guide to bryce national park

10 Best State & National Parks Near Las Vegas, Nevada

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If you’re visiting Sin City, you should know there are several national parks near Las Vegas. Some of them are within an hour’s drive away, so there’s no reason not to check them out. Plus, if you’re willing to travel a bit further, you can find some of the most amazing natural areas in the western USA.

Our first 10-day West Coast USA road trip started in Vegas, and it was such a magical experience that I can’t recommend it enough. If you don’t have the time, taking day trips from Las Vegas is also a great idea, and you won’t have to drive.

This city’s location is quite unique, so I recommend taking full advantage of it! To inspire you, in this article, I’ll tell you about the best state parks near Las Vegas, as well as some larger national parks where you can hike, sightsee, and camp. Surrounding Vegas, you’ll find alluring desert landscapes and impressive geology, so consider yourself lucky to be near some of the most beautiful places in the country!

The best way to visit the national and state parks near Las Vegas is by car, so I’m also sharing my guide with tips for renting a car in Las Vegas with you.

In this article, you will find the 10 most stunning state and national parks close to Las Vegas and the driving time for each one.

Best State and National Parks Near Las Vegas

Whether you’re going to be in the area for a day or two, or you’re taking a long road trip, you’ll want to know the top state and national parks near Las Vegas.

In this guide, you’ll find the closest national parks to Las Vegas, as well as nearby state parks and national recreation areas worth visiting. I’ll share the highlights of each park and how far each site is from Sin City so you can plan your perfect itinerary.

These are the 10 best national parks near Las Vegas:

  1. Death Valley National Park, California (2 hrs)
  2. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (4 hrs 10 mins)
  3. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada (20 mins)
  4. Zion National Park, Utah (2 hrs 40 mins)
  5. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah (4 hrs)
  6. Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada (45 mins)
  7. Joshua Tree National Park, California (3 hrs)
  8. Yosemite National Park, California (5 hrs 30 mins)
  9. Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah (2 hrs)
  10. Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada (30 mins)

1. Death Valley, the closest national park to Las Vegas

Without a doubt, one of the best national parks to visit near Las Vegas is Death Valley in California’s Mojave Desert. Death Valley is the country’s second-largest national park and one of the hottest, driest places on earth (the hottest recorded temperature was 134° F). As you explore this area, you’ll find striking landscapes and discover the hardy flora and fauna that can survive the extreme weather.

As one of the most popular national parks around Las Vegas, you can find lots of tours to Death Valley, but I recommend this full-day tour. You’ll be able to see the park’s greatest highlights, like the halite salt crystals at Devil’s Golf Course and the famous Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, which reach up to 330 feet tall.

Death Valley National Park, national parks near Las Vegas

1. Death Valley, the closest national park to Las Vegas

Be sure to check out Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, at 280 feet below sea level. The Racetrack Playa is also quite interesting; the dry lake’s “sailing stones” travel along the valley floor, creating inscriptions in the sand.

Despite being a hot and arid environment, Death Valley boasts a vast array of beautiful colors thanks to oxidized minerals like limestone, granite, marble, and pyroclastic rock. Some beautiful examples of this include Artists PaletteRainbow CanyonRed Cathedral, and Golden Canyon.

    • Driving time from Vegas: 2 hours
    • Park fee: $30/vehicle
    • Highlights: Artist’s Palette, Badwater Basin, Dante’s View, Golden Canyon, Mesquite Flat, Rainbow Canyon, Red Cathedral
    • Where to stayThe Inn at Death Valley is one of the best accommodations, but if you want more options, check our guide on where to stay in Death Valley

2. Grand Canyon, an amazing national park close to Las Vegas

The Grand Canyon has one of the top national parks around the Las Vegas area, so you must check it out. Over millions of years, the Colorado River cut through the cliffs to create the 457-foot-deep canyon, which spans 277 miles and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Most people visit the South Rim, which is part of the national park and has incredible lookout points and popular hiking trails. Another less-crowded option, that is also within the national park, is the North Rim, located on the Kaibab Plateau. It’s further away and only open from May-October, so you’ll have to plan accordingly.

Grand Canyon National Park, national and state parks near Las Vegas

2. Grand Canyon, an amazing national park close to Las Vegas

However, the West Rim, which is owned by the Hualapai tribe, is much closer to Las Vegas and if you are short on time, the best option for you. You can even take a Grand Canyon helicopter tour from Las Vegas and visit it in only 4 hours. The West Rim is also where you will find the popular Grand Canyon Skywalk, a glass walkway on the canyon’s edge.

