The Ultimate List of Las Vegas Natural Attractions

Las Vegas has more national parks within a day’s drive than any other city in the United States.

When you include state parks, National Recreation Areas, and Navajo Tribal parks, there is not another city in America that offers as many opportunities to get outdoors than Las Vegas.

Because there are so many options for outdoor activities, we wanted to make a list of the best of the best.

Be aware that the distances in the American southwest are vast and driving distances can be long.

6 Hours and 30 minutes from Las Vegas to Monument Valley!

If you are short on time it is recommended to find tours to take you to as many of the places on this list as possible. 

If you have more time than money, renting a car or RV is a great way to go.

Many of the places on this list are far from major cities yet close to each other.

Once you are out and about in your rental car, try to see as many places on this list as you can, you won’t be disappointed. 

If you are planning on renting a car to see many of the Natural Attractions around Las Vegas, you should buy a national park annual pass

These passes can be bought at the entrance gate of most national parks and national recreation areas, they cost $80 and are good for one vehicle entry to all national parks and national recreation areas for one year. 

They cannot be used at tribal parks like Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley.

Here is our list of the top Natural Scenic Spots around Las Vegas that can bring you back to the real Wild West. 

  1. Grand Canyon
  2. Valley of Fire
  3. Zion National Park
  4. Bryce Canyon National Park
  5. Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon
  6. Death Valley National Park
  7. Hoover Dam/Lake Mead
  8. Horseshoe Bend 
  9. Coyote Buttes
  10. Monument Valley
  11. Red Rock National Conservation Area
  12. Lake Powell
  13. Great Basin National Park
  14. Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument
  15. Joshua Tree National Park

1. Grand Canyon National Park

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
The Mighty Colorado River inside the Grand Canyon

The second most visited national park in America, the Grand Canyon’s some 6 million visitors a year come from every corner of the world to see its unique canyon landscape.

While most people have the notion that the Grand Canyon is a harsh desert landscape, the Grand Canyon sits at 7000 feet and is surrounded by the dense Kaibab National Forest.

This makes a perfect environment for camping, exploring the many trails on the rim of the canyon, and spotting roaming elk.

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
Hiking into the Grand Canyon

While there is a section of the Grand Canyon that is closer to Las Vegas, Grand Canyon West is typically much more crowded and doesn’t provide the best Grand Canyon experience.

For an iconic Grand Canyon experience, Grand Canyon National Park needs to be your destination. 

Don’t Miss: Sunset at Lipan Point

Skip: Grand Canyon West Rim

How To Get There:

4.5 hour drive from Las Vegas

Entrance Fee: $35 per car, free with an annual pass
Take a 2 Day Tour: $239

2. Valley of Fire

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
Iconic Valley of Fire Photo Spot

One of the lesser known state parks in the Las Vegas area, Valley of Fire was discovered in 1912 while America was building a road connecting Salt Lake City with Los Angeles.

The road passed through a portion of the valley that was lined with towering peaks of fire-colored rocks.

Travelers began to get out of the car and explore the Valley floor, and found it the best part of their trip!

Other than the huge expanses of bright red and orange sandstone that give the park its name, you can also find evidence of human activity dating back as far as 11,000 years ago on the petroglyph carving trail!

Red Rocks give this state park it’s name

Valley of Fire is highly recommended and is our pick for the best natural getaway within one hour of Las Vegas. 

Don’t Miss: Fire Wave Trail, Petroglyph carvings

Skip: Arch Rock

How To Get There:

Distance from Las Vegas: 1 hour

$10 entrance fee, annual pass not accepted. 

Take this Pink Jeep Tour

3. Zion National Park

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
Zion Valley

As Utah’s first National Park, locals will always have a soft spot for Zion National Park.

The 4th most visited National Park for the last 3 years, Zion’s location makes it convenient for a day trip from Las Vegas.

The great Virgin River that runs through this part of the west has been carving Zion’s large sandstone cliffs for millions of years (not unlike the Colorado river carved the Grand Canyon).

Now, gazing upon Zion’s wide canyons from thousands of feet above, or hiking through its narrow slot canyons will leave you with a whole new perspective of the state of Utah.

As with most US national parks, doing some hiking is the best way to experience Zion.

Experienced hikers can try Angles Landing or the Canyon Overlook Trail.

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
The Trail to Angels Landing

More modest hikers should go to Weeping Rock or the Riverside Walk.

Don’t Miss: Weeping Rock

Skip: Emerald Pools

How to get there:

 2.5 hours from Las Vegas, entrance fee $35 per vehicle or free with annual pass. 

