Taking in all the world famous Las Vegas Valley has to offer doesn’t have to be limited to the strip. Hop in the car and head out for one of the five best and most picturesque drives Las Vegas has to offer. The beauty of the adventure lies in the fact that not one of these drives goes more than 60 miles from Vegas, making them ideal day trips.

Photo Credit: mtcharlestonlodge.com

Highway 95 to Route 157
Mt. Charleston Lodge

1200 Old Park Rd.
Las Vegas, NV 89124
(702) 872-5408

Distance: 43 miles one way
Hours: Opens daily at 8 a.m.

Just 35 miles northwest of Las Vegas North on U.S. Highway 95, travel six miles past the Santa Fe Hotel and Casino to Route 157. Don’t worry: The signs will point you toward the gorgeous Mt. Charleston Mountains. Take a left at the sign and travel west up about 20 miles into the mountains toward the Mt. Charleston Lodge. On your way up, enjoy how the clean desert landscape converts into a lush and full mountain scenery. Once at the top, stretch your legs on the kid-friendly trail or grab some lunch or a beverage at the traditional cozy lodge before winding through the mountains once again on your way back.

Photo credit: skilasvegas.com

Lee Canyon (Route 156) to Route 158
Lee Canyon

6725 Lee Canyon Rd.
Las Vegas, NV 89124
(702) 385-2754

Distance: 53 miles one way
Hours: Opens daily at 8 a.m.
Price: free

Just down the hill from the lodge, as you’re heading back toward Las Vegas, you’ll want to follow the Lee Canyon signs to the Route 158 turn-off. This scenic climb gives you a breathtaking over-the-cliff view of all this region has to offer. As the route turns up the hill, enjoy a fun ride into Lee Canyon, which also happens to be some of the best skiing southern Nevada has to offer. Return down Route 156/Lee Canyon Road to see the scenery from both angles on a road dating back to the 1930s.

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Photo Credit: redrockcanyonlv.org

Red Rock Canyon Loop

(702) 515-5350

Distance: 32 miles there/13-mile scenic loop
Hours: daily – 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Price: free

Next, head west 20 miles away from the fabulous Las Vegas Strip off State Highway 159 to Red Rock Canyon. While the Red Rock Visitor Center can be considered a choice destination in itself — the wealth of information it offers about the area’s recreation opportunities and wildlife may spawn spontaneous outdoor adventures. The area’s highlight is the magnificent scenic drive around the park’s 13-mile, one-way loop. This tour offers an up-close, intimate look at nature’s coloring box.

Photo Credit: bonniesprings.com

Blue Diamond Bend
Bonnie Springs Ranch
Blue Diamond, NV 89004
(702) 875-4191

Distance: 21 miles one way
Hours: daily from 10 a.m.
Price: $5 to $7 for zoo and old west town

If the Red Rock loop doesn’t satisfy your driving urges, continue on State Highway 159 to find an awesome hidden gem. Have your cameras handy because this eye-popping mountain valley screams with artistic inspiration. The added bonus of this trip is the Old West reincarnate known as Bonnie Springs. This tiny town is complete with a train, cowboys, gun fights and even a zoo filled with animals indigenous to the area. If you’re in town with kids, this drive is not only memorable but also very affordable. Snag a couple of disposable cameras and set them to shooting the area’s array of animals and scenery as you roll through town.

Photo Credit: moapapaiutes.com

Interstate 15 to Moapa Paiutes Indian Reservation
Interstate 15, Exit 75
Moapa, NV 89025
(702) 864-2601

Distance: 55 miles one way
Hours: 24/7
Price: free

This final stop takes you 30 miles north of Las Vegas on Interstate 15 to the Moapa Paiutes Indian Reservation. The beautiful area surrounding the reservation is known for its impressive sandstone formations. A little history: The Moapa Paiute Valley was actually a prehistoric flood plain known as the Muddy River. At the reservation, enjoy the one-of-a-kind custom keepsakes, sit down to lunch or pick from the largest selection of fireworks on the west coast.

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Michael E. Esser was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. He has been writing professionally for the last 10 years and has worked as a copywriter, journalist, critic, and freelance writer in several industries. His work can be found at Examiner.com.