If you live in Las Vegas or visit the city of Cin and want to explore it outside the Strip, there are many travel options.

Whether you want to explore the desert, see giant redwoods, spend time in California’s biggest cities or relax on the beach, our list of the 21 best road trips in Las Vegas has you covered.

The next list starts with the list closest to Las Vegas and goes down to longer rides. So scroll down based on how far you’re willing to go!

21 best car rides from Las Vegas, from short desert trips to long car rides to the Sierra Nevada and the California coast.

1. Ghost town Nelson’s and Golden Eldorado Gorge

45 minutes from Las Vegas (45 miles)

An abandoned ghost town, Nelson, with rusted old cars and abandoned buildings.
The ghost town of Nelson offers breathtaking views of what Nevada looked like decades ago.

Cobby Duggan/Shutterstock.com

Close to Las Vegas and only 45 minutes from the Strip is the ghost town of Nelson. Coming from Las Vegas, head southeast towards Henderson and pass Boulder City at U.S.-95 and 165.

The ghost town was an old mining town that was abandoned before the current owners moved in more than 25 years ago. The elements of the ghost town have been preserved and slightly improved to make it more interesting, and today you can visit the ghost town to see what it is.

There are many, many old, half-corrected cars, which is very interesting and very frustrating if you are a big fan of cars like me. Other accessories are rattlesnakes in the freezer and crashed airplanes. They’re not all completely authentic…

But it doesn’t matter. You’re here to walk around and take great pictures. Be careful when walking – Rattlesnakes are common, so be careful and tell the guides everything you see.

A visit to the gold mines is possible at 9 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. if at least 4 adults are involved (although they need less time in low season). The tours take place in Nevada’s richest mine, which has been in operation for almost 80 years and was closed during the Second World War.

Take another shift – the visit may take more than an hour and it will be a bit cold in the mine.

2. Short drive to Valley of Fire State Park

50 minutes from Las Vegas (49 miles)

Beautiful layers of rock make firewaves in the Nevada Valley Fire Park.
The Valley of Fire in Nevada can certainly make you think you were on another planet.

Filip Fuxa/Shutterstock.com

The Valley of Fire is a rocky part of the Mojave Desert, an hour’s drive from Las Vegas.

If you are looking for a day trip and you want to drive in the desert, but you don’t want to drive more than 2 hours in Death Valley, then the Valley of Fire is a good option.

Follow the I-15 north of Las Vegas for half an hour and take the Valley of Lights Highway to the park.

A unique combination of boulders, layers of flowers and beautiful paths make up the oldest state park in Nevada, first designated in 1935 after it opened last year.

The park was inhabited by ancient tribes of Pueblo ancestors, and petroglyphs (murals) several thousand years old can be found here.

As in other deserts near Las Vegas, summer temperatures are very high. From June to August, the average daily maximum temperatures are above 38°C (100°F).

Bring plenty of water if you are planning a summer visit, but from March to April and from October to November the weather is much milder, making it much more pleasant.

3. Visit Mead Lake and see Hoover Dam.

55 minutes from Las Vegas (39 miles)

Lake Mead behind Hoover Dam at sunrise.
Lake Mead is near Las Vegas and is a very underestimated place to spend the day.

fellswaymedia/Shutterstock.com

For those who want to leave Las Vegas but don’t want to go far, the nearest place is the Hoover Dam. It’s third on the list because a visit to the dam and nearby Lake Mead requires local driving skills, but you shouldn’t drive too far.

The Hoover Dam is a world-famous facility that supplies Vegas with water and electricity, even though the city is located in the middle of one of the driest deserts in the world.

The Hoover Dam, built during the Great Depression, was much larger than any other dam, and Lake Mead is still the largest reservoir in the United States.

Speaking of Lake Mead, it’s not just about turning the turbines at the dam. You can take a cruise, rent a boat or just relax in Boulder Beach.

In the afternoon you can take a drive along the North Shore Road – this starts at Henderson and extends as far as the Valley of Fire in the National Park (no. 2 above).

