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Welcome to the Entertainment Capital of the World, Las Vegas. This city packs a ton of potential activity into one spot.
This is reflected by Las Vegas’ 34 golf courses, and over 300 weddings taking place daily (yes, really!).
The people who live here know it’s a haven for foodies, with venues for every taste. There is little worry of an event being rained out since the region gets a “whopping” 4-inches of rain a year.
With the millions of lights everywhere (15,000 miles of neon), Las Vegas is the brightest spot on earth. This is not a place to go star gazing unless you’re looking for famous people!
Neat fact, the Las Vegas Strip isn’t even within the city limits proper. Instead it comes under the jurisdiction of Clark County. Casinos have operated here since 1931! Now the number of gambling establishments is coming up on 2,000, and the number of hotel rooms is over 150,000.
With some 40 million tourists annually, it’s no wonder some locals look for retreats outside the city for a time. One of the popular road trips focuses on the richness of the South West.
7 Day Road Trip from Las Vegas
Because of the heat, you are better off traveling in fall. The crowds lessen, so parking becomes easier. Traffic doesn’t play a heavy role in your plans either.
Just be aware that when you hit canyon-land, the temperature drops dramatically by night. Bring a warm jacket! Also, if you’re moseying along by RV, some places close by this season, so call ahead and get reservations where possible.
Valley of Fire
If you want to kick off your road trip right away, you can travel just an hour in your car to the Valley of Fire. Here you’ll have plenty of photo ops, including Art Rock, a natural arch formed by sand.
Atlatl rock features petroglyphs, Rainbow Vista where the road reaches a high point for amazing views, and the Seven Sisters-rocks looking like a South West version of Stonehenge.
Those interested in hiking, you have various trails for consideration. Beginning hikers will enjoy the easy 1-hour walk called the Fire Wave Hike. It’s a well marked trail, wholly exposed to the sun (bring water).
The Mouse’s Tank Hike is also easy-going, lasting about 45 minutes over flat trails. And if you park on the road at Valley of Fire, it’s only a short 1/3 mile walk to Elephant Rock.
There is camping in the park, and hotels in the town of Springdale, nearby.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is 2.5 hour by car from Las Vegas. It is a MAJOR tourist attraction (some 4+ million a year). The biggest allure here is the topography ranging from sandstone canyons to cliffs, rivers, and huge rock towers.
But you don’t have to just “sight see” here. You can go hiking, biking, backpack, and take river trips too.
If you like long hikes, go to Zion Wilderness. This region has straight hikes (you go in and out the same way). Should you be adventuring with a group, the trails are limited to 12 people.
Safety tip: From July – September there’s increased lightning coupled with flash floods. Just stay on the trail, away from cliffs and carefully heed warning signs.
By the way, if you have time you can drive just 10 minutes and see Arches National Park. The park has over 2,000 natural arches. For a slight twist from Zion, you can go horseback riding here, capture some incredible photographs, and stargaze by night thanks to it being one of the darkest skies in the US.
Antelope Canyon Upper Route
Antelope Canyon is about a four hour road trip from Las Vegas. This feature was formed by water wearing away rock. It is a slot canyon, meaning it’s narrow and deep. The walls have hollows and curves that look as if they were made by a master sculptor.
You need to book a tour here, but it’s well worth it (the noon-time slot provides stunning views). You don’t have to do any climbing. From March until early October glorious beams of sunlight radiate downward.
You also have the option of Lower Antelope Canyon, commonly referred to as The Corkscrew in reference to spiral rock arches. Light beams do not occur here as readily, and it is a more difficult hike even wit metal stairways. On the upside? Less tourists.
What would a Los Vegas road trip southward be without stopping at the Grand Canyon? There are several rims you can consider. Those looking to escape the heat of Las Vegas can go to the North Rim reaching 8,000 feet over sea level.
The Western Region (only 4,000 elevation) is moderate as well. The Canyon covers a lot of miles, so what might you want to see?
The beginning of the Grand Canyon National Park has the East Horseshoe Bend just 7 miles in. The view is a little smaller, more intimate against the Colorado River. To the West, a MUST SEE is the Grand Canyon Skywalk.
If you want a bird’s eye view, this 10-foot wide bridge takes you 70 feet out over the Grand Canyon rim. From here you can see a full 4,000 feed to the ground. The changing colors explode at sunrise and sunset.
You can also enjoy a meal here, tour a Native village, watch performances and see intricate Native art.
Moving to the South Rim, this is the most popular area of the Grand Canyon. You can bike along the 7-mile trek of Hermit Road. It’s a great family experience but long. For those with young children, look to Grand Canyon Village shuttles.
If you’d like a walk, the South Rim trail is flat, with many parts paved. If you get tired, you can hop the shuttle any time it goes by! Alternatively hike below the rim for one of the most incredible experiences.
For those with stamina the Bright Angel trail is very popular spanning nearly 10 miles, going down 4,380 feet.
