5 Amazing Day Trips off the Strip in Las Vegas!

I am guessing you all know we moved to Las Vegas a few months back and it has been nothing short of amazing. I wanted to share with you some of the fun things we have been doing outside of the city!

So you are headed to Vegas...

Whether it is for a long weekend, a week of sunshine, or even a new place to call home Las Vegas is SO MUCH MORE than just the strip.

Of course everyone should see the strip. It is glorious and self indulgent and shiny and busy and there is ALWAYS something to do!

Here are five (5) quick trips off the strip that will leave you wanting more!

Hoover Dam.

Hoover Dam was built during the Great Depression and had families flocking from all over to find work. The dam is built on the Colorado River in Black Canyon and was constructed in less than five (5) years.  The dam created the reservoir Lake Mead which supplies water to Nevada, Arizona, California, and Mexico. Take the tour...it is has some awesome info and you get to see the inner workings of the dam - oh and the magnificent terrazzo floors in the observation area.
It is a magnificent monument to what can be achieved when we work together.

Fun dam facts:

  • It has also been known as Boulder Dam even though it was not constructed in Boulder Canyon (this was the original proposed location). Nearby Boulder City (also worth a visit) was originally constructed to house all the workers and their families. 
  • The official number of deaths during construction is listed at 96.
  • The workers only had two (2) days off per year.
    • Christmas
    • July 4th
  • You can walk across the dam and travel from Nevada to Arizona
  • The dam has some amazing examples of art deco decorations and art.
  • When Lake Mead is full it is the largest reservoir. Unfortunately Lake Mead is at historic lows due to an extended drought.

Inlay design in the terrazzo floor designed to look like a plug.

Swoon...terrazzo (designed to look like a turbine), black marble, and brass. Yum!

This is located on the bridge and has the entrance to a restroom.

One of a pair of the "Winged Figures of the Republic" by Oskar J.W. Hansen.

A view from the dam looking toward I-93 and the Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.

Seven Magic Mountains

Approximately 10 miles south of Las Vegas near Jean, NV you will find this funky and colorful art installation by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. Opened in May of 2016 and set to remain through the end of 2018 (it may be there longer, but get out there quick it is worth the drive).

There are seven (7) structures comprised of locally sourced boulders which are stacked and painted in crazy bright colors - each stack is somewhere between 30 and 35 feet tall.

Seven Magic Mountains


Seven Magic Mountains


Another view of Seven Magic Mountains.

Mt. Charleston

Located Northwest of Las Vegas Mt. Charleston offers a respite from the summer heat and a snow filled playground in the winter including a ski resort. With miles of hiking both easy and not so easy and with a summit just under 12,000 feet you can find something for every ability - including those that just want to have a beer and a pretzel at the Mt. Charleston Lodge while overlooking gorgeous scenery.
A sign at one of the trail heads says driving to the top is equivalent to leaving the Mojave Desert and ending up in the Canadian Rockies - how cool is that? 

The bristlecone pines and the aspen trees will make you forget the summer heat just a short drive from the valley.
This July my friend and I decided to head up the mountain. We left about 8:30 in the morning and it was in the high 80s at the house and while on Mt. Charleston near the Atomic Site overlook the car registered a temperature of 55. 
55 degrees in late July just 45 minutes from the city? Yes please!
By the time we got back to the house the car told us it was 114 degrees. 
We also got to see a thunderstorm and hail while on the mountain and I wouldn't change a thing!

From the Desert View overlook.


Taken Near Cathedral Rock Picnic Area.

Mt. Charleston is also home to wild horses, burros, and all sorts of other glorious critters!

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon is West of the city and is managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior and is a National Conservation Area.


We think it is well worth it. Consider getting an America the Beautiful Pass to enjoy all year long!


At Red Rock you can hike (bring more water than you think necessary especially during the warmer months!!!), bike, see petroglyphs, drive on unpaved roads (please only do this if you have the right vehicle and experience), rock climbing, and camping.

One of the easiest ways to enjoy Rock Rock is on the 13 mile One Way Road. It is an easy drive along the paved road with several pull off to hike or just take some beautiful pictures.




The landscape in Red Rocks is diverse and changes quickly.



Taken from just beyond the Sandstone Quarry parking area.


Taken near the Willow Springs Picnic area.


Not the greatest picture, but this area is also home to the Desert Tortoise. 

No, I haven't seen one, but I am looking!

Valley of Fire State Park

Located northwest of the city and on the northern boundary of the Lake Mead Recreation Area it is just a short drive to a place that feels out of this world. 

In fact, scenes from almost all of Total Recall's (with Arnold Schwarzenegger) Mars scenes were filmed here and for you Trekkies...silica dome is the site of Capt. James T. Kirk's death and burial on Veridian III.


Again well worth it!

You can drive through this park and stop at any number of beautiful parking areas with hiking and picnicing spots. I took a ton of pictures here, but will try to find a few that show some of the spectacular sites in the park including several petroglyphs that are thousands of years old and petrified trees (fenced in for your protection ;)).


You can see why it feel like  you are on another planet.



Some of the petroglyphs to be found in Valley of Fire.

Natural Arch - Valley of Fire.

One of the petrified trees in Valley of Fire.

Looking across the valley near on of the west petrified trees.

Quail after getting a snack behind the visitors center...OMG the noises they make are so adorable.

Antelope squirrel snacking on a food block behind the visitors center in Valley of Fire.

White Dome trail in Valley of Fire.

Hiking beyond the pastel pink canyon in Valley of Fire.

Part of the pastel canyons (not on an official trail) and I was no there at the best time for the lighting in the pink pastel canyon :( 

These are just a few gems for you to explore beyond the neon lined streets in Las Vegas.

Do you have hidden gems that we should explore?


What is your favorite?

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