Road trip, Travel Guide

Best Weekend Road Trips From Las Vegas

It’s always tough to plan vacations especially when you work 9 to 5. I know a lot of people who shy away from traveling simply because they think they don’t have enough time to go anywhere else but the mall or movie theaters. But that’s not the way to live life! The easiest way to feed your wanderlust is by going on a road trip. Let me prove to you that traveling doesn’t necessarily mean you have to fly thousands of miles to get to your destination. Sometimes all you need is a weekend and a car with a full tank of gas.

1. Zion National Park

Travel Time: 2 hours and 36 minutes

Must Do: Angel’s Landing, The Narrows & Emerald Pools

Zion National Park is Utah’s oldest and most popular national park. Although it’s not the biggest park in Utah, don’t let its size fool you because Zion sure can pack a punch! Home to the most iconic hikes in the US (The Narrows, Subway and Angel’s Landing), Zion has a wide range of hiking opportunities for everyone in the family. The best time to visit the park is Spring or Fall. But if you find yourself visiting during summer months, make sure you cool off by hiking The Narrows. It’s one of my favorite hikes ever! Read about my experience here LINK.

Best Weekend Road Trips from Las Vegas

Best Weekend Road Trips from Las Vegas

 

2. Grand Canyon National Park

Travel Time: 4 hours

Must do: South Rim walk and Havasu Falls

If you haven’t heard of the Grand Canyon then you must be living under a rock. Grand Canyon is the top destination in Arizona and is known as one of the world’s seven natural wonders. Nearly 5 million people travel here each year to take in the dramatic views of the canyons carved by the Colorado River millions of years ago. It’s sheer beauty can overwhelm one’s senses so be prepared! If you’re an avid hiker and in the mood for a 12-mile hike, then you must plan a trip to Havasu Falls that is hidden deep inside the canyon. I’ve been here several times but I still can’t get over how beautiful it is! Read about my experience here LINK.

Best Weekend Road Trips from Las Vegas

Best Weekend Road Trips from Las Vegas

 

3. Death Valley National Park

Travel Time: 2 hours and 20 minutes

Must Do: Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Badwater Basin, Artist’s Palette & Zabriskie Point 

At first glance, Death Valley National Parks seems like a barren wasteland. But for the curious, there’s definitely more to it than meets the eye. It contains a diverse environment of salt-flats, sand dunes, valleys, canyons and mountains waiting to be explored. Here you will find Badwater Basin, the second-lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, which is 282 feet below sea level. Did you know? Many scenes from the original Star Wars movie were filmed here in Death Valley. Pretty neat, huh?

Best Weekend Road Trips from Las Vegas

Best Weekend Road Trips from Las Vegas

Photos by Chester Herrera (Instagram:@chester_herrera)

4. Valley of Fire State Park

Travel Time: 1 hour

Must do: Fire Wave, Rainbow Vista & Elephant Rock

Valley of Fire is Nevada’s oldest and largest state park. Located just 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas, you can definitely squeeze this in during a weekend at the strip. Its name is derived from red sandstone formations, formed from by great shifting sand dunes millions of years ago. Aside from the stunning rock formations, some oddly shaped, you’ll also get to discover a one-of-a-kind feature in the park called the Fire Wave. Make sure you take a peek at my guide if you’re planning to head out to Valley of Fire LINK.

Best Weekend Road Trips from Las Vegas

Best Weekend Road Trips from Las Vegas

 

5. Bryce Canyon National Park

Travel Time: 4 hours

Must do: Navajo Loop Trail, Wall Street, Sunset & Sunrise Point, Bryce Point & Inspiration Point

One of my favorite destinations in Utah can be found only 4 hours away from Las Vegas. Despite lacking the grandiosity of it’s nearby counterpart, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon managed to amaze me in it’s own special way. Comprised of odd-shaped pillars called Hoodoos, these rock formations were formed by forces of erosion. Despite its name, it is not a canyon but rather a collection of natural amphitheaters along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Now, I’ve seen my fair share of unique rock formations but nothing like this. Pictures don’t do it justice, you have to see it for yourself! Read more about my experience here LINK.

