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8 Incredible National Parks Near Las Vegas [Within 5 Hours!]

Written By: author image Kyle Cash
author image Kyle Cash
Kyle is the writer behind The Travel Runner. He’s a full-time traveler and adventurer who’s visited over 20 countries, including places like Thailand, Mexico, Vietnam, and Albania.

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Explore the stunning national parks near Las Vegas, Nevada, including the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Death Valley. Plan your adventure now to the scenic national parks a short distance from Las Vegas!


It’s always been amazing to see the sheer number of national parks dotting the western USA.

Like the USA has a case of chicken pox, dots fill the area with natural beauty, incredible hiking trails, and some of the best views the US has to offer!

And Las Vegas is one of the best places if you want to explore them all in-depth. Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Zion, and Bryce Canyon are just a few of the notable national parks close to Las Vegas. And there are even more if you’re willing to drive a bit further.

So, I’ve covered all that and more in this post so you can have the best trip to Vegas. Let’s dive into the best road trips from Las Vegas to national parks without further ado.

National parks near Las Vegas map

National parks near Las Vegas map

8 best national parks near Vegas

1. Death Valley National Park

A mountain reflection in the Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park — a land of extremes and contrasts. And also the closest national park to Las Vegas, just under 2 hours away.

It holds the record for the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth (134.0°F). This vast expanse of the Mojave Desert is more than heat; it’s a landscape of dunes, salt flats, and mountains that captivates all who visit.

A man stands watching the sunrise at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park

Exploring Death Valley is like stepping onto another planet. The surreal Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America, and the strikingly colorful Artist’s Palette are must-sees. Dante’s View offers a panoramic valley vista for those who love heights.

And don’t miss the chance to walk the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, where the sands shift with each blowing wind.

On my last visit, I caught a sunrise at Zabriskie Point, one of the best sunrises I’ve ever seen. The way the early morning light played across the golden hills, casting long shadows and illuminating the landscape in a warm glow, was something I won’t forget anytime soon.

Unfortunately, I only had one day in Death Valley, but I’ll be back soon enough. Also, if you want more adventure, check out the Gower Gulch Loop for a beautiful hike and workout!

Tips for Visitors:

  • Best time to visit: Late fall to early spring, when temperatures are milder.
  • Stay hydrated: Always carry more water than you think you’ll need.
  • Early start: Begin your explorations early to avoid the extreme midday heat and crowds.
  • Check road conditions: Some areas may be inaccessible due to weather conditions depending on the season.

Check out these great tours for your Death Valley trip!

2. Zion National Park

A valley with two large and rocky mountains in Zion National Park

Zion National Park is known for its stunning canyon walls and river-carved landscapes and is a haven for nature lovers and adventurers alike.

And when the drive from Las Vegas to Zion National Park is only around two hours, it’s well worth it.

The heart of Zion is Zion Canyon, where visitors can gaze up at towering cliffs like the Court of the Patriarchs and the Temple of Sinawava. Hiking enthusiasts often gravitate towards challenging trails like Angels Landing and The Narrows, offering unforgettable experiences and breathtaking views.

For a more relaxing visit, the Riverside Walk is a peaceful stroll along the Virgin River, accessible to all visitors.

The Court of the Patriarchs in Zion National Park

I visited in May 2023 and again in February 2024 on a work trip and have had the chance to explore a decent bit of Zion. Whether you have a week or only one day in Zion, you will surely have a good time.

I could sit and stare at those giant red cliffs for hours.

Tips for Visitors:

  • Best time to visit: Spring and fall for comfortable weather and smaller crowds.
  • Parking and shuttle service: Parking is limited; using the shuttle service is recommended.
  • Permits for The Narrows: If planning to hike beyond the Riverside Walk in The Narrows, check for permit requirements.
  • Be prepared for hiking: Wear appropriate footwear and carry plenty of water, especially for strenuous trails like Angels Landing.