This is a great trip with great stops along the way, and you can combine a visit to the Valley of Fire with a visit to Lake Mead for a nice (albeit long) day trip from Las Vegas.

4. Driving in the desert – Mojave National Park

1 hour from Las Vegas (59 miles)

Desert landscape of the Mojave National Reserve with rock formations and various cactus species.
The Mojave National Reserve is a varied desert with interesting rock formations and beautiful landscapes.

MightyPix/Shutterstock.com

Las Vegas lies in the middle of the Mojave Desert and part of the driest part of North America extends to the far corners of California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.

Death Valley National Park (#5 below) and Yeshua Tree National Park (#8) are two of the most famous places to explore the hot and inhospitable Mojave Desert, but the lesser known and less popular Mojave National Park is much closer to Las Vegas.

Although most of the Mojave National Reserve is a stone desert, there are some interesting places to explore.

In the dome of Cima and the adjacent Shadow Valley lies a Yeshua forest. The term forest is a bit generous here because the trees are rather scattered and you won’t find birds on the branches or creatures in the undergrowth, but this is the densest area for Yeshua trees ever and you’ll see more here than in Yeshua Tree National Park!

The Mojave Desert lava tube is further west, and to get there you need a smart off-road vehicle or a car that can drive a few kilometers on a dirt road.

The lava tube is a series of cave-like spaces beneath the desert surface – they were created when molten lava entered the earth, creating a unique space.

Be sure to stop at the National Monument of the Castle Mountains. To get there you still need a little 4×4 and good tires, but if you are on the edge of the reserve, it is one of the most beautiful areas with some more plants and animals to see.

5. Feel the heat in Death Valley National Park

1 hour 55 minutes from Las Vegas (126 miles)

Playa Racetrack in Death Valley National Park, California.
Death Valley has one of the most extreme and breathtaking landscapes you’ve ever seen.

Lucky Photographer/Shutterstock.com

If you are looking to spend a few days in the hottest place in the world and enjoy some of the most inhospitable places on the planet, Death Valley National Park is less than 2 hours from Las Vegas.

If you found it too hot in Vegas in summer, the average daily maximum (yes…average) from June to August was over 49°C (120°F). I would choose one of the other 20 items on this list if you want to take a car trip in the middle of summer.

If you come from November to March, the weather will be much milder and you will feel much better as you explore the different landscapes Death Valley has to offer. There are dry salt plains that once covered the lake valley and the sea, there are rocky areas with mountains and even sand dunes.

Death Valley is the largest national park in the United States outside of Alaska and has been designated as International Dark Sky Park. This means that there is no artificial light in the park at night, and if you camp on a clear day, the view of the stars above you is phenomenal.

6. Fishing in Lake Havasu, Arizona

2 hours 30 minutes from Las Vegas (153 miles)

Balloons over the London Bridge on Lake Havasu on the border between Arizona and California.
The London Bridge on Lake Havasu is a really unexpected and very bizarre sight.

Angel McNall photography/Shutterstock.com

Lake Havasu is located on the border between Arizona and California south of Las Vegas. Like many lakes in the southwest of the United States, the lake is an artificial reservoir after the Colorado River, which flows through the local valley, was flooded by the Parker Dam in the 1930s.

Today the lake is a popular destination for two main reasons: for fishing and for the London Bridge.

Fishing is very popular on the lake – the lake has a large perch population and often hosts major fishing competitions where people from all over the United States come to compete.

The London Bridge is a very unusual attraction, located on a canal in Lake Havasu City and connects it to Thompson Bay. The name indicates the origin of the bridge – in 1968 the local government won the auction of the original London Bridge, which was replaced in the centre of London.

After a victory of 2.5 mm in the tender for the bridge construction, each stone was carefully disassembled and marked so that the entire bridge in Arizona could be shipped and reassembled.

It certainly looks very weird and is largely misplaced (in a strange and good sense) and is definitely worth a visit to Lake Havasu!

