13 Awesome National Parks Near Las Vegas

by | Jul 24, 2020 | Arizona, California, Latest Posts, Utah

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With 13 magnificent National Parks located near to Las Vegas the city is the perfect entry point to explore an array of national parks. From Las Vegas, it takes less than a day to reach 13 National Park’s across Nevada, California, Utah and Arizona.

We recently set off from Las Vegas to explore the surrounding National Parks and wanted to share our guide to the best National Parks near Las Vegas!

Zion National Park

Zion, one of the closest National Parks to Las Vegas

 

13 National Parks Near Las Vegas

From the iconic hikes in Zion National Park to the other worldly Joshua Tree landscapes and the vastness of the Grand Canyon, there are some incredible National Parks near Vegas.

National Parks near Las Vegas tip: all the National Parks listed below are within an 7 hour drive from Las Vegas and can be easily reached within a day.

 

1 | Death Valley National Park, California

Drive Time from Las Vegas: 2 hours

Located just two hours west of Las Vegas on the Nevada – California border, Death Valley is a National Park of extremes. It is the lowest, hottest and driest of the US National Parks and some of the hottest temperatures on the planet have been recorded in Death Valley.

The highlights include Badwater Basin which, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America, Dantes Valley Viewpoint and Zabriskie Point.

Badwater Basin Death Valley

Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park

 

2 | Zion National Park, Utah

Drive Time from Las Vegas: 2 hours 40 minutes

Home to soaring red cliffs, iconic hikes and a rich variety of wildlife, the magnificent Zion National Park is less than 3 hours drive from Las Vegas.

Hikers flock to Zion to conquer the iconic Angels Landing and the water-based Narrows.Canyon Overlook, Riverside Walk, Observation Point, Scout Lookout and the Emerald Pools are among the other best hikes in Zion.

With 4.5 million visitors last year, Zion is one of the most popular National Parks in the USA.

Zion National Park

Canyon Overlook, Zion National Park

 

3 | Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Drive Time from Las Vegas: 4 hours

With its signature hoodoo rock columns Bryce Canyon National Park is a truly magnificent sight. Its series of natural amphitheaters are carved into the edge of a high plateau and there are some spectacular viewpoints along the rim: Rainbow Point, Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, and Bryce Point all offer sweeping views.

Bryce Canyon is Utah’s smallest National Park and it can easily be explored in a single day.

National Parks near Las Vegas tip: It is a 4 hour drive from Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon.  With a 90 minute drive between the two, Bryce Canyon is often combined with a trip to Zion National Park.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

 

4 | Joshua Tree National Park, California

Drive time from Las Vegas: 3 hours

Although it is only a 3 hour drive from Vegas, Joshua Tree National Park feels like it is on another planet! Joshua Tree’s barren desert landscape is dotted with the distinctive Joshua Trees and its unique rock formations and jumbo boulders add to its charm.

Joshua Tree’s most well known sights include unique rock formations such as Skull Rock, Arch Rock and Heart Rock. Other fun things to do in Joshua Tree include watching the sunrise at Keys View, hiking to Desert Queen Mine and checking out the cacti at the Cholla Cactus Garden.

It’s also worth spending time in the surrounding towns: the creative and quirky Joshua Tree Town and the wild west themed Pioneertown are two of the best things to do near Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

 

5 | Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Drive time from Las Vegas: North or South Rim 4.5 hours

Depending on the time of year and where else you are planning on visiting, it can be a toss up between the North and South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

The South Rim is the most popular of the two and has a more extensive tourist offering. It is also open year round. A series of viewpoints along Desert View Drive and Hermite Road showcase the vastness of the canyon. Other highlights include the South Kaibab Trail with its incredible viewpoints including Ooh Aah Point.

Grand Canyon South Rim

South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park

 

Grand Canyon North Rim

North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park

 

The North Rim is much quieter, and cooler, than its South Rim counterpart. It is only open from May 15 to October 15 for overnight stays and December 1 for day access as the winter conditions at the North Rim are more extreme. Highlights of the North Rim include Bright Angel Point, Cape Royal and Roosevelt Point.

It is possible to hike Rim to Rim via the North Kaibab trail and either the Bright Angel or South Kaibab trail. This is an extremely challenging hike and one which only a small number of visitors undertake.

National Parks near Las Vegas tip: the Grand Canyon West Rim, where the Skywalk is located and the helicopter tours visit, is a 2.5 hour drive and a very popular day trip from Las Vegas. This part of the canyon is owned by the Hualapai Tribe and is not part of the Grand Canyon National Park.

 

6 | Great Basin National Park, Nevada

Drive time from Las Vegas: 4 hours 30 minutes

Located in eastern Nevada, Great Basin National Park is centered around the dry and mountainous Great Basin region between California and Utah. The park is incredibly diverse with a stunning mix of alpine lakes and limestone caverns which are set in a solitude environment. The park is home to Nevada’s only glacier as well as the oldest living trees on the planet with its 5,000 year old bristlecone pine trees. Great Basin National Park is also renowned for its dark skies.

