the mountains of Great Basin

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.

The Best Road Trips From Las Vegas to National Parks

What are the closest national parks to Las Vegas? Death Valley National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Great Basin National Park and Yosemite National park are the closest parks to Las Vegas. All are five hours or less drive with the exception of Yosemite.

Yosemite National Park is a bit further than the others but I wanted to cover it in the road trips from Las Vegas to national parks list because the route to the park via Highway 395 north and across the Sierra Nevada, is one of the most underappreciated drives in the country.

For convenience, I’ve included a map of the road trip routes as well. In the cases where there are several options of itineraries, I’ve highlighted my preferred route on the map.

Add the map to your own Google account by clicking the star at the end of the title. Google Maps uses layers. There are seven layers of directions on this map. Simply uncheck the ones you don’t need or don’t want to see. For driving directions, click the three dots in each layer to see step by step guidance.

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. Overnighting near the airport or in nearby Henderson, Boulder City or even Mesquite is a good way to start your road trips from Las Vegas to National Parks.

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.

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. Use rentalcars.com to compare prices amongst rental car agencies to get the very best deal.

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?

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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 does have it all. 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.

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.

Las Vegas to Death Valley National Park

  • 125 miles
  • 2.5 hours

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

Planning a road trip from Las Vegas to Death Valley National Park is easy and as long as you are prepared – it’s a good itinerary for families and solo travelers too. Bonus: if you happen to be in Las Vegas for a few days and want to explore a bit – it also can be done as a day trip.

a road and sunset in Death Valley National Park - one of the best road trips from Las Vegas to national parks
Sunset in Death Valley National Park

The 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 one of the entrances.

Related: 9 Unique Things to do in Beatty, Nevada

Additionally, 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.

Things To Do in Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park is full of cool – no bad pun intended – things to see and do. Everywhere you look is something you’ve probably never seen before. Some of the most impressive, can’t miss features are Dante’s View, Badwater Basin and my favorite, Ubehebe Crater.

Since Death Valley is a large park, many of the roads are unpaved and gravel. This means some of them require high clearance vehicles and at times, even 4 wheel drive is needed. But don’t let that discourage you. There’s still a great deal to keep you busy even if you drive a car. My 15 things to do in Death Valley National Park article has suggestions and tips.

Where to Stay in Death Valley National Park

In Death Valley National Park, there are two beautiful hotels, the Inn at Death Valley and the Ranch at Death Valley Both properties are part of the Oasis at Death Valley – a planned resort that’s hosted travelers for years. These hotels offer amenities like restaurants, swimming pools and even a golf course if you’re into that.

For those who prefer to sleep under the stars – Death Valley National Park has twelve campgrounds in the park. Although Furnace Creek Campground is open year round, keep in mind the temperatures if you are tent camping. It takes a while for the desert to cool down at night. They don’t call it Furnace Creek for nothing.

If you are interested in visiting Death Valley but want to stay outside the park – Beatty has a few options and is less than 15 minutes from that park entrance.

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 – 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.

Related: 15 Places to Visit Near Las Vegas

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, it could potentially be visited any time. Just keep in mind that summer months are also subject to monsoon rains. Even fall temperatures can still be quite high. 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 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 its 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

The 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 the 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 go year round must see’s no matter how little time you might have or how high the temps are.

Related: 7 Easy Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park

For a fun visitor center experience, the National Park Service has recently joined forces with the nearby town of 29 Palms, local Native American groups and the Bureau of Land Management to construct a brand new cultural 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 park store.

This area of the California desert is jampacked with outdoorsy activities. Nearby Pioneertown is a crowd pleaser for its distinctive western vibe. 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.

If you like to camp, since there are more than 500 campsites inside the park, Joshua Tree National Park has no shortage of places to pitch your tent. 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 recreation.gov.

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 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. To mitigate that, the National Park Service recommends mid-week tripsĀ 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 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 cream colored sandstone cliffs all around and the renowned emerald colored Virgin River runs along side the main road into the park. It’s unique too, that instead of being above the canyon looking down – as is the case in many parks – you are actually in the canyon.

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

The Best Road Trip Route From Las Vegas to Zion National Park

Springdale, Utah – the closest city to Zion – is approximately 160 miles from Las Vegas. One of the things that makes Zion a good road trip option from Las Vegas is that the majority of the drive is interstate.

Interstate 15 north from Las Vegas to Zion passes through the mountains and the Virgin River Gorge. This road trip is a convenient option for people that don’t like long road trips or feel more comfortable on major highways. 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 approaching 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 view from just about and 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 of the fun hikes that don’t require a shuttle ride.

Where to Stay in Zion National Park

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

Inside the park, there’s a lodge and three campgrounds run by the park service. Lava Point is located in the more obscure Kolob Terrace. Watchman Campground, inside the Zion Canyon is open all year and South Campground is in the park but is closed in winter. Reservations for all of these can be made at recreation.gov.

