19 Epic Road Trips to National Parks near Las Vegas in 2023
Las Vegas is the ultimate destination to embark on road trips to some of the best National Parks in the United States. Las Vegas is conveniently located near several National Parks, National Recreation Areas, National Monuments, and other protected National preserves.
Discover both popular and underrated road trips from Las Vegas to National Parks in the states of Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and California.
Table of Contents
Which are the most popular National Parks near Las Vegas?
Some of the most popular National Parks near Las Vegas are Zion, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Death Valley, Arches, Joshua Tree, and Yosemite.
But there are also some lesser-known National Parks near Las Vegas like Canyonlands, Petrified Forest, Great Basin, Capitol Reef, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon.
In this post discover road trips to the most popular National Parks near Las Vegas as well as many other hidden gems, how far they are from Vegas, the best time to visit, top things to do there, and where to stay.
➡ You will need a rental car for your road trip from Las Vegas! I recommend checking rental car rates and availability at Discover Cars as they provide the best deals with top car rental brands!
19 Best Road Trips to National Parks near Las Vegas
This list covers National Parks in Nevada, California, Arizona, and Utah that are within driving distance (2 to 7 hours) from Las Vegas.
Some of these National Parks near Las Vegas like Death Valley, Zion, and Red Rock Canyon can be day trips but others like Joshua, Grand Canyon, Bryce, Arches, Antelope Canyon, and others can be overnight or multi-day road trips.
Road trips to these National Parks near Las Vegas should be in any Las Vegas itinerary with family or friends.
1. Death Valley National Park
Visiting Death Valley in California is a popular day trip from Las Vegas. Death Valley is one of the most impressive and unique National Parks near Las Vegas and in the United States as it is the lowest point in North America.
Distance and travel time from Las Vegas to Death Valley
- Distance from Las Vegas to Death Valley: About 142 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Death Valley: Around 2 hours drive
Death Valley National Park is only about 142 mi or a 2-hour drive from Las Vegas. Visiting Death Valley from Las Vegas by car is a must for nature lovers.
There are several road trip routes from Las Vegas to Death Valley. The shortest route from Las Vegas to Death Valley is via Pahrump to Death Valley Junction. It is not a scenic route, but it takes only 2 hours.
The longest and the most scenic route is from Las Vegas via Pahrump to Ashford Junction. It takes 4 hours to reach Death Valley.
➡ Alternatively, you can take this Death Valley Small Group Day Adventure From Las Vegas which will ensure you see all the highlights of Death Valley in one day!
Top things to do in Death Valley
Regardless of the route, visiting Death Valley means seeing one of the most spectacular places on earth. Death Valley covers an impressive area of 3.3 million acres. Besides that, the landscapes of Death Valley are unique.
The most important and must-see sites in Death Valley are Zabriskie Point, Furnace Creek, Badwater Basin, Artist Palette, Devil’s Golf Course, Ubehebe crater, Racetrack Playa, and Mesquite Sand Dunes.
The Furnace Creek hosts the Furnace Visitor Centre, where you can pick up a Death Valley map and get all the needed info for visiting Death Valley.
The heart of Death Valley is the Badwater Basin which is 272 feet below sea level. Badwater Basin is the lowest place in North America.
In addition, Death Valley’s Devil’s Golf Course is a large area of sharp salt formations reminiscent of the lake that had existed a hundred years ago.
Mesquite Sand Dunes are breathtaking dunes, and Ubehebe Crater is a thousands-year-old volcanic crater in Death Valley.
Last Kind Words Salon & Steakhouse is a good dining place for grabbing quick bites inside the park.
Best time to visit Death Valley
The best time to visit Death Valley is from mid-October to mid-May since summers in Death valley see unbearable heat. Death Valley is a must-visit National Park in California.
Where to stay for Death Valley National Park
Consider booking a room in the 4-star The Ranch at Death Valley if you wish to spend more than one day in Death Valley. The hotel has an outdoor swimming pool and sports facilities, and it is one of the best and rare places to stay in the park.
➡ Check rates and availability at The Ranch at Death Valley
Contributed by Milijana of World Travel Connector
2. Zion National Park
Zion National Park is one of the most popular National Parks near Las Vegas and is known for its spectacular canyon views and excellent hiking trails. At just under three hours from Las Vegas, a road trip to Zion National Park makes a perfect weekend getaway.
Distance and Travel time from Las Vegas to Zion
- Distance from Las Vegas to Zion: About 160 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Zion: around 2 hours 40 minutes drive
If you have time, spend a night or two inside the park, but even if you only have time to drive through Zion, do it. It’s worth it!
➡ Alternatively, you can take this 3-Day National Parks Tour: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley and Grand Canyon – covers 4 iconic National parks, with camping accommodations and option to upgrade to lodging.
Top things to do in Zion National Park
The most popular and strenuous hike in Zion National Park is the Angels Landing hike and you now require a permit reservation to hike this trail.
Kolob Canyons is a great option if time is short. The five-mile scenic drive showcases the narrow crimson box canyons, Navajo sandstone, and mountain creeks Zion is famous for. Get out and stretch your legs at the one-mile Timber Creek Overlook Trail.
If you have more time, hop on one of the Zion Canyon Shuttles at the South Entrance Visitor Center or at one of the parking lots in Springdale. (Be sure to check the schedule, as the buses do not run all year.)
