13 National Parks Near Las Vegas

By: the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.  | 
National Park Image Gallery Delicate Arch is a hollow remnant of a solid sandstone fin. See pictures of national parks.
courtesy of IndexOpen

In the minds of many people, the words "Las Vegas" and "natural beauty" don't go together. The city's kaleidoscope of neon lights isn't exactly in earth tones. And beyond that, many of the structures that make up the desert metropolis are mock-ups of somewhere else -- the Eiffel Tower, the canals of Venice, the New York City skyline. It can all seem a bit unreal. And, let's face it, that ringing carnival sound of slot machines isn't exactly like the chirping of birds.

­But if find your way out of the air-conditioned casino and into a rental car, you might be surprised what natural wonders you'll spy. Believe it or not, Las Vegas is within a few hours drive of some of the most uniquely beautiful national parks in the United States. In fact, some naturalists and adventure-seekers skip gambling altogether to venture out into nature's scenes. The contrast between pristine blue sky and the Nevada desert's reddish earth is a sight to behold. And Las Vegas is a prime home base for travelers hoping to cycle, climb and hike in California's more lush landscapes. Let's find out which parks are within driving distance of Las Vegas.


13. Sequoia and Kings Canyon

sequoia and kings canyon
Kings Canyon National Park, California. Chiara Salvadori / Getty Images

Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park are adjacent to each other across the California border from Las Vegas. They contain earth's most massive trees, giant sequoias so huge they far surpass the size of any other species.


12. Yosemite

This is an image taken at Valley View in Yosemite National Park. Mimi Ditchie Photography / Getty Images

Yosemite National Park presents a striking change from Las Vegas. It features one of the planet's greatest concentrations of natural features, including Yosemite Falls, the Mariposa and Merced giant sequoia groves, and the Tuolumne and Merced Rivers.


11. Joshua Tree

joshua tree
This is a photo of Joshua Trees near sunset at Joshua Tree National Park. Mimi Ditchie Photography / Getty Images

Driving south from Las Vegas takes you to Joshua Tree National Park. The Joshua tree, a member of the lily family, is actually an oversized yucca.


10. Death Valley

death valley
Death valley National park during sunset, California, USA Matteo Colombo / Getty Images

Just over 100 miles west of Las Vegas is Death Valley National Park, a brutally rugged but beautiful land of extremes. It holds records for the continent's lowest point (282 feet below sea level) and highest recorded temperature (134 degrees Fahrenheit).


9. Canyon de Chelly

canyon de chelly
View of Spider Rock from South Rim Drive, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona. JLR / Getty Images

Canyon de Chelly National Monument is further into Arizona from Las Vegas. Hundreds of years ago the Pueblo built houses into the canyon's red sandstone walls.


8. Petrified Forest

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Badland hills of bluish bentonite clay at Blue Mesa Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, USA Peter Unger / Getty Images

Also across the Arizona border from Las Vegas is Petrified Forest National Park. Its 93,532 acres include an amazing display of petrified wood.


7. Grand Canyon

grand canyon
Colorful sunset overlooking the Colorado River deep in the Grand Canyon Dean Fikar / Getty Images

Directly east of Las Vegas in Arizona is Grand Canyon National Park. Its great expanse and awe-inspiring vistas reveal spectacular desert landscape.


6. Great Basin

great basin
Great Basin National Park in Nevada USA John Elk III / Getty Images

Nevada's Great Basin National Park lies near Las Vegas. It includes the limestone Lehman Caves, the Wheeler Peak glacier, and Lexington Arch, a natural limestone arch more than six stories tall.


5. Arches

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, UT. Mark Brodkin Photography / Getty Images

Arches National Park is a timeless landscape of giant stone arches, pinnacles, spires, fins, and windows. You'll quickly forget the casinos of Las Vegas.


4. Canyonlands

Morning light illuminates the underside of Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park. Jeff R Clow / Getty Images

Canyonlands National Park, the other side of Utah from Nevada's border near Las Vegas, includes spectacular rock formations, canyons, arches, spires, pictograph panels, Puebloan ruins, and desert flora. The area is largely undeveloped.

3. Capitol Reef

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Dramatic rock formations in Capitol Reef National Park is in south-central Utah Mitch Diamond / Getty Images

Capitol Reef National Park, its elevation ranging from 3,900-8,800 feet, is composed of red sandstone cliffs capped with domes of white sandstone. It is in Utah's slickrock country, almost 400 miles from Las Vegas.

2. Bryce Canyon

bryce canyon
Sunrise view at Navajo Loop Trail of the Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, USA Nico De Pasquale Photography / Getty Images

Further from Las Vegas is Bryce Canyon National Park, a 56-square-mile area of colorful cliffs created by erosion. Towering rocks worn to odd, sculptured shapes stand grouped in striking sequences.

1. Zion

Sunset view over Watchman mountain in Zion National Park, Utah, USA Clicked by Avik Chakraborty / Getty Images

Zion National Park, about 150 miles from Las Vegas in Utah, features spectacular canyons and rock formations. They­ resulted from upheavals of the earth and erosion by­ flowing water and frost.

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