Best Weekend Road Trips from Las Vegas

Best Weekend Road Trips from Las Vegas

 

6. Page, Arizona

Travel Time: 4 hours

Must Do: Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon

I’m quite sure you’ve seen these photos a million times in Instagram but that shouldn’t stop you from seeing it in person. Because I can assure you that it’s even more stunning up close. Horseshoe Bend is easily accessible by doing a 1.5 mile hike RT. The overlook boasts panoramic views of the Colorado River with a steep 1,000 ft drop. A few miles from Horseshoe Bend is Antelope Canyon, one of the most beautiful sights you’ll ever lay your eyes on. Consisting of navajo sandstones, the canyons are naturally formed by flash flooding and erosion. If you’re planning to head out to Page, don’t forget to check out my blog posts, LINK and LINK.

Best Weekend Road Trips from Las Vegas

Best Weekend Road Trips from Las Vegas

 

7. Lake Powell

Travel Time: 5 hours

Must Do: Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Lake Powell is a must for water-loving enthusiasts. There’s a bunch of activities you can do here such as: fishing, water skiing and boating. Don’t forget to visit Rainbow Bridge, the tallest natural bridge in the world at 290 feet/88 meters tall and 270 feet/83 meters across. It is considered sacred by the Navajo culture who believed that personified rainbows as guardians of the universe . You can reach the Rainbow Bridge by going on a 2-hr boat tour or better yet, kayak or hike there on your own. Since it’s in a close proximity to Page, you can definitely combine this with a trip to Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend if you have enough time.

Best Weekend Road Trips from Las Vegas

Best Weekend Road Trips from Las Vegas

 

8. Sedona

Travel Time: 4 hour and 28 minutes

Must Do: Chapel of the Holy Cross, Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, Oak Creek Canyon & Devil’s Bridge Trail

Sedona is known for its spectacular views and a place for healing and spiritual restoration. Visitors also have instant access to recreational activities such as hiking, biking and even swimming (if you’re lucky enough to find one of its swimming holes). After a tiring day of outdoor adventure, book a relaxing massage at one of the dozens of spa facilities in the area.

Best Weekend Road Trips from Las Vegas

Best Weekend Road Trips from Las Vegas

 

9. Joshua Tree National Park

Travel Time: 3 hours

Must Do: Hidden Valley, 49 Palms Oasis, Skull Rock & Cholla Cactus Garden

Located in California’s Mojave and Colorado deserts, Joshua Tree National Park is home to the unique Yucca brevifolia otherwise known as the Joshua Tree. Legend has it that the first Mormon settlers named the tree after the biblical figure, Joshua, seeing the limbs of the tree as outstretched in supplication, guiding the travelers westward. Aside from checking out the Joshua trees and marveling at the amazing landscape, you can also gape at the beautiful rock formations at Hidden Valley and Skull Rock as well as the fascinating cacti at Cholla Cactus Garden.

Best Weekend Road Trips from Las Vegas

Best Weekend Road Trips from Las Vegas

 

10. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Travel Time: 3 hours

Must Do: Calf Creek Falls, Devil’s Garden, Zebra Slot Canyon, Peekaboo Gulch & Golden Cathedral

Grand Staircase-Escalante spans nearly 1.9 million acres of America’s Public lands yet it is relatively unknown to many. Overshadowed by some of Utah’s finest – Arches, Bryce and Zion – Grand Staircase is a playground for hiking aficionados and is home to several desert treasures including Devil’s Garden, Zebra Slot Canyon and Calf Creek Falls. A weekend may not be enough to explore this vast, rugged terrain that contains stunning slot canyons and colorful rock formations but make sure you visit some of the must do’s I listed above.

