Las Vegas, Nevada is a popular destination in the United States. People from all over the world flock to this city to drink away their sorrow, and gamble away their life savings. While the drinking, clubbing, and gambling is always fun, there’s actually a lot to explore in the area. During my last trip to Las Vegas, I got off the strip and on the road to explore the outdoor activities in the surrounding areas. We have your tips on why you should look outside during your next trip to Las Vegas.
Seven Magic Mountains
The first destination I visited was the Seven Magic Mountains. A quick 20 minute Uber ride down Interstate 15 will get you here. The seven magic mountains are structures of colored rocks stacked on top of each other. They’re about 30 feet tall and painted in bright neon colors to give you a little bit of color in the boring desert landscape. The mountains are a public art piece designed by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. I had never seen anything like this. The rocks were so tall and brightly colored. It’s by far one of my favorite large scale art pieces.
Pro Tip: The exhibit is only scheduled to stand until the end of 2018, so get there quick! Mornings are best to beat the crowds.
Red Rock Canyon
The next place I recommend exploring is Red Rock Canyon. While I personally didn’t have time to visit it, I still wanted to mention this place because it’s so much beauty in such a short drive. If the next two recommendations don’t peak your interest because of the long drive time, this is a great alternative. About 30 minutes west of downtown Las Vegas, you’ll find masses of rocks, canyons, and amazing views. It’s made up of almost 200,000 acres of the Mojave desert and provides the perfect day for hiking, camping, or wildlife viewing.
Zion National Park
Now, this park is a bit further from the city. Zion National Park is about a three hour drive from the Las Vegas Strip. You’ll want to plan ahead and make this a full day adventure. But trust me, it’s so worth it. The drive did seem long, since everything starts to look the same in the desert, but the park itself was unreal. I drove into the park in the bottom of Zion Canyon, and was surrounded by extravagant cliffs.
Zion is also home to some of the best hiking trails in the country. If you have time, try to include a hike in your day. Some of the views require extra energy and effort to see, but the payoff is excellent. My personal favorite is the narrows. You can read more about visiting Zion in a day on our previous blog post.
Death Valley National Park
Another National Park within driving distance to Las Vegas is Death Valley National Park. This park is about two hours west of Las Vegas along highway 190. I visited Death Valley with no expectations. I knew nothing about it, except that it gets hot in the summer. Luckily, my visit was during the winter time so it was a very pleasurable experience. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be Death Valley. It has such a diverse terrain. I saw sand dunes, hills, flat lands, salt pans, and so much more.
While there are a lot of great hikes here, the park is very spread out. Because of this, I recommend exploring most of it by car and getting out and walking where you feel like meandering further. Check out our previous blog post about exploring Death Valley National Park in a day.
Pro Tip: Death Valley is home to Badwater Basin, the lowest point in all of North America.
Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon National Park is a name that almost everyone has heard, regardless of where you’re from. I was so excited for this visit, but it is quite the trek. Driving will take you about four and a half hours. If you can, I’d stay in a hotel over night so you can recharge for the drive home. However, you can do it in a day if you’re determined and have someone to switch driving shifts with.
Driving from Vegas is long, but great. I went right over the Hoover Dam, which was an awesome sight to see. The park itself has views around every corner. I was in complete amazement the entire time. While Zion and Death Valley were both full of beautiful views, nothing compares to the Grand Canyon. You can read more about my experiences at the Grand Canyon on our previous blog post.
Being in the desert has it’s advantages. There’s so much to explore in the area, make sure to look outside next time you find yourself in the Las Vegas area. Let us know in the comments below if there’s anything else you’d add to our list!