Are you searching for the most scenic drives near Las Vegas, Nevada? In this complete guide, I share the best places to visit if you love a good scenic view and want to explore beyond the Las Vegas strip.
Welcome to the American Southwest. If the United States needed a poster card for its beauty, then this region would be it. Nevada is one of those gorgeous states. It boasts picturesque beauty and scenic road red rock-filled roads.
If you haven’t yet explored Las Vegas beyond the Las Vegas Strip, it’s entirely possible that you’ve missed some of the best things the desert city has to offer. Renting a car and exploring is essential to your Las Vegas experience. Luckily, there are some amazing scenic drives near Las Vegas. They are all within 30 minutes to two hours away.
So, plan to rent a car at least for one day. Take notes of the below best places and views to explore.
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Best Scenic Drives near Las Vegas to explore
- Red Rock Canyon State Park
- Hoover Dam Bureau of Reclamation
- Lake Mead National Recreation Area
- Valley of Fire State Park
- Grand Canyon West Rim
- Zion National Park
Do You Need to Rent A Car in Las Vegas?
The answer is YES! While there are many activities and accommodations on the Las Vegas strip, the magic of Vegas truly comes alive off the strip. You’ll want to explore these attractions freely.
Also, if you’re exploring Las Vegas with kids, a rental car will be your best travel option. More family-friendly activities and things to do in Vegas during the day are most accessible by rental car. If you have more time, you’ll want to explore the attractions outside Las Vegas. Keep that in mind.
Red Rock Canyon State Park | Scenic Drives Near Las Vegas (30 Minutes)
Just 16 miles west of Las Vegas, you will find the Red Rock Canyon National Conservational Area and Scenic loop drive. These canyons are a large chunk of the Mohave Desert, and here you will find stunning naturally occurring rock formations. To enter the national park and conservation area, you must first pay the fee per car. However, if you have a valid Military CAC Card (from a service member: active, reserves, or retired), then you can gain access to America’s National Parks FREE of charge.
To read more about FREE access to National Parks Services with a Military ID, read “Military Travel Discounts and Freebies That You’ve Never Heard About”.
After entering the park, stop at the visitor’s center. There is a gift shop, and indoor/outdoor interactive exhibits to learn more about the national park and conservatory. You’ll start your 13-mile scenic road tour from the visitor’s center.
Throughout 13 miles, there is plenty of scenic pullover points where you can get out and take amazing pictures of the Canyons. If you have children, tell the volunteers in the visitor’s center. They will give you a free junior park ranger’s badge, certificate, and activity book to complete during your visit. This stop is perfect for home and world-schooled children.
The Red Rock Canyon is the perfect place for hiking near Las Vegas, so if hiking is your hobby, plan to spend the day here and hike at different points. The Red Rock Canyon site and visitor’s center contain information about the property’s hiking trails, rock climbing tours, and horseback riding tours.
Book your Las Vegas Hotel near Red Rock Canyon HERE
Hoover Dam (Bureau of Reclamation) | Scenic Drives near Las Vegas (45 Minutes)
Just 30 miles from Las Vegas, you’ll find one of the top construction achievements of the 20th Century, The Hoover Dam. Not only is the Hoover Dam essential in providing hydroelectric power to Nevada, Arizona, and California, but it’s also a stunning work of art carved from a natural wonder. This scenic drive can take you by car across the Mike O’Callaghan- Mike Tillman Memorial bridge, cross the Nevada/Arizona state line,, or park and explore the Dam while taking in the scenery.
Things to do at the Hoover Dam
If the Hoover Dam makes your list, plan to spend at least a half day on the property. You can take a self-guided stroll along the Dam with tons of lookout points for taking pictures. Be sure to snap a pick at the Arizona and Nevada State line or the clock towers that show you walking between the time difference. If guided tours are your thing, the visitors center offers multiple inexpensive tours.
Note: Although there are no age or weight restrictions for visiting the Hoover Dam, the Hoover Dam tours (Such as the power plant tour) have an age restriction of 8 and older. Some more unique tours offered are boat rides, day cruises, and helicopter rides for different views of the Dam. The property also has a gift shop and café which offers delicious breakfast (served all day) and lunch options.
Hoover Dam Military Discount
Bonus Tip: With a valid Military ID, you can get 25% off your meal at the Hoover Dam Café. The food discount and free military admissions with the National Park Pass make for a cheap or nearly free trip.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area | Scenic Drive Near Las Vegas (30 Minutes)
If you’re visiting the Hoover Dam, there is a scenic drive from the Lake Las Vegas area to Hoover Dam called Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Although Lake Mead is technically one of the neighboring cities near Las Vegas called Boulder City, it is a manageable drive. Lake Mead is approximately 112 miles long, but the drive from downtown Las Vegas to Lake Mead is about 20 miles, with an additional 10 miles of scenic drive to the Dam.
