Top 10 State & National Parks Near Las Vegas

July 24, 2020

by Rina Bernardo

Man atop the Grand Canyon

You’re all set for your dream vacation to Italy, your airline ticket has been purchased as well as your booking for the hotel. All you need to do is to find a car rental company that suits your needs since you prefer having your own vehicle instead of commuting. However, before you secure your rental car, make sure that you have a valid license to drive around in Italy. Your $20 can get you as far as having legal access to drive a vehicle in more than 170 countries with an international driver’s license. 

If you plan to drive a vehicle when you’re traveling abroad, securing a driver’s license ahead is a good idea to avoid last-minute problems. On another note, if you don’t plan on renting a car, having an IDP also gives you an additional measure of security should you encounter unexpected circumstances.

Read further to find out how to get your own AAA International License and where to get International Driver’s License so you can drive freely along the streets of Amalfi or across the rolling hills of Tuscany.  

Aside from bustling casinos and eclectic shops along the Las Vegas Strip, there are other places you can visit in the Entertainment Capital of the World. While many tourists flock to Nevada for its nightlife, there are other sights and places to visit near Las Vegas. If you need a different sight, look no further and head to some of the national parks near Las Vegas. Most of these are within a driving distance from your hotel or Airbnb in Las Vegas, so it’s the perfe ct trip if you want to take a break from the neon lights of Nevada.   

 

State and National Parks Near Las Vegas

 

 

1. Red Rock National Conservation Area

 

Red Rock National Conservation Area

© Photo by AnnicaB from Pixabay

Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the Red Rock National Conservation Area boasts sandstone cliffs, plunging valleys, and rust-colored canyons. Due to its distance to Las Vegas, this is one of the more popular getaways from the city. Red Rock attracts over two million visitors every year. One may enjoy a variety of activities at Red Rock, including rock climbing, biking, and camping. Red Rock is also popularly known for its Scenic Drive, a 13-mile trail that gives you an overview of the area’s picturesque sights and viewpoints. 

One of the most popular activities at Red Rock is hiking, with over 20 trails varying in difficulty and distance. Beginners can try the Moenkopi Loop, a two-mile easy trail where one can find Triassic fossils and desert flora. For those looking for a challenge, the Grand Circle Adventure trail offers beautiful wildflowers and breathtaking views of Calico Hills. Camping is allowed, but visitors should reserve up to six months in advance but not less than 48 hours of the arrival date. 

Entrance Fee: 5 to 15 USD per vehicle
Travel Time From Las Vegas: 30 minutes
Tourist Tip: Bring lots of water as the temperature at Red Rock may exceed 41 °C during summer. Tourists are also advised against traveling alone, especially when hiking.
Best Time to Visit: March to May, September to November  

 

2. Lake Mead National Recreation Area

 

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

© Photo by Ricardo Frantz from Unsplash

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is one of the US’ most visited parks, offering different activities for boaters, swimmers, and any other tourist. Lake Mead may be man-made, but it is one of the largest water reservoirs in North America. It also supplies clean water for millions of its residents. The park is also one of the most accessible national parks near Las Vegas, with travel time being just 40 minutes. 

Spanning almost 1.5 million acres of land area, there are many things you can do at one of the popular Nevada national parks. You can cruise along the pristine waters of Lake Mead or marvel at the towering rocks in various shades of orange. Photography enthusiasts can go on photo walks and snap pictures of the wildlife and the postcard-perfect scenery before them. As one of the largest freshwater lakes, one can also go scuba diving or fishing at Lake Mead. 

Entrance Fee: 15 to 25 USD (depending on vehicle type). An annual pass costs about 45 USD.
Travel Time From Las Vegas: 40 minutes
Tourist Tip: Camping and houseboat rentals are available all-year-round for those who want to stay overnight.
Best Time to Visit: March to April  

 

3. Death Valley National Park

 

Death Valley National Park

© Photo by Pexels from Pixabay

Stretching across the California-Nevada border is Death Valley National Park, the largest national par k in America as well as the hottest and driest. The park also features diverse geological formations from the Cenozoic, Mesozoic, Paleozoic, and Proterozoic Era. Its 3.3 million acres of land includes badlands, canyons, and salt flats that look straight out of a sci-fi film.