Whatever rim you decide to visit, it’s well worth the drive into Arizona, although you can find lots of Grand Canyon tours from Las Vegas in this guide, including bus tours, rafting adventures, and helicopter tours with below-the-rim landings.

3. Red Rock Canyon, one of the best parks in Las Vegas

While there are several national parks near Las Vegas, one of the best state parks is just 30 minutes from the city. Visiting Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is one of the coolest things to do outside Las Vegas and a great way to witness the beauty of the Mojave Desert.

As the name suggests, this region is full of reddish rock walls, colorful structures, and sandstone peaks formed by the Keystone Thrust fault. Some of the cliffs are up to 3,000 feet tall, so the area is a popular spot for climbers. There are also some nice hiking routes here, such as the Turtlehead Peak Trail, the scenic Calico Tanks Trail, and the Ash Creek to Calico Tanks Route.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, state parks near Las Vegas

3. Red Rock Canyon, one of the best parks in Las Vegas

While hiking, you may see a variety of desert flora and fauna like tortoises, wild burros, bighorn sheep, Joshua trees, agave, and Mojave yucca. Plus, there are interesting sights to see, like the Wilson CliffsRed Springs, and ancient Native American pictographs.

You can take the 13-mile loop to most of these parts of Red Rock or take this 3-hour tour if you don’t feel like driving. Alternatively, this full-day tour goes to Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire, another state park near Las Vegas that I’ll talk about later.

      • Driving time from Vegas: 20 minutes
      • Park fee: $15/vehicle
      • Highlights: Geological formations, hiking, climbing
      • Where to stay: Since Red Rock Canyon is just 30 minutes from the city, I recommend checking our guide to the best hotels in Las Vegas

4. Zion National Park, the most popular national park near Las Vegas, Nevada

In less than 3 hours, you could be in Zion National Park, Utah, one of the most beautiful national parks near Las Vegas. Here, you can take advantage of unbeatable hiking trails, magnificent starry skies, and unique landscapes featuring dramatic slot canyons and sandstone cliffs.

First, I should point out that most of the hiking routes are suited to experienced hikers. One of these is the Angels Landing Trail, a tricky path that rewards you with 360° views at the end. Two other popular hikes are The Narrows, which runs through the Virgin River gorge, and The Subway, an incredible tube-shaped slot canyon. For a more family-friendly hike, I recommend the Weeping Rock or Emerald Pools Trail, the latter of which leads to stunning natural pools with turquoise water.

Zion National Park, best national parks to visit near Las Vegas

4. Zion National Park, the most popular national park near Las Vegas, Nevada

Moreover, the easiest way to sightsee in Zion is to take the free shuttle bus along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. You will be able to visit the Court of the Patriarchs Viewpoint and most of the trailheads from here.

The fantastical geological formations make Zion one of the best national parks near Las Vegas. You can see Zion and Bryce Canyon, which I’ll mention next, on this full-day tour.

      • Driving time from Vegas: 2 hours 40 minutes
      • Park fee: $35/vehicle
      • Highlights: Zion Scenic Drive, Angels Landing, The Narrows, The Subway, Court of the Patriarchs
      • Where to staySpringHill Suites by Marriott Springdale is one of the best hotels near the park, or you can read our guide on where to stay in Zion

5. Bryce Canyon National Park, one of the best national parks near Las Vegas

Along with Zion, Bryce Canyon is one of the best parks near Las Vegas, and it’s perfect for a day trip. Despite the name, this area isn’t just one canyon, but it’s a series of rock formations like amphitheaters, natural bridges, and hoodoos (thin eroded spires). These geological structures create breathtaking overlooks where you can witness this seemingly supernatural landscape.

Conveniently, most of Bryce Canyon’s best viewpoints are just a few miles into the park. For example, Sunrise PointSunset Point, and Inspiration Point give you impressive views of the bright red hoodoos at Bryce Amphitheater.

Bryce Canyon National Park, national parks around the Las Vegas area

5. Bryce Canyon National Park, one of the best national parks near Las Vegas

If you’re only here for a day, I suggest a shorter hike like the Navajo Loop, which leads to Thor’s Hammer and the Two Bridges. Another good route is the Queens Garden Trail, which travels through the amphitheater to the Queen Victoria rock formation. Also, the Bryce Canyon Shuttle is a good option if you’re with kids or don’t want to hike. It’ll take you to the most famous points in the park. 

While Bryce Canyon is a top national park near Las Vegas, Nevada, it is a few hours away. So, if you don’t want to drive, consider this day trip to Bryce Canyon & Zion National Park.

