Planning a Las Vegas road trip requires some extra preparation if you are traveling in summer. Vegas is within easy driving distance from many beautiful places, but summertime temperatures in areas like Death Valley and the Valley of Fire — both a short drive from Vegas — can really detract from their scenic appeal. It’s hard to appreciate beauty when you’re worried that the soles of your shoes might melt.
With some research, it’s simple to incorporate a few detours to turn a dull, hot drive to Vegas into a fun road trip, or to plan a day or weekend trip with Las Vegas as an anchor point. Why not drive to (or through) a cooler place, something with mountains, cool breezes, and temperatures in the double (instead of triple) digits?
Consider a Las Vegas road trip that includes….
Southern California: If you’re driving to or from SoCal, visit Lake Arrowhead. The place has been used as a Hollywood stand-in for all kinds of mountainy locations, and it’s a fun place to stop and have lunch or take a boat tour. Driving time from Vegas: about 4 hours.
Central California: Go see some of the largest trees in the world. Sequoia National Park is one of the oldest national parks in the U.S. Park system — and don’t worry, you’ll know a sequoia when you see one. It will be the humongous tree that renders you speechless. Be sure to give yourself at least a day or two to explore this incredible place. Driving time from Vegas: about 7 hours.
Arizona: Include Flagstaff in your road trip. The Lowell Observatory combines history with astronomy, and the city is still small enough to qualify as charming. Right outside of Flagstaff, at the bottom of Oak Creek Canyon, you’ll find Sedonna, the New Age Mecca — but more fun is Jerome, a mining town turned artists’ colony, perched on the side of the hill overlooking Sedonna. Driving time to Vegas from Flagstaff: about 4 hours. From Sedonna: about 5 hours.
Utah: The colorful mountain country around St. George and Cedar City may make you want to forget about Vegas. Zion National Park is so popular during the summer that it becomes crowded, so try Cedar Breaks instead. It’s at alpine level, and you can stop for a picnic in the meadow across from the visitor’s center. Taking a drive through this area can be just a short detour off I15, or you can spend days wandering around this scenic part of the United States. Driving time to Vegas from Cedar Breaks National Monument: about 3.5 hours.
Once you get out of the mountains, however, you’ll be back in the desert. And it is very, very hot in summer. Take some extra time to:
• Make sure your vehicle is in good working condition.
• Bring plenty of water.
• Drive in the hottest areas in the cooler parts of the day.
A Las Vegas road trip can take you through some of the most incredible places you’ve ever seen. Grab your map, and start making plans.
Photos of Lake Arrowhead and Lowell Observatory courtesy of Terrisa Meeks. Photo of Cedar Breaks courtesy of Dave Pidgeon.