Like other Nevada state parks, hiking, biking, and camping are some of the activities one can do. However, Death Valley National Park has a unique landscape and fascinating nighttime views. See the Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America, or get the best view of Death Valley atop Dante’s View. For astronomy enthusiasts, you may get a chance to see the dazzling Milky Way at the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes on a cloudless night. 

Entrance Fee: 15 to 30 USD (depending on vehicle type). An annual pass costs about 55 USD.
Travel Time From Las Vegas: 2 hours
Tourist Tip: Stargazing is recommended especially on summer nights. Make sure to bring binoculars, a camera, and a telescope to get the best view of the stars.
Best Time to Visit: March to May 

 

4. Valley of Fire State Park

 

Valley of Fire State Park

© Photo by dariasophia from Pixabay

50 miles away from Las Vegas, Nevada, the Valley of Fire is the nearest national park with gorgeous sandstone formations. The Valley is named after the formations that are seemingly on fire when reflected by the sun rays and was designated as a U.S. National Natural Landmark in 1968. The Valley of Fire State Park is also a popular set for automobile commercials as well as films such as Total Recall and Star Trek Generations.

Tourists can enjoy a change of scenery with the Valley of Fire’s petroglyphs and sandstone formations in various shades of red, orange, and pink. Driving along the Mouse’s Tank Road provides an expansive view of the rocks–even without stepping out of your vehicle. For an up-close view of these sun-kissed formations, set off on an exciting hike. The most popular (and one of the easiest) trail, the Fire Wave, takes you through most of the photogenic sports, including the towering Gibraltar Rock and picturesque taffy-like formations. Is Valley of Fire worth seeing? With its otherworldly appearance, it certainly is worth your drive from Las Vegas. 

Entrance Fee: 10 USD per vehicle
Travel Time From Las Vegas: 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes
Tourist Tip: WiFi is available at the Valley of Fire State Park. Pricing plans start from 3 USD for one hour for a single device.
Best Time to Visit: October to April  

 

5. Spring Mountain Ranch State Park

 

Spring Mountain Ranch State Park

© Photo by Nikola Knezevic from Unsplash

Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is one of the national parks ne ar Las Vegas within the Red Rock National Conservation Area. Located 2,000 feet higher in elevation than Las Vegas, Spring Mountain Ranch is home to diverse species of plants and animals. Plants commonly found in deserts and woodlands can be seen, and during spring, an abundance of colorful wildflowers are in bloom. On the other hand, visitors can find a variety of lizards, squirrels, coyotes, and badgers, but several of them are nocturnal.

Tourists can take a trip to Spring Mountain Ranch to escape the summer heat of Nevada given its high elevation. One can also enjoy a relaxing picnic along its main picnic grounds while enjoying the tranquil environment. There are also different hiking trails ranging from 0.3 to 1.4 miles for those who want to explore the area. In summer, one must not miss the Super Summer Theatre, a series of theater plays and musicals presented through a local nonprofit organization. For a breath of fresh air during the heat of summer, Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is worth the distance to Las Vegas. 

Entrance Fee: 2 to 10 USD (depending on vehicle type)
Travel Time From Las Vegas: 30 minutes
Tourist Tip: Pets are allowed in the park, but must be kept in a leash, not more than six feet.
Best Time to Visit: March to April  

 

6. Zion National Park

 

Zion National Park

© Photo by egorshitikov from Pixabay

Within a driving distance from Las Vegas to Utah is Zion National Park, a 229-square mile park filled with canyons, monoliths, rivers, and natural arches. While it may be relatively small as compared to its other counterparts, visitors can explore more areas in a short amount of time. As Utah’s first national park, Zion National Park is most known for the Zion Canyon, a narrow gorge that can be seen up-close on a hike. In addition to that, the park also has picturesque rock formations in hues of red, cream, and pink.

