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National Parks Near Las Vegas: Road Trip Itinerary

National Parks have become a popular traveling destination over recent years and for good reason. The national park system is incredible! One of the most accessible airports to fly into to drive to several national parks is Las Vegas. Keep reading for a road trip itinerary for national parks near Las Vegas, Nevada

Natural bridge in Bryce Canyon National Park, a park near Las Vegas

A Quick Look: National Parks near Las Vegas Park Road Trip Itinerary   

  • Day 1: Fly into Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada and drive to Joshua Tree National Park 
  • Day 2: Drive from Twentynine Palms, California to Death Valley National Park and start exploring 
  • Day 3: Spend the morning in Death Valley National Park then drive to Zion National Park   
  • Day 4: Spend the day at Zion National Park
  • Day 5: Take a day trip to Bryce Canyon National Park  
  • Day 6: Drive back to Las Vegas, Nevada and spend the day exploring the strip  
  • Day 7: Fly home from Las Vegas  
Me smiling by the Badwater Basin sign with the sun and mountains in the background

National Parks Near Las Vegas, Nevada

While we chose to visit the above 4 parks, there are 8 national parks within a 5-hour drive from Las Vegas, Nevada. The drive times from Las Vegas are noted below. It is important to note there may be other airports that are closer if you are only planning to visit one of these parks.  

  • Joshua Tree National Park: ~3.5 hours  
  • Death Valley National Park: ~2 hours  
  • Zion National Park: ~2.5 hours (located in Mountain Time Zone) 
  • Bryce Canyon National Park: ~ 4 hours (located in Mountain Time Zone) 
  • Grand Canyon National Park: ~ 4 hours (located in Mountain Time Zone) 
  • Great Basin National Park: ~4.5 hours 
  • Capital Reef National Park: ~5 hours 
  • Petrified National Park: ~5 hours (located in Mountain Time Zone) 

Some factors that may go into which parks you visit will be the time of year, weather conditions, what you want to do, and your personal preferences. You will want to map out each park you want to visit and see what makes the most sense for you and how long of drives you are comfortable with.  

Picture from behind the waterfall with the water coming down and the sun shining

Where should I stay on a National Park Road Trip?  

You have multiple options when looking for lodging including renting a camper van, camping, motels, hotels, or Airbnb. There is also lodging in most of the national parks, but these book up fast so you will want to make your reservations early. We chose to stay in hotels because several of them had breakfast included as well as other amenities like a fitness center that we wanted to use. A park I highly recommend staying in the national park is Death Valley due to the size of the park and lack of nearby accommodations. 

Stovepipe Wells Lodge in Death Valley National Park, a place to stay on a national park roadtrip near Las Vegas

When is the best time to take a National Park Road Trip from Las Vegas? 

This trip could technically be done at any time of the year depending on which parks you chose to visit and what type of activities you would like to do. Keep in mind during the winter months there could be various parts of parks closed and winter road conditions could make driving conditions more dangerous. During the summer the heat will be the biggest factor for many of these locations. Spring or fall may balance some of these concerns, but at higher elevations snowfall can still be significant at higher elevations in the spring or late fall. We planned this trip in early May and overall, the conditions were favorable. I recommend researching each individual park you plan to visit to get a better idea of weather conditions at various times of year before making your final decision.  

Badwater basin nature

National Parks near Las Vegas road trip recap 

Day 1: Travel Day + Joshua Tree 

With a very early flight from the east coast and the time change we were able to have a full day of adventure on day 1! We had a direct flight from Tampa to Las Vegas and landed at 9:15 AM which allowed us to maximize the first day of the trip.  

Me standing on a rock in front of the Joshua Tree visitor sign
  • Landed at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada 
  • Picked up rental car – a bus is available to take you from the airport to the rental car which is at an offsite location  
  • Quick grocery store trip to pick up some food for the week 
  • Drive from Las Vegas, Nevada to Joshua Tree National Park (~3 hours) 
  • Explored Joshua Tree National Park 
  • Dinner at Mexican Street Tacos 
  • Stargazing at Joshua Tree National Park 
  • Stayed at Fairfield Inn & Suites Twenty-Nine Palms Joshua Tree 

Early check-in was available at our hotel, so we made a quick stop after our drive and then headed straight to Joshua Tree National Park. First, we drove along the scenic park drive. We made several stops along the scenic drive including at Skull Rock, Split Rock, and Chulla Cactus Garden. Last activity for the day was star gazing in the park night.  

Joshua tree at night with dark blue sky and dessert landscape with mountains lining the photo

Day 2: Travel Day + Death Valley National Park  

We woke up early and decided we were ready to hit the road and maximize our time at Death Valley National Park. We originally planned to return to Joshua Tree in the morning but felt we had seen the highlights and were ready to keep moving.   

