the mountains of Great Basin

7 Epic Road Trips From Las Vegas to National Parks

Las Vegas might just be the most perfect fly and drive road trip city. Let’s face it – U.S. employers aren’t known for having the most generous vacation plans in the world. This causes serious time issues if you enjoy road tripping and visiting national parks west of the 100th Meridien.

However, if you fly into Vegas and road trip from there, in less than seven hours, there are seven national parks – not to mention a whole bunch of other public lands – you can visit pretty easily. Here’s how to do it.

Best Road Trips From Las Vegas to National Parks

With seven national parks in close proximity to Vegas, what’s the closest national park to Las Vegas? Death Valley National Park is the closest national park to Las Vegas. It’s approximately 125 miles from Las Vegas to Death Valley National Park.

Followed by Zion National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Great Basin National Park and Yosemite National Park. All are the parks are around five hours or less, with the exception of Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite is a bit further than the others but it is doable and I wanted to cover it in this road trips from Las Vegas to national parks list since the route via Highway 395 North and across the Tioga Pass into the park is one of the most underappreciated drives in the United States. If you know, you know.

For convenience, I’ve included a map of the road trip routes as well. In the cases where several route options are available, I’ve highlighted my preferred route on the map. Note: You could also visit Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park from Las Vegas. It’s not included on this list because I have not personally road tripped it from Vegas. I have only visited from Los Angeles.

To use this map, click on the icon on the left hand side of the title to see the map layers. Check or uncheck whichever layer you want to see or don’t want to see. You can also add the map to you own Google account by highlighting the faint star to the right of the title. .

Why Plan Road Trips From Las Vegas

There are several reasons why planning road trips from Las Vegas to national parks is ideal. First, getting to Vegas’s Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) is easy.

Most cities in the United States are no more than a three hour flight away. And if you fly from the east coast, you even get a couple of extra hours of time difference at the beginning of your trip. An early flight from the east coast and you can begin your road trip the same day.

Next, the airport is in an excellent location. If you are someone that’s not really a fan of Vegas, you could fly for your road trip and never even go to the strip if you didn’t want to. Or if you enjoy Las Vegas then spend a few days enjoying the Vegas sights and then head out.

Overnighting near the airport, or in nearby Henderson, Boulder City or even Mesquite, depending which direction your are headed, is a good way to start your road trips from Las Vegas to National Parks. I like the Hyatt Place at Silverton, the Courtyard by Marriott at Green Valley Ranch (great area) and the Fairfield Inn right by the airport.

Third, although it can be hot, the weather is Vegas is just about always perfect. That means no snow and very little rain or thunderstorms which equals fewer weather delays. I’ve been traveling to Vegas at least once a year since 2007 and I’ve only ever experienced one weather delay. (Two now after 2023’s El Niño year)

Finally, rental cars are generally always available in Las Vegas and they are pretty affordable. Prices are usually a fraction of the cost in other cities. provides 24/7 customer service and no hidden fees. You can use them to compare prices and the right vehicle for you.

Now that you know all the advantages of planning road trips from Las Vegas to national parks: which park will you choose to visit first?

What Are the Best Road Trips From Las Vegas to National Parks?

There aren’t too many places in the United States with access to so many public lands, national parks, state parks, Forest Service Land and Bureau of Land Management property, Nevada really comes through. In fact, it’s estimated that almost 88% of Nevada is federal or public land.

Besides what’s mentioned in this article, there are other park sites close to Las Vegas like Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, just a few miles from the Vegas strip and Lake Mead National Recreation Area located in nearby Boulder City. Plus, conservation areas and don’t miss state parks like Valley of Fire.

For simplicity, this article is about parks that have been given national park designation and these road trips from Las Vegas to national parks are the easiest to execute. Note: you could also visit Sequoia Kings Canyon fairly easily from Las Vegas and even though I have visited those parks, I have not visited from Las Vegas.

Las Vegas to Death Valley National Park

  • 125 miles
  • 2.5 hours

Park Alert: Death Valley National Park suffered major damage in August of 2023 when they received a year’s worth of rainfall in several hours. Secondary roads were washed away and Hwy 190, the major route through the park from California to Nevada, was damaged. The park is open but check for updates or any road closures.

