Las Vegas is a great launching point for exploring the greater American Southwest. There are plenty of options for day trips from Las Vegas to explore famous national parks and historic sites like Valley of Fire State Park, Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks within a few hours’ drive.
Tours of the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas are readily available and easy to access depending on which rim you decide to visit. You can expect a two-and-a-half-hour drive to the West Rim from Las Vegas, and a four-and-a-half-hour trek to the South Rim, each offering a new slew of attractions.
The West Rim is the quickest way to see the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, but there are some things that you should know before booking a trip. The majority of West Rim tours will transport you to the canyon via bus or helicopter, and then you can explore on your own. At the rim, there is a moderate hike along the Highpoint trail overlooking the canyon, and the world-famous skywalk bridge, which extends over the edge, allows visitors to walk above the canyon with only glass beneath their feet. Expect that most tours will offer three to five hours to explore. The West Rim area is not part of Grand Canyon National Park and is located on the Hualapai Indian Reservation. Because of this, visiting the Grand Canyon’s West Rim can be more expensive. Entry fees start around $50 per person — the cost is variable depending on demand, like an airplane ticket — and each activity costs an additional fee, options include walking out on the glass-bottom skywalk, ziplines, and whitewater rafting tours.
If you have more time, we recommend visiting the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. Because it takes almost double the travel time to get there, a day trip to the South Rim is truly a full-day adventure. Similar to West Rim tours, transportation options to the South Rim include helicopter, bus and plane among a few others. Helicopter and fixed wing flight options will cost the most, typically several hundred dollars per person while bus tours to the South Rim may be as low as $85 per person. If you are with a group of several people and are thinking about going to the South Rim, renting a car for the day (often available for as low as $25) might be the most economical option to get there. After paying the national park entry fee of $30 per vehicle, you’ll have access to the park’s visitors centers, trails and facilities.
About 160 miles northeast of Las Vegas, lies the country’s fourth most popular national park. Even though the drive to Zion from Vegas is only about three hours, the amount of things to do in the park makes the trip a squeeze. Tour companies offer transportation and hikes to waterfalls along popular trails followed by lunch and a ride back, but expect this to be a nearly 12-hour day. Motorized tours are another popular option to explore the area around Zion and are great for those looking to take a Zion tour that will keep their legs fresh for another night in Las Vegas. Want to stay for more than one day? Take a look at our options to spend multiple days visiting the national parks of Southern Utah.
There are not as many options for Bryce Canyon tours starting in Las Vegas as there are tours to the Grand Canyon and Zion, but it is a great option for a long day trip to an incredible destination. Driving to the park from Vegas takes approximately four-and-a-half-hours each way, which only leaves about three hours to explore the park’s famous hoodoos. Some of the tours available include both Zion and Bryce Canyon, which is a good way to see a lot but minimizes the amount of time that you get at each park.
Want to get away from the strip but can’t stand the long commutes to the national parks? A tour from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam is the perfect combination of history and scenery without sitting still for too long. You can tour the dam in a bus, limousine, van or private car depending on your preference. The majority of Hoover Dam tours will take you from Vegas take place on top of the dam, inside the power plant and along the bridge, providing views and insider information from all angles. The short, 45-minute drive to reach the dam means you get more time on your feet, so prepare to get your steps in and plan the rest of your day back in the city accordingly.
Transportation<: Many tour operators will pick you up from your hotel and drop you off at a decent hour so you’ll have time to explore the Vegas strip’s nightlife.
Inclusions: It’s important to consider a tour’s inclusions when shopping for a day trip. Some companies might feed you, others might stop for you to buy food but a few might not offer a meal at all. Knowing this can make the difference between a backpack full of snacks and a tired, hungry child facing a three-hour return drive.
Flexibility: If you require any specific accommodations, be sure to inquire in advance. Is this expedition kid-friendly? Does this excursion return to your hotel at an hour that allows you to make evening plans?
If you are open to all kinds of adventures, than there will be no shortage of day trips from Las Vegas, but understanding what’s out there will help you decide which trips are right for you.