Get off the Strip: 10 Outdoor Activities in Las Vegas

Looking to get away from the casinos? Here are our favorite outdoor activities in Las Vegas to get you outside and off the strip.

Most people visit Las Vegas and don’t venture beyond the famous 4-mile Strip, but believe it or not, there are tons of amazing outdoor activities near Las Vegas! When I first started this blog, I spent a year living in Las Vegas and during that time I learned that there’s a lot more to Vegas than smoky casinos and glitzy nightclubs.

Venture just a short drive away from the strip and you’ll discover hot springs, snowy mountains, red rock canyons, and plenty of jaw-dropping hiking trails. In this blog post, I share some of my favorite outdoor activities in Las Vegas.

Looking for the best outdoor activities in Las Vegas? Get out of the casinos and get into nature with our favorite things to do in Las Vegas off the strip.

Important Reminder: As it goes in all of the destinations we share, please practice good trail etiquette and remember to Leave No Trace. This means packing out all of your garbage (including toilet paper), being respectful to others on busy trails, and following the established rules.


Best Outdoor Activities in Las Vegas

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is Nevada’s first National Conservation Area and is located less than 30 minutes from the Strip. This is a must-visit area for climbers as well as hikers with 19 marked hiking trails. Ice Box Canyon is a cool, shady hike through a canyon with seasonal waterfalls. Calico Tanks Trail is one of the most popular hikes in the area and leads to beautiful views of the Strip after a little bit of scrambling.

Red Rock Canyon is typically 5-10 degrees cooler than in town, but if you plan to visit during the summer, be prepared to hike at sunrise or sunset because it’s still very hot. Most of the trails are fully exposed, so make sure you have adequate sun protection.

If hiking or climbing isn’t your thing, the 13-mile scenic drive loop is nice to admire the gorgeous red rocks.

Red Rock Canyon Las Vegas // Looking to get away from the casinos? Here are our favorite outdoor activities in Las Vegas to get you outside and off the strip.

Mt. Charleston

There are many options for Las Vegas hikes, and the best spots depend on the season. In summer, head up to Mount Charleston to get some reprieve from the heat. Higher elevations here result in temperatures that can be as much as 20 degrees cooler than in downtown Vegas.

Surrounded by ponderosa pine, bristlecone, and aspen trees, you’ll be surprised that you’re only 50 minutes from the Strip! The aspens turn a gorgeous yellow in the fall (usually sometime in September or early October) so it’s the perfect fall place to hike near Las Vegas.

The Raintree Trail is a forested trail whose main attraction is a huge 3,000-year-old bristlecone pine tree. Some of our other favorite Mt. Charleston hikes include Mary Jane Falls, which ends at a seasonal waterfall, and Cathedral Rock which has beautiful views of the surrounding mountains that look nothing like what you would expect in Vegas.

During winter, Mt. Charleston actually gets snow! You can ski and snowboard at Lee Canyon or learn to snowshoe with Go Mount Charleston.

Mt. Charleston // Looking to get away from the casinos? Here are our favorite outdoor activities in Las Vegas to get you outside and off the strip.

Valley of Fire

The oldest and largest of Nevada’s state parks, Valley of Fire State Park, features bright red Aztec sandstone and will have you feeling like you’re on Mars. Only an hour northeast of Las Vegas, the stunning park is home to petrified trees, 2,000-year-old petroglyphs, and great hiking trails.

Most of the hiking trails in Valley of Fire are short (less than 2 miles) and you can cover a lot in one day. Don’t miss the Fire Wave Trail which leads to a picturesque rock that folds into a rainbow of reds, oranges, yellows, and pinks and rivals The Wave. Other top Valley of Fire hikes include Natural Arch and Elephant Rock.

Valley of Fire State Park // Looking to get away from the casinos? Here are our favorite outdoor activities in Las Vegas to get you outside and off the strip.

Lake Mead

Lake Mead National Recreation Area lies just east of Las Vegas and offers a ton of outdoor activities. If you’re into biking, the 34-mile paved River Mountains Loop Trail connects Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, Henderson, Boulder City, and the rest of the Las Vegas Valley.

There are several spots around Lake Mead to rent boats, stand up paddle boards, or kayaks.

