Neon To Nature
Beyond-the-Neon Day Trips From Vegas
60 to 210 miles
1+ Day Per Route
Positively brimming with grandeur, Nevada has the lion’s share of the wild west’s stunning scenery, intriguing geology and natural wonders. This 355-mile route on the Great Basin Highway takes in the highlights, beginning with red rock spires and sandstone canyons and ending with mountain peaks and ancient Bristlecone Pine forests. In five days, you’ll steer from Las Vegas to Ely to Great Basin National Park, immersing yourself in the larger-than-life landscapes of Valley of Fire State Park, Cathedral Gorge State Park, and many other fascinating state parks, including ghostly haunts and sites soaked in Nevada history.
- Tour a famous wonder of the engineering world at Hoover Dam
- Hike, cycle, or rock climb at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
- Wander among wildlife and ancient petroglyphs at Valley of Fire State Park
The Very Best Day Trips From Las Vegas
Where to Go Beyond the Glow
With day trips from Las Vegas in every direction, there’s plenty to satisfy your get-outside side without traveling too far from the Entertainment Capital of the World. Hit the Red Rockin’ Loop and hoof it around lush, oasis-like Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, stunning Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, and a ghost town with its own saloon. Venture the Fire and Water Loop to Valley of Fire State Park, Gold Butte National Monument, Mesquite, and Lake Mead. Or cruise the Colorado River Corridor to tour Hoover Dam, chow down in Boulder City, tour a historic gold mine, and live it up on the Laughlin Riverwalk.
Prepare for Your Adventure
Get ready to come chase some horizons with this handy tool kit. Here, you’ll find all the Neon to Nature road trip essentials, including downloadable directions, maps, and podcasts, and tunes to complement your upcoming adventure.
Go from Neon to Nature
Day Trips From Las Vegas? Get Outta Town.
This 3-part, hub-and-spoke road trip transports you to some of southern Nevada’s most breathtaking parks and landscapes, famous landmarks, and one-of-a-kind attractions—and back again. Use these tips to take off-strip day trips, or even to plan some well-worth-it overnight escapes.
Red Rockin’ Loop
Immerse yourself in craggy, red-banded beauty at Red Rock Canyon, lush greenery at historic Spring Mountain Ranch, and sagebrush saloon ambiance in Goodsprings Ghost Town.
Fire and Water Loop
Take the scenic route along Lake Mead’s edge to Valley of Fire, where famously photogenic orange and red rocks abound, then mosey to Mesquite for museums, art, and fine meals.
Colorado River Corridor
After touring Hoover Dam, head to Boulder City for epic eats and outdoor action, on land and water. Stop for a historic mine tour en route to Laughlin for more riverfront fun.
Red Rockin’ Loop
60 to 110 mi
Pack the snacks and book it to the Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center to view a live desert tortoise habitat and hiking recs. Plan ahead and book a Timed Entry on Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive, the looping scenic drive Las Vegas visitors cherish for its stunning vista points and popular trail access. Next stop: tranquil Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, a verdant oasis full of hikes, historic buildings, and unique ranger programs. Add a trip to Goodsprings Ghost Town to wind down with burgers ‘n’ beers at the storied Pioneer Saloon.
Nevada is all about open-road adventures, but please brush up on travel restrictions and safety guidelines before heading for our horizons.
The Red Rockin’ Loop proves why we call this suite of day trips from Las Vegas “Neon to Nature.” And all this outdoor action is sure to make that hotel pillow feel extra plush. Here are our fave places to crash Downtown.
Circa Resort & Casino
El Cortez Hotel and Casino
Downtown Grand Las Vegas Hotel & Casino
Oasis at Gold Spike
Hikers head to Calico Basin’s larger-than-life landscapes. Climbers go crazy for more than 1,200 named routes, from short sport to 20-pitch pushes. Meanwhile, solace-seekers steal away to Spring Mountain Ranch State Park.
Blue Diamond Loop
Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Spring Mountain Ranch State Park
Vegas Off-Road Tours
Seven Magic Mountains
If those original stamped tin walls could talk! The 1913-built Pioneer Saloon is home to legends, folklore, and Food Network-approved fare—all washed down with some notoriously killer drinks. Worth those extra miles, trust us.