Its highlights include the Lehman Cave tour, the Alpine Lakes Loop trail, the Bristlecone Trail and the trail to the summit of the second highest peak in Nevada, Wheeler Peak.

Great Basin National Park

Wheeler Peak, Great Basin National Park

 

7 | Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Drive Time from Las Vegas: 5 hours 15 minutes

With its endless rugged landscape and colorful desert rock, Capitol Reef National Park is a magical place to visit. The defining feature of Capitol Reef is Waterpocket Fold, a 100 mile long buckle in the earth’s surface along which erosion and uplift have created deep narrow canyons and fascinating rock formations.

Capitol Reef is an easy and extraordinary park to explore. Highway 24 cuts through the park and the Capitol Reef Scenic Drive, an 8 mile scenic drive, showcases the most magnificent scenery in the park. Hickman’s Bridge, Sunset Point and Panorama Point all offer wonderful views and turnoffs to Grand Wash and Capitol Gorge allow for ample hiking opportunities.

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

 

8 | Yosemite National Park, California

Drive time from Las Vegas: 5 hours 30 minutes

Located on the western Sierra Nevada Mountains the towering cliff faces, cascading waterfalls and giant sequoias are a magnet for visitors to Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is home to some fascinating residents and some lucky visitors spot black bears, mountain lions and big horn sheep.

Most of the action takes place in Yosemite Valley which stretches almost 8 miles and was carved by glaciers millions of years ago.

Yosemite’s two most famous sights are Half Dome and El Captain: Half Dome rises 4,800 feet above Yosemite Valley floor and sits across the valley from the equally impressive El Captain. Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Falls and Nevada Falls are among the magnificent waterfalls which cascade over the Yosemite rock and the most impressive views are from Glacier Point, Washburn Point and Tunnel View.

National Parks Near Las Vegas tip: there are a few route options for driving between Las Vegas and Yosemite: the fastest route is via US-95, the most popular route takes a detour through Bishop and Mammoth Lakes, a western route cuts through Death Valley and a longer, year round route passes south of Sequoia National Park.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

 

9 | Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Drive time from Las Vegas: 5 hours 30 minutes

Encompassing over 200 million years of history the Petrified Forest National Park is one of the most extraordinary National Parks near to Vegas. The park is comprised of two sections: the colorful rock and clay hills of the Painted Desert are in the north and the petrified wood in the south of the park.

There are lots of great hikes and viewpoints from which to The views from the 1 mile Blue Mesa trail are other worldly and the 0.8 mile Crystal Forest Loop meanders through the petrified wood.

The Petrified Forest National Park even contains a section of the historic Route 66.  The Painted Desert Inn,  once a hotel and restaurant and now a museum, is located on Route 66.

Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park

Painted Desert, Petrified Forest National Park

 

10 | Sequoia National Park, California

Drive time from Las Vegas: 6 hours 15 minutes

Sequoia National Park, and the adjacent Kings Canyon National Park, are home to the largest living organism on earth: the majestic sequoia tree.

Located in the Giant Forest Sequoia Grove, the General Sherman Tree is the world’s largest tree by volume and it is still growing! The General Sherman Tree has a diameter of 36 feet at its base and is 275 foot tall.

Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the contiguous US is also located in Sequoia National Park.

Other highlights include Moro Rock, a 400 step climb which rewards with incredible views, the marble karst Crystal Cave and Tunnel Log, a fallen sequoia which cars can drive through.

National Parks near Las Vegas tip: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ are located adjacent to each other in the southern Sierra Nevada.

sequoia national park

Sequoia National Park

 

11 | Kings Canyon National Park, California

Drive time from Las Vegas: 6 hours 45 minutes

Adjacent to Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon is centered around its namesake canyon which is the deepest in the US.

Kings Canyon National Park includes Redwood Canyon which is the largest remaining grove of sequoia trees in the world. Another Kings Canyon Grove, Grant Grove, contains General Grant Tree, the second largest sequoia tree in the world.

The beautiful Kings Canyon Scenic Byway descends into the canyon and transports visitors to Cedar Grove in the heart of the canyon.

Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon National Park

 

12 | Arches National Park, Utah

Drive time from Las Vegas: 6 hours 45 minutes

Home to over 2,000 natural stone arches, Arches National Park is a 7 hour drive from Las Vegas.

One of the best hikes in Arches is the trial to Delicate Arch, an instantly recognizable arch which appears on Utah licence plates. Devil’s Garden, Balanced Rock and Landscape Arch are among its other incredible sights with Landscape Arch holding the title of the longest natural stone arch in the USA.

National Parks near Vegas tip: Arches is one of the best National Parks near Vegas for families. Most of its trails can be managed by kids and there are easy to access viewpoints throughout the park.

Delicate Arch Arches National Park

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park

 

13 | Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Drive time from Las Vegas: 7 hours

Canyonlands is the largest of Utah’s National Parks and is divided into four distinct districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze and Orange Cliffs.

