Top 8 natural attractions near Las Vegas for biking & adventure

As fun as a trip to Las Vegas can be, we’re not all made for the crowds, noises, lights, and lures of Sin City. What happened to good old natural fun? While many may not initially think of biking, backpacking, hiking, and outdoor travel when they hear the name Las Vegas, the area surrounding Vegas is full of outdoor activities and things to do for adventure travelers and cyclists away from the Strip.

red rock canyon

Cycling Red Rock Canyon, just outside Las Vegas

With the weather warming up, it’s a perfect time to head to Las Vegas to experience some of the nearby natural attractions for outdoor activities. The best part? You can stay in one of the many Las Vegas hotels and still enjoy Vegas while taking advantage of all of the biking and other natural attractions near Las Vegas during the day. Here are the top 8 outdoor Las Vegas activities and natural attractions for adventure travelers.

 

1) Valley of Fire

Nevada’s oldest and biggest state park, the Valley of Fire State Park is the perfect place for an outdoor adventure near Las Vegas. Whether you’re looking to camp, bike ride, hike,or just to picnic and enjoy the scenery, the Valley of Fire is the perfect nearby place to dodge the Las Vegas Strip. This natural attraction consists of sand dunes and fossilized sand stone that’s over 150 years old, and its fiery red and rich colors will leave any viewer awe inspired.

Valley of Fire is also famous for its stone shapes and swimming at Roger Springs. Make an attempt at rock climbing or try and spot all of the distinct shapes including the piano, elephant, beehive, Arch Rock, Atlati Rock and the Mouse’s Tank!

The visitor center is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm and any questions you have can most likely be answered there. Located about 50 miles north of Las Vegas taking the interstate 15 North to Highway 169. Park entry is free but there is a $10 fee per car so many people opt for bus travel to the park or they ride their bikes for a longer workout. For those interested in camping, campsites cost $20/night and $10/night for hooking up utilities.

 

2) Grapevine Canyon

Located in Laughlin, just an hour and a half outside of Las Vegas, Grapevine Canyon is a great option for a day trip away from the Vegas Strip hotels. This natural attraction outside of Vegas was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 and is famous for its easy-to-access petroglyphs and scenic hiking routes. These petroglyphs were thought to have been created by the Mojave Native American tribe, and the canyon gets its name from the grapevines that usually cover the stream bed during the spring and summer months.

During the more rainy months, hikers can find waterfalls and grape vines along the trails, but be careful because the granite terrain can sometimes get slippery. Also, whatever you do, don’t touch the petroglyph carvings! It’s important that we take care of these petroglyphs to keep up the restoration!

 

3) Lake Mead

One of the most popular day trip locations away from the Las Vegas hotels and the Strip, Lake Mead National Recreation Area is just a 30-min drive by car from Vegas – definitely a doable biking distance! Lake Mead is the largest man-made lake in the Western Hemisphere and was created due to the construction of the Hoover Dam. This travel destination near Vegas is great for a day bike trip away from Vegas for outdoor activities, especially water activities once you get there.

Lake Mead is not only scenic with red sandstone and black lava rock, but it’s also popular for house boats, speed boats, and fishing. If you go when the water is low, try to spot the Sunken City, the city of St. Thomas, Nevada which was evacuated in 1938 after the creation of the Hoover Dam.

lake mead

4) Zion National Park

Go for the spectacular views! Just two and a half hours away from Las Vegas by car, the canyons at Zion National Park took over 200 million years to carve and have some of the best hikes in the United States. Whether you have time for a long trip to Zion or just one day away from Las Vegas for some adventure travel, Zion National Park is perfect for hiking, mountain biking, climbing, or even just to take in the views of the high red rust colored rock towers built by nature itself. This world famous natural park is popular for its easy trail to Weeping Rock and its famous difficult hike up to Zion Narrows and Angels Landing.

angel's landing

Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park

5) Red Rock Canyon

For those interested in a day trip away from the Las Vegas Strip bustle, Red Rock Canyon is a perfect choice for all types of adventurers. With mapped hiking trails from .75 miles to 6 miles long, Red Rock Canyon is great for a hiking day trip, a day-long bike trip, or a longer camping trip. With over 19 mapped trails, thousands of different types of wildlife, and a campground, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is perfect for an active vacation near Las Vegas with beautiful views of Aztec Sandstone and limestone formations.

Whether you do a day trip or a camping trip away from Vegas, keep your eye out for Mojave Max, the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) famous at Red Rock Canyon!

desert tortoise

We helped this desert tortoise off the road. He very nearly got smashed by a truck – we were so happy he was far enough to the side!

6) Mount Charleston

Mt. Charleston is located just 35 miles outside of Las Vegas, and its a great spot for escaping the Las Vegas heat since it’s usually 20-30 degrees colder than Vegas all year long. With 52 miles of trails, Mount Charleston is one of the closest places for amazing biking and hiking near Las Vegas.

For those who are beginners or are traveling with children, the Mary Jane trail usually takes about an hour to complete on foot, and there’s also a seasonal waterfall. For any more experienced outdoor adventurers, there are plenty of more challenging trails, even up to 22 miles long. Don’t miss the Bonanza Peak Trail, a 10-mile trail where you’re likely to see wild horses.

 

7) Vegas Hot Springs

If you’re looking to escape the crowds of the Las Vegas Strip and want some true rest and relaxation, consider biking to one of the many hot springs near Las Vegas. There are over three hundred natural hot springs close to Las Vegas from geothermal activity in Nevada. Some favorites include: Roger’s Springs by Lake Mead, Hot Creek Springs for it’s stunning mountain views, and Sauna Cove below the Hoover Dam.

Some of these hot springs require hikes to reach them, and most have gorgeous views for you to enjoy as you soak in the 85 degree water. Note: don’t dip your head under the water as it can be very dangerous due to a type of amoeba called Naegleria fowleri.

 

8) Cedar Breaks

Situated about three and a half hours away from Las Vegas by car, Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah is a popular camping spot near Las Vegas. With its sandstone rock formations and canyons, bike riding in this area or hiking to Alpine Pond and Spectra Point are two trails that offer breathtaking views of Cedar Breaks.

With 30 campground sites, 2 hiking trails, guided tours, a visitor’s center, and a bookstore, there is plenty for any type of outdoor traveler to see and do. Sunset and sunrise are the most highly recommended times to go for spectacular views of the colors and rocks against the sky, especially since afternoon thunderstorms are common.

This article was written by Ariel Abbott, Editor of CheapoVegas.com

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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2 Responses to Top 8 natural attractions near Las Vegas for biking & adventure

  1. Spencer June 22, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

    Thanks for the heads up! I am off to Vegas in a couple of months and was going to do the Grand Canyon. Having read this post I think I will also visit the Hot Springs and Red Rock Canyon as well.

    [Reply]

  2. mike July 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

    The great part about visit to Las Vegas is that once you flee from its sprawl, you quickly find yourself in the middle of mountainous desert wilderness a million times more impressive than the Bellagio’s dancing waters could ever be.

    [Reply]

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