Las Vegas: The Ultimate Outdoors Guide
Everything you need to know about outdoor recreation near Las Vegas, NV
Vegas is a mecca for sinners. Gambling, drinking, eating, partying all night. Lots of people have lots of fun here every year. But for those more in tune with nature, Las Vegas is not ideal. The fun of cigarettes, drunkenness, and bright lights only lasts so long.
If you'd like to escape the hazy tobacco scented casinos and go somewhere undeveloped and with fresh air, then the rugged desert landscape is right for you. Check out our list below of the top outdoor recreation destinations near Las Vegas below!
Grand Circle: Tour of National Parks in Five States
Multiple renown National Parks are within driving distance of Las Vegas. Consider visiting one, a couple, or going on the whole Grand Circle Tour. Visit as many of the parks in the circle as you wish. The whole expedition takes you through five states, including:
- Arches National Park (UT)
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (CO)
- Bryce Canyon National Park (UT)
- Canyonlands National Park (UT)
- Capitol Reef National Park (UT)
- Chaco Culture National Historical Park (NM)
- Grand Canyon National Park (AZ) (You can take a helicopter tour)
- Great Basin National Park (NV)
- Mesa Verde National Park (CO)
- Pecos National Historical Park (NM)
- Petrified Forest National Park (AZ)
- and Zion National Park (UT)
There's so many stops along the Grand Circle that our list may be missing some!
- Click here for more information about Grand Canyon National Park
- Click Here for more information about Zion National Park
Seven Magic Mountains
Seven Magic Mountains is an art installment in the desert. The installment features towers of brightly colored boulders stacked on top of each other. It's silly, but pretty cool in person.
As you drive through bare desert you see shades of mostly brown but as you drive closer to the art installment your eye catches big bursts of neon green, pink, blue, red, orange, and white.
As you park and walk closer to the rocks, you become a little silent as the power and size of the stacked boulders and colors against the landscape start to take a hold of you.
Seven Magic Mountains is created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, who states, "Seven Magic Mountains elicits continuities and solidarities between human nature, artificial and natural, then and now”.
Seven Magic Mountains is a 30 minute drive from Las Vegas. Find it on your GPS and go! More info: www.sevenmagicmountains.com
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Red Rock Canyon is a National Conservation Area in Nevada's Mojave Desert, and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management as part of its National Landscape Conservation System. Red Rock Canyon has very unique geological features and is perfect for hiking, rock climbing, scenic drives, horseback riding, mountain biking, road biking, picnicking, and nature observing. Red Rock Canyon is a 20 minute drive from Las Vegas.
- Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Website
- Hikes and Trails
- Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association Website
Target Shooting in the Desert
If you enjoy shooting firearms, Las Vegas is perfect for you. Grab your gun and head to the desert. If you're not a local or familiar with the area, it can be a little difficult to find shooting areas in the desert.
The land is owned by the Bureau of Land Management (Government Agency) and is located outside of strict city limits. If you imagine a circle drawn as a boundary around where most people live around Vegas, then pick a highway north, west, south, or east, and start driving, you're bound to hit BLM land and are permitted to target shoot in some areas.
There are rules, though, such as being 1,000 feet from roads and houses. Boundaries of where you can shoot and not shoot are always changing and desert ranges can get shut down because people leave so much garbage behind, and destroy the landscape. If you visit a desert range please clean up after yourself. Bring trash bags.
In addition to desert ranges, there are also many established indoor ranges and shooting experiences in the city such as Battlefield Vegas, Machine Guns Vegas, Strip Gun Club, or Bullets and Burgers. There's also paintballing at Combat Zone Paintball & the Zombie Apocalypse Experience.
Tips for shooting in the Las Vegas Desert
- Make sure to read signs and call your local BLM office or sherrif's office to confirm spots
- We shot at the 93 @ Apex Spot and had a lot of fun! (pics below)
- The Hubcap Spot / Southern Nevada Lightweight Sand Pit is close to Seven Magic Mountains
Vehicle Rentals, Rental-Tours, and Adventures in Las Vegas
You can pretty much rent anything in Las Vegas, like Spyders, ATVs, and mountain bikes. Check out the list of available rentals we found:
- Mountain Bike Rentals in Las Vegas
- Exotic Supercar Rentals in Las Vegas
- Off-road ATV/UTV Tours and Buggy Rentals in Las Vegas
- Can-Am Spyder Rental-Tours in Las Vegas
- Bike Rentals and Tours in Las Vegas
- Polaris Slingshot Rentals in Las Vegas
- Razor Adventures in Las Vegas
- Motorcycle Rentals in Las Vegas
- Segway Rentals in Las Vegas
- Scooter Rentals in Las Vegas
- Sky Combat Ace - Extreme Stunt Airplane Rides
- Wild West Horseback Adventure
Valley of Fire Nevada State Park
Valley of Fire State Park is located in Overton, NV, close to Las Vegas. Red sandstone formations from the dinosaur age define the landscape. Remnants of ancient trees and man have become petrified wood and 3,000 year-old petroglyphs.