For hiking, Anniversary Narrows is one of my favorite Las Vegas hiking trails. The trail begins in a wash and ends in a twisted narrow slot canyon with a variety of colors and geologic features. If you’ve never done any slot canyon hiking, this is a beautiful, beginner-friendly hike that will make you hungry for more slot-canyon adventures.

The Historic Railroad Trail, which follows the last preserved section of railroad bed that once served the construction of the Hoover Dam and the creation of Lake Mead, is another popular spot. You can walk or bike this trail (which includes 5 short railroad tunnels) and has awesome views of the lake leading you all the way to the Hoover Dam.

If you’re up for a more challenging hike, Fortification Hill climbs 1,400 feet and on a clear day, you can see the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, The Strip, and Mt. Charleston. This is a hidden gem for Las Vegas hiking trails!

Lake Mead // Looking to get away from the casinos? Here are our favorite outdoor activities in Las Vegas to get you outside and off the strip.

Lake Las Vegas

Lake Las Vegas is a Mediterranean themed resort community about 30 minutes from the Strip that is situated on a 320-acre lake and surrounded by desert mountains. Lake Las Vegas Water Sports rents stand-up-paddle (SUP) boards, kayaks, and electric boats by the hour.

If you’re looking for something a little more extreme, you can also try fly boards, use their wakeboard cable park, or their aqua park full of inflatable water toys.

Lake Las Vegas // Looking to get away from the casinos? Here are our favorite outdoor activities in Las Vegas to get you outside and off the strip.

Black Canyon

The Black Canyon Water Trail lies only 45 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip. This 12-mile, tranquil stretch of the Colorado River is a paddler’s paradise that will take you through dramatic desert landscapes and narrow slot canyons. The trip begins at the bottom of the Hoover Dam and can be done in a single day (although we highly recommend camping for a night!).

And as if that weren’t enough, there are some awesome natural hot springs to soak in too. Check out my blog post on Kayaking the Black Canyon for all the logistical details – Black Canyon is my favorite outdoor activity in Las Vegas!

Black Canyon kayaking // Looking to get away from the casinos? Here are our favorite outdoor activities in Las Vegas to get you outside and off the strip.

Arizona Hot Springs

Arizona Hot Springs is a beautiful pool located in a narrow slot canyon just above the Colorado River. You can get to the hot springs from the Black Canyon Water Trail (via boat) or a moderate 5.6-mile round trip hike (via foot). The effort is more than worth it, especially in the winter when it is cooler and you can enjoy a nice long soak.

Arizona Hot Springs // Looking to get away from the casinos? Here are our favorite outdoor activities in Las Vegas to get you outside and off the strip.
Arizona Hot Springs Trail

Gold Strike Canyon Hot Springs

Another popular hot spring near Las Vegas is Gold Strike Canyon. You can also access these hot springs from paddling the Black Canyon, or by hiking in. If you choose to hike in, expect third class scrambling and bouldering by navigating through an 8 rope course that weaves in and out of house-sized boulders. This is an all day adventure but a nice soak is so worth it!

* Note — due to extreme temperatures, both Arizona and Gold Strike Hot Springs are closed every year from mid May – end of September.

For more hot springs in Nevada, check out our comprehensive guide.

Nelson’s Landing and Nelson Ghost Town

Thrill seekers love Nelson’s Landing, where you can cliff jump into the Colorado River in-between Lake Mead and Lake Mohave. If heights aren’t your thing, you can just chill and relax on the beach and watch the jumpers. This is the best outdoor activity to beat the Vegas summer heat!

Note: Every year the river level drops, so please use extreme caution if you choose to cliff jump.

Be sure to check out one of our favorite Nevada Ghost Towns on your way out to Nelson’s Landing — Nelson Ghost Town.

Nelson Ghost Town // Looking to get away from the casinos? Here are our favorite outdoor activities in Las Vegas to get you outside and off the strip.
Nelson Ghost Town

Bootleg Canyon

Bootleg Canyon, located just 23 miles from the Strip, is a mountain biker’s dream with over 20 trails for all skill levels with awesome views of Lake Mead and the Strip. This park is open 24/7 (it is Vegas, after all!).

You can also do a flight over the Mojave Desert with Flightlinez Zipline Tour in Bootleg Canyon. The tour includes four separate zip lines with the longest line being almost 1/2 mile. If the daytime tour isn’t thrilling enough, from April to October, they also offer a sunset tour. Knowing how epic the sunsets are here in Las Vegas, I bet this would be awesome. (Note: As of October 2021, Flightlinez has suspended their tours due to COVID-19.)