3-Day Roadtrip from Las Vegas:
Start your three-day road trip in Mount Charleston just one hour outside the city. Those within Las Vegas can see the mountains where the sun sets daily. This is a perfect venue for R&R. A little camping, horseback riding and scenic pine and aspen trees.
You can come here any time of the year for different experiences. Everything from snow and fall leaves to spring flowers are awaiting your viewing pleasure.
From there head over to the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard if it’s winter. You’re assured of about 200” of snow in this area (if you land here in summer – can anyone say picnic?). In either case there is a cozy lodge and restaurant on site.
You can return on the road back toward Las Vegas and skip the city, going about 3.5 hours beyond it. There you will find an off-the-beaten track on this journey is Topock AZ.
There is a fantastic marina restaurant here with live music, and a Pirate-themed resort. There is some argument about Topock’s Priate principles since the Pirate cove is across the river in CA. You can enjoy cabins, beaches, and river barbecues here.
Sedona is a 4.5 hour dive from Las Vegas. It’s represents a perfect change of pace with intense green pines set against red buttes. For those of a spiritual nature, this is a center for mysticism, being an energy vortex.
Enjoy Native American cultural art and night stargazing tours. Stay at a hotel, in a cabin, or a bed-n-breakfast each of which has a different personality, one of which you’re sure to enjoy. Take a helicopter tour, seek out UFOs, hit the railroad, or take to the sky in a balloon.
1-Day Road Trips from Las Vegas
Laughlin NV, just 90 miles away by car, is a “mini me” to Las Vegas. It has many of the same types of attractions with a little less chaos. Some folk visit here once a year, enjoyin gthe overall character of the town.
Popular activities include dinner cruises, riding the river taxi, live entertainment, and strolling the river walk. It’s a great bang for your buck, and during winter months the temperatures sit at a comfortable average of 70 degrees.
Just over an hour road trip outside of Vegas you’ll find Pahrump, the town offers some of the best ambiance Southern Nevada has to offer. Some annual events are infamous including the Balloon and Chili Festivals in March, and the Fall Festival in September.
Year round you can race cars, try a lake jetpack, and visit a winery for a tasting tour. Those in a slightly naughty moon can go to a brothel (Sheri’s Ranch), which is the closest one to Las Vegas available.
Lake Havasu, AZ
Lake Havasu is a two and a half mile road trip from Vegas. You’ll find 400 miles of coastline, which is perfect since this area experiences 300 days of sunshine. From here you can take side tours (30 minutes) to Buckskin Mountain State Park and (15 minutes) Cattail Cove State Park .
Home to 47 campsights and special events, you can enjoy the Mohave Sunset Trail winding over 1.75 miles. On your way you’ll find scaled down historic lighthouses from around the US. You can also go international with a restoration of the London Bridge, connecting to the mainland.
About three hours from Las Vegas you’ll find a flash from the past in Oatman. The town lies on a historic park of Route 66. When you enter you see donkeys roaming around, and horse drawn-carriages (wild west style). This mining town has plenty of history, and apparently plenty of ghosts!
Two prospectors struck gold here in 1915, a find that eventually amounted to 10 million dollars. Clark Gable visited here for his honeymoon. The entire town has a hint of humor and a bawdy tenor, complete with a saloon.
This is a lazy-going attraction, great for the whole family. Give yourself several hours here, but if you start early you can still get home at a decent hour.
Ok, true confession, you CAN go to Death Valley for a one day road trip, but don’t be surprised if you want to tsay longer. This is such a unique environment. Badwater Basin is the lowest elevation in the US (282 below sea level). Here you can see mirages made by the heat waves at the high point of the day.
Tip you can get here through Pahrump if you want to make a weekend of it.
Death Valley sets record heats reaching over 130 degrees. It is by far the hottest and dryest point in Northern America. Even so, if you visit Jubilee Pass, you can see wildflowers starting in February. The Tatooine in Star Wars was filmed here.
For great views seek out Zabriskie Point or Dante’s Peak. Sunrise and sunset will leave you in awe. If you’re looking for some muse go to Artist’s Drive, spanning 9 miles. The sedimentary and volcanic formations exhibit colors you would not expect including pink, yellow, and green.
Late afternoon is the time to experience Artist’s Drive, a nine-mile, one-way road that leads through some of Death Valley’s most vibrantly hued sedimentary and volcanic formations. The highlight is Artist’s Palette, where the rock is improbably colored with gorgeous yellows, pinks, and greens,
If you are on I-90 early in the morning, you can glimpse coyotes an kit foxes. If you look closely at the sand, it reveals the comings and goings of other creatures as well.
Finish your visit at Ubehebe Crater. The volcanic crater is 600 feet deep and about a half mile across. It was formed by gas and steam explosions from rising magma. Cinders remain all over the area, some 150 feet thick near the rim. To see it at different angles walk around the rim, which is only 1.5 miles round-trip during which you can see smaller craters.
I'm the owner of Beast Auto. I live in Phoenix, Arizona. I love anything automotive related, and taking road trips all across my beautiful state.