I’m not saying I’m an expert on Las Vegas, but I’m not saying I’m not an expert on Las Vegas either. Contrary to that compelling and not-confusing-at-all sentence, I am a paid writer. Shocking, I know.
But for real, I’ve been to Las Vegas ten freakin’ times and during those times, we’ve rented a car and hit the road! It’s hard to believe that anything is found in the vast desert outside of Las Vegas. Many travelers to Vegas don’t bother leaving the city because there really is so much to do there, even if you stay just on the Strip your entire trip.
Staying in Las Vegas is not a bad thing, but if you’re a nature lover like me, getting out of the city and exploring the desert is well worth the hour(s) on the road. Also since not many people choose to rent a car from Vegas, car rentals are fairly affordable (queue applause from all my budget-friendly travelers!).
These are my top favorite road trips from Las Vegas – like these are my must-dos, my number #1s. I mean there are five road trips here, but they all are number 1 in my heart. Actually I’ve only done four of these trips. Number five is on my bucket list. I mean we all need a bucket-list must-do wouldn’t you agree?
Without further rambling, here’s my list of the top five must-do road trips from Las Vegas.
1. Hoover Dam / Lake Mead / Arizona Hot Spring
This list kicks off with the shortest road trip. If you only have one day to dedicate to the road, make this your road trip.
- The Hoover Dam is only a 45-minute drive outside of the city. This massive dam is an engineering marvel, and one of the top roadside attractions found outside of the city.
- With Lake Mead and Arizona Hot Spring also close by, you might as well visit those too. I’ve only camped at Lake Mead. However I know there are boating and swimming opportunities here as well.
- When it comes to Arizona Hot Spring, do consider the fact that this hot spring is only accessible by a six-mile round trip hike. Also the hot spring is closed during the summer because of the excessive desert heat. We visited Arizona Hot Spring in December and hiked early in the morning, both a great time of year and time of day to visit this slot canyon hot spring.
2. Death Valley National Park
Death Valley gets a bad rep because of its barren landscape and uncontrollable heat during the summer. However, Death Valley National Park has a lot to offer! We actually visited Death Valley during the winter, which I highly recommend if you’d like to avoid the 120-degree Fahrenheit weather during the summer months.
Here are my top recommendations for Death Valley:
- Badwater Basin – A top place to visit in Death Valley is Badwater Basin, also known as the lowest point in the United States at 282 feet below sea level. The basin is a salt flat so you won’t want to miss taking some pictures here.
- Artist’s Palette – Take the drive through Artists Palette, especially if you are a Star Wars fan! The landscape here is remarkable, as its colorful landscape is like no other.
- Titus Canyon – If you rented a 4WD or high clearance vehicle, I highly recommend this 4×4 road.
3. Zion National Park
We spent the night driving to Zion National Park to reach the park by sunrise, which was exhausting but honestly a good idea. A bus ride is required to reach Zion’s popular trailheads, so we were able to catch the first bus of the day, which was actually fairly full. We visited Zion in August, so it was quite hot but the views were well worth dealing with the heat.
- The Narrows – We hiked through The Narrows first, which was basically walking through a stream. It’s a great way to cool off but you will get wet. I woudn’t necessarily recommend bringing your best camera gear here unless it’s waterproof. You can walk a while through The Narrows, but we decided to turn back so we could explore more of the park.
- Angels Landing – You might have seen views of this trail before because it is only found on every Instagrammer’s feed. The hike up to Angels Landing is fairly strenuous and does require some fancy footwork to reach the top, especially when it’s packed full of people. However the view can’t be beat!
4. Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is famous because of JOSHUA TREES! Joshua Trees are so stinkin’ beautiful. I get all kind of emotional just thinkin’ about them. It takes them a whole year to grow two to three inches. They sure bring the desert to life!
Now we actually didn’t enter Joshua Tree National Park, but we still enjoyed Joshua trees in the area. With that being said, you do not actually need to go all the way to Joshua Tree to enjoy the Joshua trees, as you’ll start seeing them before you exit Nevada.
- Mojave National Preserve – We enjoyed a scenic drive through the preserve. Joshua Trees as far as the eye could see!
- Palm Springs – If you’re looking for a place to stay near the park, I recommend Palm Springs. It’s a cool desert town where you can enjoy some great nightlife options as well as a soak in Desert Hot Springs. I’ve only spent the day here, but I’d love to go back for a weekend trip.
5. Grand Canyon National Park
Travel Time from Las Vegas: 4 hours
The final must-do road trip is one that still remains on my bucket. Although I’ve been all over the world, I’ve never been to the freakin’ Grand Canyon y’all! Will someone please do this road trip from Vegas for me? In my honor? PLEASE?!
I’ll get out to this final must-do road trip one of these days. With as many times as I’ve been to Las Vegas in the past, there is no doubt that there is more Las Vegas trips in my future. Since I’ve never been here, I can’t speak on what to do or what to see in Grand Canyon National Park.
Five is just a happy and easy number but to be honest here, there are so many other road trips to consider besides these five. So here are three honorable mentions!
- Horseshoe Bend in Glen Canyon National Recreational Area
- Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
- Los Angeles / Huntington Beach
Have you hit the road from Las Vegas? Tell me where you’ve traveled to from Vegas in the comments below!
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