7. At the same place as nature in Zion National Park, Utah.

2 hours 40 minutes from Las Vegas (160 miles)

The Virgin River flows through a beautiful canyon in Zion National Park, Utah.
Zion National Park has some of the most picturesque valleys with rivers and many plants.

bullshutterstock.com

Zion National Park, in southwest Utah, is probably one of the most beautiful national parks in the United States and is less than 3 hours from Las Vegas!

To get to Zion National Park, take the I-15 north of Las Vegas and continue until you cross the border with Utah. From there, route 9 takes you directly to the heart of the park.

Most of the park is concentrated around Zion Canyon. Although the canyon lies between two deserts, it is surprisingly green with forests and hundreds of species of birds and animals.

Zion National Park offers some of the best hiking trails you can find, with well-preserved viewing platforms, carved out cliff paths and walks for everyone.

Crying Rock and Canyon routes are quite easy and take less than an hour. For the more experienced hikers, the narrow gorges are 16 miles long and include walks along a narrow canyon and hikes along a cold river.

Some go through bottlenecks, starting at the bottom, and turn around as soon as the movement becomes more difficult, making it a little easier and easier to perform in a day.

8. Discover amazing trees in Yeshua National Tree Park

3 hours 10 minutes from Las Vegas (187 miles)

A desert path with Yeshua Tree trees in California's Yeshua Tree National Park.
The Yeshua Tree National Park is home to the unique Yeshua tree and surrealistic hiking trails.

Mike Ver Sprill/Shutterstock.de

Yeshua Tree National Park is just over 3 hours from Las Vegas, about halfway San Diego.

Follow the I-15 from Vegas, and when you reach the border of Mojave National Park, cut through Sima and Kelso to save half an hour on long, fast crossings.

In fact, Mojave is also on the 4th place on this list. So, if you have enough time, you can also combine them in a desert while exploring the journey along the way.

The Yeshua Tree National Park is named after the unique trees that grow here and that look like a man standing with outstretched hands. You will certainly see a lot of it in your own way, but also rocks and lots of desert.

The Joshua Tree is one of the hottest deserts in the United States, with daily maximum temperatures averaging 38°C during the summer months, which can make hiking and camping difficult.

If you planned your visit well and you came in spring, March and April – the moment when the desert flowers bloom (yes – that’s right!), and the temperature only rises to 24°C (75°F).

9. Exploring wildlife on the steps of the Great National Monument – Escalante

to 3 hours 45 minutes from Las Vegas (245 miles)

James Gamblin's arch in the Coyote Gulha at the end of the Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument, Utah.
Yakov Gamblin’s Ark – one of the natural wonders of the National Monument The Staircase of Honor – Escalante.

kojihirano/Shutterstock.com

The Grand Escalante Escalante is a large wilderness area that was only declared a national monument in 1996.

The monument is located on a wide strip of southern Utah that has been mapped as the last part of the United States and remains one of the least explored areas of the country, although its size has been significantly reduced under President Trump in 2017 to allow for commercial exploration.

Still, there are some great places to see. The Zebra Castle Canyon is a narrow gorge with striped rocks where you can hike. Beware, the walk is very strenuous and requires drilling very narrow cracks and passing water up to the neck!

The Devil’s Garden is one of these pole-shaped attractions with large stone domes that stand eerily in the middle of the desert.

Many of the sights in the Grand Escalier – National Monument of Escalante are accessible from the small town of Escalante, in the north of the country. I-15 and Utah-20 will take you to Route 12, which crosses the desert and eventually reaches Escalante.

Zebra Canyon Castle and Devil’s Garden are a short drive south of the city, and further south are Ku-a-Bu Canyon Castle and James Gamblin’s Arc, as can be seen on the picture above.

10. Bryce Canyon National Park

3 hours 50 minutes from Las Vegas (260 miles)

Incredible rock formations in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.
The amphitheatres in Bryce Canyon must be visible to believe.

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

Bryce Canyon is a small national park that is not a canyon but a set of unique amphitheatre-like rock formations that look like spectators sitting and watching the show.

You don’t need more than a day to explore the 56 square miles of the park. There are paths around the most popular parts of the park, but don’t forget that amphitheatres are between 2,400 and 2,700 metres above sea level, so bring an extra layer of clothing – it will be much cooler there than in the desert.