Best Weekend Road Trips from Las Vegas

Photo via Flickr by Bureau of Land Management

Best Weekend Road Trips from Las Vegas

Photo via Flickr by John Fowler

11. Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

Travel Time: 5 hours and 26 minutes

Must Do: Coyote Buttes/The Wave

Protecting the Paria Plateau, Vermilion Cliffs, Coyote Buttes, and Paria Canyon, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument is a remote 294,000-acre geological treasure. The most popular spot to visit here is The Wave, a sandstone rock formation known for its colorful, undulating forms that is strikingly pleasing to the eyes. Because of its fragile nature, there is a competitive lottery system that allows you to explore this beauty. Due to overwhelming popularity, the Bureau of Land Management has limited 20 people to visit the site per day. To learn more about the lottery system check out this LINK.

Best Weekend Road Trips from Las Vegas

Photo via Flickr by Bureau of Land Management

Best Weekend Road Trips from Las Vegas

Photo via Flickr by Bureau of Land Management

*Most photos in this post are stock photos I got online.

Which one’s your favorite weekend destination?

Let me know in the comment section below.


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54 Comments

  1. Travel Pockets (Crystal)

    June 17, 2016 at 11:09 am

    These all sound like fantastic weekend trips! LOVE your pictures!! Pinning for future use 🙂

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 17, 2016 at 10:38 pm

      Thanks for liking the post and for pinning Crystal! 🙂 Have you been to any of these weekend destinations before? Any favorites?

  2. Sara Broers

    June 18, 2016 at 6:04 am

    What a great round up of weekend destinations in the southwest part of the United States!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 20, 2016 at 3:25 pm

      Thanks Sara! Glad you like it!

  3. Tami

    June 18, 2016 at 7:55 am

    This is an outstanding post! Great side trip ideas and gorgeous photos, too! I’ve been to several of these places and loved them all — especially Lake Powell and Zion National Park. Valley of Fire State Park also has ancient Indian petroglyphs on some of the red rock walls — so fascinating!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 20, 2016 at 3:27 pm

      Hi Tami. Thanks so much for liking the post. Zion is pretty remarkable huh? I love that it’s only 2 hrs away from Las Vegas. And you’re right about the Indian petroglyphs at VOF. Definitely fascinating!

  4. Aimee

    June 18, 2016 at 11:04 am

    Such great information, it’s hard to believe that all these places are so close to Vegas. Absolutely love your photos, makes me want to go on a road trip asap.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 20, 2016 at 3:33 pm

      Thank you Aimee. Moving here in Vegas was one of the best decisions ever. Photos are stock photos I got online just FYI. 🙂

  5. Lillie

    June 18, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    As an East-Coast gal, I don’t make it West often enough, but this list is enough to make me consider a new trip out there. Zion, especially, looks unbelievable.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 20, 2016 at 3:34 pm

      Hi Lillie! Hope you make it out to Zion soon. It really is unbelievable. There’s so much to do and see. Maybe consider going on a long weekend?

  6. Brianna

    June 18, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    The weekend trips were one of my favorite parts about living in Vegas during grad school. Zion was definitely my favorite, so close the Vegas but absolutely breathtaking.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 20, 2016 at 3:35 pm

      Me too! I like exploring neighboring states on weekends. Zion is one of my absolute faves as well. I like how it’s only a 2 hr drive from Vegas.

  7. Laura Lynch

    June 18, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    There really are some beautiful parks in the U.S., aren’t there! Tons of great places to go for a short vacation if you don’t have the time. I don’t really buy that as an excuse though. I’ve worked a full time job since getting out of college and I’ve been to 50+ countries. You can do it if you want to.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 20, 2016 at 3:38 pm

      Wow! That’s pretty amazing Laura and definitely inspiring! It just goes to show that anything is possible as long as we set our minds to it. I’m really impressed!