Have you visited Las Vegas or are you planning a trip there? What are your favorite outdoor activities in Las Vegas? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Written by Kristen Bor

Hey there! My name is Kristen, and this is my outdoor blog. I discovered the power of the outdoors in my 20s, at the time I needed it most. Now 15 years later, prioritizing that critical connection with nature continues to improve my life. My goal at Bearfoot Theory is to empower you with the tools and advice you need to responsibly get outside.

28 comments on “Get off the Strip: 10 Outdoor Activities in Las Vegas

  1. Don’t forget about horseback riding! In beautiful Red Rock Canyon Natoonal conservation area (20 minutes from the strip) is Cowboy Trakl Rides. They offer hourly rides as well as a sunset BBQ ride. The scenery is amazing, the staff is friendly, the horses are well cared for. You can call or book online, and they even offer transportation to and from the strip daily. Their website is http://www.cowboytrailrides.com or you can find them on Facebook.

  2. Really wonderful place. Las Vegas is a popular vacation destination, but planning a trip can seem overwhelming if you’re not familiar with the area.

    1. Hey John! Thanks for the comment. I’ve been totally surprised by all of the great outdoor opportunities in Vegas. And you are totally right. Most people don’t leave the strip because they aren’t even aware of what’s out there.

  3. Hey Kirsten its Nick again. Do you know of any good backpacking trails near Vegas such as in Red Rock, Mt. Charleston, or anywhere else that is close and would be a good place to start trying out our gear?

    1. Yea that place is really rad. I wrote this post before I had a chance to go there..I should probably update and add it to the list. Thanks for chiming in! -Kristen

  4. Anniversary narrows has been blocked by a private property owner as of February 2015 and is still inaccessible unless you climb a fence.

  5. Hello Kristen: going to Vegas and for the first time we want to do as much as possible outdoor activities off the “Strip ” . ,
    I just read your BLOG ..!!excellent !!!
    We will be arriving on Sunday late night 3/13/16 until Thursday 3/17/16 .
    We are interested Doing one day bike riding ,, and doing something like the hot springs / kayaking the other day … If possible …
    Could you give me some tips … ? Thanks
    Joe

    1. You can definitely do both those things during your trip. Call the kayak company to see if they have any availability and you can rent bikes out in Boulder City. Have fun!

  6. Heading out to LV Dec.18 – your site has been the most informative and I can’t wait to get there and spend some time outdoors! The strip is for after 5pm – who wants to be stuck in a stuffy building when it’s beautiful outdoors! Never been and hoping I can do the 6 mile hike – most I’ve ever walked in hilly terrain is 3 miles. What’s your take on the difficulty level of the hike to Arizona Hot Springs?

    1. Great question Jill! I would recommend checking out AirBnB so that you can select a private place to stay that is a little bit off the “strip” and you can personalize it to exactly what you are looking for.

  7. HI heading to Vegas on Saturday we are thinking of renting a car and heading out to the dessert. Wondering if people just pull off and spend a night in a tent. Is it worth bringing my gear? Oh coming in from Alberta Canada

    Thanks. Rose Ann

  8. I just moved to Las Vegas from Colorado & thought my outdoor adventures would have to slow down. After reading your blog you have given me hope again. Thank you !!!!!!

  9. Hi about how far is hoover dam from henderson? I’m going to visit this weekend and would love to go kayaking..

  10. Hi! The ladder to AZ hot springs was not installed my NPS, nor do they maintain it! Enter these areas at your own risk. And be advised ropes and ladders have been installed by other hikers and are old and may be unreliable .

  11. We stumbled upon Valley of Fire State Park years ago and fell in love with it’s “other wordly” appearance. The red sand was as soft as silk and powdery and the rock formations changed with every turn, from silvery gray to burnished resd. It made us think this must be what Mars could be like! Tons of trails through the canyons and some campsites available. We only got to spend a few hours there, but it’s on our must revisit list!

  12. Great list of activities. I loved my visit to Vegas. There are so many things to do and places to check out other than gambling and casinos. Renting and driving a jeep from LVC Exotic Rentals and going to the outskirts was such an adventure. Can’t wait to visit there again.

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