The Southwest

Which National Parks Close To Las Vegas Should You Visit?

So you’re staying in lovely Las Vegas, but maybe you’d like to LEAVE Las Vegas for the day (or just a couple of hours), escape the bright lights, and enjoy the scenic beauty the Southwest has to offer. Why not visit a national park? But which one! The Southwest is rife with National Parks to explore.

When every potential destination boasts the same attractions, like stunning views, hikes for all skill levels, unique flora and fauna, and top-notch stargazing, it can be hard to narrow down which National Park to visit from Las Vegas. Here’s our pro tip—they’re all great, and you can’t go wrong visiting any National Park on this list.

Keep reading to explore five National Parks close to Las Vegas and discover which one(s) might be the right place for you to visit, including:

  1. Death Valley National Park
  2. Grand Canyon National Park
  3. Zion National Park
  4. Bryce Canyon National Park
  5. Joshua Tree National Park

Now let’s hit the road and get to know the best national parks near Las Vegas.

1. Death Valley National Park

death valley viewpoints mesquite flat sand dunes

Distance from Las Vegas: 120 miles

Death Valley National Park is one of the easiest-to-reach National Parks from Las Vegas. This unique National Park earns its moniker by being the hottest and driest place in North America—on July 10, 1913, Furnace Creek in Death Valley set the highest reliably recorded air temperature in the world at a scorching 134.1 degrees F (56.7C)!

In addition to its extreme temperatures, Death Valley is also host to a wide range of elevations. Containing the lowest elevation in North America to some surprisingly steep mountain peaks, Death Valley National Park is home to a variety of geological formations, including salt flats, sand dunes, badlands, valleys, and canyons, as well as many species of plants and animals.

Learn more about Death Valley.

You should visit Death Valley National Park if….

  • You’re visiting the Southwest in spring, fall, or winter—Death Valley gets extremely hot in the summer
  • You’ve been to the Grand Canyon before and want to explore other Southwest sights
  • You’re interested in unique geographic features and want to explore several types of terrain in a single day
  • You like exploring ghost towns—Death Valley is home to the historic ghost town Rhyolite, offering a glimpse into the region’s mining boom (and later decline)
  • You want to avoid crowds. Death Valley sees the lowest visitation of every park on this list, making it one of the best national parks near Las Vegas to visit if you prefer a quieter experience.

2. Grand Canyon National Park

grand canyon north rim cape royal

Distance from Las Vegas: 125-280 miles

What is there to say about the Grand Canyon that hasn’t already been said? This expansive and beautiful park is renowned for its overwhelming size and iconic panoramic views that inspire awe in each and every visitor.

There are two parts to Grand Canyon National Park: the South Rim and the North Rim. The South Rim is closest to Las Vegas and has most of the attractions people think of when they think of the Grand Canyon. The North Rim is slightly further and can’t be accessed in the winter due to weather so severe it causes road closures.

Learn more about the Grand Canyon.

CANYON TOURS TIP: You can also visit Grand Canyon West (home to the famous Grand Canyon Skywalk), but it’s not part of the National Park system. The West Rim is located closest to Las Vegas, and is less than a 3-hour drive from the Strip.

You should visit Grand Canyon National Park if….

  • You’ve never been to the Grand Canyon before
  • You’re seeking the most epic panoramic views in the Southwest
  • You want to take an airplane, helicopter, or boat tour
  • You only have a half day to visit. If you’re on a tight timeline, check out our half-day Grand Canyon tours.

Browse Grand Canyon tours:

Grand Canyon West Rim Tours (17)

Grand Canyon South Rim Tours (9)

Grand Canyon North Rim Tours (4)

3. Zion National Park

view from observation point zion national park
Image Source: Tydence Davis via Flickr.

Distance from Las Vegas: 165 miles

Utah’s first National Park is about a 2.5 hour drive from Las Vegas. Zion National Park is home to the eponymous Zion Canyon, a deep and narrow gorge carved by the north fork of the Virgin River, as well as mountains, canyons, buttes, mesas, monoliths, rivers, slot canyons, and natural arches. Keep your eyes peeled for numerous plant species as well as 289 species of birds, 75 mammals, 19 species of bat, and 32 reptiles.