3. Grand Canyon National Park

The sun fades across the canyon at Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park is one of the world’s most iconic natural landmarks. Its awe-inspiring landscape overwhelms the senses.

Visitors to the park are often drawn to the South Rim, which gives you spectacular views of the canyon and its size.

There are also plenty of activities in Grand Canyon Village. The Grand Canyon Skywalk, on the West Rim, offers a unique perspective with its glass walkway extending over the canyon.

For the adventurous, hiking down into the Canyon, such as on the Bright Angel or South Kaibab trails, is a better option, as you can see the canyon from below. Rafting the Colorado River is another great way to make your experience at the Grand Canyon memorable.

A man stands in trail running gear looking out at the Grand Canyon

The Bright Angel trail was one of my favorites.

It seemed like we’d never reach the canyon floor, and it was one of the trip’s highlights. Especially getting to run parts of it down toward the bottom.

Tips for Visitors:

  • Best time to visit: Spring and fall for milder weather and fewer crowds.
  • Stay on designated trails and overlooks: For your safety and preservation of the park.
  • Hydration is key: Especially if hiking into the canyon.
  • Check for permits: Some activities, like backcountry hiking and river trips, require permits.

4. Joshua Tree National Park

A field of Joshua Trees

Joshua Tree National Park is a unique desert haven where two different desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado, come together.

Known for its fascinating Joshua trees, starry nights, and various geological features, this park offers a serene yet adventurous escape. The park’s highlights include the surreal landscape of Skull Rock, the stunning vistas from Keys View, and the Cholla Cactus Garden, which is especially amazing at sunrise or sunset.

For the adventurous, rock climbing at Hidden Valley and hiking trails like the Ryan Mountain Trail are challenging but rewarding.

A man stands in the hole at Arch Rock in Joshua Tree National Park

For me, the highlight was the sunrise at Cholla Cactus Garden.

How the sunlight hits the chollas about 30 minutes after sunrise was incredible. It looked like a million little cacti getting set on fire. We only spent one day in Joshua Tree, but starting the day off this way was great.

Tips for Visitors:

  • Best time to visit: Cooler months, October to April, for comfortable exploration.
  • Prepare for temperature shifts: Desert temperatures vary greatly between day and night.
  • Respect the landscape: Stick to designated paths and Leave No Trace to preserve the delicate desert environment.
  • Plan for remote conditions: Cell service is limited, and the park has few facilities.

5. Bryce Canyon National Park

The red and rocky spires in Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is famous for its unique rock structures called hoodoos.

Its amphitheaters of red, orange, and white spires create a stunning, almost surreal visual experience. The park’s main draw is the Bryce Amphitheater, filled with densely packed hoodoos best viewed from viewpoints like Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point.

Sunrise over the red rocks of Bryce Canyon

Hiking trails such as the Navajo Loop and the Queen’s Garden Trail take visitors close to the hoodoos, providing a more intimate experience with the park’s extraordinary formations.

For those seeking a less crowded experience, the Fairyland Loop offers a longer and more tranquil hike.

Tips for Visitors:

  • Best time to visit: Late spring through early fall for the best weather.
  • Dress in layers: Weather can change rapidly at the park’s high elevation.
  • Sun protection is essential: High altitude means stronger UV rays.
  • Stay on designated trails: To protect the fragile environment and personal safety.

6. Great Basin National Park

A mountain range in Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park is one of the only national parks in Nevada — at least entirely.

It has a ton of diverse landscapes, from sage-covered foothills to the summit of Wheeler Peak. This park is a testament to the beauty and solitude of the American West.

Views from the summit of a mountain in Great Basin

The park’s standout feature is the Lehman Caves, known for their ornate limestone formations and underground rooms. Above ground, the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive gives you breathtaking views and access to high alpine areas. Hikers can explore the Bristlecone Pine Trail, home to some of the oldest trees.

And for the adventurous who reach the summit of Wheeler Peak, you’re rewarded with wide views of the basin. So sit back and enjoy it.

