of the world. The Colorado River spills into man-made Lake Mead. Lake Mead National Recreational Area features more than 550 miles of shoreline where visitors can boat, hike, cycle, camp and fish in 1.5 million acres of mountains, canyons, valleys and two vast lakes. 

Spring Mountains

Consider this a place to visit when cooler temperatures are needed. The Spring Mountains National Recreation Area sits inside the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest 35 miles northwest of Las Vegas. At the center, Mount Charleston with its 11,918-foot elevation often capped with snow, but visitors can find trails to hike and rocks to climb.

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

Stunning red rock formations nestled up against the Spring Mountains sit just 15 miles west of Las Vegas. Stop by the visitor center at Red Rock Canyon and then take a drive around the 13-mile loop for a shot at seeing feral horses, wild burros, bighorn sheep, coyotes and a variety of desert plant life. 

Valley of Fire

Valley of Fire

Head 55 miles northwest of Las Vegas on Interstate 15 to find Valley of Fire State Park and its red Aztec sandstone formations set against gray and tan limestone mountains, hidden canyons and petroglyphs from 2,500 years ago. In 1934, it became Nevada’s first state park with hiking, camping and more adventures.

Susan Stapleton
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