Bryce Canyon is on the route to most of the major attractions of the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument, so you might want to combine them in one trip. Zion National Park is also on the road if you have enough time.

If you want to avoid the hustle and bustle and take good photos, try getting to the park early – you might want to stay in a not too distant location and be there before sunrise to see epic views of the sunlight passing through the crowd with a hoodie.

11. See Grand Canyon size

4 hours 15 minutes from Las Vegas (275 miles)

View of the Grand Canyon from Toroweap Point in the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.
Toroweap Point is one of the many lesser-known places that offer breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon.

sumicofoto/shutterstock.com

The Grand Canyon is the most popular place to drive from Las Vegas. The 277 mile long Canyon offers some of the most spectacular scenery near Las Vegas, making it the most popular destination for the 5 million visitors who come to the Grand Canyon every year.

The North Rim is a more popular destination with better facilities and the Grand Canyon village, so you could take a route around the northern part of the Canyon.

There are many places where you can stop to see the Grand Canyon. Most people go directly to Grand Canyon Village in the national park, but there are other places with far fewer people that are just as great – Toroweap and Twin Point Overlooks on the north coast are two good options.

The Skywalk Grand Canyon on the south coast is much closer to Vegas – it takes just over 2 hours to get there, but you have to share the view with many other people, and apart from a short walk to Guano Point there is not much to do and there are no hiking trails.

One of the best hiking trails at the bottom of the canyon and along the Colorado River, the Havasu Falls Trail takes you along the beautiful waterfalls of Little Navajo, Havasu Falls, Tigabo Supai and Mooney Falls. For those willing to take more risks, a walk under Bever Falls and Beaver Canyon is definitely worth it.

If you’re approaching the Grand Canyon from the north and have time, make a stop at the Vermillion Rocks National Monument – these beautiful rocks have different layers of different shades of red and yellow, as well as soft, curved lines that are perfect for a short break in your journey.

12. Hike to the red rocks of Sedona

to 4 hours 20 minutes from Las Vegas (280 miles)

Rock cathedral and other red rocks in Red Rock State Park near Sedona, Arizona.
Red Rock State Park, near Sedona, is home to some of the most famous rock formations in the United States.

Beth Ruggiero York/Shutterstock.com

If you’ve never heard of Sedona’s Red Rocks, you’ve probably seen them on television or in the movies.

The amazing rock formations include the imposing cathedral, the Devil’s Bridge and the bell rock, but there is much more to discover than just great opportunities.

There are two state parks north of Sedona, the best known of which is Red Rock State Park and Slide Rock State Park north of Sedona. For those who want to drive there, you can take the Red Rock Scenic Byway (Route 179) to see many great sites without leaving the car.

But if you’ve come this far, you really need to investigate. There are amazing paths that lead you directly to the rocks, over the breathtaking red rock arches and through the gorges.

A ride from Las Vegas will take you to Kingman before getting on the I-40 to Flagstaff. You can make a stopover in the city before heading south to Sedona.

With so many attractions, it is easy to spend long weekends exploring the Sedona area and not knowing most of them.

It may not be as hot as in the Mojave Desert and Death Valley, but in summer the temperature still reaches an average daily maximum of 35°C (95°F), so bring plenty of water. If you have the luxury of a choice, a visit in spring and autumn will be more enjoyable.

13. Trip to Hollywood: Los Angeles and Malibu

to 4 hours 45 minutes from Las Vegas (304 miles)

Hollywood sign on a hill above Los Angeles, California, as you can see from the city
Hollywood sign looks over the city of Los Angeles.

russia p/Shutterstock.com

If you want to escape the desert and go to the City of Angels, take the I-15 and follow it until you pass through the National Forest of Angels. Traffic around Los Angeles can be a big factor because it takes less than 4 hours to get to the city, or a little closer to 6am – you leave early in the morning, so you arrive in Los Angeles around 1pm, when traffic on the highways shouldn’t be too bad.

