Las Vegas, Nevada, may be famous for its bright lights, glitzy casinos, fabulous hotels, superb restaurants and extravagant shows, but while there's plenty of frenetic fun to be had in the city itself, a trip to Vegas isn't just about partying. There are plenty of incredible natural attractions near Las Vegas. Here are just a few you should check out if you visit Sin City.
The Grand Canyon
Visiting the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is an absolute must if you're on a trip to Las Vegas. The 70-million-year-old park is one of the most visited attractions in the United States, is a mile deep, 277 miles long and 18 miles wide, making it bigger than the entire state of Rhode Island.
If you're confident driving on the right, it's around a four-and-a-half-hour journey from Las Vegas. If you're short on time, a great way to see as much as possible in one day is on a helicopter tour. There are several with Sundance Helicopters, during which you can stop at the Hoover Dam, descend thousands of feet into the canyon itself and even return in time to see the Las Vegas city lights turn on at dusk.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
About a forty-minute drive from Las Vegas, Lake Mead National Recreation Area is one and a half million acres of beautiful mountains, canyons, valleys and two enormous lakes, Lake Mead and Lake Mohave.
Get out on the waters of either lake and you'll love fishing, boating, water-skiing, canyoning or kayaking. Back on dry land, take a stroll through the dramatic scenery and you might spot some of the USA's famous bald eagles and even mountain lions.
Seven Magic Mountains
If you'd love to see art and nature collide in one impressive attraction, take the short trip just 10 miles south of Las Vegas to see Seven Magic Mountains, a colourful, large-scale art installation near Jean Dry Lake and Interstate 15, in Ivanpah Valley.
Created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, the mountains are seven towers of bright stacked boulders over thirty feet tall. The colours are unexpected beacons of colour in the vast desert. You can walk right up to the boulders and get those all-important Instagram shots, and best of all, it's free to visit.
Red Rock Canyon
The Grand Canyon isn't the only magnificent canyon near Las Vegas: Red Rock Canyon is another stunning natural attraction to add to your trip, and it's a lot closer at just a few miles west of Las Vegas.
The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area encompasses 195,819 acres in the Mojave Desert. At Red Rock Canyon, you can enjoy the dramatic surroundings on a one-way 13-mile scenic drive, work up a sweat on one of 26 hikes and trails with views of sandstone cliffs that take in the deep red colour of the rocks. You can even walk in dinosaur tracks.
Valley of Fire National Park
Step back in time with a visit to Valley of Fire National Park, about an hour's drive from Las Vegas. The state park is a geology enthusiast's dream to explore, with 40,000 acres of bright red Aztec sandstone outcrops taking centre stage. There are also petroglyphs dating back over 2,000 years to give you an insight into the fascinating history of the park.
To get your step count up, enjoy a number of hiking trails of varying difficulties that will take you past naturally formed sandstone arches and ancient trees, multicoloured rock formations and narrow canyons. A visitor centre also offers exhibits on the geology, ecology, prehistory and history of the park, as well as the wildlife you might be able to spot during your visit.
The Hoover Dam
To see one of America's Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders for yourself, make the forty-minute drive from Las Vegas to the Hoover Dam, on the Colorado River and the Arizona Nevada Border. Millions of tourists a year visit the 700-foot-tall dam, which impounds Lake Mead, to see the highest concrete arch dam in the United States.
When you're there, make sure to take a guided tour to learn about its interesting history and explore lesser-known parts of the dam. Try, too, to walk across the world's tallest concrete arch bridge, the 1,905-foot-long Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which towers 880 feet over the Hoover Dam and has spectacular views.