Surrounded by two of the most visited cities in the western United States, the Los Angeles to Las Vegas route is on the list of the region’s busiest destinations.
Depending on how much time you have and what you want to see along the way, the journey from Los Angeles to Vegas offers spectacular desert views, historic sites, and the opportunity to have fun outdoors along the way. And of course you can go the other way.
So, if you are planning to travel by car from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, don’t just think about the destination, think about the way to get there! Take plenty of time to enjoy the sights along the route, whether they are picturesque or unusual, or of great natural beauty.
LA to Las Vegas via I-15, the shortest route
LA to Vegas via Joshua Tree and Mojave National Wildlife Refuge
LA to Las Vegas via Route 66
LA to Vegas via Lone Pine and Death Valley
Tips for driving from LA to Vegas (or Las Vegas to LA)
Travel time: 270 miles (map)
travel time: About four hours without moving.
I-15 N will get you from Los Angeles to Vegas in no time. Therefore, you should take this route if you have limited time. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be adventures along the way.
Although this Los Angeles-Vegas route does not include any of California’s three major desert parks, be sure to head south to explore the Mojave National Wildlife Refuge or north to visit Death Valley National Park.
Here are the highlights and places to stop on this trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas!
Mormon Rocks, Phelan, California: Beautiful sandstone formations that got their name because they were discovered by Mormons traveling from Utah to California. The Mormon Rocks are worth exploring if you love nature. The Mormon Cliffs Interpretive Trail is a 1-mile round trip hike with a beautiful viewpoint.
Victorville, California: Victorville is home to the California Route 66 Museum, a popular stop along the historic main road. The museum houses lots of fun and interesting memorabilia, including a 1950s restaurant and a Volkswagen Love Bus with wings. Emma Jean’s Holland Burger Cafe is located just outside of town.
Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch, Oro Grande, California: The Elmer Long Bottle Ranch is one of California’s most popular attractions along Route 66. A huge collection of glass bottles is displayed on tree-like structures, which provide great photo opportunities.
Barstow, California: Barstow is a major stop on California’s Route 66, with a few museums and some quirky attractions. You can visit the Route 66 Museum, which tells the story of the Mother Road, and see the Old Woman’s Meteorite, the largest meteorite found in California. Barstow is also home to the oldest surviving Del Taco, as well as a McDonald’s cart.
Ghost town of Calico, California: Calico was founded in 1881 during the California silver boom, but was abandoned in the mid-1890s when silver lost its value. In the 1950s, most of the buildings were restored and Calico was recognized as a California State Historic Landmark. Today it is a regional park that you can visit, including the silver mine, or take a ride on the historic railway.
Zzyzx Road, CA: The Zy-Zyzx proclaimed Zzyzx Road leads to the oasis that now houses California State University’s Center for Desert Studies, but was once a Curtis Springer spa. You can make a tour of the complex yourself. Bring your binoculars, because you can see a lot of birds here!
Baker, California: Baker has the highest thermometer in the world. It stands 134 feet tall and was erected to commemorate the highest temperature measured in Death Valley National Park: 134 degrees Fahrenheit in 1913. Don’t forget to stop by the Mad Greek Cafe for a milkshake, or try the famous Alien Fresh Jerky!
Attention, NV: Primm is on the border between California and Nevada. It is known for its lottery shop, where Nevadans line up to buy lottery tickets when the jackpot is big. The queues can be quite long at this time of day! Also stop at Whiskey Pete’s where you can watch Bonnie and Clyde’s death machine get riddled with bullets.
Seven Magic Mountains, Jean, NV : If you plan to travel this route in 2021, make a stop to see the Seven Magic Mountains Hugo Rondinone at Lake Jean Dry, about 10 miles south of Vegas. The Neon Rocks installation consists of seven towers of stacked rocks painted in different colors. According to the current planning, the plant will remain at its current location until the end of 2021.
Travel time: 344 miles (map)
travel time: Approximately 5 hours and 50 minutes without practice
This trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas offers the opportunity to visit not one, but two beautiful California desert parks: Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve, as well as some quaint desert towns along the way.
