Last Updated on January 28, 2024
Las Vegas is known for its glitzy casinos and over-the-top nightlife, but did you know that just a short drive away from the strip lie some of the most breathtaking desert landscapes in the country?
From ATV riding to hot air balloning to going on a stroll around Area 51, there’s no shortage of off-the-beaten-path activities to check out in the Vegas desert.
Whether you’re an adventure seeker or just looking to escape the neon lights for a bit, below are some of the top outdoor activities and desert excursions to check out during your next trip to Las Vegas.
Las Vegas Outdoor Attractions
If you’re looking to get some exercise and take in some truly stunning views, then a hike in Red Rock Canyon is a must.
Located just a short drive from the strip, this national conservation area offers a variety of trails for hikers of all levels.
From easy nature walks to challenging rock scrambles, there’s something for everyone.
And with its towering red sandstone cliffs and vibrant desert flora, the scenery will leave you speechless. Just make sure to bring plenty of water and wear sturdy shoes.
2. ATV Touring in the Valley of Fire
For a truly unique desert experience, consider taking an ATV tour through the Valley of Fire.
This state park, located just an hour outside of Las Vegas, features some of the most otherworldly landscapes in the area. With its fiery red rock formations and twisted canyons, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before.
And with an ATV, you’ll be able to explore parts of the park that would be inaccessible by foot. Just be prepared for a bumpy ride and bring a bandana to protect your face from the dust.
3. Hot Air Ballooning over the Desert
If you’re looking for a truly one-of-a-kind experience, then hot air ballooning over the desert is a must.
Imagine floating quietly above the canyons and mountains as the sun rises, with nothing but the sound of the burners and the occasional eagle cry to keep you company.
It’s a truly magical experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.
And with a hot air balloon, you’ll be able to see things that you never would have been able to otherwise, like the ancient petroglyphs etched into the rock.
4. Helicopter Tour of the Grand Canyon
While technically not in Las Vegas, a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon is still a must-do desert excursion. The Grand Canyon is one of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders in the world, and there’s no better way to see it than from the air.
Imagine soaring over the multi-colored cliffs and winding rivers, with nothing but open sky above you. It’s a truly humbling experience that will leave you speechless. And with a helicopter tour, you’ll be able to see parts of the canyon that are otherwise inaccessible.
5. Camping in the Mojave Desert
If you’re looking to truly immerse yourself in the desert experience, then camping is a must. Whether you’re roughing it in a tent or glamping in a luxury RV, the desert offers a truly unique camping experience that you won’t find anywhere else.
Imagine falling asleep under a blanket of stars, with nothing but the sound of the wind and the coyotes to keep you company.
And with so many camping options to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect spot to suit your needs.
6. Ride the Dunes on a Sandboard
Experience the thrill of gliding down soft, fine sand dunes in Nevada.
Sand Mountain in Fallon offers a 600-foot tall singing dune and camping area, while the Nellis Dunes near Las Vegas and the Amargosa Big Dune Recreation Area offer vast areas for off-roading and sandboarding.
7. Discover the Seven Magic Mountains
One of the most unique and Instagram-worthy excursions you can take while in Las Vegas is a visit to Seven Magic Mountains.
This is one of many desert art installations in Nevada, located just a short drive from the strip, features seven neon-colored stacked boulders rising from the desert floor.
The vibrant colors and unique design make for a truly striking contrast against the natural desert landscape. It’s a must-see for art lovers and photography enthusiasts alike.
8. Go on A Camel Ride & Exotic Animal Zoo Tour
When you think of Las Vegas, camel rides and exotic animal encounters probably aren’t the first things that come to mind.
But trust us, this tour is one you won’t want to miss. Starting off with a meet and greet with the camels, including a photo op and orientation before setting off on your camel ride.
After that, hop on the safari tram and take a tour of the zoo with a zoologist, where you’ll see all kinds of animals including a New Guinea singing dog, African Crested Porcupine, Small Clawed Otters, and even a Zebra/Donkey Hybrid.
Upgrade your tour to include a 45-minute camel ride through the Mojave Desert for an Instagram-worthy experience.
9. Go on a Area 51 Tour
For the truly adventurous, a visit to Area 51 is a must. This top-secret military base, located in the Nevada desert, has been the subject of countless conspiracy theories and UFO sightings.
While the government maintains that the base is used for testing and training, many believe that it’s the site of secret alien experiments.
It does not really matter whether you believe in UFOs or not, a visit to Area 51 is sure to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
While it’s not possible to enter the actual base, many tour companies offer guided tours of the area, taking you to the perimeter of the base and allowing you to catch a glimpse of the secretive facility.
This full-day tour from Las Vegas will take you through some of the most desolate and scenic desert landscapes to witness the infamous location.
You’ll see top-secret Janet Airlines at Las Vegas International Airport, the mutant Joshua Tree Forest, mysterious Dry Lake, the Black Mailbox, and even the “Absolute Perimeter” where the “Men in Black” are rumored to be watching.
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