We love quick trips to Las Vegas, but the fly-in, fly-out crowd misses the chance to hit the open road and experience the heart and soul of beautiful Nevada. So the next time you’re Vegas-bound, expand your horizons beyond Sin City. Here’s two itineraries to get you started in planning the perfect Nevada road trip.
Desert days, Vegas nights
(1 to 3 days)
Day 1: Las Vegas serves as an ideal home base for desert exploration. Start by checking into the glitzy new Circa Hotel in downtown Vegas, then take a short walk over to historic Fremont Street, where the city was born. Try your luck at the tables, take in a free live concert and indulge at a signature restaurant. Then celebrate the city’s colourful history with trips to the Mob Museum and the Neon Museum, a collection of signs from Vegas’s golden years.
Day 2: The Hoover Dam, just an hour’s drive from Las Vegas, is a key piece of American history and a stunning feat of engineering. On the way, stop in nearby Boulder City, a charming town full of cute restaurants, antique shops and museums. Adventurous road trippers can paddle or hike along the Colorado River, then drive the hour and a half to Laughlin to explore that city’s Riverwalk. Overnight in Laughlin and enjoy a nightcap at the Aquarius Casino Resort.
Day 3: Hop in the car and drive about 90 minutes northwest to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Book a timed reservation online to take in the 13-mile scenic drive or opt for a quick hike among the breath-taking terrain. Stop in for a burger and a beer at the Goodsprings Ghost Town’s famous Pioneer Saloon before returning to Vegas (only 15 minutes away) and flying home.
The weird and the wonderful
(1 to 4 days)
Day 1: Start by exploring the otherworldly topography of Cathedral Gorge State Park, two and a half hours north of Las Vegas, with its striking hoodoos, slot canyons and red rock spires. Next, make your way west towards Route 375, also known as the Extraterrestrial Highway, rolling past the Nevada Test and Training Site’s Area 51. Spend the night in Tonopah at the historic Mizpah Hotel; you may encounter the Lady in Red, the most famed spectre of this spirited hotel.
Day 2: More eccentricity can be found in the area surrounding Tonopah and the nearby town of Goldfield. The art installations along the Free-Range Art Highway are distinctly bizarre and beautiful, including the International Car Forest of the Last Church, an open-air art gallery featuring 40-plus, spray-painted junk cars. Stop into the Rhyolite ghost town before tucking into Beatty for a meal at Smokin’ J’s Barbecue and an overnight stay at the Death Valley Inn.
Day 3: Beatty is the gateway to Death Valley National Park, one of the most spectacular natural areas in all of America. Covering 5,270 square miles, its salt flats, sand dunes, mountains and the famous Badwater Basin deserve at least a full day of exploration. Finish up in the town of Pahrump, unwinding at the Pahrump Nugget Hotel and Casino for the evening.
Day 4: Prepare to swirl and sip in Pahrump. It’s the hub of a small wine region with wineries like Artesian Cellars and Sanders Family Winery offering tours and tastings. If there’s time before heading back to Vegas, grab the clubs for a round of golf at the Mountain Falls Golf Club.
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