Tips for Visitors:

  • Best time to visit: Summer for full access to all park areas, including the high country.
  • Be prepared for altitude: With elevations ranging up to 13,000 feet, altitude sickness is a possibility.
  • Pack for changing weather: Weather can be unpredictable, especially in higher elevations.
  • Reservations for Lehman Caves: Tours of the caves are popular, so book in advance.

7. Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park entrance sign

Capitol Reef National Park is a goldmine of cliffs, canyons, domes, and bridges in the heart of red rock country.

The park’s centerpiece is the Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile-long wrinkle in the Earth’s crust. Visitors are captivated by the park’s unique formations, like the Hickman Bridge, a natural arch, and the vibrant orchards in Fruita, an oasis in the desert.

A road runs through Capitol Reef with the red mountains on each side

For those who like a more relaxing experience, the Capitol Reef Scenic Drive and the Cathedral Valley Loop give you stunning views of the park’s landscape.

Tips for Visitors:

  • Best time to visit: Spring and fall for ideal weather and fewer crowds.
  • Carry enough water: The desert environment can be deceptively arid.
  • Explore the orchards: Depending on the season, you can pick fresh fruit in the historic Fruita orchards.
  • Respect historic sites: Preservation of petroglyphs and historic structures is crucial.

8. Petrified Forest National Park

Colorful rocks formations create a valley in Petrified Logs National Park

Petrified Forest National Park is a surreal landscape where nature has painted a canvas of incredible hues and patterns.

The park is a geologic wonder and a window into a long-gone era of giant reptiles and lush forests. Its most striking feature is the Rainbow Forest, filled with vibrant, fossilized remnants of ancient trees that have transformed into stone over millions of years. The Painted Desert, with its many layers of color, is a stunning backdrop to this landscape.

One of the petrified logs in the park

Also, hiking trails like the Blue Mesa and Crystal Forest allow you to get more personal with the landscape and explore it at your own pace!

Tips for Visitors:

  • Best time to visit: Spring and fall for comfortable weather.
  • No collection of petrified wood: Removing petrified wood from the park is illegal.
  • Explore beyond the road: Many of the park’s best features are along its short trails.
  • Bring sun protection: The area offers little shade, and the sun can be intense.

Other places to visit nearby

Arches National Park

An arch and rock formation in Arches National Park

Arches National Park in Utah has over 2,000 natural stone arches, towering spires, and massive rock formations.

The park’s most famous landmark, Delicate Arch, offers an iconic image of the American West. The Windows Trail showcases several massive arches close together for a short but impressive hike.

Whether exploring by car or on foot, Arches National Park provides a unique and unforgettable experience in a compact, accessible area.

Tips for Visitors:

  • Best time to visit: Spring and fall for pleasant weather.
  • Early morning or late afternoon: Ideal for photography and cooler temperatures.

Valley of Fire State Park

A red and orange streaked rock in Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada’s oldest and largest state park, is a wonderland of red sandstone formations, ancient petroglyphs, and diverse landscapes.

The park’s highlights include the Fire Wave, a striking formation of layered sandstone, and Atlatl Rock, adorned with ancient rock art. With its sweeping vistas and fascinating geology, Valley of Fire offers an easily accessible adventure, just an hour’s drive from Las Vegas.

Tips for Visitors:

  • Photography hotspot: Sunrise and sunset offer the best light for photography.
  • Respect the landscape: Stay on designated trails and avoid touching the petroglyphs.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

A drone shot of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is famous for its stunning red sandstone cliffs and scenic desert vistas.

It’s a 13-mile loop drive that gives you access to numerous hiking trails and viewpoints. Popular spots include Calico Hills, known for its vibrant rock formations, and Ice Box Canyon, known for its cooler hikes.

Red Rock Canyon is an ideal destination for hiking, rock climbing, and wildlife viewing, all within a serene natural setting.

One thing to note that was different between my first and second visits was the need to make a reservation in advance. Before you head there, make a reservation in advance to show the park ranger at the entrance.