Ride the shuttle to the end, taking in the scenery of the canyon along the way. Exit at the Temple of Sinawava and take the short one-mile paved Riverside Walk to the Zion Narrows.
Here you can continue, but be prepared to get wet as you hike through the Virgin River on one of the most scenic bucket list hikes in America, the Zion Narrows.
The entire hike is 10 miles long, but since it’s an out-and-back hike, you can go as far as you want and turn around. Check with the rangers, as this area can close when there are chances of flash flooding.
Two other short and scenic trails to check out are the Lower Emerald Pool trail, near the Zion Lodge, and the Canyon Overlook trail on the east side of the Zion Tunnel.
The Zion Tunnel itself is fun to drive through. At just over a mile long, at the time it was completed, it was the longest tunnel in the United States. Oversize vehicles need to pay a $15 fee and bicycles and pedestrians are prohibited.
Best time to visit Zion National Park
The best time to visit Zion National park is in Spring and Fall seasons as during Summer temperatures are high and not ideal for hiking.
That said, the park still is very crowded during the summer. April to October are the most popular months to visit Zion National Park.
Where to stay for Zion National Park
To get the most out of a visit to Zion, stay inside the park at the Zion Lodge. You’ll have easier access to all Zion has to offer. And with hotel rooms, cabins, and suites, there is something for every size group.
The Springdale town is just outside of Zion National Park and has several great accommodations. The park’s free shuttle picks up right outside the main street in Springdale.
Springhill Suites, Holiday Inn Express, and Hampton Inn and Suites are all great accommodation options in Springdale, and they usually have hot breakfast and a pool.
➡ Check rates and availability for your stay for Zion National Park
Contributed by Kathy Belge of SoloWomenRV
3. Bryce Canyon National Park
Of Utah’s five national parks, Bryce Canyon takes the cake for being one of the most unique and beautiful National Parks near Las Vegas.
Distance and travel time from Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon
- Distance from Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon: About 260 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon: Around 4 hours drive
At just a 4-hour drive and just under 260 miles, a road trip from Las Vegas to Bryce makes for the perfect weekend trip from Sin City.
➡ Alternatively, if you are short on time, you can take this Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks Small Group Tour from Las Vegas which covers both Zion and Bryce Canyon Park in a day trip
Top things to do in Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon National Park has a huge variety of fun activities to do, whether you enjoy hiking, just viewing the sites, or taking scenic drives.
One of the best ways to see the unique rock formations, known as hoodoos, within the park is by going on a hike.
One of the best hikes in the park is the Queens Garden trail to Wall Street. This beautiful trail leads you down into the hoodoos and up through a narrow slot canyon. Be sure to pack your hiking boots, as the trail is slightly strenuous.
Other popular hikes include the Mossy Cave trail and the Tower Bridge trail.
If you aren’t much of a hiker, consider watching the sunrise at either Sunrise or Sunset Points, which both provide beautiful views of the park.
Another fun activity is going stargazing at night because the park is recognized as a Dark Sky Park.
If you’re looking for somewhere to eat, head down to the small town of Tropic a few miles away and try IDK BBQ.
Best time to visit Bryce Canyon
If you’re planning a visit to Bryce Canyon, consider planning your trip between May and September, as these are the best months for no snow and warm temperatures.
Although the best time to plan is in the shoulder season, which is May and September, as there will be fewer visitors and the temperatures won’t be as hot.
Where to stay for Bryce Canyon
When it’s time to call it a night, head to the Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn in Bryce. This hotel is just about 2 miles from the park entrance and is within a short distance of everything in town. There’s a large gift shop and convenience shop attached to the hotel, as well as a pool and hot tub to relax in.
➡ Check rates and availability for your stay for Bryce Canyon National Park
Contributed by Kassidy Olson of The Hiking Helper
4. Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon is one of the most popular National Parks near Las Vegas and one of the most visited tourist destinations in the United States. Every year, millions of people from all over the world flock to see this amazing natural wonder.
Distance and Travel time from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon
- Distance from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim: About 280 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim: around 4.5 hours drive
It takes around 4.5 hours drive to reach the South rim of Grand Canyon from Las Vegas. Alternatively, the West rim of Grand Canyon is only around 2 hours drive from Las Vegas and 125 miles away.
➡ Alternatively, you can take this highly rated Grand Canyon West Rim With Hoover Dam Stop From Las Vegas full-day tour with Skywalk upgrade.
Taking a road trip from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon is an amazing experience that everyone should have at least once in their lifetime. You get to go at your own pace, see more of Arizona, and enjoy being out on the open road.
Top things to do in Grand Canyon
Some of the best things to do at the Grand Canyon South Rim include taking a mule ride, going for a hike, checking out the viewpoints, and visiting other attractions like Yavapai Point and Grandview Point.
When at Yavapai Point, don’t forget to stop at the Geology Museum and walk the Trail of Time just outside it!
The West Rim of Grand Canyon has a lot of activities catered to tourists and has the Skywalk experience which has a glass platform extending out on the canyon where you can walk and look at the deep Canyon below.
The West Rim also has some popular lookout points like Eagle Point and Guano Point.
Best time to visit Grand Canyon
The best time of year to visit depends on what you want to do while you’re there. If you’re looking for mild temperatures and few crowds, then spring (March-May) or fall (September-November) are great times to visit.
