Although Las Vegas is surrounded by desert, there are still some great places where Mother Nature puts on a show in the fall. Here are nine scenic locations where you can see the stunning fall foliage that is most beautiful in its natural setting.
1. Spring Mountains National Recreation Area
It only takes about 45 minutes to get to this beautiful location, also known as Mt. Charleston to the locals. On the Kyle Canyon side, there is a forest of Aspen and oak trees. When the leaves begin to turn, it’s a beautiful place to hike and camp.
2. Floyd Lamb Park
This park is less than 15 miles from the center of Las Vegas. It’s a Nevada desert oasis best known for its natural springs and lake, but it has a lot of cottonwood and oak trees with leaves that dress up in stunning shades of yellow and orange in the fall. The four lakes in the park are stocked with many kinds of fish for fishing. Be sure to bring binoculars for birdwatching and your camera for taking landscape photos.
3. Great Basin National Park
You’ll want to plan an overnight trip to the Great Basin National Park. It’s about 290 miles from Las Vegas but worth the drive. The area is rather remote. Baker is the closest town, and it has limited resources. The fall colors are stunning in the park, but there is a lot more to do when you’re there. Plan to tour the Lehman Caves. Return at night to enjoy an astronomy program without light pollution.
4. Zion National Park
This national park is in Utah, but it’s only about 160 miles from Las Vegas. The oaks and cottonwoods are absolutely amazing any time of the year, but they really show off in the fall. Take Route 9 to Highway 89 for the most scenic drive. Plan a weekend trip to this beautiful location with tons of history to have a chance to really explore the park. The rangers lead activities and tours from April through mid-October. Go to the visitor center to check the schedule.
5. Rainbow Canyon Scenic Drive, Caliente
Caliente is often thought of as a rest stop on US Highway 93, but it’s actually a popular place where you can escape the heat of southern Nevada. It’s about 150 miles away from Las Vegas, and once you take the scenic drive, you’ll want to plan some time to explore the town. The train depot was built in 1905 in the Spanish Mission style. It’s now a museum. For a glimpse into the past, visit the Elgin schoolhouse also located on the grounds.
6. Amargosa Valley
Take I-95 northwest out of Vegas about 90 miles to find the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. The ash trees put on shades of gold and orange. The weather is wonderful. You may see some migrating birds on your drive, but wildlife will be plentiful. Make sure to see Cathedral Canyon, which is at its best at night.
7. Bowers Mansion Regional Park
This park is just 12 miles south of Reno, but it’s about a six-hour drive from Las Vegas. It’s well worth the drive. Take a picnic and have lunch while enjoying the cooler fall temperatures and beautiful colors of autumn. Tour the mansion built in 1864 to explore what life was like in the 1860s in Nevada. The area has many different locations where you can catch a fall show of colors. Visit nearby Dayton and drive along the Carson River for more stunning fall foliage.
8. Ruby Valley Scenic Drive
Take NV-318 north for 350 miles to find this 87-mile long scenic drive that takes you through many different terrains for a fall drive that is full of shades of yellow, gold and orange. When you start in the south, it’s more of a desert, but as you head north, you’ll get some stunning views of the landscape. You can see a lot of waterfowl and other wildlife along the drive.
9. Mojave Desert
Just 150 miles southwest from Las Vegas is a wonderland of cottonwood, ash, polar, sycamore and many other trees which transform the park in the fall. Depending on the nighttime temperatures, you could see shades of orange, yellow, gold, red and purple on your drive.
Remember to get your car serviced at Sun Auto Service this fall before you take it out on the road. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that your car is prepared to take on a road trip.