Headed to Vegas but prefer to opt outside instead of hitting the strip? We feel you. Nightlife isn’t our thing either (though if you dig both, then you’re in the right city). Fortunately, there are a wealth of rad hikes near Las Vegas, plus other adventurous outdoor activities within an easy drive from the city center.
And luckily for you, we recently did some exploring to find the best hiking in the area (plus mountain biking and skiing, too)! So grab your boots, your MTB gear, and your snowshoes and microspikes (if you’re visiting in winter, that is), and have some fun already!
Hikes Near Las Vegas (And More Vegas Outdoor Activities)
We love hiking in rocky desert environments. Especially when the scenery is this colorful and impressive. (That’s why we went backpacking last winter in Arches National Park.) And Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area just 30 minutes or so outside Vegas does not disappoint. Aptly named, it’s a vibrant oasis of color in the largely brown desert and the hiking opportunities are legit. Drive the scenic loop, park and enjoy the scenery, and take a hike. Our favorite hike was Calico Tanks Trail, a 2.3 mile out-and-back that leads you through sandy washes, rocky canyons, and up to impressive lookouts. Get there early for the best chance at nabbing a parking spot in the small lot.
Good to know: You need a timed entry reservation to do the 13-mile scenic drive within the Conservation Area from October through May. There’s also an entry fee unless you have an America the Beautiful annual parks pass.
Another wildly popular park for hikes near Las Vegas is Valley of Fire State Park. It’s almost hidden from sight if you’re not on the road that leads into the park, but as you drop in elevation and round a bend in the road, the vast brown desert gives way to majestic, fiery red rocks across the fascinating landscape. There are plenty of hikes and viewpoints to enjoy throughout the park, but our favorite was the Fire Wave and Seven Wonders Loop. Photo ops abound among the uniquely colored rock formations here, but if you keep hiking after the Wave, fewer hikers are on the trail and the terrain and views are just as spectacular on the other side of the 2-mile loop.
God to know: There is a $15 fee to visit and day-use reservations are recommended, especially on holidays and weekends.
For some of the closest hiking in Vegas, head to Sloan Canyon Conservation Area. This is true desert hiking, meaning there’s little to no shade, it will be brutally hot in the summer, and the views aren’t particularly epic all the time, but the Petroglyph Canyon Trail offers a unique glimpse into the past via over one thousand petroglyphs on the rocks. We didn’t spot nearly that many, but there were plenty to keep us pointing and yelling “Oooh! Found another one!” Most of the trail is in a wash, but if you take Cowboy Trail part of the way back, you’ll enjoy bigger views and a slightly more challenging route. There are also plenty of mountain biking trails from the McCollough Trailhead.
Good to know: The park is free and even though the Petroglyph Trail is the most popular in the park, it was practically empty on a Sunday morning.
Spring Mountains is managed by the US Forest Service, so is free to visit any time. In the summer, hiking and mountain biking abound. In the winter, locals bring sleds to slide down hillsides, but you can also hike (microspikes are recommended if there’s snow), snowshoe, even fat tire bike on a handful of the lower trails. Stop at the visitor gateway for tips and maps before you start exploring, but we (and the ranger we spoke to) recommend the Fletcher Canyon Trail for a picturesque hike between mountains with views that rival any you’ll find in the mountains of Colorado.
Good to know: There are campgrounds aplenty, but you can also book a stay at the cozy Retreat on Charleston Peak, which overlooks the canyon and surrounding mountains.
Want to go Skiing in Las Vegas? You can! Because there’s a ski resort just outside the city! True story! In fact, Lee Canyon is the only one in Southern Nevada. It’s not huge resort, but the locals love it and it’s a great place to go if you crave some fresh powder (there’s plenty of advanced terrain and trails) or are a beginner keen to take it easy while you learn. There’s a more diverse and welcoming environment here than we’ve seen at lots of higher-priced resorts, and we dig it. Bonus: Lift tickets are often as cheap as $19 on weekdays and often include a $10 credit for food and drinks! Visiting in the summer? Go mountain biking at the resort instead!
Good to know: Rentals are available and a lodge on-site offers food and drinks (but not a ton of vegan or gluten-free options).
You can and should absolutely visit Lake Mead National Recreation Area while you’re in Vegas (it’s about a 30-min drive), take a peek at the Hoover Dam, and in the summer, maybe enjoy a dip in the lake, but any time of year you can take a leisurely stroll along the Railroad Tunnel Trail that hovers high above a section of the lake. You can walk it, though we recommend hitting the path with bikes instead as it’s flat and not terribly exciting when moving at 2 mph. Riding the flat, wide, crushed gravel path is fun, though, especially when you speed through the dark in several sections of tunnel that are about 25 feet wide and 30 feet high. Bring a headlamp, just in case.
Good to know: Road, gravel, and mountain bikes can all handle the terrain. Also: there’s no fee to visit this area!
Located just outside Valley of Fire State Park’s northeastern edge is a series of underrated MTB trails called Jackrabbit Trails that offer some seriously fun and often challenging mountain biking near Las Vegas. Trails range from green to black, so there’s a little something for everyone, they were totally empty when we visited on a holiday weekend morning, and the views aren’t too shabby for desert riding. The heat will be brutal in the summer, so I would avoid riding outside of early morning hours in that season, but otherwise, hit the trails and have a blast! And bring a digital map app like Trailforks as the routes aren’t always well marked. But they are well maintained!
Good to know: It’s the desert, so prickly things abound. Tubeless tires are recommended.
Hikes Near Last Vegas: Bottom Line
If it’s outdoor activities in Las Vegas you’re looking for, there’s no shortage of trails, parks and destinations to keep you busy. Wanna hit all these hikes near Vegas and more? We recommend at least five days to take it easy, slow down, and enjoy it all. And if you do decide to hit the strip, beware the blackjack tables. 😉
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Alisha is a freelance outdoor journalist and photographer based in Ogden, UT. She loves backpacking, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and snowboarding (even though she’s terrible at it). She’s also pretty sure she’s addicted to coffee. alishamcdarris.com