However, if you want to hike or tour the canyon by mule train, then summer (June-August) is a better choice as that’s when most companies operate these tours.
Where to stay for Grand Canyon
Keep in mind that no matter what time of year you visit, it’s always a good idea to make reservations in advance as lodging near the park tends to fill up quickly.
If you’re planning on visiting the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, then it’s best to stay inside the park boundaries so that you don’t have to waste time traveling back and forth each day.
El Tovar hotel is a popular option as it’s right on the edge of Bright Angel Trailhead – one of the most popular hiking trails in the Grand Canyon. This hotel tends to fill up quickly though so be sure to make reservations well in advance if this is where you want to stay during your visit.
➡ Check rates and availability for your stay for Grand Canyon National Park
Contributed by Brodi Cole of Our Offbeat Life
5. Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon is one of the best places to visit on a road trip from Las Vegas. Antelope Canyon (though not a National Park) is a higly popular and incredible slot canyon located on Navajo land in northern Arizona and is often visited along with Zion and Bryce Canyon.
Distance and Travel time from Las Vegas to Antelope Canyon
- Distance from Las Vegas to Antelope Canyon: About 280 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Antelope Canyon: Around 4 hours 45 minutes
It is a 4-hour and 45-minute (280 miles) drive from Las Vegas to Antelope Canyon, so it can be done in one day, but it’s highly recommended to spend 2 or 3 days doing this road trip. It is common to combine Horseshoe Bend with a trip to Antelope Canyon.
➡ Alternatively, you can take this highly-rated Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend Small Group Tour from Las Vegas which covers both Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend in a day trip and includes admission to the Canyon
Top things to do in Antelope Canyon
The Antelope slot canyon was formed by millions of years of water and wind erosion, creating the scenic canyon you can now walk through.
You can see two parts of the canyon, Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon, and you have to take a tour to see either canyon.
If you choose to see Upper Antelope Canyon and go at the right time of day, you can see the famous light beams that shine down from the top of the canyon, creating absolutely gorgeous scenery and even better photos!
If you decide to see Lower Antelope Canyon instead, it is quite an adventure because you have to climb down a few flights of stairs to enter the canyon.
Besides seeing Antelope Canyon, there are plenty of amazing things to see on the way to the area or nearby. Zion National Park is actually on the way to Antelope Canyon, and is a great destination to stop at on your road trip. Another incredible natural wonder to see while you’re in the area is Horseshoe Bend.
Best time to visit Antelope Canyon
The best months to visit this area of the southwest are the spring and fall. It can be fairly hot in the summer months and the attractions can get really crowded. It’s recommended to visit in the shoulder seasons to avoid the crowds as well as the heat.
Where to stay for Antelope Canyon
The best place to stay to visit Antelope Canyon is Page, AZ which is a 15 minute drive away from the canyon. One of the best hotels in the area is Wingate by Wyndham, a new hotel that has clean, comfortable rooms, a great breakfast and nice views from the hotel.
➡ Check rates and availability for your stay in Page, AZ for Antelope Canyon
Contributed by Jessica of Unearth The Voyage
6. Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend (though not a National Park) is an area of the Colorado River where that makes nearly a 180-degree turn and is one of the most recognizable and most visited places in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Distance and Travel time from Las Vegas to Horseshoe Bend
- Distance from Las Vegas to Horseshoe Bend: About 275 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Horseshoe Bend: Around 2 hours 30 minutes
Although a little far from Las Vegas, a visit to Horseshoe Bend can be combined with Antelope Canyon, which is only 5 miles away.
➡ You can also take this highly-rated Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend Small Group Tour from Las Vegas which includes admission to the Canyon and covers both Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend in a day trip.
Top things to do in Horseshoe Bend
Along with Antelope Canyon and Lake Powell, seeing the famous Horseshoe Bend is one of the best things to do in Page Arizona.
You’ve probably seen pictures of this famous natural attraction on social media as it’s skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. But for good reason! It gives you a unique view of the Colorado River with the towering cliffs it has carved over 500 million years.
It’s gotten so popular that the Navajo Nation now charges $10 for parking. To get to Horseshoe Bend, you need to pay to park and then walk along a relatively flat, paved trail for about 3/4 of a mile.
If you don’t mind sharing the vista with the crowds, then plan on parking about 30 minutes before sunset. Not only is the Arizona desert famous for its painted skies, but the sun sets directly behind the bend, which makes for some amazing photos.
On the other hand, if you want to enjoy the scenery in relative solitude, then make the trek at sunrise instead.
Best time to visit Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend is open year-round to visitors from sunrise to sunset. That said, weather wise Spring and Fall are the best months to visit. Summer sees the most crowds.
Where to stay for Horseshoe Bend
Page doesn’t have any luxury hotels or big resorts, but the Courtyard by Marriott is just five minutes down the road and is one of the best places to stay nearby.
➡ Check rates and availability for your stay in Page, AZ for Horseshoe Bend
Contributed by JJ Haglund of The Minivan Bucket List
7. Great Basin National Park
The high peaks area of Great Basin National Park holds beautiful alpine mountains, elder trees, and incredible caverns. Much of the park lies at elevation, and quite a few of the trails and sights sit above 10,000 feet.
Distance and Travel time from Las Vegas to Great Basin
- Distance from Las Vegas to Great Basin: About 340 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Great Basin: Around 5.5 hours drive
Located about 340 miles (5.5 hours) from Las Vegas, Great Basin showcases a unique Nevadan environment.
