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Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is <1 hr. outside of Las Vegas. It features a scenic loop drive and hikes of various lengths and challenges.

Icebox Canyon, Red Rock Canyon NCA, Nevada
View Coming Out of Icebox Canyon

Valley of Fire

Valley of Fire State Park is ~1 hr. outside of LV, with scenic drives and short hikes featuring unique scenery and native American petroglyphs. Popular Hollywood 'alien planet' landscape. Spectacular at sunrise/sunset.

White Domes Area, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
White Domes Area

Ash Meadows

2+ hours outside of LV, on the way to Death Valley, is the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Springs fueled by the underground Amargosa River create oases and provide habitat for endangered species of desert pupfish. The lush vegetation and tropical-colored fish are a striking contrast to the surrounding alkaline uplands of the Mojave desert.

Point of Rocks Spring in Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada
Point of Rocks Spring

Death Valley

Death Valley National Park has a severe and subtle beauty that takes at least a couple of days to appreciate. Go during the cooler weather when you can hike around. It was already too hot in late April this year, although spring temperatures can vary widely year-to-year. ~3 hours from LV.


Mesquite Dunes near Stovepipe Wells

Zion National Park

Zion's spectacular geography delivers drives, hiking, and camping of all varieties and challenges. ~3 hrs. out of LV on a drive that crosses the desert and ascends up onto the Colorado plateau via the Virgin River Canyon.

Zion Narrows in Zion National Park, Utah
Heading Into Zion Narrows

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam is worth a look if you're in that part of Lake Mead NRA. But be warned: the tourist traffic is heavy, the post-911 tour is minimal, and the declining lake doesn't produce the dynamic flow shown on the official site.

Colorado River just below Hoover Dam

The River (Not So) Wild

Rhyolite Townsite

Rhyolite is an almost-ghost of a mining town, featuring an unusual mix of historical buildings and contemporary outdoor sculpture. It's off NV HWY 374, one of the routes in and out of Death Valley.

Outdoor sculpture at Rhyolite Township, Nevada
Sculpture at Rhyolite Townsite

Nevada Test Site


The Nevada Test Site on Nellis Air Force base is a bizarre landscape of craters, ruins, and other artifacts from over 900 atomic bomb tests. Free day-long tours of the Nevada Test Site are given about eight times a year, departing from LV. Book early! No cameras allowed.


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