  8. Elaine Masters

    June 18, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    Nice Jenna. It’s important to note, as I think you’ve tried but could be clarified, that there’s travel time and there’s the time necessary to experience these places. Each is a separate weekend trip from Las Vegas and shouldn’t be rushed or can’t be, to be truly explored. Beautiful pictures, just stunning, as well.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 20, 2016 at 3:39 pm

      Yes, definitely. They are a separate weekend trip from Vegas but only if you choose to spend a day there. I guess this guide is more for people passing along or making a pit stop in Vegas and also for Vegas residents. Thanks Elaine. FYI, photos are stock photos I got online.

  9. Meg Jerrard

    June 18, 2016 at 11:33 pm

    Fab list of ideas for Vegas weekend trips – we’ve always maintained that vegas is a great base for exploring the greater surrounds. Have ticked a lot from your list off ours, though have not yet made it to the wave – am dying to get there, hopefully soon!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 20, 2016 at 3:42 pm

      Thanks Meg! I’m pleased to know that you have explored most of the places I’ve listed. The wave is so difficult to get to bec of the whole lottery process. Hopefully you guys get it and you can tell me all about it!

  10. Erika Bisbocci

    June 19, 2016 at 1:14 am

    I’ve visited just over half of these parks and hope to do a lot more in the coming years. I’m dying to visit the area around Page, but wish the lottery system wasn’t so competitive!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 20, 2016 at 3:43 pm

      That’s awesome Erika! There’s so much to explore in Page – Horseshoe, Antelope and even Lake Powell. Yea, I know what you mean. I’ve tried the lottery system twice and couldn’t get it. 🙁

  11. Fiona Maclean

    June 19, 2016 at 2:52 am

    what wonderful photos. I love the joshua tree pictures

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 20, 2016 at 3:47 pm

      Thanks Fiona. Most photos from this post are stock photos I got online.

  12. Wandering Carol

    June 19, 2016 at 7:54 am

    Wow. What photos. Looks like parks are the way to go this summer. I’d never heard of Grand Staircase-Escalante but would love to give it a visit. All of these destinations looks superb.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 21, 2016 at 3:19 pm

      It might be too hot to visit some of these places especially Arizona and Death Valley. Maybe when it cools down sometime in August or September? I’ve never been there too! But from what I’ve seen online, Escalante is gorgeous!

  13. Vlad

    June 19, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    I would be traveling every weekend if I had so many beautiful destinations in my back yard. Gorgeous photos, I would love to visit all of these places some day 😀

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 21, 2016 at 3:20 pm

      Right? I wish most of the people I know that live in Vegas took advantage of this. So many great sights!

  14. Vicki Louise

    June 19, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    There are so many beautiful destinations just outside of Vegas! I’ve managed to do Zion, Page and the Grand Canyon – but I missed the Wave – and the rest of these other beautiful places! I’d love to go back and explore them all!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 21, 2016 at 3:22 pm

      I know right? I have yet to do some of things I listed here but I’m gonna make it my goal to explore the rest this year.

  15. Anna Faustino

    June 19, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    Wow! Are these your photos? How fantastic! There are loads of places to see around the US and you definitely highlighted a lot of them! Thanks

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 21, 2016 at 3:23 pm

      Most of them are actually stock photos I got online for free. Pretty amazing work huh? And not a problem at all Anna. Thanks for visiting!

  16. Mags

    June 19, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    I’m so embarrassed that I’ve not been to any of these! I need to change that ASAP. I love the terrain out west. It looks like another planet.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 21, 2016 at 3:23 pm

      Don’t be! I actually haven’t been to some of the places I listed here and I’m using this post to inspire myself. 🙂

  17. Mar Pages

    June 19, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    Not enough attention is given to America’s incredible national parks! Your photos are incredible!! The Vermilion Cliffs reminded me of Saturn’s rings.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 21, 2016 at 3:26 pm

      Couldn’t agree with you more Mar! I have yet to explore the rest of the national parks in the US. I don’t think I’m even halfway yet. The photos are actually stock photos I got online for free.