Otherwise, you must drive a mile to get service and then make the reservation.

Tips for Visitors:

  • Arrive early: The scenic drive can get crowded, especially on weekends.
  • Check weather conditions: Flash floods can occur in canyons, especially during monsoon season.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

A bridge spans the Colorado River in Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is a sprawling 1.5 million acres of mountains, canyons, valleys, and vast lakes.

It’s known for its water-based activities, including boating, fishing, and swimming in the expansive Lake Mead and Lake Mohave. The area also offers scenic drives, like the Northshore Road, and numerous hiking trails with diverse landscapes and wildlife. The historic Hoover Dam at the park’s western end adds a touch of engineering marvel to the natural beauty.

Also, check out the Gold Strike Hot Springs trail for a unique hike nearby!

Tips for Visitors:

  • Explore beyond the lakes: Hike the surrounding trails for spectacular desert scenery.
  • Stay hydrated: You’re in a desert. It’s hot and dry. So drink plenty of water.

Mojave National Preserve

The Kelso sand dunes in Mojave National Preserve

Mojave National Preserve is a vast desert wilderness in southeastern California.

From the towering Kelso Dunes, which sing in the wind, to the ancient Joshua Trees and the striking Cima Dome, it gives you a serene escape into nature. Visitors can explore historic sites like the Kelso Depot and check out unique geological formations like the Lava Tube.

The preserve’s varied landscapes, from canyons to mountains, make it a paradise for all types — including hikers, campers, and stargazers.

Tips for Visitors:

  • Prepare for remote conditions: Carry plenty of water, food, and emergency supplies.
  • Night sky viewing: One of the best places for stargazing due to minimal light pollution.

Sequoia National Park

A road runs between giant sequoias in Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park in California is a realm of giants, home to some of the largest trees on Earth, including the famed General Sherman Tree.

Nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains, this park is perfect for nature lovers, with awe-inspiring forests, rugged mountain landscapes, and deep canyons. Key attractions include the Giant Forest, where visitors can walk among the towering sequoias, and Moro Rock, a granite dome offering panoramic views of the park.

Its extensive trail system allows visitors to explore the backcountry or enjoy shorter, accessible walks through the groves.

Tips for Visitors:

  • Best time to visit: Late spring to early fall for the most accessible trails and facilities.
  • Prepare for altitude: Some park areas are at high elevations, so acclimatize accordingly.
  • Wildlife safety: Store food properly and maintain a safe distance from animals.

Kings Canyon National Park

A river and mountain range in Kings Canyon National Park

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park sit adjacent to each other.

And Kings Canyon is renowned for its deep valleys, sky-high trees, and rugged terrain. The park’s centerpiece, Kings Canyon, is one of the deepest canyons in the United States, offering breathtaking views and serene natural beauty.

Key highlights include the scenic drive along Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, the panoramic vistas from Zumwalt Meadow, and the majestic General Grant Tree, one of the world’s largest living trees.

Hikers can explore a range of trails, from easy walks to challenging backcountry adventures.

Tips for Visitors:

  • Be prepared for varied terrain: Bring appropriate hiking gear for diverse landscapes.
  • Drive carefully: The scenic byway is narrow and winding, requiring cautious driving.
  • Stay bear-aware: Use bear-proof containers for food storage and be knowledgeable about wildlife safety.

Which national parks near Las Vegas will you visit?

Pretty amazing, right?

Who knew SO MUCH NATURE was a few hours’ drive from Sin City? And, if you’re willing to go a bit further, there’s even more — like Yosemite National Park (in my opinion, worth the extra drive time!).

But I want to hear from you! What are the best national parks near Las Vegas, in your opinion? And which national parks around Las Vegas did you add to your list of ones to visit?

Let me know in the comments!

author avatar
Kyle Cash Owner
Kyle is the writer behind The Travel Runner. He’s a full-time traveler and adventurer who’s visited over 20 countries, including places like Thailand, Mexico, Vietnam, and Albania.