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 tiny homes and covered wagons available for overnight stays are delightful. And the setting against the mountains is out of this world. The resort takes full advantage of the location, providing community outdoor spaces for campfires and 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. However, 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 more 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 peak season but since the park has grown in popularity in the last few years, it’s crowded just about all spring, summer and fall.

The park is at a higher elevation, so it too can get quite cold and even see snow in winter. The benefit to going in the winter is there’s no shuttle after the end of November – December holidays excluded – so you can drive into the park. (Every year, the National Park Service makes seasonal adjustments to its shuttle schedules so that date could change) Last year, I visited in November and loved it.

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. This 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

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

Just like the Zion route, Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon National Park is a fairly straightforward route on I-15 and could be easily combined with a road trip to any of the Utah national park. After you pass through Zion via Mount Caramel Junction, Bryce is another 70 miles or so. The drive along 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 too get distracted by Zion National Park and want to go straight to Bryce Canyon, then continue north on to I-15 Cedar City, Utah and exit the interstate. This route takes you through the Dixie National Park and near Cedar Breaks National Monument that could 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.

The park also has an 18 mile scenic drive that’s perfect for families with children and for those that don’t get around so well anymore. One of my favorite stops 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. There are two park service campgrounds. Reservations can be made at the North Campground seasonally through recreation.gov and Sunset Campground is first-come first-served April 15th through October.

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

Ruby’s has hotel accommodations at the local Best Western 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 nps.gov and local weather for alerts and closures. Just for context, I visited in the middle of November and it was 18F at night.

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. 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 the famed glass Skywalk that goes out over the canyon is located there.

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

The 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 an abundance 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 variety 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. The closest one is 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.

Related: Practical Tips for Camping in a National Park

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 some of the 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.

the mountains of Great Basin
Great Basin National Park

The 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 literal great basin of Nevada with green pastureland, farms and unbelievably in places – plenty of water.

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 park ranger lead all tours and dives into the history and geology of the caves. Weather permitting, tours are offered year round but may be limited in winter. Visit recreation.gov for more details.

Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive is another don’t miss auto touring route in the park. This drive is 12 miles of steep but gorgeous views. The highest section of the road closes in winter but the complete road is generally open June through October. There are alpine lakes to hike and ancient bristlecones to see as well.

Great Basin National Park is an International Dark Sky park so depending on the moon phase when you visit, there might be ranger led programs or events planned. Check the visitor center for a schedule.

Where to Stay in Great Basin National Park

There aren’t any hotels or lodges inside the park. The nearest town of Baker has a few options and Ely, 66 miles away, has more options.

Inside Great Basin National Park, there are developed five campgrounds. The only one open year round is Lower Lehman Creek. Other campgrounds are generally open May through October, weather permitting. The Upper Lehman Creek Campground is one of my favorite campgrounds I’ve ever stayed in.

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

Due to its remoteness, at least two days in Great Basin National Park would be best. Realistically, that only gives you enough time to see a few things if you count travel time from Las Vegas or Salt Lake City. Three or four days would be better since there are some 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 the exception of a few major holidays. Even though it is a lesser visited park, summer is the peak season and when it’s most crowded but a visit in summer is best if you want to see all the park features. Early fall is a good time as well.

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.

the Merced River flows through Yosemite - perfect for finding a swimming hole
Find your personal swimming spot

The Best Road Trip Route From Las Vegas to Yosemite National Park

From Las Vegas you could drive the interstate route over the Sierra Nevada but if you drive to Yosemite National Park 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 from the west.

Even though it might be slower than driving the more popular interstate and using the 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 definitely recommend adding it to your trip. The road out to the national forest visitor center has some of the most stunning views of the Sierra Nevada in my opinion.

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.

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. The 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 recreation.gov.

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.

Useful Tips for Road Trips From Las Vegas to National Parks

  • Need help planning a road trip? Check out my How to Plan a Road Trip Step by Step article.
  • Always check nps.gov 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 costs just $80 USD and covers the entrance fee to national parks and over 2k other interagency sites.
  • 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.
  • Have an emergency kit with plenty of water, food and snacks and other supplies.
  • Always keep a bit of cash on hand and coins for things like tolls and air for tires.
  • Enter the parks midweek and try to arrive at the park as early in the morning as you can. This will help you beat some of the crowds and tour buses. Especially in parks like the Grand Canyon.
  • You never know what can happen on the road and you want to be prepared. Purchasing travel insurance for health emergencies and roadside assistance from well known companies like Good Sam Travel Assist can help you stay safe on your road trip.

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2 Comments

  1. Awesome extensive article explaining so much information about some of National Parks in the US near Vegas. As a Canadian I dream of traveling down that way in a few years in my RV and would love to check some of these out!

    1. Thank you Sarah! I hope you get the chance to explore Nevada and all these parks. They are some of the best!

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