If time permits, plan a trip to Palm Springs. This desert community offers golf resorts and courses, hikes in the surrounding desert, great food and drink, and a zip line to the San Jacinto Mountain resort.
These are the highlights and places to stop on this road from LA to Vegas:
Pasadena, California: Pasadena is a gracious Southern California city with beautiful architecture to admire and a vibrant historic district with many restaurants and museums. Not far away is The Huntington, a complex of themed gardens that invite delightful exploration. The complex also houses an impressive art collection and a library with rare manuscripts.
Cities of Route 66, California : Between Pasadena and San Bernadino, a number of Route 66 cities offer short detours. There’s the Foothills Drive-In Theater in Azusa, the historic 1950s Golden Arches McDonald’s building in Upland, and a beautiful yellow gas station in Rancho Cucamonga.
San Bernadino, California: San Bernadino has several attractions that will delight Route 66 enthusiasts. Here you will find the very first McDonald’s, opened in 1940 by the McDonald brothers. Today it’s a museum. You will also find the Wigwam Motel (one of three remaining of the original seven): You can even stay at the motel!
Cabazon, California: Cabazon is home to the Cabazon Dinosaurs, an iconic roadside attraction that has been featured in movies. The visit of the two giant dinosaurs (Dinny and Mr. Rex) is free, but the interior of Mr. Rex is not. Rex go. There is also a small museum for children, as well as a sand pit and a gold mine. Cheesy? Yes. But it’s fun, especially for kids.
Pioneertown, California: Pioneertown was founded by Dick Curtis and other Hollywood actors as a movie set. When you walk down Mane Street, you feel like you’re in a Western. Many movies and series have been shot in Pioneertown. It’s a great place to take pictures, and the road from Yucca Valley to Pioneertown is very nice.
Joshua Tree City, California: The picturesque town of Joshua Tree is the perfect starting point for exploring the national park if you are not camping. Try the sound bath. Visit the Integratron: The creator claims to have received instructions for the design from visitors to Venus. You can also visit the Noah Purifoy sculpture museum.
Joshua Tree National Park, California: Known for its massive rock formations and strange-looking cliffs, Joshua Tree National Park offers epic hiking and bouldering opportunities. But you can also visit historic sites (old ranches and mining relics), view wildlife and birds, enjoy the wildflowers and lush spring blooms, and gaze up at the night sky.
Mojave National Wildlife Refuge, California: The Mojave National Wildlife Refuge is huge: about 1.6 million acres. Most of it is wilderness, but the road through Kelso and Sima to Vegas is considered passable for sedans. Along the way you’ll see one of the densest Joshua trees in the world, as well as large sand dunes, the historic Kelso Deposit and cinder cones.
Good tip: If you have the time and make this trek in the cooler months, the Teutonia Peak Trail in the Mojave National Wildlife Refuge takes you past the densest grove of Joshua trees on the planet and offers great views of the desert from the top.
Travel time: 348 miles (map)
travel time: About 6 hours without traffic problems
If you love the classic American landmarks and roadside attractions that made Route 66 famous, this is your chance to see some of them on your trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
We’ve mapped out an itinerary that combines some of the best attractions along the extension of California’s Mother Road with a drive through the uninhabited desert of the Mojave National Preserve, which is less visited than Joshua Tree National Park and offers the chance to experience the vastness of the California desert in relative solitude.
Here are the highlights and places to stop on this trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas:
Pasadena, California: Pasadena has many attractions to offer, from museums to gardens, but it is also home to some iconic Route 66 attractions. The beautiful Colorado Street Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and can be driven over. The Howard Motor Company building is another one not to be missed: It is built in an ornate Spanish architectural style.
Cities of Route 66, California : Between Pasadena and San Bernadino, you can visit some of the small towns that sprung up along Route 66. Some suggest a slight detour via I-210 E, but you’ll see many classic Highway 66 attractions, from old theaters and gas stations to motels with old signs and even a giant orange.
San Bernadino, California: There are many historic Route 66 sites in San Bernadino that are worth a visit. The Santa Fe station and depot were built in the Mission Revival style and are still in use. The Wigwam Motel is a nice photo stop, as is the very first McDonald’s. And you will find many motels with old Route 66 signs!