Things to do in Lake Mead
Lake Mead is gorgeous. There are tons of picturesque views to take in on your short drive, or you can plan a day enjoying the scenery. You will find many pullover spots for fishing and picnics along your drive. As far as outdoor activities, there are many things to do, such as biking, boating, hiking, scuba diving, and more. You can very well make a day trip out of this state park.
For the adventurous, Lake Mead National Park is the perfect place for camping near Las Vegas. It is also the home to some of the locals’ favorite RV parks and could offer you a new perspective of the city for a night or two.
Note: Like the other National Parks, this one is Free with a valid Military ID. You will receive an America the Beautiful National Park Card at the gate.
Valley of Fire State Park | Scenic Drives near Las Vegas (50 minutes)
Valley of Fire State Park is 50 minutes to one hour from the Las Vegas Strip in Overton, Nevada. It is a nature preserve and recreational park with stunning views of red rocks, unique Nevada wildlife, and 2000-year-old petroglyphs in the Mohave dessert.
As the name suggests, Valley of Fire state park is covered with firey red rock structures made of sandstone with over 45,000 acres of land to explore by car or hiking paths.
This park’s most iconic scenic drive is the scenic byway that stretches over eight miles. The colors of the rocks mimic fire with reds and oranges. Going during sunrise or sunset is absolutely breathtaking view. This is easily one of the most photogenic places in Las Vegas, and stopping points along the eight-mile pathway allow plenty of opportunities to take in the view or take a postcard-worthy photo.
Zion National Park | Scenic Drives near Las Vegas (2 Hours)
If you’re a National Parks enthusiast or have seen any art, culture, or film depicting the American west, chances are you’ve seen stunning Utah in some way, shape, or form.
Southern Utah is notorious for boasting the Mighty five or Big 5 National parks, including Zion National Park, Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Canyon Lands National Park, and Capitol Reef National Park.
Not only are these parks iconic in the National Park System, but they each have unique and unreal views and experiences that are indeed once in a lifetime. So, if you want to spend a weekend reconnecting with nature and taking in a much simpler lifestyle, Southern Utah is the weekend getaway from Las Vegas. Other city-like experiences in Southern Utah include Springdale near Zion National Park, St. George, Utah.
Zion National Park is the perfect park for a day trip, whether exploring the scenic drive option or hiking on the park’s many trails.
If Zion National Park is on your list, check out this first-timer’s guide to Zion National Park. Click HERE to learn about a Unique Airbnb Tiny House RENTAL near Zion National Park that is great for solo travelers, couples, and families.
Grand Canyon South and West Rims | Scenic Drives near Las Vegas (4 Hours)
The Grand Canyon is one of the most iconic National Parks in the world. However, most people do not realize that the Canyon is vast and that it has multiple entries and viewpoints ranging from a 2 to 4-hour drive from Las Vegas.
The Grand Canyon’s West rim is home to the Grand Canyon Sky Walk on the Hualapai Indian Reservation. The Skywalk is a 10 ft wide glass bridge that extends 70 ft over the grand canyon offering breathtaking views of the canyons and allowing you to get some fantastic pictures.
The South rim is typically what people are talking about when they say they’ve visited The Grand Canyon. This rim offers many more attractions, trails, views and activities. Other opportunities are dining, cultural experiences, shopping, zip lining, and more.
The most scenic drive in the Grand Canyon is in the southern rim. Desert view drive is a 23 mile scenic drive with multiple stunning view points.
I would highly recommend planning the grand canyon as a day trip or even overnight to explore it all.
Book Your Vacation Rental near The Grand Canyon HERE
Places to Visit Near Las Vegas by Car
Nevada is a stunning state. If I’m being honest, the entire Las Vegas area could count as a scenic drive. If you look past the Strip, you’ll see canyons and mountains surrounding you. However, many stunning places near Las Vegas by car make for a fantastic day or half-day trip from Vegas.
I like to explain Las Vegas as a travel hub. It is the perfect landing spot for visitors looking to explore the west. Within 4 hours, you can visit Utah, California, Arizona, and more. In my article, Drivable weekend getaways from Las Vegas (6 Hours or less), we share great destinations to explore during your las vegas vacation.
Plan Your Entire Trip to Las Vegas right HERE!
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