Located on the border of Nevada and California, Death Valley National Park is one of those parks that everyone should visit at least once. Not only because it’s the lowest and hottest place in North America but because it’s stunning and stark and is full of otherworldly features you can’t see anywhere else in the United States.

Planning a road trip from Las Vegas to Death Valley National Park is easy and as long as you are well prepared you can go just about anytime. It’s a good itinerary for families and solo travelers too. If you happen to be in Las Vegas on business or for a conference, it also can be done as a day trip or with an organized tour.

The entrance sign at Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park is one of the easiest road trips from Las Vegas to National Parks

Best Road Trip Route From Las Vegas to Death Valley

There are several ways to get to Death Valley National Park from Las Vegas. One of the best ways is through Beatty, Nevada, which in itself is a fun little road trip stop. Beatty prides itself on being the the gateway to Death Valley and is only seven miles from the entrance.

Additionally, from Las Vegas, you could drive through Pahrump, Nevada to Death Valley Junction before entering the park. This scenic route from Las Vegas crosses through the Spring Mountain Recreation Area with opportunities for additional stops along the way. Pahrump even has a few wineries you could add to the itinerary.

Things To Do in Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park is full of amazing experiences. Everywhere you look is something unique. Some of the most impressive features include Dante’s View, Badwater Basin and my favorite, Ubehebe Crater.

Since Death Valley is a large park, many of the roads are unpaved and require high clearance vehicles and, at times, four-wheel drive. But don’t let that discourage you. There are still plenty of things to do to keep you busy even in a passenger car.

Where to Stay in Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park has three hotels in the park. The swanky Inn at Death Valley and the more moderately priced Ranch at Death Valley are both part of the Oasis at Death Valley, a planned resort offering amenities like restaurants, swimming pools and even a golf course in the desert.

And Stovepipe Wells offers hotel rooms in a more laid back, historic village setting with a restaurant, gas station and a general store.

For those who prefer to sleep under the stars, Death Valley National Park has twelve campgrounds in the park. Furnace Creek Campground is the best bet because it’s open year round. Just keep in mind that if you are tent camping, it takes a while for the desert to cool down at night.

For lodging outside the park, the small town of Beatty, just 7 miles from the eastern entrance has a few lodging options, good barbeque and friendly wild burros roaming around town.

How Much Time Do You Need in Death Valley National Park?

To see the top things in Death Valley National Par, you’ll need at least a couple of days to hit the highlights and more if you plan on driving some of the unpaved roads and canyons.

If you have a week, then combine a Las Vegas to Death Valley National Park road trip with a visit to Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave Preserve for a fun desert loop. There are so many options for extending your road trips from Las Vegas to National Parks itineraries.

When’s the Best Time to Road Trip to Death Valley National Park?

Death Valley National Park is open year round. Peak season is December through April and a typical wildflower season in late March, April and May.

Even though it’s hot in the summer, with careful and thorough planning, you can still visit. Just keep in mind that late summer months are also monsoon and that means rains.

Autumn in Death Valley can still mean high temperatures. My first visit was in the middle of October and temps hovered around 116F during the three days I was there.

For the least amount of crowds and lower temps, November is one of the best times of the year to visit Death Valley National Park.

Las Vegas to Zion National Park

  • 160 miles
  • 2 hours 45 minutes

As you approach Zion National Park, Utah’s first national park, it doesn’t take long to realize why it’s one of the most popular parks in the national park system. The introduction to this park is like no other. The drive in is full of towering red, pink and creamy colored sandstone cliffs all around and the renowned emerald colored Virgin River runs along side the main road into the park.

It’s also unique that instead of being above the canyon looking down. Like at the Grand Canyon and many other parks, you are actually inside the canyon or Zion Canyon, and surrounded by the cliffs and peaks.

the view of the road and pink mountains in Zion National Park
The beautiful colors of Zion National Park

Best Road Trip Route From Las Vegas to Zion National Park

One of the things that makes Zion a good road trip option from Las Vegas is the ease of getting there. Most of drive is roomy interstate driving and only secondary roads for the last 30 or so miles unto you reach Springdale, Utah, the gateway city to Zion.

