The Vegas Strip is the first place that comes to mind when most people think of Las Vegas. It’s understandable and in 2016 approximately three-quarters of all visitors to Las Vegas stayed in a hotel within the Strip Corridor. Much like all major cities that are vacation destinations, there’s more to Las Vegas than just the Vegas Strip.
According to the Las Vegas Visitors Profile by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, more people decided to explore beyond the Vegas Strip in 2016 than previous years. In fact, 21% of those survey said they visited somewhere else near Las Vegas. That’s an increase from 14% in 2012 and 16% in 2014 who explored beyond the Vegas Strip.
As usual, the majority of exploration away from Las Vegas took people to the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon. The most common responses of places visited in the Visitor Profile were the Grand Canyon (65%), Hoover Dam (57%), Zion National Park (12%, down from 20% in 2014), and Lake Mead (11%, down from 21% in 2012). Eight percent each said Bryce Canyon (down from 15% in 2014), Mt. Charleston/ Lee Canyon (up from 2% in 2014), and Red Rock. Six percent (6%) said Death Valley (down from 13% in 2014), 5% each mentioned the Valley of Fire (down from 10% in 2014) and Laughlin (up from 3% in 2014), and 2% mentioned Primm, Nevada, (up from less than 1% in 2014).
Not nearly enough of the respondents visited the nearby National Parks. Even though Red Rock is a “National Conservation Area,” it’s not technically a park. There are more than 400 National Parks around the country and a handful of National Parks in and around the state of Nevada. Not only are these a great place to explore nature but for short periods throughout the year, entry to the National Parks will be free.
National Park Week takes place from April 15 to 23, 2017. This is this a celebration of National Parks and a great excuse to explore parts of Nevada away from the Vegas Strip. Death Valley, Great Basin, Lake Mead, and Tule Springs Fossil Beds are all a quick drive from Las Vegas. You can find information on each National Park here.
Each of these National Parks charges an entry fee that will be waived throughout the year. Here are the dates for free entry to National Parks around the state of Nevada.
- April 22-23 (Weekends of National Park Week)
- August 25: National Park Service Birthday
- September 30: National Public Lands Day
- November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend
While prices on the Vegas Strip continue to rise, visitors are looking for other places to supplement the fun during vacation. If you’re looking for some low rolling in the casinos you can head to downtown Las Vegas or casinos all over town. If you’re looking for fresh air and nature, you can head out to the national parks all over the state.
Marc Meltzer covers Las Vegas, gaming and men’s lifestyle for various outlets. Check out his blog at Edge Vegas.