Barstow, California: Barstow, one of the stops on Route 66 in California, is home to the architecturally stunning Harvey House Train Depot, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The depot houses the Route 66 Museum and the Western American Railroad Museum, both of which are sure to interest travelers interested in the history of the area.
Ghost Towns of Route 66, California: Between Barstow and Amba are several small ghost towns, with interesting ruins to photograph. Towns rose when the road was built and languished when the new US 40 was built. There are photo stops in Daggett, Newberry Springs, Ludlow and Baghdad.
Amboy, California: Amboy is home to the iconic Roy’s Cafe, a popular stop for photographers and history buffs along Route 66. You can also take a detour there and visit the Amboy crater, which is thought to have erupted almost 10,000 years ago. A symmetrical cinder cone is a beautiful thing. You can hike to the top and around the edge, and in spring you’ll see lots of wildflowers.
Mojave National Wildlife Refuge, California: At the southern entrance to Kelbaker Road, turn into the Mojave National Wildlife Refuge and cross the desert to get onto I-15 toward Vegas. Along the way, stop to admire the cinder cones and climb to the top of the highest dune at Kelso Dunes, where you can hear the sand sing. The road between Kelso and Sima is picturesque and offers the opportunity to hike up to Teutonia Peak.
Good tip: If you have more time and want a longer drive, you can start in Santa Monica and follow Route 66 in California to the Eagles at the Arizona border before driving north to Vegas.
Travel time: 443 miles (map)
travel time: No movement around 7:30pm.
This route between Los Angeles and Las Vegas is the longest of our four routes and even includes a slight detour to Lone Pine, but it’s our favorite because it includes both the stunning views of the Sierra Nevada and the best of Death Valley National Park.
If you’re entering Death Valley National Park from the west, you have the option of exploring the less-visited western parts of Death Valley National Park on this route, depending on your interests and the time you have available for your trip.
When you leave Death Valley National Park, you can drive to Las Vegas: US 95 S or NV 160 E will take you from Death Valley Junction to Vegas in about an hour and 45 minutes.
These are the highlights and stops on this trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas:
Red Rock Canyon State Park, California: Red Rock Canyon is one of the most beautiful state parks in California. It has spectacular rock formations, cliffs and hills and will delight landscape photographers. The colors, stripes of red, orange and light pink, are bright.
If you plan a short stop, you can do some hiking to view the rock formations and take pictures. In season, you can spend more time hiking, picnicking, spotting wildlife and viewing wildflowers.
Alabama Hills, California: The Alabama Hills are a landscape that has been featured in hundreds of westerns. They consist of beautiful rounded rock formations that stand out against the jagged peaks of the Sierra Nevada, including Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states. There are also many natural arches in the hills of Alabama.
Follow the Movie Trail, a scenic dirt road through the hills of Alabama. Follow the path to the Moebius Arch, another great spot for photos. Look out for many other arches in the area. Enjoy riding on dirt roads and wildflowers in season.
Lone Pine, California: Lone Pine, the gateway to Mount Whitney and the Alabama Hills, is a charming town with the feel of the Wild West. Take the Whitney Portal Road to the high points of Mount Whitney for breathtaking views if you’re there when the road is open. Also in the city, visit the Museum of Western Film History.
Death Valley National Park (Panamint Springs), California: If you’ve already visited the main attractions of Death Valley National Park, or if you still have time to do a little extra, the west side of Death Valley National Park is worth exploring.
Father Crowley Vista Point is located just off California Highway 190 and offers panoramic views of the valley and mountains in the distance. Darwin Falls is a small, picturesque waterfall on the edge of the desert, which can be reached on foot in 3 km.
Panamint Valley Playa is a dry lake bed, ideal for photography and scenic views. Trona’s Wildrose Road and Emigrant Canyon Road offer a scenic route. Visit the Wildrose Charcoal Kilns and enjoy the view of Aguereberry Point. You pass the ruins of Harrisburg, an old mining town.
