Looking for outdoor activities in Las Vegas? Usually, the first thing to come to mind when one thinks of Las Vegas is The Strip, but there are also many great outdoor adventures to be had in Las Vegas.
My family has visited Las Vegas more times than I can count, but it wasn’t until a recent trip that we discovered all the incredible outdoor activities Las Vegas has to offer.
Those visiting the area and actually leave The Strip will discover they have hit the jackpot for outdoor adventure. From incredible state parks that rival national parks with their beauty and hiking potential to lots of places to cool off in the summer months, Las Vegas should definitely be on your vacation itinerary.
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Outdoor Activities in Las Vegas for Families
Valley of Fire State Park
Located 45 minutes northeast of Las Vegas is the mecca of red rock, aptly named, Valley of Fire. With multiple family-friendly hikes, petroglyphs, well-marked trails, and wildlife, this is truly heaven for desert lovers.
Make your first stop the Visitor’s Center for a quick overview of the area’s history and topography, use the flush toilets, and get trail conditions. This is also the spot to get your Nevada State Parks Passport stamped.
Be sure to take the scenic drive and head out onto the trail. The White Domes Loop Trail is a great place to start. It is located at the end of White Domes Road and there are bathrooms and picnic benches near the trail head. It is a 1.1-mile loop with lots of diverse scenery and even a short slot canyon!
Another great trail that you definitely don’t want to miss is the one that heads to the Fire Wave. It is a 1.5-mile, out-and-back trail, but you can also do what my family did and combine it with the Seven Wonders trail to form a 2.3-mile loop.
Check out this great guide to hiking in Valley of Fire State Park.
Valley of Fire is also home to a population of rare desert bighorn sheep. On our visit we were able to watch the herd on the move through the canyons by the roadside. They are also commonly spotted by hikers along trails.
Turn the trek out to Valley of Fire into a scenic drive: Drive north on Highway 15 and then loop back south-east through Lake Mead National Recreation Area in order to see more of the rugged natural landscape that makes up Southern Nevada.
Trekaroo Tip: Pack a picnic lunch and stay awhile at Seven Sisters or Petroglyph Canyon. This is one of those outdoors activities in Las Vegas that will keep you occupied all day.
We love the big city offerings in Las Vegas, too. Here are the Top 10 Things for Families to do in Las Vegas with Kids and the Best Kid-Friendly Hotels in Las Vegas.
Lake Mead Recreation Area
Lake Mead is a haven for boating enthusiasts and hikers, and visiting it one of the best outdoors activities in Las Vegas. With meandering roads and ecology, picturesque red rocks, and views of the Muddy Mountains, a drive through Lake Mead National Recreation Area makes for a beautiful, scenic day.
There are multiple places to stop for a picnic or to rest along the road. Lake Mead is huge and the road does not go right along the banks, so those who plan on fishing or boating should know that it is a drive into any of the bays. Head out for a boat tour of the lake or have a beach day along the shore.
Families will definitely appreciate the Alan Bible Visitor’s Center, located on the way to the Hoover Dam near Boulder City. The visitor’s center has a small, but jam-packed interactive museum with animals and history of the area that provided lots of information about how Lake Mead came to be.
After touring the visitor’s center, I cannot recommend taking the Historic Railroad Trail enough. This multi-use, gravel trail offers hikers and cyclists the opportunity to travel the same path as the supplies used to build the Hoover Dam.
Kids will love hiking through the tunnels blasted into the side of the mountain to make way for the train. Adults will enjoy the sweeping views of Lake Mead and the low incline of the trail. The trail is suitable for jogging strollers, making this a nice option for families with young children.
Trekaroo Tip: Print out the Junior Ranger Packet at home so that as you explore, you can fill in the pages before hitting up the Visitor’s Center.
The Hoover Dam
Just 30 minutes from Las Vegas, Hoover Dam is a must-see. This feat of engineering and architecture astonished me, especially given the time period in which it was built.
The Powerplant Tour should be booked in advance and is highly recommende if you want to walk through the original construction tunnels and to a viewing platform.
The full guided Hoover Dam tour which goes further inside the inner workings of the dam can only be booked onsite. This tour is very popular and sells out quickly so arrive at opening if you want to snag a ticket. If you already have a Powerplant Tour ticket you can simply upgrade that ticket to the full tour onsite.
Definitely make time to walk across the bypass bridge. The pedestrian section is closed off from the cars, and there are several displays explaining how the bridge and the dam were built. Plus, you get the chance to stand in two states at once as the state line between Nevada and Arizona is located in the middle of the bridge.
Planning a road trip through Nevada? Check out our Top 10 Things for Families to do in Nevada.
Clark County Wetlands Park
Clark County Wetlands Park is Las Vegas’s best kept secret for families who love the outdoors. From the top-of-the-line nature center with multiple interactive displays to the well-marked trails and FREE entry, we were big fans.