Island in the Sky is the most accessible and is a 30 minute drive from Moab. Mesa Arch, the most photographed arch in Utah, is located in this district and is only a 10 minute hike from the nearby parking lot. Grand Viewpoint is another highlight, and from here, there are spectacular views of the Maze and the Needles districts.

National Parks near Las Vegas tip: both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are easily accessible from the town of Moab in Utah. We based ourselves in Moab for a few nights and visited Arches and Canyonlands National Park together with Dead Horse Point State Park.

Mesa Arch Canyonlands National Park

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park

 

The Best State Parks, National Recreation Areas and Navajo Parks near to Vegas

There are also some incredible State Parks, National Recreation Areas and Navajo Parks and Recreation near to Vegas that are unmissable!

 

14 | Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Drive time from Las Vegas: 1 hour

The Valley of Fire State Park is just 50 miles north east of Las Vegas. When it catches the sun the park’s red Aztec sandstone illuminate the valley and it looks like it is on fire, hence the name Valley of Fire.

The 11 mile Valley of Fire Scenic Byway cuts through the park connecting the east and west entrances making it easy for visitors to explore.

There are some easy to access sights: climb the stairs at Atlatl Rock to see the 4,000 year old petroglyphs, admire the Beehives and Windstone Arch and check out Elephant Rock close to the entrance.

A short detour onto Mouse Tank Road leads to the trail heads for the First Wave, White Domes, Rainbow Vista, Mouse Tank and Pink Canyon. The signature Valley of Fire photo where the grey, narrow road cuts through deep red rock formations can be captured along Mouse Tank Road.

National Parks near Vegas tip: Valley of Fire might be familiar even for first time visitors: it has featured in movies including Total Recall and Transformers.

Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire State Park

 

15 | Hoover Dam and Lake Mead National Recreational Area

Drive time from Las Vegas: 30 minutes

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

Towering 725 feet over the Colorado River, the colossal Hoover Dam is a wildly impressive engineering feat. It’s possible to take a tour of the dam and the observation deck has panoramic views of Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and the Colorado River.

Located on the Colorado River, Lake Mead is the largest man-made reservoir in the United States and is impounded by the Hoover Dam. Lake provides water to Arizona, California, Nevada and to parts of Mexico. One of the best ways to explore Lake Mead is by a boat ride on the Mississippi paddle wheelers.

Lake Mead Recreation Area

Lake Mead Recreation Area

National Parks near Vegas tip: Hoover Dam and Lake Mead can be combined with a trip to the Valley of Fire National Park. It takes about 2 hours to drive from Las Vegas to all three.

 

 

 

16 | Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

Drive time from Las Vegas: 30 minutes

With its striped red and grey sandstone cliffs, interesting rock formations and ancient petroglyphs, the Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area is a popular escape to nature from the glitzy Las Vegas Strip.

Red Rock Canyon is easily explored through a series of stops on its 13 mile scenic drive and some short hikes. There are also some more challenging hikes if you want to spend longer at Red Rock Canyon. Exploring the Lost Canyon Children’s Discovery Trail with its waterfalls and petroglyphs was one of our favorite things to do in Las Vegas with kids.

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

 

17 | Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

Drive time from Las Vegas: 4 hours 30 minutes

Both Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend are close to Page, Arizona, a 4.5 hour drive from Las Vegas.

Antelope Canyon Arizona

Antelope Canyon

The magnificent Antelope Canyon is one of the most visited and photographed slot canyons in the world. Antelope Canyon was formed by a series of flash floods and hot dry temperatures which resulted in the erosion of the sandstone rock through which the canyon now cuts.

National Parks near Las Vegas tip: Antelope Canyon is located on land belonging to the Navajo Nation and is only accessible via a guided tour. The tours are split better the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon: we’ve been on both tours and both the Upper and Lower Canyon are spectacular.

Antelope Canyon Arizona

Antelope Canyon

Part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Horseshoe Bend is a picturesque bend, known as an entrenched meander, in the Colorado River. The viewpoint over Horseshoe Bend is accessible via a short hike from the parking lot below and the view over Horseshoe Bend is breath taking.

Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend

 

18 | Monument Valley, Utah-Arizona border

Drive time from Las Vegas: 6 hours 30 minutes

Located on the Utah-Arizona border, Monument Valley is defined by mesas and sandstone buttes towering over the desert landscape. Exploring Monument Valley is a truly magical experience and its sunrises and sunsets are magnificent.

Monument Valley

Monument Valley

Monument Valley is synonymous with the American West and gained popularity as the setting for Western movies including Stagecoach and The Searchers. It also featured in National Lampoon’s Vacation and the iconic scene in Forest Gump where Forest decides to stop running and return home.

National Parks near Las Vegas tip: if you decide to spend some time at Monument Valley make sure to make the 90 minute drive to the Four Corners Monument, the only place in the United States where you can stand in four states at once! It marks the point where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah meet.

Four Corners Monument

Four Corners Monument

Both Monument Valley and Four Corners Monument are located on land belonging to the Navajo Nation.

 

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