Death Valley National Park (Furnace Creek and environs), California: The main attractions of Death Valley National Park are around Furnace Creek, along California Highway 190 and beyond. There is also a visitor center and lodging in Furnace Creek if you plan to stay in Death Valley National Park.
Enjoy the golden beauty of Mesquite’s flat sand dunes. Walk through Mosaic Canyon, with its marble walls and natural mosaics. Walk around Artist’s Drive to see the artist’s colorful palette. Hiking on the salt flats of the reservoir. Check out the views from Zabriskie Point and Dante’s View.
Good tip: If you are making this trip in the spring, during the season of wildflowers, plan a stop to view the golden poppies at the Antelope Valley California Poppy State Natural Reserve in Lancaster.
From LA to Vegas in a refrigerator month
Most of the road between Los Angeles and Las Vegas is desert. If you want to get out and explore different stages (and we think you should!), plan a trip from LA to Vegas between late fall and early spring for the best weather.
It can get very hot in the summer, and if you’re planning a trip to Los Angeles during the warmer months, you’ll want to stay in your air-conditioned car most of the time, getting out only for brief photo stops if necessary. Mid-summer can also get hot early or late.
Guideway in both directions
We have described above the routes from the tip of Los Angeles to Vegas, but of course you can do any of these as a trip from Vegas to Los Angeles. For those who want a roadless trip, the Los Angeles-Vegas route makes an excellent first or last stop.
Since Los Angeles and Vegas are not cities in the United States, international travelers arriving at either airport can easily rent a car and drive the iconic route from Los Angeles to Vegas.
Water (and food!)
Since most of the route is through the desert, be sure to drink well, no matter the time of year. Don’t forget to bring a cool box so you can replenish your water supply at the start of the tour and throughout the route.
If you have special dietary needs or restrictions, please note that dining options may be limited in the desert portions of the route. Lunches and fast food are common, but if you need special foods, bring them with you or get them just before you enter the desert.
Give more time than you think you need.
Unless you are focused on the journey from point A to point B, you will encounter many distractions along the way, no matter which route you choose, and you will often be distracted from taking pictures.
With a little extra time, you can explore the sights or attractions that interest you along the way, or stop to enjoy the perfect light at a fantastic photo stop. Many desert areas are beautiful at sunrise, sunset or at night.
Hire the right vehicle for your needs
All the routes we describe are on paved roads, and you should have no problems with a passenger car. Rent an air-conditioned car for maximum comfort, no matter when you drive.
If you plan to drive on dirt roads in Death Valley National Park or the Mojave National Wildlife Refuge, consider renting a large four-wheel drive vehicle. Breakdowns in the desert can be costly and time consuming to repair.
Take a look at our car rental section. They search out different vendors to get the best price and find the one with the lowest rental rate, if any.
Do not forget to fill in
On a deserted stretch of road, gas stations are sometimes hard to find. There are no gas stations in the Mojave National Wildlife Refuge or Joshua Tree National Park, and only three in Death Valley National Park.
Always refuel at the beginning of your trip and before entering the desert, and know where the nearest gas station is on your chosen route.
Buy a National Park Pass
If you have a valid national park pass, make sure you have it with you when you enter Joshua Tree or Death Valley National Parks.
If you don’t have an annual (or lifetime) pass, consider buying one online before you travel. The pass will save you money if you plan to visit three or four parks in the 12 months following its purchase. Buy your passport online at REI!
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frequently asked questions
Where can I stay between Los Angeles and Las Vegas?
Article ‘ 2020/08
What is the halfway point between Los Angeles and Las Vegas?
Halfway between Los Angeles, California and Las Vegas, Nevada: Newberry Springs, California. Find a place to meet halfway. The two locations are 269 miles apart and the exact center location is 45545 Yermo Rd, Newberry Springs, CA 92365, United States.
What is the journey like from Los Angeles to Las Vegas?
Depending on the route you want to take from Los Angeles to Vegas, you can expect to drive at least four hours. Excluding traffic, I-15 N is the shortest and most popular route, with a travel time of about 4 hours and 15 minutes for 270 miles.
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