With so much to do in Las Vegas itself, it can be hard to find time to explore beyond the city’s borders. However, even if you only have an afternoon spare, it’s well worth renting a car and heading out of town. Las Vegas is surrounded by stunning scenery and places like Lake Mead, Hoover Dam and Red Rock Canyon are within easy driving distance.
Red Rock Canyon
More and more poker players are discovering Red Rock Canyon, a stunning national park only 25 miles from the Strip. You can rent a car or arrange a shuttle trip with local tour operators. The Red Rock scenic loop is 13 miles long and there are more than 10 easy hikes around the amazing natural rock formations. You can even gamble on your way there or back - at Red Rock Casino.
Measuring approximately 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep, the Grand Canyon has been six million years in the making and is definitely one of the most spectacular sights on earth. Although visiting the Grand Canyon by car would make for a very long day trip (it’s about 2.5 hours to the West Rim and five hours to the South Rim) there are dozens of tour operators in Vegas offering helicopter rides which take about four hours door-to-door from your hotel. Longer trips include stops at Lake Mead and Hoover Dam as well, along with boat trips down the Colorado River.
Lake Mead is one of the biggest man-made lakes in the world, and lies about 30-45 minutes’ drive from the Strip. It’s a perfect place to chill out after a hard few days at the poker tables, with a ton of activities on offer including swimming, boating, fishing, jet skiing and hiking. With 820 miles of shoreline, there are plenty of beach areas for lounging around and picnicking. Lake Mead became a National Recreation Area back when the Hoover Dam was created and although it has been subject to drought in recent years, it is now making a recovery and is a fabulous place to visit.
Hoover Dam is located in Black Canyon, just 30-40 minutes outside of Las Vegas and you can easily combine a trip to Lake Mead with a visit to this National Historic Landmark. The enormous, 726 feet high curved wall is an amazing feat of engineering which took five years to build – from 1931 to 1936. It was the largest dam of its kind at the time and is still the highest concrete dam in the Western Hemisphere.
Valley of Fire
Valley of Fire is about an hour northeast of the Strip and Nevada’s oldest and largest state park. This epic landscape is world-renowned – for its 40,000 acres of bright red Aztec sandstone outcrops, ancient, petrified trees and petroglyphs dating back more than 2,000 years. The trip there and back is spectacular, taking you through the heart of the Nevada desert.
Clark County Wetlands Park
Clark County Wetlands Park spans 2,900 acres on the eastern edge of the Las Vegas Valley, just a half hour drive from the Strip. With a 210-acre Nature Preserve and five trailheads, the Park is a gorgeous wildlife habitat that’s open daily during daylight hours.