Las Vegas is a great vacation destination in itself, but it is also the perfect jumping off point for further exploration of the West. Whether you stay in Las Vegas for a week or just use your cheap hotel room to explore further afield, here are some great destinations - all less than a tank full of gas from the neon lights of the strip.
Hoover Dam was an engineering marvel when it was first built, and it remains a wonder even today. Hoover Dam is also a popular tourist destination, and for good reason. Visitors can take in the scenic vistas from the top of the dam, but they can also explore the inner workings of this engineering marvel through a number of guided tours. If you have an interest in science, engineering, geology or history, a stop at Hoover Dam is an absolute must. Hoover Dam is an easy drive from Las Vegas, so you can soak it all in and be back at the craps table before sunset.
Speaking of sunsets, you have not lived until you have seen the sun go down over the Grand Canyon. If you have never visited the Grand Canyon before, you owe it to yourself to make the drive. The Grand Canyon is easily reachable from Las Vegas and close enough for a day trip, but you might want to book a room at one of the lodges and spend at least one night. The Grand Canyon is truly a natural wonder, and a wonderful place to explore the beauty of nature. Whether you head out on a scenic hike or just take it all in from the rim, the Grand Canyon is one experience you will not soon forget.
Valley of Fire
You do not have to go all the way to Utah to see stunning red rock formations. In fact, you do not even need to leave the state of Nevada. Northeastern Nevada is home to the famous Valley of Fire, a must-see state park filled with beautiful red rock and other natural formations. The park is beautiful at all times of day, but it is particularly stunning at sunrise and sunset, when the sun peaks over the red rocks to create mind-blowing vistas. The Valley of Fire is often used as a filming location for television commercials and movies, so you might even bump into a few stars
Death Valley may be one of the most forbidding places on earth, but is also one of the most beautiful? If you are heading out from Las Vegas, you are less than three hours away from Furnace Creek, the major intersection in the Death Valley area. Furnace Creek is far from forbidding, offering everything from world-class dining at the Furnace Creek Inn to great shopping throughout the region. If you want to explore further, you can pick up a map and check out sites like the Devil's Golf Course, Zabriskie Point, Stovepipe Wells and 20-Mule Team Canyon. You can also say you have been to the lowest point in North America when you visit the Badwater in Death Valley.
Lake Mead may be manmade, but it still has a great deal of natural beauty. This huge expanse of water was created when Hoover Dam was built, and it offers endless recreational opportunities. Honeymooners traveling from Las Vegas can enjoy a relaxing and romantic boat ride around the lake, while outdoors enthusiasts can spend their time fishing, biking or hiking around the water. Lake Mead is also home to natural warm springs, so you can relax and unwind after a tough day at the gaming tables. Visitors can also rent canoes, kayaks and boats throughout the Lake Mead area or just spend their time relaxing and reading on the stunning beach. Lake Mead lies within easy driving distance of Las Vegas, and it is well worth a visit the next time you are in town.
Zion National Park
While Zion National Park is a bit further from Las Vegas than the destinations covered so far, it is well worth the drive. You may want to stay overnight to see more of the park, but if you are pressed for time you should be able to get there, enjoy the surroundings and make it back to Vegas in about 10 hours. If you are going to drive that far, however, you might want to book at room at one of the many lodges and hotels in and around the park.
While Zion National Park is a bit further from Las Vegas than the destinations covered so far, it is well worth the drive. You may want to stay overnight to see more of the park, but if you are pressed for time you should be able to get there, enjoy the surroundings and make it back to Vegas in about 10 hours
An overnight trip gives you time to explore the park more fully - on one of the many hiking trails, from horseback or on a jeep tour. Zion National Park is famous for its natural rock formations, and you will encounter a new one at every turn. A hike those magnificent rock formations is a must for any nature lover.
If you think the entire Las Vegas region is flat and boring, a trip to Mount Charleston is sure to change your mind. This stunning mountain rises some 12,000 feet into the air, enough to thrill any mountain enthusiast. You can ski in the winter and hike in the summer - Mount Charleston is a great road trip any time of year. Located within easy driving distance of Las Vegas, Mount Charleston offers stunning vistas, and the Mount Charleston Lodge offers great food and drinks as well.
Red Rock Canyon
Red Rock Canyon may be the closest natural wonder to the city, located just 40 minutes from the famous Las Vegas Strip. As the name implies, Red Rock Canyon is known for its stunning red rock formations, and you can enjoy a day spent hiking and enjoying the beauty of nature. Red Rock Canyon is easy and fast to get to, so you can enjoy a day at the park and still make it back to Vegas by nightfall.