From late March to early November, guided horseback riding trips are available to explore the park. There are also various hiking trails ranging from 30 minutes to 8 hours that offer the best views of Zion National Park. For those who prefer a more relaxing activity, you can go on an hour-long sightseeing drive past the Virgin River and across some of the park’s notable landmarks. Overnight lodging and camping are also available for travelers who wish to make the most out of their stay in Utah. 

Entrance Fee: 35 USD per vehicle
Travel Time From Las Vegas: 3 hours
Tourist Tip: Take advantage of the free shuttle bus to get around Zion National Park since there are areas where private vehicles are not allowed.
Best Time to Visit: May to November  

 

7. Mojave National Preserve

 

Mojave National Preserve

© Photo by skeeze from Pixabay

In between Las Vegas and Los Angeles is Mojave National Preserve, a stunning change of scenery from the fast-paced city life of California and Nevada. At over a million acres, it is the third-largest national park in the U.S. Find rose-colored dunes, soaring mountains, carpets of pastel-colored wildflowers as you explore the park and be one with nature.

Travelers looking for one-on-one time with Mother Nature’s creations can find peace and quiet at Mojave National Preserve. The preserve is also one of the national parks near Las Vegas where one can catch unparalleled views of the sunrise and sunset at the Kelso Dunes, a challenging but very rewarding hike. Discover the abundant wildlife and get a chance to see coyotes, bats, and black-tailed jackrabbits wandering across the vast lands.  

Entrance Fee: No entrance fee needed
Travel Time From Las Vegas: 1 hour
Tourist Tip: To avoid heatstroke, a minimum of one gallon of water per person is recommended while hikers are recommended to bring two gallons of water.
Best Time to Visit: November to April  

 

8. Joshua Tree National Park

 

Joshua Tree National Park

© Photo by nightowl from Pixabay

Joshua Tree National Park is named after the abundance of Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia), native to the Mojave Desert. Spanning almost 800,000 acres, the park includes two distinct desert ecosystems, namely the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert. The park is also home to more than 250 bird species, making it one of the must-visit places to visit near Las Vegas for bird watching enthusiasts traveling to and from Nevada. On the other hand, Joshua Tree National Park has over 750 plant species, with more than half of it being annual plants like spring wildflowers. 

While the Joshua trees are the most popular attractions of the park, there are plenty of other things one can do at Joshua Tree National Park. The night sky at the park is a favorite among astronomy fans as it is free from any light pollution from its neighboring metropolitan cities. Several hiking trails can also be accessed from the camping grounds, with easy trails like the Hidden Valley Trail and more challenging ones like the Lost Palms Oasis Trail. For travelers who want a challenge, they can try rock climbing and bouldering. 

Entrance Fee: 15 to 30 USD (depending on vehicle type)
Travel Time From Las Vegas: 3 hours
Tourist Tip: It’s highly recommended to bring your food since there is no food service available in the park. There may also be certain areas in the park where cell reception is weak.
Best Time to Visit: March to May, October to November

 

9. Grand Canyon National Park

 

Grand Canyon National Park

© Photo by Jad Limcaco from Unsplash

Undoubtedly the most infamous natural attraction in the U.S. is Grand Canyon National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site visited by millions every year. As one of the best natural wonders of America, Grand Canyon prides itself on its colorful rocks dating back to the Precambrian times and awe-inspiring views that made it a postcard staple for centuries. It is also one of the national parks near Las Vegas, with a driving distance of 4 hours, a trip that is surely worth every penny. 

