Basecamp Outdoor Gear Team
Weekend getaways near Las Vegas during winter
Updated: Jan 2
This may be surprising to some, but there are lots of destinations around Las Vegas that are best visited in winter. Here we list some of our favorite places to get away from Las Vegas for a long weekend between the months of December and March. Stay tuned for our summer favorites.
Only four hours from Las Vegas, Flagstaff is a great multi-day basecamp. From here you can take day trips in all directions. Go north to hike along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Drive south along Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona. Head east to Sunset Crater, Wupatki, and Walnut Canyon. Return west to Vegas via the mythical Route 66.
Why is this a great winter destination? In short, less crowds and better hiking weather.
Heads up: If you're planning on camping, make sure to optimize your winter gear. Flagstaff sits in high enough elevation for nighttime temperatures to fall below freezing. The ground is often snow-covered and nights are long. Thankfully Flagstaff has lots of great restaurants and a wide array of accommodations to choose from.
Furnace Creek, California
This may be the best winter camping destination in the entire United States. It doesn't get too hot during the day and it doesn't get too cold at night. Goldielocks would be pleased here.
Less than two hours from Las Vegas, make Furnace Creek your basecamp for a few nights. Take one day to explore the must-see Death Valley stops: Dante's View, Zabriskie Point, Badwater, Artist Palette, and the Sand Dunes. On day two drive to Ubehebe Crater, Rhyolite Ghost Town, and time an evening show at the Amargosa Opera House. End your trip with a dip at Tecopa Hot Springs. Got a high-clearance vehicle? Cancel everything else and drive to the Racetrack.
Why is this a great winter destination? Comfortable temperatures aside, this is a great winter destination because it's as pretty at night as it is during the day. There's no need to rush to arrive at your destination before sunset.
Bonus: All of these places are cool during a nice winter day, but they are really special at night. You'll keep coming back for more to check them out in the blazing sun, under cloudy skies, during a rainstorm, at a full moon event, or a no moon night.
Longer weekend destinations
If you have at least 4 days and don't mind a bit more of a drive from Vegas, then we highly recommend the following destinations:
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument on Scenic Byway 12
Just north of Bryce Canyon National Park is the seldom-visited and highly underrated Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This is one big open desert expanse with countless opportunities for a getaway. If you travel in a high-clearance or 4WD vehicle, the opportunities open up exponentially.
In a normal passenger car, you can easily reach Kodachrome Basin, Calf Creek, and the "Million Dollars Highway" of Utah. With a high-clearance vehicle, drive the Hole-in-the-Rock Road to the Golden Cathedral or Coyote Gulch trailheads.
6 hours from Las Vegas, Hanksville is a winter wonderland for those who enjoy hiking and/or driving 4WD roads. It takes a bit longer to get there, but the drive is well worth it.
From here you can access slot canyons galore. Join a ranger hike to Horseshoe Canyon. Traveling with kids? Check out Goblin Valley State Park and Little Wild Horse Canyon.
Also 6 hours from Las Vegas, Moab is the setting off point for exploring Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Over the years it has become a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, especially hikers, mountain bikers, rock climbers, and jeep drivers.
And the list goes on...
For more ideas of things to do around Las Vegas in winter, check out these DetourOn travel resources.
If you'd like more information on any of the destinations mentioned please don’t hesitate to contact us. Have a great winter opting outside and happy trails.