      • Driving time from Vegas: 4 hours
      • Park fee: $35/vehicle
      • Highlights: Bryce Amphitheater, Navajo Loop, Queens Garden Trail, hoodoos, lookout points
      • Where to stay: The free shuttle that takes you through the park stop at Best Western PLUS Bryce Canyon, or you could stay at one of these accommodations in Bryce Canyon

6. Valley of Fire, the best state park near Las Vegas, Nevada

Just 50 miles from the Strip, the Valley of Fire is an incredible state park near Las Vegas. It’ll take you less than an hour to get there, so it’s a great place to visit around Las Vegas during the day.

The oldest state park in Nevada encompasses over 40,000 acres of vibrant Aztec sandstone and awe-inspiring geological formations. If you time your trip perfectly, you can see the sun strike the rock, creating an image of a fiery landscape. It’s a real treasure for photographers, which is part of why we love it!

Valley of Fire State Park, state park near Las Vegas

6. Valley of Fire, the best state park near Las Vegas, Nevada

Over millions of years, faults and erosion in the area created the jagged structures and sand dunes that you can find here today. One of the earliest groups of people to inhabit this land was the Ancestral Puebloans (the Anasazi), and remnants of their culture are reflected in the petroglyphs throughout the park, especially at Mouse’s Tank and Atlatl Rock. Along with the ancient rock art, the area has breathtaking outcrops and petrified trees dating back thousands of years, earning it the title of National Natural Landmark.

While it’s a beautiful place to go camping or hiking, it’s also an ideal day trip if you’re looking for national or state parks near Las Vegas, NV. The Nevada Scenic Byway leads to the park entrance, but if you’d rather not drive, this hiking tour from Las Vegas is perfect and suitable for all fitness levels.

      • Driving time from Vegas: 45 minutes
      • Park fee: $15/vehicle
      • Highlights: Red sandstone formations, petroglyphs, hiking, Mouse’s Tank, Atlatl Rock
      • Where to stay: Camping in Valley of Fire is a unique experience but you can also stay at the North Shore Inn at Lake Mead, right outside the park, or you could stay overnight in Las Vegas since it’s just 45 minutes away

7. Joshua Tree National Park, a unique national park near Las Vegas

Named after the famous desert tree, Joshua Tree National Park is another national park close to Las Vegas, Nevada. Its higher elevations contain parts of the Mojave Desert, while the lower regions are home to the Colorado Desert. As such, you can find a variety of hiking paths, plants, animals, and geological minerals, including Pinto gneiss dating back over 1.5 billion years.

The isolated outcrops and massive boulders make for some amazing hikes. Consider a nature walk through Cholla Cactus Garden or a hike through Hidden Valley to the Keys View lookout, where you can see a beautiful sunset over the Salton Sea. It’s worth staying after dark to see the starry skies and possibly photographing the Milky Way, depending on when you go.

Joshua Tree National Park, best national parks near Las Vegas

7. Joshua Tree National Park, a unique national park near Las Vegas

Some of the park’s top sights include Skull Rock, the Desert Queen MineOld Woman RockGiant Marbles, Arch RockHeart Rock, and of course, the Joshua trees. The trees bloom from February-April, but there are other flora and fauna to behold, like cacti, wildflowers, roadrunners, and desert tortoises.

While this is one of the best national parks near Las Vegas, the highest concentration of Joshua trees isn’t here, but in Mojave National Preserve. It’s a great alternative just an hour from Las Vegas, and we’ve written a whole guide about it.

      • Driving time from Vegas: 3 hours
      • Park fee: $30/vehicle
      • Highlights: Hidden Valley, Cholla Cactus Garden, Desert Queen Mine, Arch Rock, Heart Rock
      • Where to stayJumbo Rocks Campground is the most popular place to stay in Joshua Tree, and we have a guide with some recommended hotels near Mojave National Preserve

8. Yosemite, one of the largest national parks around Las Vegas

Yosemite National Park may be more than 5 hours away, but it’s one of the best parks in the Las Vegas area, so it’s well worth the extra time.

Located in the Sierra Nevada mountains, the park and UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the few remaining pieces of untouched wilderness. Yosemite is known for its plant, wildlife, and geological diversity, so, depending on where you go, you’ll see granite cliffs and mountains, glacial lakes with crystal clear water, and much more.

Yosemite National Park, national park near Las Vegas, Nevada

8. Yosemite, one of the largest national parks around Las Vegas

Most of the top sights are in the Yosemite Valley, such as the Half DomeEl Capitan, and Cathedral Peak. My best advice is to look out from Tunnel View so you can see all three formations in a beautiful panorama. I also recommend visiting Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America.