  18. Jennifer Melroy

    June 19, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    Great list. I have been to most of these but not Las Vegas. You forgot Great Basin National Park. It is only like 5 hours from Vegas and is a great national park to explore and hike in.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 21, 2016 at 3:27 pm

      Oh thanks for the tip Jennifer! I guess I did miss one. I’ll definitely check that one out next time I get a weekend off.

  19. Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren

    June 20, 2016 at 12:12 am

    These are all great options. I’m from Los Angeles and definitely want to go to some of these places. Bookmarking, thanks for sharing!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 21, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      My friend lives in LA too and has been to some of the places I listed here so it’s definitely doable. No problem Lauren!

  20. LeAnna Brown

    June 20, 2016 at 3:16 am

    I think we often forget about all the beautiful, natural attractions we have in the US! I can’t wait to explore more of American when we move back from Europe!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 21, 2016 at 3:29 pm

      Yes, definitely. I try to remind my friends that there’s more to life than going to movie theaters and malls hehe. Hope you guys get to explore these places too Leanna!

  21. Shobha

    June 20, 2016 at 5:18 am

    I didn’t realise all these national parks were just a weekend away from Las Vegas. I’m pinning these for our road trip in the Southwest one of these days.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 21, 2016 at 3:30 pm

      Thanks for pinning Shobha! I was amazed too actually that we only need a weekend to explore these stunning destinations.

  22. Megan MacNee

    June 20, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    Great trips from Las Vegas and even just for those of us in the Western US. I need to plan a road trip to hit a few of these.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 21, 2016 at 3:31 pm

      Thanks Megan! Yes, you have to!!

  23. Alyssa | Adjust Your Focus®

    June 20, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Yes!! What fun adventures, I love this. As a photographer, I always appreciate your beautiful photos and lovely posts! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 21, 2016 at 3:32 pm

      Thanks Alyssa! I actually got most of the stock photos for free online. But thanks for liking the post.

  24. LAUREN @ LAURENSOMEWHERE.COM

    June 21, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    Fantastic photos! And so many great places to visit. I didn’t realise the Vegas area had so much to offer! AWESOME! xx

    http://laurensomewhere.com

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 21, 2016 at 3:33 pm

      Me, too! When I moved here 3 yrs ago, I didn’t think there’s anything else to do besides the casinos but glad I was wrong. 🙂

  25. Pola (Jetting Around)

    June 25, 2016 at 6:46 am

    It’s a shame I didn’t get to do a road trip when I visited Vegas a couple of times. But there was always something in the way: conferences, weddings… Anyway, I hope to make it over there next time I’m stateside. This area has been on my radar for a while, and now your gorgeous photos just seal the deal.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 4, 2016 at 12:01 am

      I feel ya Pola. Vegas is one of THE most popular destinations for conferences and weddings. Hope you get to visit these places when you make it back here. It’ll be worth it, I’m sure!

  26. Alissa

    July 14, 2016 at 5:36 am

    Your photos are phenomenal. Also, great post!! I’ve never made it to this region of the U.S. but pretty much everything you’ve got listed here is on my bucket list… it’ll happen one day! 🙂 Looking forward to reading more of your work!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 17, 2016 at 12:52 am

      Hey there Alissa. Thanks for liking the post! 🙂 The southwest region is so scenic. Hope you get to experience and see it for yourself someday. Thanks for stopping by!!

  27. Arial

    August 14, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    Amazing places and stunning photography. But having been to all these places I would say that maybe only three of them are an easy day trip, and even then that leaves barely any time to truly see and of the places. Grand staircase and Bryce Canyon take forever to get to!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 17, 2016 at 2:49 pm

      Hey there Arial! Thanks for visiting. I somewhat agree with that. Grand Staircase needs more time because that place is enormous- maybe a long weekend? But as for Bryce Canyon, its actually doable. We only spent a weekend there and got to the lookouts/points easily and did the hike the next day. Happy travels!

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