There are plenty of things one can do at the Grand Canyon, aside from taking photos of the scenery. Go on a relaxing walk along the South Rim Trail and pass by some of the canyon’s most iconic viewpoints or hike along the Bright Angel Trail to get a more up-close look at the canyons. Thrillseekers can go whitewater rafting and feel the adrenaline rush as they zip past challenging rapids. Lastly, get the best views of the Grand Canyon as you watch the sunrise, a one-of-a-kind experience that is sure to make your holiday unforgettable. Learn how to get from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon

Entrance Fee: 30 to 35 USD (depending on vehicle type). An annual pass costs about 70 USD.
Travel Time From Las Vegas: 4 hours
Tourist Tip: Stop by the visitor center and consult with park rangers in creating an itinerary. They can recommend what trails to hike depending on your fitness level.
Best Time to Visit: March to May  

 

10. Arches National Park

 

Arches National Park

© Photo by Tevin Trinh from Unsplash

Despite the travel time from Las Vegas to Utah, Arches National Park is a must-visit when you’re in Nevada. The national park is adjacent to the Colorado River and is scattered with more than 2,000 natural stone arches, with the Delicate Arch being the most well-known. From April to May, don’t miss the chance to see desert wildflowers peppered across the ground. 

Whether you’re an avid hiker or a curious tourist, there is something in store for you at Arches National Park. You can go on a scenic drive and see the park highlights within the comfort of your car or go camping at the Devils Garden campground and watch the stars. But perhaps the most popular activity in the park is hiking. Not only you’ll be greeted with the most majestic views, but the famous stone arches are also something you wouldn’t want to miss. 

See the Delicate Arch, which has become an icon of Utah, or follow a short trail that leads to the Balanced Rock. If you have time, explore the Landscape Arch. It’s the longest arch in the national park and it’s featured in many films. Believe it or not, they’re way stunning in real-life than on TV. While the driving distance may reach up to 8 hours, a trip from Las Vegas to Arches National Park is something you shouldn’t miss. 

Entrance Fee: 15 to 30 USD (depending on vehicle type)
Travel Time From Las Vegas: 8 hours
Tourist Tip: For the best photos of the Delicate Arch, make sure to wait until sunset where the light casts the arch in a fiery glow.
Best Time to Visit: April to May and September to October  

Gear up and Travel Away Now! 

From soaring canyons to picturesque arches and tranquil ranches, there are many national parks near Las Vegas that you can visit. Las Vegas also has different natural wonders and hidden gems you can visit if you want a change of scenery. Make the most out of your stay in Nevada and plan a trip to one of the national parks and other places to visit near Las Vegas!  

Mojave National Preserve

© Photo by skeeze from Pixabay

In between Las Vegas and Los Angeles is Mojave National Preserve, a stunning change of scenery from the fast-paced city life of California and Nevada. At over a million acres, it is the third-largest national park in the U.S. Find rose-colored dunes, soaring mountains, carpets of pastel-colored wildflowers as you explore the park and be one with nature.

Travelers looking for one-on-one time with Mother Nature’s creations can find peace and quiet at Mojave National Preserve. The preserve is also one of the national parks near Las Vegas where one can catch unparalleled views of the sunrise and sunset at the Kelso Dunes, a challenging but very rewarding hike. Discover the abundant wildlife and get a chance to see coyotes, bats, and black-tailed jackrabbits wandering across the vast lands.  

Entrance Fee: No entrance fee needed
Travel Time From Las Vegas: 1 hour
Tourist Tip: To avoid heatstroke, a minimum of one gallon of water per person is recommended while hikers are recommended to bring two gallons of water.
Best Time to Visit: November to April  

 

8. Joshua Tree National Park

 

Joshua Tree National Park

© Photo by nightowl from Pixabay

Joshua Tree National Park is named after the abundance of Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia), native to the Mojave Desert. Spanning almost 800,000 acres, the park includes two distinct desert ecosystems, namely the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert. The park is also home to more than 250 bird species, making it one of the must-visit places to visit near Las Vegas for bird watching enthusiasts traveling to and from Nevada. On the other hand, Joshua Tree National Park has over 750 plant species, with more than half of it being annual plants like spring wildflowers. 

