I always said, you can take the girl out of Alaska, but you can’t take the Alaska out of the girl. Growing up surrounded by amazing nature I was constantly outside exploring. When I moved to Vegas my friends frequently asked me how I survived living in the desert for two years. Simple. I do what I did back at home, just in a lot less clothing! The area surrounding Las Vegas has some amazing nature and lots of adventures to satisfy every outdoor lover’s need for exploration. With Las Vegas’ central location in the South West, you can easily explore hot springs, lakes, kayak, rock climb, hike, bike and even snowboard and ski! Next time you’re in Vegas and need a break from the strip try one of these adrenaline-fueled top outdoor activities near Las Vegas.
Most of these activities require a car or going through a company because you will need to be properly outfitted. If you have any questions or think you need help planning one of these adventures I am just an email away. ***Remember the desert can be a dangerous place. Some of these activities, like long hikes or bike rides can be better in the winter with cooler temperatures. Similarly, higher altitudes in the winter can mean snow and ice. Always tell a friend where you’re going, bring water and food and if you’re not experienced hire a guide to help you***
Top Outdoor Activities Near Las Vegas
2. Kayaking and Stand Up Paddle Boarding
4. Rock Climbing
5. Horseback Riding
6. Jeep and ATV Adventures
7. Outdoor Nature Centers
8. Scenic Drives
12. Cliff Jumping
Mt. Charleston. The mountain range, just west of Las Vegas, hosts a bevy of hiking trails in a climate that feels like North California. My favorite hike for beginners is Mary Jane Falls. While this hike is quite steep climbing about 1,000 feet, it’s fairly short, about 2 miles. The view from the top looking down at Kyle Canyon is worth it though. Don’t expect to see falls here unless it’s springtime or just rained.
My favorite hike in this area is out to Mummy Mountain. It is a 5-mile hike with an out and back trail hike. The beginning has a decent amount of elevation gain, but once you reach the highest altitude the views are amazing. Make sure to pay your respects to Raintree, the 3,000-year-old Bristlecone Pine, which is thought to be the oldest living thing in the state of Nevada. Bring lots of water and a warmer jacket in the winter and fall. The temps drop down to freezing due to the elevation.
Gold Strike Canyon. This is a well-known secret among locals. It’s an awesome trek out to the Colorado River. During your hike, you can relax in a hot tub style hot spring and challenge yourself with minimal repelling. The tail head is hard to find, but if you’re coming from Las Vegas take exit 2 off I93 BEFORE you cross the Pat Tillman Bridge. At the end of the exit ramp, make a right at the stop sign and go down the hill into a dirt parking lot where you will see other cars and the trailhead sign. This hike can take up to 4 hours, includes 8 fixed ropes for climbing and has a reputation for “kicking my butt.” The first 1.5 miles or so is pretty easy walking through a dried up lake bed. After that you’ll find the first obstacle if you use common sense you can make it down and up, but if you’re scared you can hire a guide or ask another hiker to help you. Make sure you’re not out after dark and are aware of your surroundings, look for white arrows, pointing to the trail. Bring snacks, water, have fun and BE SAFE!
If you want a group to hike with our need help planning check out Grand Canyon Tour Company They have great hiking options and are knowledgeable.
Las Vegas may be located smack dap in the middle of the desert, but it’s close to the mighty Colorado River and Lake Mead, which means water sports, like kayaking and stand up paddle boarding!
Colorado River. My favorite Kayak trip goes up the Colorado River with views of the Hoover Dam! Along the way, you can spot wildlife and explore Emerald Cave, pictured. There’s a great new company in town that just opened up called Blazing Paddles and they offer great tours of the Colorado River. If you happen to be in Vegas during a full moon, don’t miss their full moon evening tour, with glowing Kayaks!
Lake Mead. Lake Mead is a great place to explore by kayak, or stand up paddle board. If neither of these are your thing, just hang out by the beach for the afternoon and soak up some sun. The water is nice and warm so my favorite thing to do is kayak out to the little islands and swim around. This lake can be quite dangerous, due to high winds, so please always wear a life jacket. I know we were bad girls in this photo, but they were in the kayak though, and make sure you have the strength to paddle to shore.
If you want to head out to Lake Mead, check out Kayak Las Vegas does
Las Vegas is a road cyclists heaven. With stunning scenic routes just outside the city, you can get your daily dose of exercise with a killer view! Don’t worry there is awesome downhill mountain biking too, for us adrenaline junkies.
Red Rock Canyon Loop. This is seriously one of the most beautiful bike rides out there! The main road is a 20-mile loop, starting on Blue Diamond Road, turning into Red Rock Canyon Road and ends at West Charleston Blvd. If that’s still not enough you can take the scenic route. You will need to pay for entry starting at the visitor center and you get a bonus 13 miles of literally breathtaking red rocks, Joshua trees and towering mountains. Most of this ride is fairly flat, with some hills. Lake Mead. If water isn’t your thing, but you still want to see the lake there are some amazing bike trails that run from Henderson-Bounder-Lake Mead and around the lake. This is a technical ride with hills, some serpentine turns thanks to land carved out by lava from ages ago.