Besides the Yosemite Valley, it’s worth exploring Glacier Point Road, where you can look out from Taft Point and see the Sentinel Dome and several other waterfalls. I also found Tuolumne Meadows and the groves of giant sequoias to be awe-inspiring.

If you read our full article, you’ll see that there is much more at Yosemite, which is why I consider it a must-see national park near Las Vegas.

      • Driving time from Vegas: 5.5 hours
      • Park fee: $35/vehicle
      • Highlights: El Capitan, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Glacier Point Road
      • Where to stay: The Yosemite Valley Lodge is very popular, or you can look through our list of recommended hotels and campsites in Yosemite

9. Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, a beautiful state park near Vegas

Red Cliffs National Conservation Area is just a couple of hours from Las Vegas, and it’s an inexpensive day trip you can take as a family. It skirts the Mojave Desert and is part of the larger Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, a protected area that’s home to endangered habitats and species.

True to its name, the area features stunning red rock formations and other geological structures like lava tubes and the extinct Santa Clara volcano. The desert environment is teeming with wildlife like the Gila monster, horned rattlesnake, and giant desert hairy scorpion. Don’t let that deter you because there are marked hiking routes that lead to some incredible sights.

Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, state parks near Las Vegas, NV

9. Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, a beautiful state park near Vegas

One of the routes I recommend is the Babylon Arch Trail, a 3-mile loop through narrow canyons made of red and orange rock. The Red Reef Trail is an easy 1.5-mile path featuring rugged Navajo sandstone and natural pools, and the Dino Cliffs Trail contains preserved dinosaur tracks.

Toquerville Falls Trail via LaVerkin Creek is longer (12 miles), but it leads to a beautiful natural pool and waterfall with cliffs you can use to jump into the water.

The Red Cliffs Desert Reserve also includes Snow Canyon State Park, another Utah state park near Las Vegas that you should visit. It’s known for its red and white canyon, sculpted cliffs, and wildlife spotting opportunities.

      • Driving time from Vegas: 2 hours
      • Park fee: $5/vehicle
      • Highlights: Santa Clara volcano, Snow Canyon State Park, dinosaur tracks, natural pools, Toquerville Falls
      • Where to stay: The Inn on the Cliff and the Mulberry Inn are two top accommodations in St. George that are within 8 miles of Red Cliffs

10. Lake Mead National Recreation Area, an interesting national park near Las Vegas

Finally, I couldn’t talk about national parks near Las Vegas without mentioning Lake Mead National Recreation Area. It’s the country’s first and largest national recreation area, stretching from the Colorado River corridor in Arizona to Lake Mead in southeastern Nevada.

The centerpiece of this place is Lake Mead, the reservoir resulting from the construction of the Hoover Dam over 85 years ago. The lake contains more than 26 million acre-feet of water, making it a hotspot for watersports like swimming and kayaking. It’s also common to see bikers and climbers exploring the surrounding mountains, canyons, and valleys. 

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, best national parks near Las Vegas

10. Lake Mead National Recreation Area, an interesting national park near Las Vegas

If you’re going to spend some time here, I recommend taking a hike through the designated desert wilderness areas. Several hiking routes give you lovely panoramic views of the Hoover Dam, Colorado River, and Boulder City. I recommend the Historic Railroad Trail, an easy path overlooking Boulder Basin, or the St. Thomas Trail, a 2-mile loop through the ghost town of the same name.

During your visit, I suggest also stopping by Lake Mohave, a reservoir created by the Davis Dam with coves and hot springs. However, if you’re short on time and prefer to focus on Lake Mead, this half-day tour will take you to the Hoover Dam Bypass, the Visitors Center, and Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

      • Driving time from Vegas: 30 minutes
      • Park fee: $25/vehicle
      • Highlights: Lake Mead, Lake Mohave, Black Canyon Springs, hiking, watersports
      • Where to stayHoover Dam Lodge is minutes away, or you could sleep in Las Vegas

Map of national parks near Las Vegas

I hope you enjoyed reading about the best parks in the Las Vegas area! Be sure to check out my map of national parks near Las Vegas so you can plan the perfect itinerary.

If you have any questions about planning your Las Vegas national park road trip, leave me a comment, and I’ll help you out. Safe travels!

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COFOUNDER & TRAVEL JUNKIE

Hi, I'm Ascen, a globetrotter based in Philadelphia, USA. I enjoy exploring new landscapes and creating in-depth travel guides for Capture the Atlas.

I have felt a special connection with nature and all the inhabitants of the planet since I was a kid. I am passionate about discovering new countries and especially their wildlife, but no matter how many places I visit, I will always belong to the remote beaches of Almería, in Southern Spain.

You can know a little more about me here.

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