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 Best Places to Visit in Las Vegas

                                     Best Daytrips

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Best Las Vegas Daytrips                              
Lake Mead     Hoover Dam     Red Rock Canyon    Valley of Fire    Grand Canyon Tours   Atomic Testing Museum  

Sometime during your Vegas vacation, you may want to step out and see the "neighborhood". We provide information on the attractions that are the best daytrips in the Las Vegas area.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

If you want to take some time for fishing, boating (including house boating, kayaking and canoeing) you should consider a visit to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The shores of the Lake Mead and Lake Mohave offer stunning views and include over a million and a half  acres of recreational area.

During the last decade, the Southwest of the US has experienced a significant drought. In addition, the outflow of water from the lakes to downstream states has continued to exceed the inflow. As a consequence, the water level has dropped significantly since 2000. Stop in the Lake Mead Visitor Center, also called the Alan Bible Visitor Center, located off of U.S. 93, four miles southeast of Boulder City, to check on current conditions and the status of the Lake’s marinas.

Although hiking is popular, the Recreational Area is best known for its water sports. Remember that this is desert area and it can be torrid in summer. Visit Lake Mead in spring or early autumn for pleasant temperatures. See the National Park Service pages on Lake Mead for specifics on visiting.

Hoover Dam

One of the standby daytrips for visitors to Las Vegas is a tour of Hoover Dam and Power Plant. The dam is located 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas on US Highway 93 at the Nevada-Arizona border. There is a modest parking fee and an additional fee for the tour.

The attraction is quite popular (open between 9 and 5) especially in summer and tour times between 9AM and 10AM are the least crowded. (By the way the Mike O"Callaghan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, a bypass of Hoover Dam, is now complete. The bridge is becoming something of an icon itself, as it is comprised of the largest concrete arch in the Western Hemisphere.)

Finally, note that pets are not allowed at Hoover Dam.

Red Rock Canyon    

The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area lies just at the western edge of Las Vegas and is a great place for afternoon out of the casinos and off the Strip. Red Rock Canyon is perfectly named as it is a large, beautiful canyon area with cliffs covered with an amazing variety of reddish hues. The Conservation area hosts over a million visitors a year who are attracted to this natural wonderland of petrified sand dunes. Be sure to bring water and good hiking shoes if you want to hike around the park. Just driving through can be great fun, but to really explore the area, you need to do some walking. The Visitor Center is informative and it's where you should start your exploration of the park. See the Red Rock Canyon official web site for more information

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area is open from sunrise to sunset (6 a.m. to 5 p.m. in winter and later in spring summer and fall) Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area is approximately 17 miles west of the strip. You can get there by following on Charleston Boulevard to the edge of town. Stay on Highway 159 (Blue Diamond Road) until you come to the park entrance. (There is a modest entrance fee.)



Valley of Fire State Park    

The Valley of Fire State Park is a gorgeous example of desert sandstone, rugged cliffs and the complex landscapes that can form in arid environments. As in Red Rock Canyon, the landscape in this area derived from the solidification of sand dunes that existed over 150 million years ago. Earthquakes, crustal movements and erosion have interacted with the various rock types at Valley of the fire to produce a an unusual landscape that is colorful, beautiful and dramatic. The park is approximately an hour from Las Vegas (55 miles- near Overton, NV) at exit 75 on I-15. Sections of the Park’s roads are rough and may not be appropriate for some low-slung cars (say, a Corvette) The best time to visit is autumn and spring. Winters can be cool and sometimes damp, while summers broil.

There is a modest admission fee. The best place to start your tour is at the Park's Information Center.  Be sure to bring plenty of water and wear good hiking shoes, as the trails are the best ways to see the real beauty of the park. There are a number of areas that display authentic petroglyphs (rock art from the Anasazi and other early visitors to the area). Details on visiting can be found at the parks official web site .

Grand Canyon Tours

The Grand Canyon is a little out the way for a land tour from Las Vegas.  Although you can reach the North Rim after a long, difficult drive, the best panoramic views of the Grand Canyon can be seen only from its South Rim, which is a significantly longer drive from Las Vegas (allow two days at a minimum). 

Helicopter tours of the Grand Canyon are available from Las Vegas.  Be sure to investigate the safety record of any company you consider for such a tour and assess whether the risks of helicopter travel are you for you.

If you plan to spend some time in the southwest of the United States, you may want to take a look at our guide to the Best National Parks in the America Southwest.


Atomic Testing Museum

Although not quite a daytrip, those of you with an interest in history may find a trip to the Atomic Testing Museum  to be an interesting adventure.  As many of you know, in the 1950s and 1960s visitors to Las Vegas could often see (and feel)  the atomic bomb tests held at the Nevada Test Site and the Atomic Testing Museum provides an exhaustive history of the Nevada testing, as well as the "Cold War" that marked the beginning of the nuclear age. 

We recommend this compact, but informative museum as one of the leading attractions in Las Vegas.  See the museum's official website for more details on its displays and programs.  If the Area 51 exhibit is available (extra fee) you should see it for an enjoyable overview of the questions and potential evidence involved in the possible visits of alien life forms to our planet (or maybe just to gamble in Las Vegas).

            B53  9 megaton thermonuclear  "bunker buster" weapon casing on display at the museum  

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Aerial view of Lake Mead Lake Mead photographs courtesy of U.S. Department of the Interior

Lake Mead is a popular area for recreational boating







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The Hooever Dam holds back the waters of the Colorado River, which then accumulate in Lake Mead Hoover Dam Photograph courtesy of the U.S. Department of the Interior



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Red Rock Canyon is a great place for hikes


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Valley of Fire State Park is beautiful

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Petroglyphs can be seen on rocks near various of the Park's trails




Touring the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas is possible via a helicopter tour




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