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Contrary to popular belief, a trip to Las Vegas doesn’t need to be limited to the strip. Sure — spend some time getting your kicks in the country’s most notoriously sinful destination — but you should also consider getting out of town on a road trip. Las Vegas is a good home base for three excellent road trips: Red Rock Canyon, the Hoover Dam, and the Grand Canyon. Here’s a quick rundown on why these gems are worthy of an afternoon road trip.
When it comes to road trips, pre-trip planning will play an important role in your overall happiness. So, before you set off with nothing more than a bag of Doritos in the car, take some time to prep.
First, make sure your vehicle is in shape for a road trip. Consider getting a tune-up and have a mechanic overlook everything before heading out. Some of the most common car-related issues that arise on road trips have to do with batteries, damaged tires, alternators, spark plugs, and clutch cables.
Imagine yourself halfway through your journey and ask yourself: Are you having fun? Make sure you have playlists, podcasts, audiobooks, and anything else that will keep you entertained for a long journey. Some of the scenery outside of Las Vegas is quite desolate with long, straight roads, so you’ll want as much entertainment as possible.
Bring snacks! Cruising by those blue signs with food options normally in the realm of McDonald’s and Carl’s Jr. are not always inspiring. Consider packing a cooler with healthy snacks as a way to keep hunger at bay and keeping to a budget.
Lastly, a new app available for road trippers around the US and Canada is Gypsy Tours. It’s a super handy tool — GPS-synced narrations that offer stories, advice, and directions according to where you are on your journey. It’s like having a fully-fledged tour guide in the back seat for a tiny fraction of the cost. For other tips, check out Road Trip Essentials: the Do’s and Don’ts.
Red Rock Canyon
Starting off with the closest and quickest trip out of Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon is a beautiful desert landscape just 30 minutes from the heart of the strip. While getting here can hardly be considered a road trip, once you’re in the park, take the Scenic Loop Drive and discover exciting views around every corner. Visit for the wildlife, the 26 hiking trails, and the events and educational programs available at their visitor center. Like all the destinations on this list, consider traveling during the shoulder months to beat the heat and avoid the crowds.
Built in the 1930s, the Hoover Dam is an amazing feat of engineering, as well as the most visited dam in the entire United States. It stands over 700 feet tall, and over 1,240 feet long. The 17 massive turbine engines provide the electrical needs for over 8 million people in Arizona, Nevada, and Southern California. Lake Mead, the body of water created above the Hoover Dam, is the largest lake by volume in the United States.
There’s plenty to do once you arrive at the Hoover Dam, with over 600,000 acres of recreational area packed with mountains, canyons, and expansive desert vistas. Feel free to take on any of the lake activities like boating, waterskiing, or renting a jet ski. You can also sign up for rafting tours that start from the river below and provide neck-breaking views of the towering dam overhead.
The area’s (and probably the country’s) most famous landmark, the Grand Canyon is a four-hour road trip from Las Vegas. Vegas is actually the closest airport to the national park, so if you’re flying in from out of town, you’ll most likely be renting a car and taking this journey. It goes without saying that visiting the Grand Canyon is one of the top bucket list items in the world. The sunrise view from the South Rim is stunning, and descending into the canyon is an unforgettable experience. If you can, we highly recommend staying overnight at the Phantom Ranch cabins at the bottom of the canyon.
Once back in Las Vegas, you may owe it to yourself to stay in a nice place. You’re here, so you might as well go full Sin City. For the luxurious experience, consider the Bellagio, for ambiance check in to Paris, for great views go with Luxor, and for a budget option, check out Excalibur. Also, if you’re traveling with pets, make sure to read up on the 6 Best Pet-Friendly Hotels in Las Vegas.