There’s so much in Los Angeles that you can spend a week or two and feel like you’ve seen almost nothing! You need to visit Hollywood and stroll down Hollywood Boulevard on the Walk of Fame, whatever it sounds like!

After measuring your arm and leg on the same level as the celebrity’s footprints, go to Sunset Strip and then to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. I’m not the type to shop here, but the people who look good are charming because they carefully park their Ferrari for shopping.

Don’t miss the stops at Culver City, Santa Monica and Venice Beach as you cross the city. Whether you come with kids or for a day at an amusement park, Universal Studios in Hollywood and Disneyland in Anaheim are both great.

Further west, past the Pacific Palisades, you will discover Malibu Beach, which stretches for miles along the coast, with the Santa Monica Mountains on your right.

The beach can be very crowded at weekends and in summer, but you can always find good spots if you go a little further towards the beach of El Matador, past Dumas Point.

Travelling inland for a few minutes, the Santa Monica Mountains offer spectacular hiking trails overlooking the underlying Pacific Ocean, ideal for outdoor activities after spending the morning in the sun.

14. Relaxation on the coast in San Diego

5 hours from Las Vegas (332 miles)

Park Horton Plaza with the Balboa Theatre in the background in the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego, California.
Gas lamp in San Diego is a great place to walk, shop and eat.

voluptuous andy/shutterstock.com

San Diego may only be a 5 hour drive from Las Vegas, but there are many ways to stop on the way and it’s a great city to visit for a few days, so it should be worth considering for your trip from Las Vegas.

The easiest way to get to San Diego is to follow the I-15 from Las Vegas to Los Angeles until you arrive in San Diego 5 hours later. You can save a few minutes by taking the I-215 to avoid the famous traffic jams of Los Angeles.

However, a few detours can add excellent stops and shorten the journey for shorter distances. If you are on your way to the California coast, the cities of San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente, such as Legoland in Karlovy Vary, are excellent stops.

If you take the slower but more direct route, Joshua Three National Park (#8 above), Salton Sea and Palm Springs are all great places to visit in and around the Coachella Valley.

San Diego itself is a city where the weather is almost always perfect thanks to its unique location on the coast and the prevailing sea currents.

You can stroll through the streets of the Gaslamp district or order fish tacos at La Jolla while relaxing in the bay overlooking the native seals.

Spend some time in the huge Balboa Park – it’s not only great for walking, but also offers museums, entertainment and San Diego’s famous zoo.

15. Walking in Yosemite National Park

5 hours 20 minutes from Las Vegas (340 miles)

The Yosemite Valley and the Merced River in Yosemite National Park, California
The Yosemite Valley is one of the most impressive parts of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Stephen Moel/Shutterstock.com

Yosemite is the most famous national park in California and one of the most famous in the country. It is relatively easy to get from Las Vegas to Yosemite – it is one of the few areas of the Sierra Nevada that can be reached, although the mountain pass closes when the snow falls, which means it is closed for winter from the end of October.

Most visitors who come to Yosemite only visit the Yosemite Valley, which covers a small part of the entire park, covering an area of 1000 square kilometres.

You should still visit the Yosemite Valley to see the Merced River flow along the famous El Captain Rock, but if you want to see more nature and hike the wilderness trails, go further into the park.

The Yosemite Valley gets busier at the end of the day when people from San Jose, Silicon Valley and San Francisco come for day trips or weekends. If you come on a weekday morning, this means that there are far fewer people, although you still have to book in advance if you want to camp or hike in the wilderness.

Death Valley National Park (#5 above) and the Royal Canyon/ Sequoia National Parks (#19 below) are good extra stops on the way to or from Yosemite, if you have enough time.

16. Visit to the Mormon capital of Salt Lake City, Utah

6 hours from Las Vegas (421 miles)

The Salt Lake Temple in Temple Square and the Mirror Pool in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Salt Lake Temple is the largest Mormon temple in the world.

Joe Yi Jiang/Shutterstock.com

Salt Lake City is famous for its location, surrounded by mountains on 3 sides and a lake on the other side. It is also known as the home of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the city is a fascinating place to visit.

