Is the heat of the summer getting you down? There are many attractions to visit within two hours of Las Vegas that won’t cost you a lot of money. Nevada is home to many state and national parks offering camping, hiking, water sports and epic scenery. Fire up the GPS, get in the car and explore Nevada. Make to sure to visit the park websites for directions, entrance fees and camping requirements.


Image courtesy of Wasif Malik

Valley of Fire State Park
29450 Valley Fire Road
Overton, Nevada 89040
(702) 397-2088

The Valley of Fire is Nevada’s oldest state park. Red sandstone rock formations and spring wildflower blooms make it a very popular tourist attraction. Guests can take pictures, hit the hiking trails and view petroglyphs and petrified wood. The Valley of Fire State Park offers picnic areas, campgrounds and a visitors center. It is located about an hour and a half northeast of Las Vegas off North I-15. Entrance fee is $10 or you can buy an annual Nevada parks pass.

Aerials Of Lake Mead National Recreation Area

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Lake Mead National Recreation Area
601 Nevada Highway
Boulder City, NV 89005
(702) 293-8990

Lake Mead National Recreation Area contains over 700 miles of land for visitors to swim, boat, hike, camp and sightsee. The man-made lake was formed with creation of the Hoover Dam in 1935. The Lake Mead Recreation Area encompasses Lake Mead, Lake Mojave and the Colorado River. Visitors can enter the park from several locations in Nevada as well as Arizona, with the closest entrance about 35 minutes from Las Vegas. Lake Mead Recreation area has campgrounds, restaurants and service stations to buy gas and food while out on the lake. The entrance fee is $10 per car and is valid for one week. If you are planning on visiting outward beaches and marinas, visit the park website for GPS coordinates.

Spring Mountains National Recreation Area
Kyle Canyon Road
Las Vegas, NV 89124
(702) 872-5486

The Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, or Mount Charleston to Las Vegas locals, is the perfect respite from the heat of summer. The Spring Mountains National Recreation Area is located about 40 minutes Northwest of Las Vegas off US-95 North and Kyle Canyon Road. Visitors can take advantage of the cooler weather by hiking 51 miles of mountainous paths, with certain trails open to horseback riding and mountain biking. Seven campgrounds are available for overnight visitors. But if you want to enjoy the scenery without roughing it, the Mt. Charleston Lodge and The Resort at Mount Charleston offer a different type of retreat.

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Laughlin Visitor Information Center
1555 Casino Drive
Laughlin, NV 89029
(702) 298-3321

Laughlin is a small city located on the Colorado River at the Arizona border. Named for the casino magnate who founded it, the town is home to resort casinos, restaurants and snowbirds who escape the cold winters of the North. With hotels offering an average nightly rate of $45, Laughlin is a great place to escape to enjoy gambling, golf, water sports or a day at the spa. To get there, take US-95 south to the Laughlin Highway.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center
1000 Scenic Loop Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89161
(702) 515-5367

The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is one of the most popular attractions for both tourists and locals in Las Vegas. Located about 20 minutes west of the Las Vegas Strip, the park is set against a background of towering red rock formations. Visitors can take a scenic drive, explore hiking trails or learn about the desert at the visitors center. Red Rock Canyon is known world wide as one of the best places for rock climbing and for scenic bike riding. Be aware, the scenic loop through the park is a one-way road and entrance starts at $3.

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Christa Emmer is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in broadcast journalism. She has experience as a news writer, editor and producer in television news. Christa has been a Las Vegas resident for more than 20 years. Follow her on twitter @ChristaEmmer. Her work can be found at