Learn more about Zion National Park.

You should visit Zion National Park if….

  • You love hiking. Zion National Park is home to some of the most unique hiking trails in the country, such as the Narrows and Angels Landing.
  • You’re an avid cyclist. Zion National Park offers both paved roads and dirt trails, and you can bike from canyon to canyon.
  • You’ve already visited the Grand Canyon, and are looking for similarly dramatic views and rock formations.

4. Bryce Canyon National Park

bryce canyon hoodoos

Distance from Las Vegas: 265 miles

Bryce Canyon National Park is known for its distinctive red, orange, and white hoodoos. What is a hoodoo, you might be wondering? A hoodoo is a type of towering rock formation that is created through two processes: stream erosion of the sedimentary rocks on the river and lake bed and frost weathering.

The hoodoos are best viewed from the scenic drive along the edge of the Canyon rim, which can reach elevations up to 9,100 feet above sea level—much higher than Zion Canyon. The elevation can make weather unpredictable, especially in the winter, so be sure to pack accordingly.

Learn more about Bryce Canyon.

You should visit Bryce Canyon National Park if….

  • You love geology. Bryce Canyon’s iconic hoodoo amphitheater is the largest collection of hoodoos in the world, and it’s a can’t miss site for rock lovers.
  • You want to avoid crowds. Bryce Canyon welcomes fewer visitors than the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, or Joshua Tree.
  • You’re avoiding the heat. Summer temperatures average between 50-80 degrees at Bryce Canyon.
  • You’re a stargazer. Bryce Canyon National Park was officially recognized by the International Dark Sky Association as a Dark Sky park in 2019.

Visit Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park:

Bryce Canyon & Zion National Parks Tour

$159

Enjoy a day trip to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks!

Hop aboard this one-day trip to two of Utah’s most famous national parks from the Las Vegas Strip. Take in the sights at Zion National Park before continuing on to the spectacular spire “hoodoos” at Bryce Canyon National Park.

Reserve Tour Now

5. Joshua Tree National Park

Distance from Las Vegas: 217-239 miles

Within the borders of this unique National Park, the Mojave Desert meets up with the Colorado Desert. And while you might feel like every desert is the same, you’d be wrong—the Mojave is colder and has a higher elevation than the Colorado, and they each house entirely different flora and fauna. The iconic Joshua trees for which the park is named can only be found in the Mojave portion, whereas the Colorado section is home to the unique teddy-bear cholla (an ironically named cactus).

But it’s not just the cool cacti that make this park worth visiting—it also has five year-round oases, as well as some impressive rock formations, including the Giant Marbles and Old Woman Rock.

Learn more about Joshua Tree National Park.

You should visit Joshua Tree National Park if….

  • You like rock climbing. With mild temperatures, grippy rock, and a unique landscape, Joshua Tree is a popular spot for climbers.
  • You like hiking (many of the trails don’t go too far into the desert).
  • You love interesting flora—Joshua trees create a unique and surreal desert landscape.
  • You’re chasing sunrises and sunsets. Joshua Tree is home to many places to watch the sun rise or set, and often with smaller crowds than the Grand Canyon.

National Parks Near Las Vegas Map

Wrapping Up

The choice of which National Park to visit from Las Vegas is undoubtedly a delightful dilemma. Whether you opt for the otherworldly landscapes of Death Valley, the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon, the majestic red cliffs of Zion, the surreal hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, or the unique Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Park, you’re in for an unforgettable experience.

The Southwest offers a smorgasbord of natural wonders, with each park presenting its own charm and allure—and all just a few hours away from the dazzling lights of Las Vegas. No matter which National Park close to Las Vegas you choose to visit, you’re bound to create memories that will last a lifetime. Happy exploring!

Grand Canyon West Rim Tours (17)

Grand Canyon South Rim Tours (9)

Grand Canyon North Rim Tours (4)

Bryce Canyon + Zion Tours (1)

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About Ria Borja

Ria is a Customer Experience Manager at Canyon Tours and an avid lover of the outdoors. When she isn't helping other travelers check destinations and dream vacations off their bucket lists, she's busy exploring the Southwest. Her favorite place to visit is (unsurprisingly!) the Grand Canyon.