Top things to do in Great Basin National Park
Among the high peaks of the Great Basin are the Bristlecone pines, one of the oldest trees in the world. These trees only grow between 6,000 and 11,000 feet in this area and in California.
Along with the Bristlecone Pines, there is the Bristlecone Glacier, the only glacier located within the state of Nevada. The glacier is often hidden underneath rocks, which is why it is often called a “rock glacier”.
Along with the high peaks area, the most incredible sight in Great Basin is the Lehman Caves, one of the best preserved and beautiful examples of cave formations. Even for many who’ve seen several caves, Lehman still manages to stun visitors.
Stargazing is a popular activity in Great Basin National Park on moonless nights.
There’s quite a lot to see among the places within Great Basin. Several areas are not connected internally to the park by roads.
So for those who want to really explore, a longer stay than a day trip is required. There’s certainly enough within the park to see over a few days, including arches, several bristlecone groves, and beautiful hikes.
Best time to visit Great Basin
Typically summer months of June to September are the best months to visit Great Basin with pleasant weather for activities. The higher elevations can be covered in snow in early summer but the valley can have warmer temperatures.
Where to stay for Great Basin
Lodging options close to Great Basin are very limited, with camping the only option within the park. Outside the park, most options are pretty basic.
Ely, the closest large town, is about 1-hour drive. There are several options to stay in Ely, with the Holiday Inn Express among the best choices in town.
Contributed by Anwar of Beyond my Door
8. Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park is located in south-central Utah in red rock country and is popular for its cliffs and canyons, hiking, geology and stargazing.
Distance and Travel time from Las Vegas to Capitol Reef
- Distance from Las Vegas to Capitol Reef: About 325 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Capitol Reef: Around 5 hours
Las Vegas to Capitol Reef can be done in as little as two days, but you may want to spend longer exploring the park and surrounding areas. The drive takes about 5 hours (325 miles), making it a little too long to feasibly do as a day trip.
Top things to do in Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef is a large national park with plenty to see and do. Just driving through the park from Torrey to Hanksville lets you see many of the beautiful and unique landscapes the park and area are known for.
If you want to hike, consider Hickman Bridge, Cassidy Arch, and Cohab Canyon. These are all easy to access from the main route through the park and can easily all be completed in a day.
It is worth it to have a four-wheel drive vehicle as well so you can go off road to visit Cathedral Valley. Some of the most famous features include the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Moon, and Glass Mountain which are all located right next to each other.
If you have additional time, consider checking out the neighboring Bentonite Hills that are adjacent to the park. You can see some of these colorful hills on the drive through Cathedral Valley and even more of them on the drive to Hanksville, where you can find lodging and a restaurant.
Best time to visit Capitol Reef
The best time to visit Capitol Reef is in the spring or the fall. It gets very hot in the summer, and there is a higher risk of flash floods and very cold in the winter, with snow possibly making driving more difficult.
Where to stay for Capitol Reef
For accommodations, consider either Hanksville, Loa, or Torrey, depending on which side of the park you want to be on.
Whispering Sands Motel in Hanksville is a great option for the park’s east side.
The Snuggle Inn in Loa is family-run and another good option not too far from the park.
Contributed by Christine of Live Love Run Travel
9. Arches National Park
Arches National Park is an incredible addition to any southwest road trip and a famous National Park near Las Vegas. Whether you start your journey in Salt Lake City or Las Vegas, a road trip to the famous Utah National park is a scenic and memorable adventure.
Distance and Travel time from Las Vegas to Arches
- Distance from Las Vegas to Arches: About 450 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Arches: Around 6.5 hours
From Las Vegas, plan for about 6 and a half hours, if driving directly to Arches. Although most travelers opt to break up the 450 drive into multiple days with stops at Zion, Bryce, and even Capitol Reef National Parks.
You can even combine Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in one trip with a stay at Moab, Utah.
Top things to do in Arches National Park
Located in eastern Utah, just outside the town of Moab, Arches National Park is best known for its massive red, sandstone natural arches. The most popular of which, Delicate Arch, is featured on the Utah license plate and the Welcome to Utah state signs.
A hike to Delicate Arch is a must-do in the striking park with its beautiful desert landscapes. You’ll want to start the 3-mile long in-and-out hike in the morning hours, particularly if visiting during the busy summer months.
There is very little shade along the hike for you to escape the intense desert heat. So, starting early in the morning not only helps you beat the crowds, but also allows you to beat the heat.
Best time to visit Arches National Park
The best time to visit Arches is during Spring and Fall season as summers can be incredibly hot and not comfortable for hiking.
Where to stay for Arches National Park
While there are a lot of great campsites near Arches, you’ll also find plenty of hotels, restaurants, and breweries in Moab.
If visiting Arches and Moab with kids, the Springhill Suites by Marriott is a nice hotel with an incredible pool that makes for the perfect place to relax and cool often after a morning of hiking and exploring.
Moab town is a great base for exploring both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.
➡ Check rates and availability for your stay in Moab, UT for Arches National Park
Contributed by Melissa of Parenthood and Passports
10. Canyonlands National Park
Located just a few hours from the bright lights of Las Vegas, Canyonlands is the perfect destination for a quick road trip. Whether you’re looking to escape the heat of the summer or enjoy some winter activities, Canyonlands has something for everyone.