  • Breakfast at the hotel 
  • Drive from Twenty-Nine Palms, California to Death Valley National Park (~4 hours) 
  • Lunch on the road  
  • Start exploring Death Valley National Park 
  • Dinner buffet at The Ranch  
  • Stargazing in Death Valley National Park
  • Stay at Stovepipe Wells Park Lodge  
Death Valley National Park entrance sign

Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in the contiguous United States. We hit many of the highlights including Zabriskie Point, Badwater Basin, Devil’s Golf Course, Artist Drive, Mesquite Sand Dunes, and Mosaic Canyon. I recommend planning your trip ahead of time to ensure you visit points of interest that are located near each other at one time as some places may be several hours apart still within the park.  

Me smiling for the camera along artists drive with the mountains in the background

Day 3: Travel Day + Zion National Park 

We woke up early and did a morning hike at Death Valley National Park before hitting the road to Zion. This was our longest day of driving at around 5 hours, and we lost 1 hour due to driving from pacific to mountain time zone. 

  • Quick breakfast in the hotel room 
  • One last hike in Death Valley National Park
  • Drive from Death Valley National Park to Zion National Park (~5 hours) 
  • Check out the visitor center and planned our next day in the park with the help of a park ranger 
  • Walking around shops in Springdale, Utah 
  • Dinner at Pasta and Noodle 
  • Stay at Fairfield Inn & Suites Virgin Zion National Park 
Zion National Park entrance sign, a national park near Las Vegas

Pasta and Noodle was one of our favorite meals of the trip, I can’t recommend it enough! One recommendation for an easy trail if you arrive later in the day is Pa’rus Trail. It’s approximately 3.5 miles out-and-back, starts at the visitor center, and is relatively flat.  

Day 4: Zion National Park  

We were excited to stay in one place today after 3 days of nonstop travel! We enjoyed a full day of exploring Zion National Park.  

  • Breakfast at the hotel  
  • Scenic drive on the park shuttle 
  • Hiking in Zion 
  • Lunch at Zion Lodge  
  • Relax at the hotel 
  • Walk around the shops in Springdale, Utah 
  • Dinner at Meme’s Café (get the crepes!) 
  • Stay at Fairfield Inn & Suites Virgin Zion National Park  
Me standing on rocks in front of a light waterfall

Our full day in Zion was so much fun, we started the day with the riverside walk to the narrows. The narrows were closed due to high water levels at the time of our visit. We also took the short hike to Weeping Rock and our last hike of the day was the Emerald Pools. We did the loop that included lower, middle, and upper pools.  

Greenery in the valley and Zion orange rock

Day 5: Day trip to Bryce Canyon National Park  

We had another day on the road with a day trip to Bryce Canyon. We really enjoyed driving through the east side of Zion National Park and driving through the Mount Carmel Tunnel.  

  • Breakfast at the hotel  
  • Drive to Bryce Canyon National Park  
  • Hike Queens Garden 
  • Lunch at Bryce Canyon Lodge 
  • Scenic drive to Rainbow Bridge – many overlooks to stop at  
  • Dinner at Jack’s Sports Bar 
  • Stay at Fairfield Inn & Suites Virgin Zion National Park 
Bryce Canyon National Park entrance sign

I highly recommend a day trip to Bryce Canyon if you are at Zion National Park. Bryce is the smallest of the mighty five Utah national parks and can easily be explored in one day. The maximum elevation is over 9000-feet and we even saw some snow at the higher elevations within the park.  

Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park

Day 6: Travel Day + Las Vegas, Nevada  

On day 6 our national park exploring was officially over. We packed up our bags and drove back to Las Vegas, Nevada. This allowed us to gain an hour to our day as we were traveling from mountain to pacific time zone. 

  • Breakfast at the hotel 
  • Drive from Zion National Park to Las Vegas, Nevada (~2.5 hours) 
  • Early check-in at the hotel 
  • Spend the day exploring the Las Vegas Strip 
  • Stay at Fairfield Inn & Suites Las Vegas South 
Flamingo Las Vegas in neon pink sign

Day 7: Travel Day back Home  

On our last day we booked an early flight from Las Vegas to Tampa to avoid getting home very late in the day.  

  • Return rental car 
  • Flight from Las Vegas, Nevada to Tampa, Florida   
Bellagio flowers a famous hotel on the Las Vegas Strip

Final thoughts on national parks near Las Vegas, Nevada  

We had an incredible time exploring four national parks in one week! This itinerary was ambitious with a lot of driving, but it allowed us to experience highlights at four national parks. You can customize this trip to your needs and consider breaking this into two different trips if you’d like to spend more time at each park. I would recommend visiting Joshua Tree and Death Valley as one trip and Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park as a second trip if you’d like to split it up. However, if you don’t mind being on the move and you are limited in time you can make this trip itinerary work for you.  

If you enjoyed this post, please don’t forget to sign up for my e-mail list so you don’t miss future posts. I will include a review of each of the national parks we visited to include more information!  

Me walking on a trail in Joshua Tree National Park with various plants and rocks surrounding the trail

Looking for other National Parks to visit?  

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Looking for other Road Trip Itineraries? 

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