Welcome to the American SouthWest. If the United States needed a poster card for its beauty, then this region of the states would be it. Nevada is one of those gorgeous southwestern states with picturesque beauty and scenic road trips to drive before leaving this earth. While everyone else is running to the Las Vegas strip for their Vegas vacation, be sure to carve some time out, rent a car and take a short trip to visit one of the 3 Must See Scenic Drives Near Las Vegas.
This post is sponsored by Alamo Rent A Car as a part of #MyAlamoAdventure Campaign. However, my thoughts and opinions as an Alamo Ambassador are my own.
Do You Need to Rent A Car in Las Vegas?
The answer is YES! While there are a ton of activities and accommodations on the Las Vegas strip, the magic of Vegas truly comes alive off the strip and you’ll want to freely explore them. Also, if you’re traveling with family or exploring 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 of Las Vegas. Keep that in mind.
Alamo aims to encourage family travel regardless of where your rental car takes you. For road trip information and destination guides, be sure to check out Alamo’s The Scenic Route.
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 mountain surrounding you. However, there are tons of places to visit near Las Vegas by Car that are stunning and make for amazing day or half day trips from Vegas.
The best part about visiting them is the fact that they are all so close to Las Vegas that they will not take away from time to explore your classic Vegas vacation. These scenic drives are amazing things to do in Las Vegas during the day. Although there are tons of scenic drives, I will be detailing 3 National Parks near Las Vegas: Red Rock Canyon National Park, Lake Mead National Recreation Area and the Hoover Dam.
Scenic Drives Near Las Vegas, Nevada
Red Rock Canyon: Las Vegas Scenic Drive
Just 16 miles west of Las Vegas, you will find the Red Rock Canyon National Conservational Area and Scenic loop drive. These canyons are actually 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 will first need to 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 completely 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, be sure to stop at the visitor’s center. There is a gift shop, indoor/outdoor interactive exhibits to learn more about the national park and conservatory and more. From the visitor’s center, you’ll start your 13- mile scenic road tour.
Over the course of 13 miles, there are plenty of scenic pull over points where you can get out and take amazing pictures of the Canyons. If you have children, be sure to 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.
Hiking Near Las Vegas
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 the different points. On the Red Rock Canyon site and visitor’s center, there is information about hiking trails, rock climbing tours and horseback riding tours on property.
Hoover Dam (Bureau of Reclamation)
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, it’s also a stunning work of art carved from a natural wonder. This scenic drive can either take you by car across the Mike O’Callaghan- Mike Tillman Memorial bridge, cross the Nevada/Arizona state line or you can 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 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 is no age or weight restrictions for visiting the Hoover Dam, the Hoover Dam tours (Such as the power plant tour) has an age restriction of 8 and older. Some more unique tours offered are boat rides, day cruise 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. Between the food discount and free military admissions with the National Park Pass, this makes for a cheap or nearly free trip.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area: Las Vegas Scenic Drive
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. Along your drive, you will find tons of pull over spots for fishing and picnics. As far as outdoor activities, there are a ton of 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 local’s favorite RV parks and could offer you a new perspective of the city for a night or two.
Note: Just like the other National Parks, this one is Free with a valid Military ID. At the gate, you will receive an America the Beautiful National Park Card.
Now that we’ve talked about 3 Must See Scenic Drives near Las Vegas, Nevada; our sponsors at Alamo want to encourage you to take the scenic route throughout America’s SouthWestern United States. The Scenic Route contains helpful travel and destinations article perfect for planning your family vacation. If you enjoyed reading this article, you may enjoy reading “Build your own Southwest Driving Tour” and “Rent Car, Will Travel: Amazing Southwest Driving and Day Trips”.