Popular activities include camping, hiking, picnicking, photography, auto-touring, and stopping by the Visitor's Center. The campgrounds have 72 first-come, first-serve spots equipped with shaded tables, grills, water, and restrooms. Showers are available.
Valley of Fire State Park
29450 Valley of Fire Road
Overton, Nevada 89040
Mt. Charleston is Clark County's Highest Peak (the county that Las Vegas is located in).
Activities on the mountain include camping, hiking, snowsports, winter activities, and picnicking. Lodging includes everything from Airbnb houses and cabins, lodges, and There's also the Mt. Charleston Resort with a hotel, restaurant, and events. Mt. Charleston is about 45 minutes from Las Vegas.
Lake Mead is a National Recreation Area and when full is the largest reservoir in the United States, measured by water capacity. Lake mead transcends the states of Nevada and Arizona and is formed by the Hoover Dam. The Lake is 110 miles long and has 255 square miles of surface when the lake is full.
Located about 30 minutes from Las Vegas, the lake offers a plethora of fun activities. The most popular activity is boating and water sports, but there is also biking, canoeing and kayaking, fishing, hiking, photography, picnicking, sightseeing, scenic driving, hunting, horseback riding, scuba diving, and swimming.
If you would like to stay the night at Lake Mead, consider bringing your tent and sleeping bags. There are lots of first come first serve spots available at various campgrounds. More information here. Other accommodations include marina resorts, hotels, Airbnbs, and houseboat rentals.
The Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam is a monstrous manmade structure. More technically, the dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River that serves as part of the border between Nevada and Arizona. The Hoover Dam was created by thousands of laborers during the Great Depression. More than one hundred people passed away during it's construction, many of them being workers who were subject to working in 120° -140° tunnels polluted with dust and carbon monoxide from engine operated machinery. The families of the workers were told they died as a result of Pneumonia.
Even though the dam comes with historical baggage, including a Presidential Naming Controversy, our past generation's hard work has paid off as our most notable manmade landmarks and one of the most well known travel destinations in the U.S.A. Hoover Dam was specifically designed almost a hundred years ago with the intention that people will visit and tour it for decades to come.
If you would like to visit Hoover Dam, take a look at U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Website and plan from there. Tour options include a 30-minute Hoover Dam Powerplant Tour or a 1-hour Hoover Dam Powerplant, Passageways, and Dam Tour. You can also drive across the top of the dam and across the canyon, but there are restrictions - Hoover Dam Crossing Guide. The dam and the Colorado River help create Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the largest reservoir in the United States by water capacity, and a boating paradise.
- Hoover Dam on TravelNevada.com with Video
- Hoover Dam on the History Channel Website with Video
- Hoover Dam Tour Ticket Online Store
- Hoover Dam Hummer H2 Tour
- Papillon Hoover Dam/Lake Mead/Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours
- Evolution Expeditions Hoover Dam Kayak Tours, Wake Sports, and Water Park
- BigHorn Wild West Hummer H2 Tours
- Hoover Dam Tour Company - Bus, Jeep, Cruise, Helicopter, Airplane, Zipline, Bike, and River Rafting Tours
- Sundance Helicopter Tours
Back to Reality
After you're finished having so much fun in the great outdoors, head back to Vegas for a burger and beer. The most interesting burger restaurant is the Heart Attack Grill, which is located on Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas. You have to dress in a hospital gown and can order flatliner fries or a triple bypass burger. Also, there's a weight scale inside and people over 350 lbs eat free!
Truth be told, we didn't eat at the Heart Attack Grill, we people watched there then went zip lining on SlotZilla. The Fremont Street Experience in DTLV is better than The Strip in our opinion. Fremont Street is packed full of fun-loving people, there's street performers, bands playing on multiple stages, and people flying over your head on zip lines! We also recommend trying Veggie Way, a vegan In-N-Out style burger fast food with a drive-thru. It's delicious.