Of course, you could drive secondary roads once you get to Utah, but the I-15 route carved through the mountains is the only direct into Utah route coming from southern Nevada.

The drive from Las Vegas to Zion is so easy that once you exit the interstate in Utah, you’ll feel like you’re practically there. The drive takes no time as the last 25 miles or so passes thorough several cute small towns and some of prettiest vibrant colored landscapes that approach a national park.

Things To Do in Zion National Park

Zion National Park is the only park on this list where visitors are required to ride a shuttle into the main section of the park called Zion Canyon. The most popular hikes like Angel’s Landing (permit required) and the Narrows are located in the canyon.

I do want to mention that even though I fully believe everyone needs to see Zion Canyon via the shuttle, it’s not absolutely necessary to enjoy the park. You still get awesome views from just about anywhere.

Plus, there are several really fun hikes – that are way less crowded – outside Zion Canyon. The Pa’rus Trail, the East Rim trail and the Many Pools Trail are just a few good hikes that don’t require a shuttle ride.

If you are visiting Zion in the busiest months of spring and summer, then use these tips to avoid the crowds in Zion National Park.

Where to Stay in Zion National Park

Because it’s so close to Springdale, Zion National Park has plenty of options for places to stay. The surrounding area, as well as the east side of Zion, has an abundance of hotels, ranches, private campgrounds and BLM land offering dispersed camping.

Inside the park, there’s a lodge and three campgrounds run by the park service. Lava Point is another campground located in the more obscure Kolob Terrace.

Watchman Campground, inside the Zion Canyon is open all year and South Campground, also inside the park, is closed in winter. Reservations for all park campgrounds can be made at

For a glamping experience, one of my favorite properties near Zion is Zion Wildflower Resort, located in Virgin, just a few miles from the park.

The resort takes advantage of its perfect setting and views near Zion, offering cozy cabins and covered wagons, complete with outdoor community spaces for campfires and relaxing hammocks around the property.

How Much Time Do You Need in Zion National Park?

If you don’t have much time or are headed to another park or public land in southern Utah, it’s possible to drive through Zion on a day trip. To really see all the park and the most popular sights, at least two days is necessary and three days would be best.

Especially if you visit in the warmer spring and summer months when the park is crowded. That way you can take your time and not feel rushed.

When’s the Best Time to Road Trip to Zion National Park?

Zion National Park is open year round. April through October are considered peak season. So late fall is a good time even though at the higher elevation, Zion can get quite cold and even have snow.

One other benefit besides less people in winter is that there’s no shuttle. Typically, the end of November and December, excluding holidays, there’s no shuttle service in the park. That means you can drive your own vehicle into Zion Canyon.

Every year, the National Park Service makes seasonal adjustments to the shuttle schedule so that date could change from year to year. Always check for the latest info.

Las Vegas to Joshua Tree National Park

  • 215 miles
  • 3.5 hours

Visiting Joshua Tree National Park on a road trip from Las Vegas is a timeless Nevada to California road trip. Located in southern California, both families and solo travelers alike will enjoy Joshua Tree’s peaceful desert beauty and starry dark skies.

The park is full of protected Joshua trees, interesting rock formations and unique landscapes. Plus, there’s tons of opportunity to see wildlife, including the endangered desert tortoise.

Joshua tree and boulders in Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is also a International Dark Sky Park

Best Road Trip Route From Las Vegas to Joshua Tree National Park

From Las Vegas there’s a variety of ways to get to Joshua Tree National Park but the most scenic one is the 183 mile drive down Highway 95 south through Searchlight, Nevada and across Mojave National Preserve.

This drive takes you through thousands of Joshua trees before you even get to the park and includes places like historic places Goffs and Amboy, California and even a little of piece of the “mother road” – Route 66.

Things To Do in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is a fairly large park but the way it’s organized makes it compact enough to see a lot in a day. With preparation and caution, plenty of easy hikes makes it doable even in summer months when temperatures are the highest. Skull Rock and Keys View are year round must see’s no matter how little time you might have or how high the temps are.