It is located on the east side of Las Vegas on 2,900 acres. The wetlands inside the park are created by urban runoff, shallow groundwater, and reclaimed water that flows through the Las Vegas Wash and into Lake Mead.
There is a 210-acre Nature Preserve and five trails within the park. Plan to spend at least half a day at Clark County Wetlands Park in order to fully discover all that it offers. Chances are your kids won’t want to leave.
Known as the birthplace of Las Vegas, Trekaroo families rave about the Springs Preserve. The immaculate grounds and trail system, as well as the indoor interactive museum are the top attractions.
With events year-round including weekend workshops, live animal displays, and camps for kids during school breaks, the preserve is one of the best outdoor activities in Las Vegas.
Check out the Nature Exchange where visitors can bring in natural treasures they find while exploring to exchange them for points and treasures discovered by other visitors.
Red Rock Conservation Area
A mere 30 minutes west of Las Vegas, visitors can be swept away into another world at Red Rock National Conservation Area. With hikes for all ages, areas for rock climbing, a magnificent outdoor visitor’s center, and fantastic Junior Ranger packet, Red Rock is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
If you are visiting Red Rocks during the peak hiking season, October through May, you will need a timed reservation which you can book in advance on the website. If you don’t have a reservation you will need to enter the park before 8am or after 5pm.
Take the 13-mile, one-way scenic drive from the Visitor’s Center and pull over at any spot that looks appealing. Just remember that if you decide you want to go back to someplace you passed, you will have to do the full loop around again to reach it.
During busy weekend and holiday periods, parking lots at trailheads will fill up quickly and some of the trailheads simply don’t have enough parking to suite the demand. So, in other words, the early bird will get the worm!
We found that there was quite a bit of diversity packed into that 13-mile loop. There were areas that had towering red rock hillsides that begged to be explored and there were also areas that were actually pretty lush with landscape and reminded me a bit of Zion National Park.
Calico Tanks is a popular trail near the beginning of the one-way loop that explores the red rock sandstone formations of the Calico Hills and leads to a hidden water pocket. It is 2.2 miles in length and moderate with some climbing up stairs carved into the rocks.
Families will find a sweet spot at the Willow Springs and Lost Creek area. The Children’s Discovery Trail offers a mix of ecosystems, taking hikers from the creek bed up through the red rocks and back down through the springs and riparian area as well as cultural spots with a Native American preserved kitchen and camping spot.
The Willow Springs trails were full of pictographs and other remnants of years past. While hiking, be on the lookout for the threatened Desert Tortoise, which can usually be found in burrows except during times of temperate weather.
We also enjoyed watching the rock climbers near the Willow Springs picnic area and my loved scrambling around on the surrounding rocks.
Pine Creek Canyon is the place to head if you hike amongst Ponderosa pines and towering canyon walls. This trail is especially nice after a rain as it follows a creek. The entire trail is 2.4 miles.
Spring Mountain Ranch State Park
For history of a different era, head south along Highway 159 from Red Rock National Conservation Area’s scenic drive to Spring Mountain Ranch.
This state park shows visitors what life was like for the pioneers and early settlers of the area. It offers living history events as well as a large variety of native plants.
Trekaroo families recommend having a picnic in the day use area and letting the kids roam the lovely grounds. Families with older kids will enjoy a tour of the main ranch house to learn a bit more about the ranch’s place in history.
Fun Fact: There are six different springs on the park’s 502-acre property, making it a true desert oasis.
Love ranches? There are two you won’t want to miss in our guide to great pumpkin patches in Las Vegas.
Did you know that Las Vegas has its own alpine getaway? Mount Charleston, located inside of Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, is a great place to escape the heat of the valley floor and even play in the snow!
Yes, you read that right! Snow! During the winter months there are opportunities to sled, snowshoe, and have a great day in the snow. Lee Canyon Ski & Snowboard Resort is the place to go if you want to o tubing, skiing, or snowboarding.
Outside of the winter months, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area is a great place for camping and hiking. There are several trails in this mountain wonderland, from easy day hikes through ponderosa pine and juniper, to the hike up to the top of 11,916ft Charleston Peak.
Important Weather Reminder Before Heading Outdoors in Las Vegas
As is to be expected, these outdoor activities in Las Vegas are best suited for three-seasons. Summer in Southern Nevada can be brutal with temperatures easily inching up past 100 degrees.
This sign was located in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. It is highly recommended that families bring more water than they think they will need on all hikes and outdoor adventures as well as food.
Bring hats, slather everyone with sunscreen, and wear layers. Even during our winter visits to Las Vegas we have found that we need far more water than when we are hiking at home. Just because it is cool, doesn’t mean it isn’t dry.
Special thanks to Heather Erquiaga who wrote the original version of this article.