Las Vegas may be best known for its casinos and nightlife but there’s also outdoor recreation nearby. From Red Rocks Canyon in Las Vegas to the many national parks near Las Vegas here are some of the best places to go to get out into nature.
While there are may things to do in Vegas with kids, sometimes it is good for your mental health just to get away. Are you looking to get away from the lights of the Las Vegas Strip, and out into nature? Make your plans for a road trip to one of these nearby national parks! There’s also a variety of state parks worth checking out.
Death Valley National Park
This national park is unique in that it lies below sea level. It is also the hottest and driest of all the U.S. national parks. Here you’ll find sand dunes, salt-flats, badlands, canyons, valleys and mountains. Zabriskie Point at sunrise is a must see sight. Natural springs brought first attracted people to this area in the 1920s.
Death Valley National Park boasts a dark sky designation from the International Dark Sky Association. However, our favorite facts about the park is that it was one of the filming locations for the setting of the planet Tatooine in Star Wars.
Zion National Park, Utah
Magical, majestic, stunning, breathtaking and amazing are just a few of the adjectives that come to mind to describe this national park. The rock sediments and formations, carved by the millions years of rushing water and rain, are fascinating. Fair warning, about 4 million people each year visit Zion, mostly during February through late November. It can be very crowded.
This park is something of a hiker’s paradise. You’ll want to check out Angels Landing, Observation Point and Emerald Pools.
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Awe-insipring and breathtaking vistas. This national park is known for crimson-colored irregular columns of spire-shaped rock formations called hoodoos. These sandstone cliffs were craved over time by wind and water.
Bryce Canyon is actually a series of natural amphitheaters or bowls, carved into the edge of a high plateau. Be sure to hike Navajo Loop and Fairyland Loop. You can also access Sunset Point and some of the best views in the park without much of a hike.
Joshua Tree National Park
This national park is the setting of a stark Mojave and Colorado Desert landscape dotted with bristled Joshua trees. There’s also an interesting history here with the first known people of the Pinto Culture living and hunting here between 8000 and 4000 BCE. White settlers later ranched and mined here. Visitors will enjoy hiking, camping, climbing and bird watching.
Insider Tip: Be sure to check out these deserts of California!
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Does anything really need to be said about this national park, the best known national park in the United States? If you haven’t visited, it is surely on your bucket list. It was designated as a national park in 1919. Then UNESCO designated the Grand Canyon a World Heritage Site in 1979.
Here layered bands or red rock cut into an immense canyon by the Colorado river, delight more than 6 million people per year. With four different rims, and two visitor’s centers there are plenty of ways to get a bird’s eye view of the canyon. But there are just three ways to explore below the rims: hiking, mule and river trips.
You may want to spend the night in Grand Canyon Village, located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Great Basin National Park
This national park offers groves of ancient bristlecone pines. It is also home to a Thirteener, a mountain over 13,000 feet tall, Wheeler Peak. Here you’ll want to make reservations to explore one of the 40 known caves, Lehman Annex Cave which is 7,300 feet tall. You can see Calcite and other minerals formed deposits along the walls, as well as stunning stalactites.
Here you may be able to catch a glimpse of Bighorn sheep as well as thousands of stars, and many planets. The park was designated as an International Dark Sky Park in 2016.
Other National Parks Near Las Vegas
If you are up for a drive over 6 hours you may want to add one or more of these national parks to your itinerary: Kings Canyon National Park, Yosemite National Park, Arches National Park,
Monument Valley And Four Corners or Mesa Verde National Park. Mesa Verde is one of our family’s favorites with incredible history.
National Monuments and Reserves
And, don’t forget about nearby national monuments and reserves and state parks. A few that you may want to consider include Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Little Red Rock, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and Sequoia National Forest.
Have we left and of your favorite national parks near Las Vegas off of our list? Tell us below in the comments!
Beautiful National Parks in Other States
Colorado National Parks
Colorado also has some beautiful areas to outdoor recreate. Be sure to check out Colorado national parks!
Texas National Parks
I’ve always wanted to visit Big Bend National Park. Find out the scoop on this Texas National Park and others!
California National Parks
Be sure to add Sequoia National Park to your list of must-see national parks! Surrounded by towering red giants that have stood for more than 2,000 years, Sequoia National Park is truly a humbling and awe-inspiring place to visit.
South Dakota National Memorial
We would certainly be remiss if we didn’t mention Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Our friends over at Carful of Kids have an excellent guide to the Mt Rushmore area.
New Mexico National Monuments
New Mexico is home to two national parks and a lot of national monuments. Our favorite of these is Bandelier National Monument. It is well worth a visit while in the Santa Fe area.