For a fun visitor center experience, the National Park Service has recently collaborated with the nearby town of 29 Palms, local Native American groups and the Bureau of Land Management to construct a new visitor center. The Joshua Tree Cultural Center Information is located downtown 29 Palms and includes a bookstore, a museum with rotating exhibits and the Joshua Tree National Park store.

This area of the California desert is jampacked with outdoorsy activities. Nearby Pioneertown is a crowd pleaser for its distinctive western vibe and Palm Springs and the Salton Sea are less than two hours away.

Also, don’t miss Mojave Trails National Monument for interesting hiking and out of this world topography like lava and volcanic craters.

Where to Stay in Joshua Tree National Park

While there’s no National Park Service lodge or hotel, the high desert around Joshua Tree is full of unique and quirky properties. The Joshua Tree Ranch House and the Joshua Tree Inn are two wonderful properties. Casa de Frank is a stunner too.

For campers, Joshua Tree National Park has no shortage of places to pitch your tent. There are more than 500 campsites inside the park. My favorite campgrounds are the Jumbo Rocks campground and Hidden Valley Campground. Most of those sites can be reserved up to six months in advance via in high season.

How Much Time Do You Need in Joshua Tree National Park?

A Las Vegas to Joshua Tree National Park road trip requires at minimum an overnight stay and preferably, at least, two to three days.

Although, you could combine this road trip stop with a Las Vegas to San Diego road trip, a Las Vegas to Las Angeles road trip or a Las Vegas to Phoenix road trip. The road trip possibilities are endless and you could easily spend a week in the area.

When’s the Best Time to Road Trip to Joshua Tree National Park?

Except for late summer, Joshua Tree National Park is busy pretty all year round. Peak season is March and April and spring in general for wildflower season.

To mitigate that, the National Park Service recommends mid-week trips instead of weekends and holidays. Also try going on Monday through Thursday for less crowds.

With good planning, you can visit in the less crowded, much hotter late summer months. However, it’s imperative that you are prepared.

Have a plan, take plenty of water and limit hiking to early morning. I have been once in August and it was very hot but still enjoyable and I felt like I had the entire park to myself.

Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon National Park

  • 255 miles
  • 4 hours

One of Utah’s Mighty 5 national parks, Bryce Canyon National Park is another good option for a road tripping from Las Vegas. If you aren’t familiar with it, Bryce is full of hoodoos or irregular columns of rock.

The bright orange landscape feature looks similar to Cheetos if that crunchy orange snack appeared in nature.

Hoodoos can be found around the world but Bryce Canyon National Park has the largest concentration found anywhere on earth. Long known for its special Native American connections, Bryce Canyon is a spectacular national park road trip from Las Vegas and shouldn’t be missed.

a view of the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park
Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park

Best Road Trip Route From Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon National Park

The best route from Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon National Park is I-15 through Springdale and Zion National Park. From Zion, Bryce is only 72 miles.

This drive takes you east of Zion to Mount Caramel Junction via Highway 89 to Bryce. In places, this route runs alongside the Little Virgin River and continues onto Utah’s Scenic Byway 12, which is one of my favorite drives in the United States.

If you don’t want to spend time in Zion National Park, then an alternative to go straight to Bryce Canyon, is continuing north on to I-15 to Cedar City, Utah and exiting the interstate there.

This route takes you through the Dixie National Park and near Cedar Breaks National Monument that could also be added to a Las Vegas to national parks road trip.

Things To Do in Bryce Canyon National Park

Of course, Bryce Canyon National Park in known for its stunning views from the amphitheater and various viewpoints throughout the park, but there’s also hiking, horseback riding, ATV tours to the rim of the canyon and amazing fly fishing.

Offering an 18 mile scenic drive that’s perfect for families with children and for those that don’t get around so well anymore, Bryce is ideal. One of my favorite stops on the scenic drive is Natural Bridge.

Bryce Canyon is also close to Red Canyon, a U.S. Forest Service managed site inside the Dixie National Forest. It has its own visitor center, plenty of hiking trails, a couple of campgrounds and just absolutely stunning trails and views.