Part of a 3 Day Tour: $379

4. Bryce Canyon National Park

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
The Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park

Famous for its unique geological features, Utah’s Bryce Canyon is one of the only places in the world that has such perfectly preserved vertical, red-rock pillars referred to as “hoodoos”, and landscapes of jagged, eroded red-rocks collectively known as amphitheaters.

At an elevation of 8000 to 9000 feet, Bryce Canyon turns from a jaw-dropping arid landscape in the summer, to a snowy wonderland in the early winter, ready for its visitors to snowshoe and cross country ski through its perfectly preserved wilderness.

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
Bryce Canyon Amphitheater

Don’t miss: Queens Garden Navajo Loop

Skip: A visit in the middle of winter, most trails will be iced over and inaccessible.

How To Get There:

4 Hours Driving From Las Vegas

Entrance Fee: $35 per car or free with an annual pass
Visit as part of a 3 day tour: $379

5. Upper/Lower Antelope Canyon

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
Lower Antelope Canyon

Once a relatively unknown complex of canyons in the far west end of the Navajo Nation, Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon have only been open to the public since 1997.

Upper and Lower Antelope canyons are part of a drainage system that has frequent flash floods that shape the soft Navajo sandstone into an other-worldly shape.

Hiking through upper and lower antelope canyons with a local navajo tour group is sure to be a unique experience for any visitor to the southwest.

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
Upper Antelope Canyon

For more information about the difference between Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon, see our in-depth article here!

Don’t Miss: Lower Antelope Canyon in the morning

Skip: Upper Antelope Canyon outside of lightbeam season(May-September)

How To Get There;

4.5 Hours By Car from Las Vegas

Take a one day tour: $199

Entrance Fee: $55-$100

6. Death Valley National Park

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
Colorful Death Valley

To the west of Las Vegas and across the California border, Death Valley is both the lowest and hottest place in all of North America with Badwater Basin lying 282 feet (86 meters) below sea level and Furnace Creek in Death valley reaching a scorching 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56.7) celsius. 

About that name: A group of pioneers got lost in Death Valley in the winter of 1849-1850 and thought they would be buried there, so they named it Death Valley. Despite such a morbid name, a wide variety of wildlife flourishes in Death Valley. 

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
Is that a mirage in the distance?

Given the extreme weather, visiting Death Valley in the summertime can severely limit your experience. Make sure to plan ahead! 

Don’t Miss: A drive to the top of Dantes View

Skip: Devils Golf Course

Distance from Las Vegas: 2 hours, $25 entrance fee or free with annual pass

Take a tour $169

7. Hoover Dam and Lake Mead

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
Lake Mead behind the Hoover Dam

Next on our list of magnificent natural wonders around Las Vegas, is the one closest to Las Vegas; the Hoover Dam.

With construction starting in 1931, the Hoover Dam was, and still is, a marvel of American engineering that was placed in one of the most geologically attractive areas of the Southwest.

The construction of the Dam resulted in America’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead, which is now a popular attraction for water sports enthusiasts and hikers who enjoy the wildlife on the banks.

You can either choose to take a full tour through the dam to get insight into the history and upkeep of one of America’s most important hydroelectric plants, enter for free and enjoy one of the many lookout points with sweeping views of the colorado river, the dam, and Lake Mead, or pay entrance to Lake Mead National Recreation Area to spend the day on the water.  

Don’t miss the chance to peer down the face of the dam

Don’t miss: A walk across the dam

Skip: Visiting during the daytime in the summer, it is too hot!

How to get there:

Time from Las Vegas; 30 mins. Cost to Enter: Free for the top of the dam, visitors center, and lookouts. $30 for a powerplant tour, $25 for entrance to Lake Mead NRA

Part of all of our 2 Day Tours

8. Horseshoe Bend

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
The Colorado River at Horseshoe Bend

Situated just a few minutes away from the Antelope Canyons, Horseshoe Bend is one of the most photographed locations in the world.

Horseshoe Bend is also one of the only places where people can witness the Colorado River making a dramatic 270 degree bend around a column of hard sandstone.

Hiking around the bend and finding a nice spot to overlook the bend is particularly attractive at sunrise and sunset. 

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
Horseshoe Bend at Sunset

Don’t Miss: Sunset over the bend

Skip:  A midday visit in the summer

How to get there:

 4.5 Hours from Las Vegas, 10 minutes from Antelope Canyon

Take A Day Tour: $199

Entrance: $10 per car

9. Coyote Buttes (The Wave and Buckskin Gulch)

The Wave

Straddling the Arizona-Utah border is the Coyote Buttes, a wilderness area that is most famous for The Wave and Buckskin Gulch.

Almost all of the attractions in this area are results of the erosion of the Navajo Sandstone rock formation (much the same as Antelope Canyon).

This includes The Wave, a series of shallow canyons that have been shaped into a smooth, ocean wave-like structure, and Buckskin Gulch, one of the longest and deepest slot canyons in the area.