The journey from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City is over 400 miles, but it’s the easiest you’ve ever done. Take the I-15 to the north, passing exactly one block west of the strip, and stay there. In six hours you’ll be in the middle of Salt Lake City where you have to park!

Although less than half of the population of Salt Lake City is Mormon, there are signs of its presence throughout the city. The Mormon temple is the most beautiful and largest in the world, and you can see it on the temple square with the reflecting pond in front of it.

Unfortunately, the temple is closed to visitors and non-church members, as are most of the other important buildings of Latter-day Saints in the city. The temple is also undergoing a major renovation, so it’s likely that in a few years it won’t be as spectacular as it once was.

However, you can visit the Tabernacle, which hosts shows throughout the year, and spend some time in the mountains around the city. Just a few minutes from the city centre you will find beautiful hiking trails in winter and great skiing areas in winter!

17. See saguaros cacti on the road to Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tucson

6 hours 30 minutes from Las Vegas (434 miles)

Saguaro cacti grow in the Sonora desert near Phoenix, Arizona.
Everywhere in the Sonora desert huge cacti grow.

Anton Faultin/Shutterstock.com

Just a few miles from the Arizona border, a trip from Las Vegas to Copper is an obvious option.

This route crosses many deserts with stops at Phoenix/Scottsdale and Tucson. If you want to travel through Arizona more often, fly via Sedona to Phoenix and visit Red Rock and Slide Rock National Parks (see #12 above).

If you pass the Hoover Dam (which is worth a small detour), you will see the Mojave Desert gradually change into Sonoran. The height decreases slightly, the rocks and sand become a bit redder and the Yeshua trees open the road to Saguaros.

If you don’t know what a saguaro is, check the license plates of the cars around you in Arizona, those huge cactus plants with thick green arms that can reach a height of over 12 metres.

These cacti (or cacti?) can live to be 150 years old or older, and those with multiple hands are the oldest – they need 50 years to just stand at hip height!

Phoenix and Scottsdale is a large metro district with an endless array of attractions – a vibrant art scene with the Heart Museum, art galleries and various pop-up exhibitions well worth a visit.

Scottsdale has a more relaxed atmosphere in a small town in the high skyscrapers of the Phoenix, and if you want to go out for a meal or a drink, Scottsdale is the place to be.

Tucson presents an interesting combination of architecture and colonial style that seems very European. But you won’t forget you’re in the middle of the desert. The city’s main attraction is the Saguaro National Park, located on the outskirts of the city, which also houses the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

18. Admire the natural wonders of Monument Valley

at 6 hours 30 minutes from Las Vegas (400 miles)

Sunrise at the foot of the Monuments Valley, on the border of Arizona-Utah.
The donkeys in the Monuments Valley have a supernatural relationship with them.

Lori Ellis/Shutterstock.com

The Monument Valley is located on the border between Utah and Arizona and it will surprise you that it is not a national park or a national monument.

In fact, it has no real name because it is located on the Navajo reserve and therefore cannot be classified as protected land at federal or state level.

If you are spoilt for choice when it comes to discovering the amazing nature of Las Vegas, then the Valley of Monuments must be at the top of the list to discover a totally incredible view.

The huge red rocks spread out in the valley as if they had fallen from the sky in ancient times and landed here, and some rise up to 300 m above the ground, which is quite impressive in height.

You can drive north or south of the Grand Canyon to get there, and although the northern road is 30 miles shorter, both take about the same amount of time.

By the way, you really should make a few stops along the Grand Canyon (#11 above) to see the incredible views below and maybe take a walk, depending on how much time you have. The horseshoe bend further down the canyon at Paige is a great place for a great photo.

If you follow the road from the north and make a short detour to the south, you will arrive at Red Rock State Park near Sedona (#12 above).

If you extend your trip and add Utah’s Arch and Canyonland National Parks and take different routes to and from Monument Valley, you’ll see most of the region’s incredible natural attractions in one epic journey!

19. See Giant Redwood in King’s Canyon and Sequoia National Parks

8 hours from Las Vegas (455 miles)

Giant sequoias growing in a huge forest in Sequoia National Park, California.
The largest trees in the world grow in the Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park.

