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Get Inspired with these Las Vegas-based Day Trips

Last updated: January 10, 2019 at 2:45 pm. Posted by in Things to Do in Las Vegas. No Comments on Get Inspired with these Las Vegas-based Day Trips.

Whether you’re trying to change up your annual visit to Vegas or you’re trying to make the most out of a rare trip to the area, there’s a lot to be gained by exploring beyond the city’s boundaries. A day trip is a fun way to make your trip a little more exciting and go beyond the standard must-dos.

There’s a wealth of man-made and natural wonders that stand in contrast to Las Vegas, all within 150 miles of the city. From playgrounds for outdoor lovers to portraits of the Wild West, many of these day trip ideas will have you there and back again in time for dinner.

 

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Red Rock and Bonnie Springs Ranch – about 20 miles

If you’re the outdoorsy type and you’re in Las Vegas, you must see Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area – full stop, end of discussion. (Let’s toss Valley of Fire State Park in the running too, but we’ll get to that a little later).

Best known for towering, vibrant red stone features, Red Rock Canyon offers beautiful desert views that contrast the urban gleam of Las Vegas. If you can make the time for it, try to catch a sunset out here.

A 13-mile scenic drive and lovely visitors center gets you the Cliff’s Notes version of Red Rock, but it’s the miles of hiking loops and rock climbing routes that make for the main event.

All hiked out with a little bit of time left over? Near the south end of Red Rock Canyon, you’ll find Bonnie Springs Ranch.

Once a watering stopover for settlers going west to California, the ranch evolved into an old Nevada-themed attraction that could have been transplanted from the Old West days, with replica buildings, shops and a petting zoo.

Family-friendly activities include historic reenactments, pony rides and a train ride, while the full-service saloon offers some grown-up fun.

 

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Boulder City, Hoover Dam and Lake Mead – about 35 miles

Boulder City was founded in the 1930s as a base for workers from Hoover Dam and still has a quaint, small-town charm, making for a good base on the way to and from Hoover Dam and Lake Mead.

If you hit the road early, you’ll want to grab breakfast at The Coffee Cup (Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives fans might remember this spot from Guy’s visits), and try Milo’s or Boulder Dam Brewing Company for a late lunch or dinner on the way back.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is the closest large lake in the area, so it’s a popular destination for all sorts of aquatic activities in addition to hiking and camping in the surrounding area. Rent a boat or jet skis and have a blast.

You’ll definitely want to take the tour at Hoover Dam – you’ll learn a ton about one of the most impressive marvels of civil engineering in the United States and get a real sense of the scale of it. The dam and its surroundings, including the visitors center, are stunning icons of the Art Deco style, so you’ll want to explore and perhaps get the view from the nearby O’Callaghan-Tillman bridge.

 

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Eldorado Canyon – about 45 miles

You can get a taste of old Nevada history and some exciting recreation in at Eldorado Canyon. This is a cool, historic area that used to be a bustling silver and gold mine – but in a tale that’s all too familiar, the mine closed and its residents sought fortune elsewhere.

Here, you’ll get to experience a legitimate Wild West ghost town – and in this Instagram day and age, get some really cool photos out of it. Old shops and even a downed airplane provide cool backdrops for photo shoots.

You can also rent a space for events, parties and even weddings, giving your gathering a cool Old West feel. If it’s action you seek, the nearby area also offers ATV rentals. The Tehatticup Gold Mine tours take you through what was once the state’s richest, most productive mine.

You’ll want to schedule ahead of time with a tour group like Awesome Adventures or Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours.

 

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Valley of Fire State Park – about 50 miles

If Red Rock Canyon is one gorgeous bookend to the Las Vegas area, Valley of Fire would be its counterpart on the other end. It’s bright red sandstone formations live up to the park’s name, as does the heat during the summer – temperatures can reach the 120s F.

Campgrounds, trails and climbing opportunities may call to outdoor lovers, but Valley of Fire also has a fascinating history. The land was inhabited as far back as 11,000 years ago, with petroglyphs carved into the rocks dating to about 3,000 years ago.

You can learn more about the nature and the man-made history of the area at the visitors center and if you’re feeling bold, you could enter the annual World Atlatl Competition and try your hand at using the ancient spear throwing tool, as the park’s original inhabitants would have.

 

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Death Valley National Park – about 150 miles

Death Valley is as striking for its name as it is for its views. This icon of the Southwest has the distinction of being one of the driest, hottest and lowest places on the planet.

Highlights at this national park include Badwater Basin and the Devil’s Golf Course, locations with names that couldn’t be any more fitting. Badwater’s low point is nearly 300 feet below sea level and the Devil’s Golf Course is filled with strange salt formations left over from what this desert landscape used to be – a lake bed.

Along the route from Vegas to Death Valley, you should make a side-trip at Rhyolite, Nevada and the Goldwell Open Air Museum.

Rhyolite is a ghost town with some surprisingly preserved empty remains of formerly in-use buildings like the bank and general store, and as well as a “bottle houses,” whose walls are made with beer bottles. In stark contrast to the ghost town, the nearby Goldwell Open Air Museum features some fascinating sculptures in the middle of the desert.

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About The Author

Jorge has been writing in Las Vegas for about a decade, covering a mix of entertainment, nightlife and travel offerings for publications like Best of Las Vegas, Las Vegas Weekly, Los Angeles Times and Louisville Voice-Tribune. In his spare time, he's traveling, at pub trivia or not playing his stack of video games.

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