Buckskin Gulch

You do need permits to gain access to Coyote Buttes, so make sure to do the research and plan ahead!

Don’t Miss: The Wave

Skip:  Trying The in person Wave lottery, book your permits online instead

How to get there:

5 Hours from Las Vegas

Entrance Fee: Entrance is by permit only, $5 to join the permit lottery(Online or in person)

You must secure your own permit, tour companies are not allowed to get permits and lead tours to the Wave. 

10. Monument Valley

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
Monument Valley

Having been the backdrop for many classic American Western films, Monument Valley has become the quintessential western landscape in the minds of most Americans.

The farthest spot from Las Vegas on our list, it is worth fitting Monument Valley in on any overnight trip if just to get a glimpse of the towering buttes and mesas shooting up from the flat desert floor for miles. 

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
The Great American Southwest

Don’t Miss: A jeep tour of monument valley

Skip: A meal at The View restaurant

How To Get There: 

6 hours from Las Vegas, 2 Hours from Page, AZ

Entrance Fee: $20 Per Car, No Annual Pass Accepted

Join a 3 Day Tour: $379

11. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

The closest national conservation area to the city of Las Vegas, Red Rock is a fantastic option for a day trip for visitors to Sin City.

The cliff sides at Redrock can tower up to 3000 ft (910 m), making it a popular destination not only for photographers and sightseeing enthusiasts but also for serious hikers and climbers. 

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
Snow in the desert

For a list of some great hikes in Red Rock, see here.

Don’t Miss: Calico Tank

Skip: Pine Creek Canyon & North Oak Creek Canyon

How to get there:

Distance From Las Vegas: 30 mins

Entrance Fee: $15 to enter or free with annual pass

Take a scooter or van tour: $129

12. Lake Powell 

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
Lake Powell

Made as a result of the Glen Canyon Dam, Lake Powell stands proud as the second-largest man-made lake in America right behind Lake Mead.

Lake Powell’s 2.5 million acres that span across Arizona and Utah make it one of the most popular summertime destinations in the area.

Other than it’s dazzling blue waters and desert landscapes that can be seen from many overlook points, Lake Powell also provides a perfect getaway for those looking to do watersports, fishing, or simply enjoying life on the water on a houseboat. 

Don’t Miss: Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Skip: Antelope Canyon Boat Tour

How to get there:

4.5 hours from Las Vegas

Entrance Fee: $30 or free with annual pass

13. Great Basin National Park

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
Great Basin National Park

Having some of the most iconic landscapes in the West, many people are surprised to learn that Great Basin National Park calls Nevada its home.

Although still quite far from Las Vegas, Great Basin’s towering peaks and pristine caves make it a popular location for outdoor enthusiasts around the country. 

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
Fall colors at Great Basin

Don’t Miss: Star Train

Skip: Stella Lake 

How To Get There:

4.5 hours by car

Entrance fee: Free

14. Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument

One of the largest National Monuments in the United States, Grand Staircase Escalante is home to one million acres of remote, desert land.

In fact, the Grand Staircase Escalante is so large and so remote, that it was officially the last area in the continental United States to be mapped!

Some adventurers are still to this day exploring rarely-seen areas of this natural land, but most visitors to the monument end up on ones of its many scenic trails that showcase waterfalls, arches, canyons, and jaw-dropping rock formations. 

The Hoodoos of Grand Staircase Escalante

Don’t Miss: Zebra Slot Canyon, Driving along Highway 12

Skip: Lick Wash, Petrified Area 

How to get there: 3.5 hours from Las Vegas

Entrance fee: Free

Take a tour from Kanab: $210

15. Joshua Tree National Park

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
Joshua Tree at Sunset

Named for the Joshua Trees that are scattered throughout the park, Joshua Tree National Park is the culmination of two of America’s most pristine deserts, the Mojave and the Colorado.

It’s extreme weather, strange geological formations and unique biodiversity all make it feel like you are taking a hike on a different planet.

Only a national park since 1994, Joshua Tree National Park is a vastly underrated destination in the southwest. 

At only 2.5 hours from Los Angeles and 3.5 hours from Las Vegas, it makes the perfect escape from the bright lights of the city. 

Las Vegas Natural Attractions
The tree that gives the park it’s name

Don’t Miss: Stargazing at night

Skip: Ocotillo Patch

How To Get There: 3.5 hour drive from Las Vegas, 2.5 hour drive from Los Angeles

About Author

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Adam DiFrisco
Originally from the city of Chicago, Adam spent 5 years in Beijing after graduating from West Virginia University with a major in Geology and a Minor in Chinese Studies. As an avid hiker and traveler, he is quickly falling in love with his new home: Las Vegas.