Distance and Travel time from Las Vegas to Canyonlands
- Distance from Las Vegas to Canyonlands: About 450 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Canyonlands: Around 6 hours
Canyonlands National Park is located approximately 450 miles from Las Vegas, which means it’s about a 6-hour drive. If you do want to break it up a little, your best stop options are St George, Cedar City, or a stop at the small town of Monroe.
Top things to do in Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands is best known for its incredible scenery and off-road trails. Canyonlands is a great place to rent a jeep and explore the Shafer Trail and the White Rim Road. Many people love to enjoy these beautiful and exciting trails that are easy enough for all skill levels.
Be sure to also stop by popular attractions like Grand View Point, Mesa Arch, and some enjoy a quick stop at the Dead Horse Point State Park. You can also take a Moab jeep tour if you don’t want to drive yourself.
Best time to visit Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands is open year-round, but the best times to visit are Spring (March-May) or Fall (September-November). This is the ideal time to go since temperatures are milder and there’s less chance of rain.
Where to stay for Canyonlands National Park
If you are camping, a great place to stay is the Sun Outdoors camping location. They have multiple amenities with a great hot tub and heated pools. Another great unique experience for glamping is Under Canvas.
For all others, you should check out the Hyatt Place in Moab. They have a large beautiful pool area with a playground, splash pad, hot tub, and pool. The hotel is modern with a very classy and modern feel that is only about 30 minutes away for the Canyonlands National Park Entrance.
➡ Check rates and availability for your stay in Moab, UT for Canyonlands National Park
No matter what time of year it is or what your interests are, Canyonlands is the perfect destination for a road trip from Las Vegas. With its stunning scenery and plethora of activities, there’s something for everyone at this incredible national park.
Contributed by Candice of CS Ginger
11. Petrified Forest National Park
If you’re looking for a classic United States road trip, there’s perhaps nothing more iconic than cruising along America’s first highway, Route 66. And if you make your way from Vegas eastward, you’ll get to cruise along parts of this famous highway all the way to Petrified Forest National Park, tucked in the northeastern corner of Arizona.
Distance and Travel time from Las Vegas to Petrified Forest
- Distance from Las Vegas to Petrified Forest: About 366 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Petrified Forest: Around 5.5 hours
Top things to do in Petrified Forest National Park
In this hidden gem of a national park, you’ll get to see striated badlands, colorful deserts, and, of course, fossilized pieces of ancient wood.
One of the best trails in the park is the Blue Mesa Trail, which takes you down below the rim of a mesa to weave your way between indigo-colored bentonite hills.
Alternatively, if you’re a geology buff, the Crystal Forest Trail is an easy loop through the park’s rolling hills, littered with seemingly endless pieces of vibrant petrified wood.
Best time to visit Petrified Forest
Spring and fall are lovely times to visit the park- you’ll beat the heat and the crowds of summertime.
Where to stay for Petrified Forest
Given that Las Vegas is over five hours away, it’s best to visit here on an overnight or weekend trip.
Stay in the nearby town of Holbrook, which has really leaned into the kitschy Americana vibe of Route 66, with plenty of ‘50s diners and dinosaur statues.
La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Holbrook is a great place to stay, only 20 minutes away from Petrified Forest National Park.
Contributed by Jessica of Uprooted Traveler
12. Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park, in Southern California, is a great destination for desert hiking, rock climbing, birdwatching, and seeing the unique “Joshua Tree”, which is a type of yucca plant found in the Mojave Desert.
Distance and Travel time from Las Vegas to Joshua Tree
- Distance from Las Vegas to Joshua Tree: About 204 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Joshua Tree: around 3.5 hours drive
Joshua Tree National Park is a great multiday road trip destination from Las Vegas. Joshua Tree is located 204 miles and roughly 3.5 hours from Las Vegas, making it too long of a drive for a day trip.
Top things to do in Joshua Tree National Park
Popular hikes in the Joshua Tree National Park include Barker’s Dam, Ryan Mountain, and 49 Palms Oasis Trail.
There are also plenty of sites throughout Joshua Tree National Park worth visiting that don’t require high levels of activity, including Key’s View, Cholla Cactus Gardens, and Skull Rock.
Right outside the national park is a quirky desert town with a whole personality of its own. Besides hiking in the national park, other things to do in the Joshua Tree area include stargazing at the Sky’s The Limit Observatory, visiting the eccentric desert-style shops, and admiring the many murals and street art found in town.
Perfect for a meal before or after a visit to the national park, recommended restaurants in the area include Natural Sisters and Crossroads Café.
Best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park
Since Joshua Tree is located in the desert, the weather in the summer is extremely hot. Because of this, October-April is the best time to visit Joshua Tree.
Dry weather can be expected during most of the year, however, the occasional thunderstorm and flash flood may occur, so checking the weather before hiking is important.
During the spring, flowers bloom from the desert cacti, bringing an extra something special to the desert landscape.
Where to stay for Joshua Tree National Park
AutoCamp Joshua Tree is a great place to stay when visiting Joshua Tree National Park for a desert camping feel without all the work.
Stay in beautifully designed airstreams that provide a unique luxury stay in the desert. It’s located in Joshua Tree town and just a short 10-minute drive to the national park entrance.
