Writer: Meghan Palmer
Maybe you’ve never been to Las Vegas, or you’ve been a handful of times. Either way, you already know there is plenty of fun to be had on the Strip — but did you know the city is only a stone’s throw away from some of the most majestic outdoor adventure destinations on the West Coast?
A day trip is a perfect way to balance out a typically wild Las Vegas itinerary, so sneak away from the dazzling lights and immerse yourself in the region’s natural wonders with one of these unforgettable experiences.
Emerald Cave and Black Canyon
Las Vegas might be a desert, but you don’t have to go far to find a beautiful body of water. Let yourself be whisked away to Black Canyon, Arizona for an Emerald Cave Kayak Tour. The first thing you’ll notice is the stunning emerald green waters, and the view from your glass-bottomed kayak gets even better as you venture deeper into the picturesque caves. Take a quick dip in the Colorado River and keep your eye peeled for wildlife— the area is known for desert bighorn sheep, blue herons, and bald eagles.
Valley of Fire
Escape the bustle and work off some of that Las Vegas indulgence with a guided hiking tour through the Valley of Fire, Nevada’s oldest state park. Customize your adventure by choosing an easy, medium, or difficult route and soak in the park’s history and stunning views as you explore the landscape. Among 40,000 acres of peaks and plateaus, discover ancient trees and millennia-old petroglyphs created by Nevada’s earliest civilizations in the red Aztec Sandstone.
Zion and Bryce Canyon
Rarely do you get the chance to see two of the most famous national parks in the US in one day, which is why the Zion and Bryce Canyon Tour is so spectacular. The early morning pick-up time is worth it for the breathtaking view of Zion National Park, spanning 229 square miles of dramatic landscape. You’ll start by following the path of the Native peoples and pioneers as you gaze up at massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red before heading to Bryce Canyon for the second half of the day. A guided hike through this red-tinged moonscape will leave you awe-struck, and the narration along the way will make it so that you’re learning more about the park with every mile you cover.
If you’re looking for adrenaline-pumping adventure and scenic nature in one unforgettable experience, then a Lake Mead National Park ATV Tour should be on your to-do list. Lake Mead is a massive, man-made lake with a recreational area that covers a whopping 1.5 million acres, so there is plenty to explore here. Behind the wheel of your ATV, traverse 22 miles of the scenic Mojave Desert, stopping 900 feet above the Colorado River for breathtaking views—you’ll have a chance to take a dip in the river in the warmer months. End the day with an Angus Beef burger and fries at the Lake Mead National Park’s onsite restaurant for a well-deserved reward.
With its unique, wave-like structure and glorious light beams, it’s no wonder that Antelope Canyon is the most visited slot canyon in the world — and a sacred monument of the Navajo people. The canyon has been accessible by permit only since 1997 when it became part of Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park, so the Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend Tour is one of the best, most intimate ways to explore it. Wander past red sandstone walls and spiraling corkscrew formations in Antelope Canyon with your Navajo guide before taking in the natural wonder that is Horseshoe Bend on a guided hike. Between, you’ll also have the chance to see Glen Canyon Dam, a concrete, arch-gravity dam on the Colorado River.
Dubbed one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, you cannot miss the jaw-dropping beauty of the Grand Canyon. With the Grand Canyon West Tour, you have the unique opportunity to visit several quintessential outdoor hotspots in a single day, starting with a photo op at the Hoover Dam’s famous Bypass Bridge. Along the way, admire scenic views of Joshua Tree National Park as you make your way to the canyon’s West Rim. Prepare to be blown away by the sheer size of it — the Grand Canyon is larger than the entire state of Rhode Island. After marveling at the spectacular views, visit the Hualapai Ranch, a Native American settlement where you can watch a shoot-out or play cowboy games before heading back to Las Vegas.