5 awesome places outside Las Vegas to bring your kids

red rock canyon national conservation area visitor centre
Red Rock Canyon Visitor Centre
Air display at the Red Rock Canyon Visitor Centre

Las Vegas is full of lights, excitement and entertainment of all kinds (Check out our Las Vegas with a Baby guide for some ideas for visiting with a wee one). When sensory overload kicks in and you crave a zen desert moment (or your kids are driving you bonkers and you need to let them run wild) here are five amazing places you should check out next time you’re in Nevada.

1. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

This amazingly beautiful site is just 17 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip in the Mojave Desert. There is a 13-mile scenic loop drive that circles around the conservation area, so you can even take in the views from the car if you have a napping baby on board. There are loads of hiking and biking trails that branch off from the loop drive, as well as picnic areas, rock climbing spots and visitor center with indoor and outdoor exhibits as well as a book store. Red Rock Canyon also has a campground – the Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association has everything you need to know to make the most of your visit.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area – Photo: redrockcanyonlv.org

Check out this Red Rock Canyon blogpost on Nature Play Trips for a great firsthand account of visiting Red Rock Canyon with kids.

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Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is another great family stop located within Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. In addition to nature activities there is an historic ranch house you can tour, a living history program (including costumed role playing and historic re-enactments) as well as the super theatre program. Details available at the Nevada State Parks site.

2. Seven Magic Mountains

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Seven Magic Mountains is an outdoor public art installation of brightly coloured stacked boulders created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. The sculptures stand more than 30 feet high and are set in front of a breathtaking mountain backdrop. The towers are an accessible way to introduce kids to art and a fun place to get outside and move around. You’ll find the desert creation about 10 miles south of Las Vegas and it will be on display until May 2018. #sevenmagicmountains

Here’s a video of the making of the Seven Magic Mountains:

3. Hoover Dam and Lake Mead National Recreation Area

view of boulder basin from the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail
Panorama of Boulder Basin from the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail. Photo: www.nps.gov

Hoover Dam is another great spot located 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas. More than 1,000,000 people tour the dam and power plant annually. The guided Powerplant Tour takes about 30 minutes, while the Dam Tour lasts nearly one hour. If you take one of these guided tours, and want to explore more features at the dam (not included on the guided tours), they suggest you plan for about 2+ hours for your entire visit.

And there is lots more to see than just the dam – for some easy outdoor family fun you can walk or cycle on The Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail. This trail is the railroad bed that was once used to haul supplies and materials to construct the Hoover Dam. It’s an easy going trail and you’ll be treated to awesome views of Lake Mead and the surrounding desert landscape.

Just below the dam is a launch site for canoes, kayaks and personal rafts to take a trip down the Colorado River. Note you must make prior arrangements for hoover dam rafting for your paddle craft to be transported to the site – rentals are also available.

4. Death Valley National Park

Join us tomorrow night (Friday 10/28/16) at 7pm for a geology program at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center with Dr. James Calzia.

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Death Valley is about a 2 hour drive from Las Vegas an incredible 3.4 million acre desert classroom. It is the hottest, driest and lowest national park and is a place of extremes. Despite the name it is full of life. Rare rainstorms can bring lush fields of wildflowers for a short period. Every so often, as in spring 2016 there is a super bloom – a massive display of a variety of wildflowers. Flowers or not there are stunning displays of nature throughout the year and as with all National Parks there are fantastic resources and activities. Check out Death Valley National Park’s list of things for kids to do.

5. Grand Canyon National Park

Las Vegas is one of the closest cities to the Grand Canyon (only Pheonix is closer) making it a great home base from which to visit what is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It is about 450km (278 miles) from Las Vegas to the popular south rim of the park. The South Rim is open year round. You’ll find everything you need to plan a trip on the Grand Canyon National Park Service site.

Check out our guide to Las Vegas with a Baby:
las vegas with a baby

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Mom of two from Vancouver Island - I love spending time near the ocean and exploring the outdoors. I have quite a few US National Parks on my family travel bucket list.