Contributed by And There They Went Travel Blog
13. Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is one of the most popular and most visited National Parks in the United States. There are some amazing waterfalls, hikes, and jaw-dropping scenery to be experienced here. This is a bucket list National Park in the United States and a must-see.
Distance and Travel time from Las Vegas to Yosemite
- Distance from Las Vegas to Yosemite: About 450 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Yosemite: Around 7 hours drive
Yosemite is about 450 miles and a 7-hour drive from Las Vegas if done nonstop. If you are traveling in the fall months of September/October, the 395 route is spectacular with fall scenery, and Mammoth Lakes is a good stop. Death Valley is also a good stop on this road trip.
Top things to do in Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is a dream destination for an outdoor enthusiast. Some activities you can enjoy in Yosemite are hiking, biking, rock climbing, fishing, camping, backpacking, birdwatching, and admiring the waterfalls and scenery.
During the Spring and early Summer months, the Yosemite Falls are spectacular. The lower Yosemite falls trail is accessible and an easy stroll. There are some amazing and more challenging hikes here like the Mist trail to Vernal Falls and Nevada falls, Mirror loop trail, and Upper Yosemite Falls trail.
The most popular and very strenuous hike here is the Half Dome hike, which now requires a permit reservation.
The popular vista points here are Glacier Point, Tunnel view, Valley view, Yosemite Falls, Vernal Falls, El Capitan, and Half Dome.
You can rent a bike at Yosemite Valley Lodge and enjoy Yosemite Valley riding on the bike path.
Best time to visit Yosemite National Park
May and June are great months to visit Yosemite if you want to see the waterfalls. September and October are great months to see fall scenery and fewer crowds.
The summer months of July and August are very crowded. Although Yosemite National Park is open year-round, in Winter most trails are covered in snow, and the Tioga pass road is closed. Some roads to Yosemite Valley are open in winter.
Where to stay for Yosemite National Park
The best way to experience Yosemite is to stay inside the park. Accommodations can fill up months in advance. Curry Village is the most popular and affordable accommodation inside the park, with camping, tent cabins, and wooden cabins.
Yosemite Valley Lodge is another excellent option, with lodge rooms and a food court. Yosemite Valley Lodge is within walking distance of Lower Yosemite Falls.
There are several hotels and resorts outside the park entrance, which can be a good alternative if no accommodations are available inside the park.
➡ Check rates and availability for your stay for Yosemite National Park
14. Las Vegas to Sequoia & Kings Canyon Road Trip
Sequoia and Kings Canyon are excellent parks to road trip from Las Vegas. Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park are actually separate parks but are often visited together as they are right next to each other and are administered by the same management system.
Distance and travel time from Las Vegas to Sequoia & Kings Canyon
- Distance from Las Vegas to Sequoia & Kings Canyon: 400 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Sequoia & Kings Canyon: around 6 hours drive
Both parks are 400 miles from Las Vegas via a 6-hour drive. While you can easily get there in a day, because of the distance and in order to explore both parks fully, this would ideally be a multiday or weekend trip from Las Vegas.
Top things to do in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
Sequoia National Park is home to the biggest tree in the world- the sequoia. See the biggest of all the sequoia trees, including General Sherman the world’s largest living organism, by hiking the Giants Loop. Moro Rock is another popular hike.
Kings Canyon also has sequoia trees but is better known for its steep canyons and peaks. A must-do in Kings Canyon is a horseback ride.
Try a two-hour ride or have the horse pack in and out your camping gear on a backpacking excursion. Enjoy all the scenery in one peaceful adventure.
Best time to visit Sequoia & Kings Canyon
For the easiest adventure and the best weather, visit in the summer or fall. As these parks are in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, prepare for snow and cold weather if you visit in winter or early spring.
Where to stay for Sequoia & Kings Canyon
Check out The Darling Hotel, a renovated 1930s courthouse, for a vintage and boutique stay. Visalia is the closest major city to the parks and is only a one-hour drive from Sequoia.
Contributed by Cassie of Cassie’s Compass
15. Red Rock Canyon (National Conservation Area)
If you’re in the Las Vegas area and looking for a simple day trip to escape the chaos of the city, consider heading over to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area!
Distance and Travel time from Las Vegas to Red Rock Canyon
- Distance from Las Vegas to Red Rock Canyon: About 16 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Red Rock Canyon: Around 20 minutes
This beautiful desert region is only 16 miles from downtown Las Vegas, which equates to a quick 20-minute drive from the city.
Top things to do in Red Rock Canyon
Red Rock Canyon is known for its striking Red rock formations and has lots of activities perfect for anyone.
➡ These top-rated Red Rock Canyon hiking tour, electric bike tour, and scooter tours are an excellent way to explore Red Rock Canyon!
A popular thing to do at Red Rock Canyon is hiking. There are all kinds of trails that range in difficulty, so you can easily find a trail that takes 30 minutes to hike or the entire day, depending on what you’re up for.
Alternatively, if you enjoy rock climbing, Red Rock Canyon is home to hundreds of different climbing routes. So, whether you’re an avid rock climber or just a beginner who wants to scramble, Red Rock Canyon has it all!
And if you aren’t into hiking and climbing, then consider exploring the stunning canyon area on horseback! You’ll be able to witness breathtaking views of the local desert, mountains, and wildlife up close. Plus, there are several places to stop along the way, so you can take photos and enjoy all that this area has to offer.
