The entertainment capital of the world also offers access to world-class outdoor recreation and camping.
Las Vegas may be best known for its neon lights, casinos, and entertainment, but it also offers a surprising number of options for outdoor adventures. Within just an hour of the Strip, you can go hiking, biking, rock climbing, horseback riding, and off-roading on epic terrain, and enjoy all sorts of water activities. Even snow sports can be found nearby in winter. Camping options are just as diverse, from casino-affiliated and independent RV parks full of amenities within city limits, to dispersed and developed national park and state park campgrounds in and near the desert, mountains, and lakes.
Camping options inside Las Vegas are limited to private RV parks and resorts, including some that come with casino amenities and full hookups. Just 20 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip is the Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, which offers fantastic rock climbing, hiking, biking, and horseback riding. One seasonal campground offers space for tents, RVs, and groups. Campers can also overnight in the backcountry above 5,000 feet or get bivy permits to stay overnight on climbing walls and summit areas. For wildlife and free primitive, backcountry, and dispersed car camping, head north to the massive Desert National Wildlife Refuge.
Set 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas and just 6 miles from Lake Mead National Recreation area, Valley of Fire State Park is known for its surreal red sandstone terrain of canyons and cliffs in the Mojave Desert. There are two campgrounds inside the park for tent and RV camping, including one open year-round. Dispersed camping options can also be found just outside the west and east entrances to the park.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area offers 1.5 million acres of mountains, canyons and two lakes, Lake Mead and Lake Mohave. Getting out on the water is the main draw here, though biking and hiking trails are also available. More than a dozen national park and concessionaire-run campgrounds offer around 900 tents and RV sites, including the convenient Boulder Beach Campground just minutes from Las Vegas. Campers can also enjoy vehicle, horseback, shoreline, and backcountry camping.
Just 30 minutes from Las Vegas, Mount Charleston, as the area is better known, is part of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. With snow-capped peaks, it’s a local favorite for escaping the desert and summer heat, and to go hiking, biking, and rock climbing. There’s a ski resort in the winter. Several developed campgrounds offer tent and RV sites, including the year-round Fletcher View Campground. Cabins are available at the Mount Charleston Lodge, while three wilderness areas are nearby for campers seeking solitude.
Summer is the most popular time for visiting the Lake Mead area. Summer temperatures can be brutally hot, making it unsafe for most other outdoor recreation, and many desert campgrounds will be closed. Spring and fall offer the best weather for being active outdoors, when camping is especially popular. In winter, head to Mount Charleston and the Spring Mountains to enjoy snow sports.