Las Vegas is known for its bright lights and bustling casinos. But did you know it is also home to some of the most breathtaking natural landscapes in the country?
There are several state and national parks in close proximity of Las Vegas that offer stunning scenery and a variety of outdoor activities.
Whether you are a nature lover or an adventure seeker, there is something for everyone in the state and national parks near Las Vegas.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Located just a 30-minute drive from the Las Vegas Strip, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a must-visit for anyone looking to escape the city’s hustle and bustle.
The park boasts dramatic red rock formations that are perfect for hiking, rock climbing, and scenic drives. You can explore the park’s many trails on foot, bike, or horseback.
The 13-mile scenic drive is also a popular option for those who want to take in the park’s stunning vistas without leaving their car. Just remember to stop and fill up with gas before starting the scenic drive because once you start, there is no turning around.
Hiking Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
The park has several hiking trails of varying lengths and difficulty levels, so there is something for hikers of all abilities. The Calico Tanks Trail is a moderate 2.5-mile hike that offers stunning views of the park’s sandstone formations and the Las Vegas Valley.’
For a more challenging hike, try the 6-mile out-and-back trail to Turtlehead Peak. The trail is steep and rocky, but the views from the top are well worth the effort.
Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire State Park is one of my favorite places to visit whenever I find myself in Las Vegas.
The state park is a 55-mile drive northeast of Las Vegas and is named after the stunning red sandstone formations that look like they are on fire when the sun hits them just right. The park covers over 40,000 acres and offers a wide range of activities, including hiking, camping, and rock climbing. The park also features a few petroglyphs, which are ancient rock carvings made by Native Americans.
Hiking Valley of Fire State Park
The park’s most popular hike is the Fire Wave Trail, a 1.5-mile round-trip hike that takes you through a landscape of multicolored sandstone formations. The trail is relatively flat and easy to navigate, making it a great option for families with children.
For a more challenging hike, try the White Domes Trail, a 1.25-mile loop that takes you through a narrow slot canyon and past towering sandstone formations.
Camping in Valley of Fire State Park
If you want to camp in the park, there are two campgrounds available, Atlatl Rock and Arch Rock. Both campgrounds have water and restrooms, and Atlatl Rock also has showers! After a hot sweaty day hiking, a cool shower is everything you’ve dreamed of.
Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so arrive early to secure your spot.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Lake Mead National Recreation Area is located just 30 minutes east of Las Vegas and is home to Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States. The park covers over 1.5 million acres and offers a wide range of activities, including boating, fishing, hiking, and camping.
Boating at Lake Mead
Since Lake Mead is in fact a lake, one of the most popular activities is boating. You can rent a boat at one of the park’s marinas or bring your own. The park’s many coves and inlets are perfect for exploring. The clear blue waters are great for swimming and water skiing.
Hiking at Lake Mead
If you prefer to stay on land, there are several hiking trails in the park that offer stunning views of the lake and surrounding landscape. The Historic Railroad Trail is a 3.7-mile out-and-back hike that follows the path of an old railroad bed and offers panoramic views of the lake and the Hoover Dam.
Camping at Lake Mead
If you want to camp in the park, there are several campgrounds available, including Boulder Beach, which has over 150 sites and is open year-round. The campsites have picnic tables and fire pits, and there are restrooms and showers available.
You can also camp at one of the park’s backcountry campsites, which offer a more secluded camping experience.
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park is located just over two hours northwest of Las Vegas and is one of the hottest and driest places in North America. Despite its harsh climate, the park is home to a stunning array of landscapes, from salt flats and sand dunes to canyons and mountains.
One of the park’s most popular attractions is Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level. The salt flats at Badwater Basin are a unique landscape that is a must-see for anyone visiting the park.
The Artist’s Drive Scenic Loop is another popular attraction, offering stunning views of the park’s colorful rock formations.
Hiking at Death Valley
The park has several hiking trails that range from easy to strenuous.
The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are a popular destination for hikers, offering a unique landscape of rolling sand dunes.
The Golden Canyon Trail is another popular hike, offering stunning views of the park’s canyons and mountains.
Camping at Death Valley
If you want to camp in the park, there are several campgrounds available, including Furnace Creek Campground, which is open year-round and has over 180 sites. The campsite has picnic tables and fire pits, and there are restrooms and showers available.
There are also backcountry campsites available for those who want a more remote camping experience.
Great Basin National Park
Great Basin National Park is located about four hours northeast of Las Vegas and offers a unique combination of desert and alpine landscapes. The park is home to Wheeler Peak, which is the second-highest peak in Nevada at 13,063 feet. The park also features several caves, including Lehman Caves, which offer guided tours.
Hiking at Great Basin
There are several hiking trails that offer stunning views of the rugged terrain. The Bristlecone Pine Trail is a popular hike that takes you through a grove of ancient bristlecone pine trees, some of which are over 4,000 years old.
The Wheeler Peak Summit Trail is a more strenuous hike that takes you to the top of Wheeler Peak and offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
Camping at Great Basin
If you want to camp in the park, there are several campgrounds available, including the Wheeler Peak Campground, which is open from May to October and has over 30 sites. The campsite has picnic tables and fire pits, and there are restrooms available.
There are also back country campsites available for those who want a more remote camping experience.
Whether you are a nature lover or an adventure seeker, the state and national parks near Las Vegas offer something for everyone. From the dramatic red rock formations of Red Rock Canyon to the salt flats of Death Valley, these parks offer stunning landscapes and a variety of outdoor activities.
If you want to hike, camp, or explore by boat, there is no shortage of things to do in these beautiful parks. So pack your bags and head out to explore the natural wonders of the Southwest.