Best time to visit Red Rock Canyon
Red Rock Canyon is a desert region, so ideally Spring and Fall are the best seasons to visit as the temperatures are mild to enjoy outdoor activities. Summers can be very hot here.
Where to stay for Red Rock Canyon
If you’re looking for places to stay in the area, consider the Wynn Las Vegas. It’s a 5-star hotel located along the Vegas Strip. You’ll be able to enjoy lots of fantastic amenities that will help you relax after a long day exploring the desert area!
Contributed by Kristin Lee of Global Travel Escapades
16. Lake Powell (Navajo Tribal Park)
Located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Lake Powell is a stunning reservoir that straddles the border between Utah and Arizona.
With 250 square miles of surface area, it is the second-largest artificial reservoir in America and a popular destination for boaters, fishermen, and nature lovers alike.
Distance and Travel time from Las Vegas to Lake Powell
- Distance from Las Vegas to Lake Powell: About 270 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Lake Powell: Around 4 hours
With so much to see at Lake Powell and Page and being far from Las Vegas, it is recommended to take at least a weekend trip. Driving directly from Las Vegas to Lake Powell takes more than 4 hours or 270 miles.
Top things to do in Lake Powell
With its pristine blue waters and stunning desert landscapes, Lake Powell is a mesmerizing place to behold.
Alstrom Point, Waheap Viewpoint, and Glen Canyon Dam provide some of the best vantage points to take in Lake Powell’s beauty. Alstrom Point is more secluded, while Waheap and the dam views are easier to access with just a short detour.
There are a number of things to do on Lake Powell, from fishing and boating to camping and sightseeing. Boating is the most popular activity; rental boats, kayaks, and SUPs are available at both marinas.
Having your own water transport is the only way to see unique landscapes like the lowest part of Antelope Canyon, Labyrinth Slot Canyon, and the incredible Rainbow Bridge. You can also camp on the shores of the lake. Just make sure to leave no trace behind.
Best time to visit Lake Powell
The summer months tend to be the busiest and hottest, while the winter leaves nightly temperatures chilly and a quieter atmosphere. Overall, the best time to visit Lake Powell is during the shoulder seasons – spring and fall – when the weather is milder, and there are fewer crowds.
Where to stay for Lake Powell
If you’re looking for a place to stay near Lake Powell, consider booking the Baymont by Wyndham Page Lake Powell. It’s just a few minutes from the lake and offers various amenities, including a complimentary buffet breakfast, an indoor pool, and parking.
Contributed by Catherine of Nomadicated
17. Lake Mead (National Recreation Area)
Located within Boulder City, Nevada, Lake Mead is an incredible day or afternoon trip from Las Vegas. Lake Mead, a National Recreation Area, is the reservoir created by Hoover Dam and offers many recreational activities.
Distance and Travel time from Las Vegas to Lake Mead
- Distance from Las Vegas to Lake Mead: About 31 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Lake Mead: Around 35 hours
At just 31 miles and 35 minutes by car, visitors can incorporate a quick trip into their busy schedule. Travelers looking for more adventure can stay longer at one of Lake Mead’s 90 campsites and take advantage of all of the adventure activities. Campgrounds have access to both tent and RV sites throughout the park.
Top things to do in Lake Mead
Consider hiking several trails, slot canyons, biking, kayaking, or swimming. Swimming is not permitted in boat launch areas, and boats are not permitted in swimming only areas.
There is never a lifeguard attendant at any of the beaches, so take precaution. Visitors planning to swim may consider sandals or swim shoes as the walk-up to the water is very rocky.
Visitors looking for relaxation can enjoy views at one of many pull-out stops at several scenic viewpoints along the main roads. Almost each of these stops have bathroom facilities.
Lake Mead National Recreation area accepts the USA National Parks pass or a $30 entrance fee per vehicle.
Best time to visit Lake Mead
The best months for hiking are considered November through March due to the Mojave Desert’s cooler temperatures. Summer months can boast temperatures as high as 120 degrees fahrenheit so this time of year is not recommended for hiking.
Where to stay for Lake Mead
The Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa in Henderson, Nevada comes highly recommended. This 4 star hotel boasts beautiful views of Lake Mead, and houses a cafe, spa, pool, and fitness center.
Contributed by Alyssa of An Apple A Plane
18. Monument Valley (Navajo Tribal Park)
Six and a half hours east of Las Vegas, at the border of Utah and Arizona lies one of the most unique desert landscapes on the planet. Monument Valley is an expansive region of red soil and giant sandstone buttes that was first made famous by Western movies from the 1960s and 1970s.
Distance and Travel time from Las Vegas to Monument Valley
- Distance from Las Vegas to Monument Valley: About 400 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Monument Valley: Around 6 hours 45 minutes
The drive from Vegas is nearly 400 miles but takes you past some incredible places in the Desert Southwest, like Zion National Park, Horseshoe Bend, and Antelope Canyon. A road trip from Vegas to Monument Valley is certainly one of the most beautiful drives in the US.
Top things to do in Monument Valley
There’s no official boundary of Monument Valley, as it’s not a national or state park. It is, however, partially protected as a Navajo Nation Tribal Park. The region lies mostly within Navajo Nation and is thus Native American land.
The Navajos have protected some of the most spectacular rock formations on the Arizona side of the border as Monument Valley Tribal Park. No visit to the region is complete without a scenic drive around the loop road and a hike around the buttes in Monument Valley Tribal Park (entrance $8 per person).
