A trip to Las Vegas usually means, first and foremost, enjoying the city’s endless activity. Aside from walking the Strip or lounging at the extravagant resort pools, most Vegas activities are indoors, including casino games, live entertainment, clubs, and enough restaurants/bars to make your head spin! While these are all fun things to do on vacation, some people may be surprised to learn that there’s actually a lot of outdoor activity to enjoy in the American Southwest – including hiking through some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. If you’re planning on heading to Las Vegas anytime soon, read on for some great recommendations on the best hiking near Las Vegas.
Zion National Park
Zion is a few hours away from Las Vegas, but is definitely a highlight if you’re visiting the region. As you enter Zion National Park, you will immediately feel like you just landed on another planet, one that only exists in shades of reds, pinks, browns, and dotted with green trees. There are plenty of hikes in Zion, with the two most notable being on the more advanced side: Angel’s Landing and The Narrows. Angel’s Landing is spectacular, but not for the faint-hearted or anyone remotely afraid of heights. The first part of the trek is pretty traditional, but at a certain point the path will shrink to only a few feet in width, accompanied a massive drop on either side, but rewarding you with sensational views. Don’t worry, you’ll know when the scary part of the hike is getting close, as most hikers will sit along the rocks and rest while others brave the narrow section ahead. The Zion Narrows is essentially the opposite of this hike, located on flat ground in between two extremely high canyon walls. But you will likely have to wade through water on this several-hour-long hike, so dress accordingly! (Here’s more information on my trip hiking the Narrows.)
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon is also fairly far away from Las Vegas, but is well worth the four hour drive if you have the time. It’s also only a 90 minute drive from Zion National Park, so you could easily knock out both destinations in the same trip. Many tourists even rent RV’s and drive between many of the Southwest national parks, staying overnight in campsites. Bryce Canyon is a great place to go if you’re not necessarily ready for a long trek or high elevations, given that there are some easy walks around the canyon, as well as the option to ride horses down into the valleys. Here at Bryce, enjoy hiking through a forest of hoodoos, tall columns of striated, colorful rock.
Because of the higher elevation of the park (6,600 – 9,100 feet in elevation), snow falls at Bryce Canyon, creating a beautiful white blanket on the red rocks. In winter, you can enjoy snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and even hiking (with ice traction control strapped to your soles) through this beautiful National Park.
Red Rock Canyon
Red Rock Canyon is the closest option for real hiking near Las Vegas, which makes it perfect for escaping the hustle and bustle of the city. You can easily escape Vegas for Red Rock Canyon by driving 35 minutes west, just outside the city. Las Vegas is traditionally known as the casino capital of the country, but with both betting and gaming activity migrating to the online realm, other regions are entering what was previously Las Vegas’s territory. New Jersey’s legal online casinos and accompanying sportsbooks are leading the way, with various other states getting in the mix as well. This transition doesn’t mean the Vegas casinos aren’t still a draw, but it is causing some travelers to look to the area for more than just games – which may have something to do with why Red Rock is now a crowd favorite. A great hike for first-timers in the area is Calico Tanks, which takes about two hours and provides views of the city. But there are some longer and more challenging hikes as well for those who want a full day out (perhaps before a resort spa treatment back in the city!).
Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire is about an hour’s drive outside of Las Vegas, which makes it another convenient option even if you’re staying at a major Vegas resort. Home to some very old, petrified trees and historic petroglyphs, Valley of Fire State Park has some of the best hiking near Las Vegas. The park is home to many exceptional hiking trails, all of which feature views unlike anything else on the planet. Many of the great hikes in this park are short, have little elevation gain, and are conducive to exploring your surroundings at your own pace. One particular can’t-miss spot to seek out is Pink Canyon. Also, spend a few nights in their 72 unit campground, complete with RV sites, group sites, and day use areas.
Whether you’re looking to road trip through the western states or just want to take a day off from partying in Vegas, I hope that you try out one of these wonderful hiking spots nearby. Some of the best hiking near Las Vegas is also some of the best hiking in the country. Take some time to enjoy the beautiful Southwest!