Andreas C. Fischer/Shutterstock.de

Royal Canyon and Sequoia are two adjoining national parks that blend harmoniously into the Sierra Nevada of California.

An eight hour drive can be daunting, but how long it takes to get here depends largely on where you want to go in the parks. The most popular excursion destinations are in the western part of the parks – Highway 180 leads deep into the park to canoeing and is only accessible from the west.

Some of the most popular walks and General Sherman, the largest tree in the world, also require a walk in the Sierra Nevada.

However, if you want to walk among the giant sequoias and wander through the mountains without seeing the sights, you can take California Highway 395 and follow one of the small roads that lead from there to the parks, taking one of the paths that come from the east.

The Kearsarge Pass and Mount Whitney Trailheads are great opportunities and it takes about four and a half hours to get there.

Since you are going directly through the Death Valley National Park (no. 5 above), you can also add it to your itinerary. The combined tour takes you through the hottest desert in the world and one of the most incredibly lush forests, only 2 hours apart!

20. National ParksArch and Canyonlands, Utah

8 hours from Las Vegas (521 miles)

Vaulted rock formations in Archie National Park, Utah.
The Arches National Park of the same name has several excellent locations for framing photographs.

Anthony Heflin/Shutterstock.com

Two national parks in eastern Utah are located on either side of Moab. As both parks are ideal for hiking and wildlife discovery, Moab is very popular during the summer months when the tourist season is at its peak. If you can postpone your trip until Labor Day, you will probably have better accommodations and fewer people.

Canyonland is one of two large parks and you can reach most attractions by car – the main road to the park is the Grand View Point Road, and there are plenty of parking spaces for walks and views, including the Grand View Point at the end of the road.

The white road bends around the edge of the park and branches off from the Grand View Point Road before reaching the visitor centre. This road is open to SUVs, MPVs and ATVs, but it is a little more than a dirt road, and progress can be slow, so take your time to drive if you plan to use this road.

The arches are smaller, closer and faster than those in Canyonland, which means there are many more people here. Many amazing rock formations are easily accessible on foot from the nearest car park, so you can visit many sites without too much effort.

Each park costs $30 per entrance, but you can get a $80 Beautiful National Parks Pass that gives you unlimited access to the country’s national parks for one car, including all passengers. So you have to get it and use it later for extra rides!

21. Long drive through the Sierra Nevada to San Francisco

9 hours from Las Vegas (569 miles)

The famous Golden Gate Bridge, which stretches from San Francisco to California.
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is a place worth a long journey from Las Vegas.

TierneyMJ/Shutterstock.com

San Francisco may be a long way from Las Vegas, but if you really want to make the right trip and have some free time, this could be your final destination.

If you are planning a trip from Las Vegas, ignore the instructions on your navigation system. Routes I-15 and I-5 are not the most exciting, and there are better routes between Vegas and Fog City than Barstow and Bakersfield.

If time permits, I will first go to Death Valley (#5 above) and spend the night or two in one of the best places in the world to see the stars without light pollution.

Then head north on the east side of the Sierra Nevada towards the Mammoth Lakes and cross the Tioga Pass on California Highway 120. This road will take you to the heart of Yosemite (no. 15 above). It is worth spending some time in the Yosemite Valley and stay there at the end of your trip.

If you do not drive in the summer, this road can be closed off by heavy snowfall. If so, you can continue north to Lake Tahoe and then take the Carson Pass Highway (usually open all winter) or the Lincoln Highway to Sacramento.

When you finally arrive in San Francisco, there are so many things to do that you won’t be able to get close even if you stay a week. Be inspired by my guide to the best companies in San Francisco!

On the way back you can drive down the west side of the Sierra Nevada and take the picturesque state route 180, which separates the Royal Canyon and the Sequoia National Parks (#19 above), see the world’s largest tree and then take Route 198 (even more beautiful) to the south.

A stopover in the Mojave Desert (#4 above) on the way back would complete a truly epic road trip from Las Vegas, which seems to cover half of the other destinations I mentioned for the shorter routes!

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