Outside the park boundary, be sure to stop at Forest Gump Point, where you get the epic view of Highway 163 with the buttes in the background just like Forest had on his run across the country when he decided he was “pretty tired”.
While in the area already, head a little north up 163 to Goosenecks State Park, one of Utah’s hidden gems.
Best time to visit Monument Valley
Monument valley is a year-round destination and experiences all seasons. Summers can be brutally hot, and winter can feature white-out conditions. Spring and fall are the most comfortable times.
Where to stay for Monument Valley
There are not a whole lot of places to stay in Monument Valley. There is one KOA campsite and a hotel at Goulding’s Lodge.
But if you want a truly unique experience, reserve a night at the Dreamcatcher House, run by Nate, a Navajo local who built the residence himself by hand. The house features an outdoor kitchen and a spectacular view of Monument Valley Tribal Park.
A road trip to Monument Valley will be a drive you will never forget!
Contributed by Chris of Around The World With Me
19. Mojave National Preserve
Mojave National Preserve is perfect for a day trip from Las Vegas or for an overnight camping destination as well just over the Nevada – California State Line.
Distance and Travel time from Las Vegas to Mojave National Preserve
- Distance from Las Vegas to Mojave National Preserve: About 90 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Mojave National Preserve: Around 1.5 hours
Mojave National Preserve is located 90 miles from Las Vegas and takes about 1.5 hours to reach by car. It’s remote location and wide range of desert outdoor activities make it the perfect day trip location for any adventurer visiting Las Vegas.
Top things to do in Mojave National Preserve
While exploring the preserve you’ll experience the unique geologic formations and the diverse desert ecosystem.
Mojave National Preserve is famous for its extreme landscapes of dense Joshua Tree growth (home to more than Joshua Tree National Park itself), towering Kelso Sand Dunes, and stunning Cinder Cones.
You will find scenic drives, hiking trails, off-roading paths, and some great backcountry campsites inside the preserve.
Some of the top things to do in the Mojave National Preserve include hiking Rings Loop, climbing Kelso Dunes, and exploring the Lava Tube (pictured).
Because of its remote destination, it’s important to prepare ahead of time, having enough fuel, water, and food before entering the preserve is essential. Some roads do require 4WD, so make sure to visit the Visitor Center in Kelso or Park Headquarters in Barstow for up-to-date information.
Best time to visit Mojave National Preserve
The best time to visit the Mojave National Preserve is in the Spring, between March-May when the wildflowers and cacti begin to bloom. However, the Fall months are also great for exploring the area as the weather starts to cool, making it perfect for hiking and exploring the desert.
The desert is dry most of the year but checking the weather is essential in case of extreme heat in the summer and thunderstorms that may cause flash floods.
Where to stay for Mojave National Preserve
If you are looking to spend the night in the preserve, there are two designated campgrounds and many dispersed camping areas offering beautiful views.
Outside of the preserve, lodging is limited because of the remote area, and staying in Las Vegas is recommended.
However, you will find the Rio Del Sol Inn about a 30-minute drive from Mojave National Preserve in Needles, California. This hotel offers clean and family-friendly rooms with a swimming pool to cool down after a long day exploring the desert. It’s the perfect place for resting after enjoying your day at Mojave National Preserve if the drive back to Las Vegas is too far.
Contributed by And There They Went Travel Blog
What makes Las Vegas the ultimate destination for road trips to nearby National Parks?
Las Vegas can be reached from anywhere in the country within 2-3 hours. Flights to Vegas are comparatively cheaper, and car rentals are easily available too. Plenty of hotel accommodations are available in Vegas for shoulder nights between your road trips and flights.
Las Vegas is within driving distance to several National Parks in California, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona.
Most National Parks and National areas in this road trip list can be reached within 2 to 7 hours of drive from Las Vegas. You can also combine several National Parks in a single road trip or take your time to visit one at at time.
Final Takeaways: Best Road Trips to National Parks near Las Vegas
These epic road trips from Las Vegas to National Parks are bucket list experiences. Explore the desert regions of Nevada, Arizona and Utah and enjoy some fabulous landscapes and vistas.
See some of the most popular National Parks near Las Vegas like Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, Arches, Death Valley, Joshua, Yosemite and many other off-the-beaten-path ones like Capitol Reef, Petrified Forest, Great Basin, Canyonlands, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon.
Las Vegas is the ultimate starting and ending point for these road trips to National Parks.
National Parks near Las Vegas ideal for day trips:
Below National Parks and lands are less than 3 hours drive and can be done as day trips from Las Vegas:
- Death Valley National Park
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Zion National Park
- Red Rock Canyon
- Lake Mead National Recreation Area
- Mojave National Preserve
National Parks near Las Vegas ideal for weekend trips
Below National Parks and National lands are 4+ hours drive and are best as weekend or long weekend trips from Las Vegas:
- Bryce Canyon National Park
- Grand Canyon National Park
- Great Basin National Park
- Capitol Reef National Park
- Canyonlands National Park
- Arches National Park
- Petrified Forest National Park
- Yosemite National Park
- Sequoia and Kings National Parks
- Antelope Canyon
- Horseshoe Bend (Glen Canyon)
- Lake Powell
- Monument Valley
Planning a trip to Las Vegas? Check out my other related posts: