Early Mormon pioneers named Zion National Park and the towering, impressive cliffs and formations with the park. One look at the majestic landscape and it's easy to see why the pioneers were inspired to use Biblical names. The area that's the most visited is the floor of the canyon that surrounds the Virgin River, and for much of the year visitors must park and take a shuttle into the park. This is a good thing, not only in terms of keeping the traffic down, but also to give visitors a chance to enjoy looking around while someone else drives. Before you set off on your shuttle ride, take a whirl around the visitor center to learn about the stunningly beautiful area. To get a closer look at Zion, hike a trail or two.
Local Expert tip: Zion is about a two-hour drive from Las Vegas
It's big, it's desolate, and it's a fascinating place. Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in the continental United States, and this vast expanse of territory includes history (ghost towns, charcoal kilns, remnants of borax mines, and a "castle"), natural beauty (sand dunes, multi-colored cliffs, panoramic views, pupfish), and a reputation for being unforgiving to the unprepared. Part of Death Valley's power lies in its untamed nature, which means that before you plan an excursion here, be sure your vehicle's in good working order, that you have plenty of water, and that you have a good map. Plenty of tour companies in Las Vegas also offered guided tours into this fascinating place, which is only a few hours' drive from Las Vegas.
Local Expert tip: Visit in winter for the best experience.
Las Vegas has always been a popular place to launch an excursion to the Grand Canyon in Arizona since the city is only about a five-hour drive away from the popular South Rim. Now that the Hualapai Tribe has opened its portion of the Grand Canyon, known as the West Rim, to tourism, they've cut travel time to the iconic canyon by more than half. The South and North Rims are a part of the National Park System. The South Rim attracts the most visitors of all three rims. The North Rim is often closed in winter due to snow and is in a forested area. At the West Rim, the Skywalk juts out over the rim, and the Hualapai offer a variety of tour packages that give visitors several options on how to see this part of the Grand Canyon.
Local Expert tip: Some of the buildings and structures at the South Rim were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Great Depression.
An excursion to Hoover Dam is one of the most popular day trips for Las Vegas visitors. Several companies offer tours to Hoover Dam, which allows you to give up the driving and logistics to someone else. Bus tours offer the more sedate option, although the view from a helicopter is a sight you'll long remember. No matter what method you choose to get to Hoover Dam, you'll want to take a tour inside the massive structure. Two tours are available. One allows visitors to see the power plant, and the more extensive tour takes visitors into the passageways of the dam. Visitors must purchase tickets to enter the Visitor Center, although if you purchase a tour it includes admission to the Visitor Center.
Local Expert tip: You can stand in two states at one time--Arizona and Nevada--on top of Hoover Dam.
Las Vegas has rapidly become known as a destination for foodies, and what better way to get a memorable culinary experience than by sampling several restaurants? The Walking Gourmet will take you to a collection of restaurants on one of three tours. Try the Mystery Tour on the Strip, Dine & Shop at Town Square, or go to the Summerlin area for the Westside Toury. Guests visit several restaurants within a fairly small area and enjoy a tasting menu at each. On the Strip's Mystery Tour, guests meet up at the Paris Las Vegas to begin their tour--although they don't know which restaurants they'll be visiting. According to the Walking Gourmet, the walking is limited and mostly happens indoors, although you'll want to wear comfy walking shoes and possibly bring some water. Tours occur on weekday afternoons, beginning at about 2:00pm.
Local Expert tip: Tours are offered only during weekdays.
Perhaps at some point, visitors will be allowed to wander the grounds of the Neon Boneyard without supervision. But for now, if you want to see the lights of Vegas' past, you must make an appointment and sign up for a tour. In return, you'll get about an hour's guided tour into this collection of Las Vegas' past. The oldest signs date back to the 1930s, but the additions keep coming. The giant letters, bulbs and assorted signage seem designed for photographers, although photography is strictly restricted (be sure to ask the museum about any permits you may need to take pictures if you have any plans for your pictures beyond personal use). In contrast, the exhibits of the Neon Museum stand along Fremont Street, signs like Aladdin's Lamp, restored to their full glory, on display 24/7 at no charge.
Local Expert tip: Boneyard Tours sell out fast, so make your appointment at least two weeks in advance.
When you think of taking a tour, you might think of a sedate experience featuring vans. Not so with Galavantier, a company that sees itself as more of a travel agent than a tour company. Partnering with hotels and businesses around Las Vegas, Galavantier offers an array of experiences and packages. Feeling adventurous? Try off-road racing, race car driving, a day at the gun range, or zip lining. Not feeling quite that adventurous? Maybe a day at the spa, a round of golf, a show, or a nightclub would be just the right thing. The large number of tours, packages, and experiences gathered on Galavantier's site give visitors a one-stop option, and if you'd like a personalized experience, simply call to have their knowledgeable staff help you arrange the experience that's just right for you.
Local Expert tip: Sign up at Galavantier.com to get advance notice of special deals on specially-designed getaways.
The distinctive pink jeeps of this well-known tour company will carry you into the rugged desert around Las Vegas, to places you can't see on your own. This company got its start in Sedona, Arizona, home to amazing red rocks and New Age vortexes. In Las Vegas, the company takes guests into Red Rock Canyon on a signature tour that will take you up and over the cliffs on the Rocky Gap Road. Pink Jeep Las Vegas also offers tours to the Valley of Fire, Death Valley, Zion, and to several locations at the Grand Canyon. You can also take one of their tours to Hoover Dam, or along the streets of Las Vegas. It's easier to see the sights when someone else is driving, and the custom-made vehicle is designed just for these tours.
Local Expert tip: The custom-built tour vehicles can hold up to ten passengers.
Papillion has been taking people on tours since 1965, which sets it apart from the average Las Vegas tour company and tells you that they must be doing something right. The bulk of Papillion's tours take visitors into the Grand Canyon, although that's not the only place you can see on one of their helicopter, plane, rafting, or bus tours. With so much to see at the Grand Canyon, it's a great thing to have several choices about how to see this iconic natural wonder. Papillion can take you to any of the three rims (North, South, or West) and you can choose the method transportation you like best: plane, helicopter, or bus.
Local Expert tip: Papillon provides pickup from most Las Vegas hotels.