Cottonwood Station Eatery
Fire & Water Loop
120 to 175 miles
Valley of Fire is one of the most popular Las Vegas day trips—and with good reason. Nevada’s first and largest state park, formed when dinosaurs roamed the Silver State, offers unparalleled vistas of (or atop) other-worldly sandstone formations, plus chances aplenty to spy desert bighorn sheep and stone-carved calling cards from Nevada’s earliest human ancestors. But push on to discover fascinating museums, eye-catching art, off-road adventure, golf galore, and some amenity-packed resorts where you rest your head in style.
The border town of Mesquite is home to art, culture, great restaurants, and nine golf courses—all set against a stunning Virgin River Valley backdrop. Here are some of our favorite places to make a night of it in Mesquite.
Eureka Casino Resort
Virgin River Hotel & Casino
Casablanca Resort & Casino
Leave early to beat the crowds (and heat) to Valley of Fire. Then uncover American Indian history at Lost City Museum and cruise on to Mesquite for an amazing art gallery, artifact-packed museum, and high-octane activities.
Lost City Museum
Valley of Fire State Park
Adventure Time Tours & Rentals
Virgin Valley Heritage Museum
Mesquite Fine Arts Center & Gallery
Gold Butte National Monument
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Desert Ranch Experience
Sweeten your trip with a milkshake at The Inside Scoop, or spice it up with Cajun cuisine at Sugar’s Home Plate—both in Moapa Valley. If you think your day’s work has earned you a huge, juicy steak: Katherine’s Steakhouse.
The Inside Scoop
Sugar’s Home Plate
Light up your world with a mass ascension of lanterns into the Mojave Desert’s night sky, join a cele-BRAY-tion of one of Nevada’s sweetest wild critters, or sample your way around an old-fashioned pomegranate party.
Colorado River Corridor
70 to 250 miles
Without Hoover Dam, there’d be no Vegas. Tour the modern marvel and test your camera’s panorama mode from the 886-ft-tall, 1,905-ft-long viewing bridge—the longest of its kind in North America. Then explore Boulder City, the quiet, Art Deco-obsessed town that built it, where fascinating museums, cute shops, outdoor activities, and amazing eats abound. Stop for a tour of Techatticup Mine and poke around Nelson Ghost Town en route to Laughlin, where the party continues, in the resorts and, of course, on the Colorado River.
If your day ends in Boulder City, choose from a Colonial Revival-style gem, a swanky B&B, or a retro-chic motel (there’s that neon again). If you push on to Laughlin, settle into one of nine riverfront overflowing-amenity resorts.
Milo’s Cellar & Inn
El Rancho Boulder Motel
Hoover Dam Lodge Hotel & Casino
Tropicana Laughlin Hotel & Casino
Harrah’s Laughlin Casino Hotel
Boulder Dam Hotel
Golden Nugget Laughlin
Aquarius Casino Resort
Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort Hotel & Casino
Got extra days? Take ‘em. Otherwise, your work’s cut out choosing how to stack this action-packed out-and-back. This trip delivers for history buffs, outdoor enthusiasts, water lovers, and just about everyone else, too.
London Bridge Jet Boat Tours
Gold Strike Hot Spring
Historic Railroad Trail at Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Colorado River Museum & Historical Society
Eldorado Canyon and Techatticup Mine
Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters
Nevada State Railroad Museum—Boulder City
Tom Devlin’s Monster Museum
Colorado River Heritage Greenway Park & Trails
Treat yourself to famous Dole whip floats at Chilly Jilly’z, mom-and-pop classics at the postcard-perfect Coffee Cup Café, and “killer” burgers at The Dillinger—all in BC—or steak your claim at Laughlin’s chop houses.
The Dillinger Food and Drinkery
Coffee Cup Café
Chilly Jilly’z Bakery & Cafe
From 4-day film fests, smoked meat celebrations, and the largest juried outdoor art fest in the Southwest to rallies for mountain bikes, off-road rigs, and motorcycles, these Colorado River towns know how to get down.
Big city lights and breathtaking desert sights. See ‘em both (plus everything in between) and tag #NeonToNature so we can virtually tag along with ya.
Want a little more of the Weirdest, Wildest West?
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Stories from Nevada
Looking for an insider’s perspective? We’ve got plenty. Discover surprising scenery, intriguing towns, oddball attractions, endless let’s-see-what-happens adventure opportunities, and where to find them—as shared by people who’ve lived it all.