I never thought I was much of a mountain biker until I hit the trails at Bootleg Canyon. This is a great place for anyone wanting to get their feet wet into the world of mountain biking or the more advanced rider. Race down the mountain while the glittering lights of Las Vegas twinkle below you. If you want to head out on your own, I recommend checking out the shuttle that runs on the weekends or checking out the company I have listed below.
Check out Bike Blast Las Vegas for all your biking needs from mountain, road and city tours.
1818 S Industrial Rd #106, Las Vegas, NV
This outdoor activity near Las Vegas gets overlooked quite a lot, but it’s one of the most fun and challenging. The Mountains surrounding Las Vegas are perfect for climbing as they have amazing natural foot and hand holes. Don’t worry if you’re a beginner because there’s climbing for all levels and with the help of the Alpine Institute you can advance your climbing or get it started for the first time.
If you prefer to see the beautiful natural red rocks surrounding Las Vegas with four sturdy hooves beneath you then try out horseback riding! Cowboy Trail Rides offers an awesome the sunset BBQ. What better way to connect with nature than the ride off into the sunset and bond with your new friends over an open campfire? They even have a tour called WoW Ride, because the scenery you’ll see is just that good.
Saddle up with Cowboy Trail Rides
4053 Fossil Ridge Rd, Las Vegas, NV
I was lucky enough to have access to a jeep while living in Vegas, but there are companies that will take you on a rocking adventure in the desert. The desert surrounding Vegas was made for hardcore off-roading with ATVs, dune buggies and Jeeps. Buckle up for the adventure of a lifetime! (Kayak not included and don’t worry you won’t get stuck in mud either, we’re special.)
Bonnie Springs A great alternative to staying on the strip. You can stay in a vintage frontier inspired motel for a night of cocktails under the stars, a dip in a rustic hot tub or songs around a campfire. The entire place looks like an old mining town and they even have seasonal events like Halloween and New Years Eve Parties.
16935 Bonnie Springs Rd, Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Springs Preserve This preserve is 180 acres of wildlife walks, animal encounters and geology and other science exhibits. Learn about local animals and plants in an educational outdoor experience for the whole family!
333 S Valley View Blvd, Las Vegas, NV
If you prefer to stay inside the cool confines of a car for longer scenic tours there are plenty of drives in the area. The roads have pull outs so you can get out explore before hopping back to check out the next stop.
Valley of Fire Appropriately named for the rocks that appear to be molded from fire, this is the oldest state park in Nevada. The park is less than an hour drive from Las Vegas and takes you into the heart of the desert for geology like nowhere else. The firey rocks are Aztec Sandstone that was created during the age of the dinosaur from red desert sands. There’s plenty of photo opportunities, animal sightings and trailheads for longer walks into the wilderness.
Red Rock This really is THE spot for top outdoor activities near Las Vegas. Instead of doing the loop on your bike, jump in the car for the same view with easier mobility. There are lots of convenient parking lots so you can pull out and stop along the way. My favorite thing to do is drive out there about an hour before the sunset, park in the second lot and watch the sun sink over the red rocks.
Red Rock Canyon
3205 Nevada 159, Las Vegas, NV
Some days I want to relax and find a good place to capture photos! I’ll let you in on a little secret. If you drive the Red Rock loop past the visitor center to watch the sunset, set up in the 3rd or 4th parking lot. It’s the 1st lot after the switch back. Set up your camera on a tripod, catch the sunset then see the city light up over the hills.
Sail above the mountain bikes in a fun desert Zipline. Zip down 4 lines for a mile and a half of fun for everyone!
1644 Nevada Hwy, Boulder City, NV
Lee Canyon near Mt. Charleston turns into a winter wonderland for a few months over the season. This is a great hill for anyone wanting to try snowboarding as you won’t find black diamonds here, but you will have fun! If you’re a more advanced rider, and you’re willing to hike, there are actually some pretty good trails above the lift drop off! Take a break with some nice hot chocolate in the lodge!
6725 Lee Canyon Rd, Las Vegas, NV
We’re ending our top 12 outdoor activities in Las Vegas with a splash! Jump in the car and head out to a side of Lake Mead called Nelson’s Landing. You even drive through a cool ghost town along the way. If you’re unsure of where to jump, ask the locals jumping, but the water is clear enough to tell where you can and can’t jump. Be safe!
As always, I am here to help! If you are nervous about exploring one of these top outdoor activities near Las Vegas don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Please, be safe and don’t be reckless out there! Are you looking for something more mellow to do in Vegas? Then don’t miss my Hipster and Geek Guide to Las Vegas