Where to Stay in Bryce Canyon National Park

The Lodge at Bryce Canyon, located inside the park, is open from April through November and there are two park service campgrounds to accommodate campers.

Reservations for the North Campground can be made through, seasonally, and Sunset Campground is first-come first-served April 15th through October.

The small village of Bryce Canyon City boasts several private campgrounds and hotels but for me Ruby’s Inn is the place to stay. The Syrett Family that owns Ruby’s has an interesting history in the Bryce Canon area and has been taking care of guests for over 100 years.

Ruby’s has hotel rooms at the Best Western brand but also offers lodge stays, campgrounds with RV sites, two restaurants, a general store and tours in the round-up.

How Much Time Do You Need at Bryce Canyon National Park?

You can actually do a lot in a day at Bryce but to see it at its best – sunrise and sunset in my opinion – and really get to know the surrounding area, then I recommend at least two days and three would be even better to include hikes and a ranger led program.

When’s the Best Time to Road Trip to Bryce Canyon National Park?

Bryce is open year round but the peak time is March thorough October. Just remember if you are visiting in winter or passing through, it’s possible to encounter snow in the area.

Check and local weather for alerts and closures. Just for context, I visited in the middle of November and it was 18F at night. Too cold to camp for me.

Las Vegas to Grand Canyon National Park

  • 280 miles
  • 4 hours 15 minutes

Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park is probably one of the most road tripped places from Las Vegas. It’s a classic and one of the Wonders of the World.

Besides the proximity to Las Vegas, one of the things that makes it easy to visit is that the park has three easily accessible national park entrances and one viewpoint area on the western side. Which one you choose to visit will depend on how much time you have and what your objective is.

Grand Canyon West is closest viewpoint from Vegas to see the canyon. This section of the canyon is owned and managed by the Hualapai people and isn’t part of Grand Canyon National Park.

Although, it does have its own unique views and is home to the famed glass Grand Canyon Skywalk that is positioned out over the canyon.

Grand canyon views at the south rim Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon views at the South Rim

Best Road Trip Route From Las Vegas to Grand Canyon National Park

The easiest way to get to the Grand Canyon National Park’s south entrance from Las Vegas is via Highway 93 through Kingman, Arizona to Interstate 40 and then enter the park at the small town of Tusayan, just 7 miles from the south entrance.

This route takes you near Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Boulder City, the Hoover Dam. The road trip stops are endless.

Things To Do in Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park is a classic road trip destination all on its own. Mainly because I mean, it’s the Grand Canyon! This western part of the U.S. was made for vacations and road trips.

Also, there’s a variety of things to do. From the simplest things – like visiting all the viewpoints on the South Rim to more vigorous activities like hiking or riding horses down into the canyon.

Nearby, Williams and Kingman, Arizona both are on the famous Route 66. Road trippers will find an assortment of museum options, kitschy souvenir shops and historic diners dedicated to this classic cross county route.

This region of northern Arizona is also home to some of the finest national forests in the country and even other national park sites such as Walnut Canyon National Monument with its cliff dwellings, the amazing volcano at Sunset Crater National Monument and a glimpse into past civilizations at Wupatki National Monument.

Where to Stay in Grand Canyon National Park

Out of all the road trips from Las Vegas to national parks, the Grand Canyon probably has the most hotel and camping options. The park’s Grand Canyon Village at the South Rim is known for its popular and difficult to get a room in lodges.

This is also where the world famous Bright Angel Lodge is located. If you are a advance planner, then a overnight at one of these lodges would be the ultimate national park stay. For a more spontaneous trip, there’s an abundance of properties in nearby Tusayan.

The National Park Service has three campgrounds at the South Rim with the closest one being Mather Campground near the Tusayan entrance.

Additionally, there is a campground at the Desert View Campground (closed in winter) and a Trailer Village RV park run by a park concessioner. The surrounding area also has many other private campgrounds, like the family friendly, open year round KOA at Williams.

How Much Time do You Need in Grand Canyon National Park?

You could easily spend a week visiting Grand Canyon National Park and few other places in the area. Three days dedicated to the park itself should be sufficient for the casual visitor but other activities like hiking rim to rim or whitewater rafting would require more time.