While the Joshua trees are the most popular attractions of the park, there are plenty of other things one can do at Joshua Tree National Park. The night sky at the park is a favorite among astronomy fans as it is free from any light pollution from its neighboring metropolitan cities. Several hiking trails can also be accessed from the camping grounds, with easy trails like the Hidden Valley Trail and more challenging ones like the Lost Palms Oasis Trail. For travelers who want a challenge, they can try rock climbing and bouldering. 

Entrance Fee: 15 to 30 USD (depending on vehicle type)
Travel Time From Las Vegas: 3 hours
Tourist Tip: It’s highly recommended to bring your food since there is no food service available in the park. There may also be certain areas in the park where cell reception is weak.
Best Time to Visit: March to May, October to November

 

9. Grand Canyon National Park

 

Grand Canyon National Park

© Photo by Jad Limcaco from Unsplash

Undoubtedly the most infamous natural attraction in the U.S. is Grand Canyon National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site visited by millions every year. As one of the best natural wonders of America, Grand Canyon prides itself on its colorful rocks dating back to the Precambrian times and awe-inspiring views that made it a postcard staple for centuries. It is also one of the national parks near Las Vegas, with a driving distance of 4 hours, a trip that is surely worth every penny. 

There are plenty of things one can do at the Grand Canyon, aside from taking photos of the scenery. Go on a relaxing walk along the South Rim Trail and pass by some of the canyon’s most iconic viewpoints or hike along the Bright Angel Trail to get a more up-close look at the canyons. Thrillseekers can go whitewater rafting and feel the adrenaline rush as they zip past challenging rapids. Lastly, get the best views of the Grand Canyon as you watch the sunrise, a one-of-a-kind experience that is sure to make your holiday unforgettable. Learn how to get from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon

Entrance Fee: 30 to 35 USD (depending on vehicle type). An annual pass costs about 70 USD.
Travel Time From Las Vegas: 4 hours
Tourist Tip: Stop by the visitor center and consult with park rangers in creating an itinerary. They can recommend what trails to hike depending on your fitness level.
Best Time to Visit: March to May  

 

10. Arches National Park

 

Arches National Park

© Photo by Tevin Trinh from Unsplash

Despite the travel time from Las Vegas to Utah, Arches National Park is a must-visit when you’re in Nevada. The national park is adjacent to the Colorado River and is scattered with more than 2,000 natural stone arches, with the Delicate Arch being the most well-known. From April to May, don’t miss the chance to see desert wildflowers peppered across the ground. 

Whether you’re an avid hiker or a curious tourist, there is something in store for you at Arches National Park. You can go on a scenic drive and see the park highlights within the comfort of your car or go camping at the Devils Garden campground and watch the stars. But perhaps the most popular activity in the park is hiking. Not only you’ll be greeted with the most majestic views, but the famous stone arches are also something you wouldn’t want to miss. 

See the Delicate Arch, which has become an icon of Utah, or follow a short trail that leads to the Balanced Rock. If you have time, explore the Landscape Arch. It’s the longest arch in the national park and it’s featured in many films. Believe it or not, they’re way stunning in real-life than on TV. While the driving distance may reach up to 8 hours, a trip from Las Vegas to Arches National Park is something you shouldn’t miss. 

Entrance Fee: 15 to 30 USD (depending on vehicle type)
Travel Time From Las Vegas: 8 hours
Tourist Tip: For the best photos of the Delicate Arch, make sure to wait until sunset where the light casts the arch in a fiery glow.
Best Time to Visit: April to May and September to October  

Gear up and Travel Away Now! 

From soaring canyons to picturesque arches and tranquil ranches, there are many national parks near Las Vegas that you can visit. Las Vegas also has different natural wonders and hidden gems you can visit if you want a change of scenery. Make the most out of your stay in Nevada and plan a trip to one of the national parks and other places to visit near Las Vegas!