Las Vegas is well known for its casinos and nightlife. However, surprising to most, Las Vegas is also a great hub for exploring some of the west’s most beautiful nature. There are several great state and national parks near Las Vegas, offering visitors a mix of glitz and glamour while also showcasing some of the best natural landscapes in the US.
With cheap flights in and out of Las Vegas, more and more travelers are using this city as the gateway for some of the best outdoor experiences in the West. Below we provide a comprehensive guide to 12 amazing state and national parks near Las Vegas, including national monument and recreation sites.
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Map of the State & National Parks Near Las Vegas
They include two state parks, six national parks, two national monuments, a National Preserve, and a National Recreation Area. To check out locations and details of each of these parks, see the map below.
State & National Parks Near Las Vegas (Within 1 Hour Drive)
01 | TULE SPRINGS FOSSIL BEDS NATIONAL MONUMENT
In 2014, President Obama established Tule Springs Fossil Beds as a national monument. This is the closest national park site to Las Vegas, less than 20 miles away from the main strip. This is the park for folks interested in paleontology as there are many large animal fossils like mammoths and the Giant North American Lion. As this is still a new national park site, there is no visitor’s center, or other facilities like other parks. Plan on visiting just for a few hours to hike and search for fossils.
If you want the National Park passport stamp, you will have to visit nearby Lake Mead National Recreation Area or the Desert National Wildlife Refuge.
How far away: 18 miles / 26 minutes
02 | RED ROCK CANYON NATIONAL CONSERVATION AREA
The closest of Las Vegas nature areas is Red Rock Canyon. This is a popular state park offering huge rock formations, sandstone hills and cliffs — a hotspot for bouldering and rock climbing. For those with limited time, take in the sights on the 13 mile loop drive. Make sure to get out some for hiking if you can! Our favorite areas include:
This is the perfect day trip from Las Vegas when the city neon has done you in. Stay in Vegas for the best options, but head to the hills to refresh your soul!
How far away: 20 miles / 30 minutes
03 | LAKE MEAD NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
Located only about 30 miles west of downtown Las Vegas, Lake Mead National Recreation Area is the go to place for many residents in the Las Vegas area. Lake Mead is a man-made lake that was developed with overflow from the Colorado River after the creation of Hoover Dam. With over 1 million acres, the lake and surrounding area offers an abundance of outdoor recreation activities for the whole family. You will find people swimming, fishing and boating (the most popular activity) at the lake while others prefer land activities like hiking.
While you are here, don’t forget to visit the Hoover Dam, a top site for visitors to Las Vegas. There are camping opportunities near to the Alan Bible Visitor Center, but you can also easily stay in Las Vegas and make a day trip here to visit both the Hoover Dam and get some nature in too.
How far away: 30 miles / 40 minutes
04 | VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK
Located about an hour northeast of the city, this is one of the most talked about (and maybe photographed?) parks near Las Vegas. It is small, but it packs a punch. Valley of Fire gets its name from the bright red sandstone formations which is the main attraction. Photographer’s delight in capturing these rocks at sunrise and sunset when they look as if they are on fire.
There are a variety of hiking trails running through this spectacular landscape offering some of the best hiking close to Las Vegas. There are also campsites here for those who just can’t get enough of seeing these red rocks on fire and can’t get back to Vegas for the night.
How far away: 50 miles / 1 hour
05 | MOJAVE NATIONAL PRESERVE
One of the best national park sites within an hour of Las Vegas is the sparse Mojave National Preserve in California. Technically only an hour from Vegas, getting to the entrance of this park in the Mojave desert is just the start of your driving adventure. This park is massive, which does not lend itself to a quick day trip, although it is doable!
Once you arrive to the park entrance, you have another 30-40 minutes of driving to reach some of the main sights. The Mojave National Preserve provides visitors the opportunity to slide down massive sand dunes, hike through canyons, hike into caves and much more. I often say this park is a great combination of Death Valley and Joshua Tree, however it really is its own unique place. For the truly adventurous, considering renting off road vehicles to explore the park off the beaten path.
For the best trip, load up with gas and plenty of water before entering the park as there are no facilities inside the park. Also plan to camp at a designated site or off the beaten path in many of the great rock formations found just off the main road to really experience all that this park offers.
How far away: 60 miles / 1 hour (to park’s entrance)
National Parks Within 3 Hours Drive of Las Vegas
As mentioned previously, due to an influx of economical flights into and out of Las Vegas, the city has become a hub for many national park road trips in the southwestern part of the United States. If you have several days to travel outside the city, there are five national park units within a three hour drive of downtown Las Vegas. While I don’t recommend ever visiting a national park on a day trip, it is certainly doable.
06 | DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
Death Valley National Park sits on the California and Nevada border roughly 2 hours west of Las Vegas. Along with the Grand Canyon, visiting Death Valley on a day trip from Las Vegas is a popular trip for many. Visitors flock here for Death Valley’s epic views as well as to witness and experience some of its varying terrain. From sand dunes to salt fields and stunning mountains, it is actually worth several days of exploration.
With two entrances on the Nevada side of the park, visitors can get a quick overview of the park in one day. Note however that the 2 hour drive gets you only to the entrance to the park. This is another park where visitors will do a lot of driving between main sights.
For those who want to experience more of the USA’s hottest, driest, and lowest national parks, you can stay inside the park at a lodge or by camping, or you can also stay in nearby Beatty, Nevada which is only a few miles outside of the park.