When’s the Best Time to Road Trip to Grand Canyon National Park?

Grand Canyon National Park is open year round, weather permitting. Peak season is between Memorial Day and Labor Day but spring break, weekends and holidays during fall and winter are also crowded.

Because of its higher elevation, it’s not uncommon to receive some snowfall in the winter. If you happen to visit when there is snow – enjoy it. It’s unimaginably beautiful in the snow.

Las Vegas to Great Basin National Park

  • 296 miles
  • 4.5 hours

If you’ve only traveled around southern Nevada you might imagine the rest of state looks like the desert scenes you’re used to around Las Vegas. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, in some central and northern areas, Nevada is actually a very green, mountainous state.

Great Basin National Park, located in eastern central Nevada near the Utah border – is a good example of both. One of the lesser visited national parks Great Basin National Park takes some effort there but it’s so worth it to see something completely different from Las Vegas scenery.

An alpine lake in Great Basin National Park, one of the best road trips from Las Vegas to national parks
Great Basin National Park one of the best road trips from Las Vegas to National Parks

Best Time Road Trip Route From Las Vegas to Great Basin National Park

The best scenic drive to Great Basin National Park from Las Vegas is Highway 93 north through ghost towns like Crystal Springs and historic places like Caliente.

This route passes through the actual great basin of Nevada – yes, there is an actual great basin – with farms, green pastures with plenty ponds and water sources. Quite different from southern Nevada.

Things To Do in Great Basin National Park

One of the most popular things to do at Great Basin National Park is the Lehman Cave Tours. This tour is a ranger lead tour through the caves in the park that goes into the geology and the history of the park. Weather permitting, tours are offered year round but might be limited in winter due to colder temperatures. has tickets that can be reserved in advance.

The 12-mile Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive is another don’t miss activity in Great Basin National Park. This auto touring route is full stops and turnouts with gorgeous views of the mountains. The road is generally open June through October. At the top are alpine lakes to hike and ancient bristlecones to see.

Great Basin National Park is also an International Dark Sky park so make sure you check at the visitor center for any ranger led programs or special nighttime events.

Where to Stay in Great Basin National Park

There’s no park lodge inside Great Basin but nearby Baker offers a few options and Ely, jsut 66 miles away, has even more to choose from.

Inside Great Basin National Park, there are developed five campgrounds. The only one open year round is Lower Lehman Creek. Other campgrounds are usually open May through October, weather permitting.

The Upper Lehman Creek Campground is one of my favorite national park campgrounds I’ve ever stayed in. It’s quiet, wooded and has a small stream that runs through it. If you can snag a site near the water it makes for a wonderful night’s sleep.

How Much Time Do You Need in Great Basin National Park?

Since it is pretty remote, plan on spending at least two days in Great Basin National Park. Realistically, that gives you enough time to see a few things on your travel day from Las Vegas, spend the night and have the next day before continuing on.

Three or four days would definitely be better since there are some a few other things to do in the area. When road tripping from Las Vegas to Great Basin save some time for Cathedral Gorge State Park and Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge on the way.

When is the Best Time to Road Trip to Great Basin National Park?

Great Basin National Park is open year round with exception of major holidays. Even though it’s a lesser visited park, less than 200,000 people visited in 2023, summer is peak season and when it’s most crowded.

However, to see all the park features and visit the caves, summer and early fall are definitely the best times to visit.

Las Vegas to Yosemite National Park

  • 368 miles
  • 6 hours 20 minutes

A Las Vegas to Yosemite National Park road trip has just about everything imaginable that you could want from a road trip. Deserts, lava fields, alpine forests, mountains, waterfalls, hot springs, rivers – and that’s just getting there.

Once you finally make it to Yosemite, you’ll probably never want to leave because Yosemite National Park is in a word: magical. It’s one of those national parks that everyone needs to visit at least once.

The granite mountains and green trees at the Tunnel View lookout Yosemite National Park
Tunnel View Yosemite National Park

Best Road Trip Route From Las Vegas to Yosemite National Park

From Las Vegas you could drive the interstate route to Yosemite but the best route, in my opinion, is via Highway 395. This gives you the chance to enter the park from the eastern side and see a few things you might not see if you go in on the west side.

