Even for the heartiest gamblers, Vegas can get to be a bit too much. All the neon and noise seem to pound in your head. So, I recommend day trips to Vegas visitors, just to get out into the great Southwest and let your lungs recover from cigarette smoke overload.
There are a few obvious opportunities, and a few not so obvious ones. Here is my list of best day trips from Las Vegas.
The Grand Canyon – This is the pretty obvious choice for number one. If you ever have the chance to see one of the wonders of the world, take it and grab hold of it as tight as you can. Standing on the edge of the great chasm in the earth that is the Grand Canyon is an experience in awe. My first glance made my hair stand up on the back of my neck and gave me cold chills – and not just from the cool January wind that was blowing. No picture you could ever take would do the Grand Canyon justice, and no picture could ever capture its expanse and its well, grand-ness. I’ve visited both the South Rim, on a 5-hour bus tour, and the West Rim, by rental car. The Skywalk at the West Rim is quite the experience, albeit a pricy one, but the Canyon view is just as spectacular from either vantage point. Often, tours offer a stop at Hoover Dam along with this trip, but for me, driving over it and stopping for photos was enough for me.
Red Rock Canyon – If it weren’t for the grand-ness of the Grand Canyon, Red Rock Canyon might be number one. Red Rock is much more intimate, much more accessible (only a half-hour drive from Vegas) and much more interactive. You don’t seem so scared to reach out and touch it, where as with the Grand Canyon, you’re almost scared to muss it up – or fall in. Red rock’s 13-mile scenic drive features hiking trails, beautiful scenery and red rocks. It’s one of my favorite day trips that I’ve taken.
Death Valley – The closest point in Death Valley National Park is about a two-hour drive from Las Vegas. The sights and views in Death Valley are akin to walking on the moon. In the summer, the temperatures are almost unbearable and restrictive to visiting Death Valley. It’s also too hot to be in Vegas, so if you’re visiting Las Vegas in the more comfortable months, consider a visit to Death Valley. Highlights are Badwater Basin – the lowest sea level point in North America, and the salt formations at Devil’s Golf Course.
Area 51 – If the thought of driving to the middle of nowhere to see something that doesn’t exist excites you, as it did me, than you should rent a 4x4 and head out to Area 51. For years, the government denied its existence, despite the fact that people that live in the little town of Rachel, NV could see it from their front porch, and people throughout the years had sightings of unidentified flying objects. The only thing to do here is to drive the long dirt road to the edge of the facility, where a very bored military dispatch sits, waiting to turn away rowdy tourists who test the government’s patience. There’s only a sign, that tells you where you are, and not to take pictures, which everyone does anyway. Stop in Rachel to eat at the Little Ale-inn, not so much for the food, but to visit the shop and say you did.
Next stop on our list – Bryce Canyon, Utah! I’ll let you know how it goes!