How far away: 125 miles / 2 hours + (to entrance and then on to main sights)
07 | ZION NATIONAL PARK
One of the best national parks near Las Vegas is Zion National Park. Only 2.5 hours from Las Vegas rests one of the best parks in the system. From hiking Zion Narrows to Angels Landing or just relaxing by the river there is so much to do here.
This is one of our favorite parks and a must if you are anywhere near here! The beautiful sandstone domes that have been shaped by wind and water create some of the most scenic land around. From catching tadpoles and lazing in the river to hiking to emerald pools there is something for everyone here. Our Zion National Park guide covers all the must see destinations in the park as well as where to stay and eat outside the park.
This park can again be seen on a quick day trip, however it is best experienced in at least 1-2 days. We recommend staying in the nearby town of Springdale which has accomodation options for all budgets, as well as some of the best pizza we have ever tasted! Our top recommendations include Zion Park Motel for a budget motel stay and Cable Mountain Lodge for a little more upmarket resort stay – both with epic views and right in the middle of the action.
How far away: 160 miles / 2.5 hours
- Zion National Park Guide
- Hiking the Narrows at Zion National Park
- Accommodation Options Near Zion National Park
08 | PIPE SPRING NATIONAL MONUMENT
Well off the beaten path even for national park fans is Pipe Spring National Monument. This area has been a stopping point for Native Americans and pioneer settlers for thousands of years. Pipe Spring is a true desert oasis, with the water from the natural spring helping people in the area survive for generations.
Pipe Spring National Monument offers visitors the opportunity to experience a Mormon settlement, including original buildings, furniture and more. If you have time on your way to the Grand Canyon or Zion National Park, this is a great education stop offering great insight into some of the past settlers of this area.
How far away: 180 miles / 2.5 hours
National Parks Near Las Vegas – Within 5 hour Drive
09 | JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK
Not often thought of as being close to Las Vegas, Joshua Tree National Park in southern California is about a 3.5 hour drive making it ideal for those looking to road trip their way to Los Angeles. While this is a much longer trip than many of the other parks listed here, it is still doable for a couple of nights. With spectacular rock formations, the ephemeral joshua tree and a variety of unique cacti, you can easily spend days exploring this vast desert landscape.
Many visitors pass through the park in one day, snapping photos and hopping out for a quick hike which is easy to do here. However, the desert truly comes alive at sunset and after dark, thus we recommend pitching a tent or looking for a glamping locations nearby to soak it all up. There is no actual lodging options within the park other than camping, so we recommend checking out options near the town of Joshua Tree or 29 Palms.
How far away: 215 miles / 3.5 hours
- Guide to Visiting Joshua Tree
- Best Hikes at Joshua Tree
- 29 Palms in Joshua Tree
- Sky’s the Limit Observatory in Joshua Tree
- Joshua Tree Excursions – Amazing Guided Hikes
- Things to do in Palm Springs
- Hiking in Palm Springs
10 | GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Arguably the most famous of all the national parks, the Grand Canyon National Park is a must visit if you are in the area. A popular activity in Las Vegas is to take a day trip via bus or helicopter from the Strip to the Grand Canyon. While these are extremely popular, we highly recommend taking more than a day to visit this iconic national park.
The Grand Canyon can be viewed from both the North Rim and the South Rim, the south entrance is the most popular. While the views on the North Rim are more spectacular it is much less developed and harder to access, which is why 90% of visitors to the Grand Canyon make their base in the south.
Even though it can be visited on a day trip, it is a LONG day that doesn’t allow you to do or see the most spectacular places in the park. If you can, stay over for a few days. As always, when possible we recommend staying inside the park. The Grand Canyon has everything from luxurious lodging like the North Rim Grand Canyon Lodge to more rustic camping. There are also a variety of chain hotels outside the park gates near the South Rim.
How far away: 275 miles / 4 hours
- How to Beat the Heat at the Grand Canyon in Summer
- 6 Not to Miss Things at the Grand Canyon
- Top Stops on Route 66 from Los Angeles to Grand Canyon
11 | BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the furthest parks on our list of national parks near Las Vegas. That said, it is also one of the most breathtaking parks on this list due to its unique topography and elevation. Visiting Bryce outside of the summer months will leave you a bit chilly and often hiking through snow, but nevertheless it is still stunning!
The park can easily be visited in one day, however coming from Las Vegas, we highly recommend staying for a night in one of the nearby towns. To really get a sense of the majesticness of the hoodoos, you gotta hike. The best hike to do this is the Figure 8 hike which joins together several different routes. During our visit some of the trails were closed due to winter snow damage, so we did only a portion of the 8 which was still amazing. This hike joins Queens Garden, Navajo Loop and Peek-a-Boo Loop.
Accomodation options include The Lodge at Bryce Canyon inside the park. For those of you (like us!) that miss out on booking far in advance, check out the Best Western Plus, Rubys Inn and a variety of other 2 star hotel options along the highway leading out of town. Most of the options are quite basic, but manageable since you won’t be in your room much anyway!
How far away: 260 miles / 4 hours
12 | GREAT BASIN NATIONAL PARK
The Great Basin is one of the largest watersheds in North America, extending from the north in Oregon to southern California and into Utah. This park gets its name from this as it lies at the heart of this vast area. The park itself is exceptionally diverse, offering rolling hills covered in sagebrush, caves, bristlecone pine forests and more. Here you can see a true dark sky at night, explore caves and look for marmots out of hibernation.
Being one of the least visited parks in the area, it does not have a ton of resources for visitors, however there are some cool options for places to stay near by including Hidden Canyon Retreat.
How far away: 291 miles / 4.5 hours
So which park will you choose on your next Las Vegas trip? Share your favorites with us below!
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