Even though it might be slower than driving the interstate and entering at the more popular western entrances, the towns and sights along Highway 395 are unparalleled.

There are plenty of ways to access Highway 395 from Las Vegas. You could even drive Highway 190 through Death Valley National Park to 395 but I’ve included my favorite way in my Google Map above.

That route takes you north on Highway 95 to Nevada Highway 266/California 168 and passes near the Ancient Bristlecone Forest. I strongly recommend adding this stop to your trip. The road out to the national forest visitor center has some of the most amazing views of the Sierra Nevada.

Unfortunately, this route into Yosemite National Park across the Tioga Pass – California’s highest vehicle crossing – is only accessible part of the year. The pass is generally closed from November through late May or early June.

So, if you are visiting Yosemite from Las Vegas in the spring, late fall or winter, you’ll need to use one of the western entrances to Yosemite National Park. Any other time of the year, consider the eastern entrance.

Things To Do in Yosemite National Park

The better question is what can’t you do in Yosemite National Park. As one of this country’s first national parks, Yosemite has been a natural playground since President Lincoln signed the Yosemite Land Grant in1864.

Besides all the normal national park activities like hiking and chasing waterfalls, a couple of my favorite things to do in Yosemite are biking and swimming.

Yosemite has a bike rental program in the park that allows you to download the app and grab a bike at various locations in the park. Turns out that pedaling is one of the best ways to get around around the park and avoid traffic.

For swimming, the Merced River flows right through the park and it’s the perfect opportunity to find your own personal swimming hole. Cathedral Beach Picnic Area is an awesome spot to start looking. This waterside area has great views and easy access to the water.

Where to Stay in Yosemite National Park

Like Grand Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, Yosemite has a plethora of accommodations in the area.

With a multitude of lodges, hotels and cabins in the park and around the perimeter, it’s really just your preference for where to stay. Yosemite hotels are managed by Travel Yosemite. Check their website for reservations.

There’s also tons of campgrounds in the park, however, just like in many popular parks, it can be hard to secure a site. Consider staying in a private campground or a nearby national forest campground.

How Much Time Do You Need in Yosemite National Park?

My answer to this is as much time as you can spare. Yosemite is so gorgeous and so much fun, you may not want to leave. The more time you have the better.

I’m sure there are some people that do it as a daytrip but I would not unless I had been several times. I personally feel like you need at least three days to see the bare minimum.

When is the Best Time to Road Trip to Yosemite National Park?

According the the National Park Service, even though the park is open all year, nearly 75% of visitors come during May through October.

Because of this, the park service implemented a permitted entry to help mitigate the busiest time of the year. You can get a reservation on

I’ve only visited Yosemite in August and I’ll admit, Yosemite Village felt more like an amusement park than national park. But once you got out of the village it was much better. I hope to visit in winter some time to see the park in the snow.

Tips for Planning Road Trips From Las Vegas to National Parks

  • Always check before visiting a park to stay informed about alerts and closures. Most parks have their park maps online as well.
  • For a better national park experience, download the NPS mobile app in the the App Store or for your Android device at Google Play
  • Purchase an America the Beautiful Park Pass. This pass is just $80 USD and covers the entrance fee to national parks and over 2k other interagency sites across the U.S.
  • Check the local weather. Desert parks have a monsoon and this year has been especially rainy in the southwest. Swift moving and quick rising water has the potential to be deadly so use cautious during monsoon months.
  • Always use Leave No Trace principles when visiting public lands.
  • Most parks have gas stations but it’s a good idea to keep you tank as full as possible and gas up when you have the chance.
  • Don’t make the mistake of driving and not having an emergency kit with plenty of water, food and snacks and other supplies in your vehicle.
  • Always have a bit of cash and coins on hand for things like tolls and air machines for low tire pressure.
  • To avoid crowds as much as possible, visit the parks midweek and arrive at as early as you can. This will help you beat some of the crowds and tour buses.
  • You never know what can happen on the road and you want to be prepared. Purchasing travel insurance for health emergencies and having roadside assistance from well known companies can help you stay safe on your road trip.

See you on the road!

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