There’s no other vacation spot quite like Las Vegas. But the trip to Las Vegas is part of the fun if you are driving.
There’s plenty to see along the way, no matter where in the U.S. Southwest or West you are coming from. Below are some best bets for places to stop while driving to Las Vegas, from your friends at Sam & Ash, LLP in Las Vegas and Newport Beach, CA.
Los Angeles to Las Vegas Driving Stops
Countless travelers have been made the 265-mile drive from Los Angeles across the desert into Vegas on I-15. You can make the trip in about 4 hours or so, or you could create some memories along the way.
- Mormon Rocks. First, you want to get out of the city, but while you’re still in San Bernardino, check out the Mormon Rocks at the top of the Cajon Pass. They’re about a mile off of the interstate, but you can’t miss these large sandstone formations pushing up from the floor of the desert. There’s a visitor center and a one-mile loop trail at the Mormon Rocks fire station located on Highway 138 just west of I-15.
- Route 66. Until you get outside of Victorville, I-15 follows the fabled Route 66. But getting off the interstate and onto the stretch of Route 66 between Victorville and Barstow takes you past a unique collection of Americana that includes retro diners, vintage gas stations, antique shops, and, in Oro Grande, Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch. Here, thousands of green, blue, brown, and clear glass bottles have been dangled from a forest of mostly metal trees by a white-bearded local retiree named Elmer Long. The Route 66 “Mother Road” Museum in the old train station in Barstow has displays about the historic route and lots of trains to check out near the building.
- Calico Ghost Town. Just across I-40 in Yermo, Calico Ghost Town is an Old West mining town dating to 1881 that was abandoned in the mid-1890s after silver lost its value. Walter Knott bought Calico in the 1950s and restored all but the five original buildings to look as they did in the 1880s. Today, Calico is part of the San Bernardino County Regional Parks system and has shops and restaurants among its historic setting, and offers camping, hiking, and off-roading.
- Quick Stops: Eventually you do want to get to Las Vegas, but don’t miss the World’s Tallest Thermometer in Baker and Bonnie and Clyde’s death car, the real bullet-ridden Ford Deluxe V-8, at Whiskey Pete’s Hotel and Casino in Primm, Nevada. Just beyond Primm, the Seven Magic Mountains art installation consists of 33 colorful boulders weighing 10-25 tons each that are stacked in seven towers.
- About 20 miles south of Las Vegas, check out the famous Pioneer Saloon, located in Goodsprings, Nevada, about seven miles off I-15. The Old West saloon has appeared in numerous movies and television shows and is well worth a visit.
Traveling to Las Vegas from Arizona
The car ride from Phoenix to the Las Vegas strip is a bit more than 300 miles and should take 4.75 hours without stopping.
If you want to break up a long drive, here are some stops worth making.
- Vulture City. This Sonoran Desert ghost town was established in 1863 to meet the needs of Arizona’s most successful gold mine. Enjoy a self-guided tour of 12 faithfully restored buildings and countless artifacts for a look at the mining culture and lifestyle in the American Southwest in the late 19th century. It’s 12 miles outside of Wickenburg, Arizona. Also in Wickenburg, the Desert Caballeros Western Museum is home to contemporary Western art exhibits, musical features, and Western portrait photography.
- Alpacas of the Southwest. In Kingman, an operating alpaca ranch has been called one of the best places to stop and eat lunch on the Phoenix-to-Vegas trek. In addition to learning about the ranch’s alpacas and seeing them up close, check out the gift shop for a wide variety of Alpaca products.
- Hoover Dam. Hoover Dam lies at the intersection of the southeast corner of Nevada and the northwest corner of Arizona and impounds Lake Mead. Located 30 miles outside Las Vegas, Lake Mead is the largest reservoir by volume in the United States when full and provides the majority of drinking water for Las Vegas. There are guided tours of the Dam, or you can just enjoy the site from atop the dam on your own, including the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, the world’s tallest concrete arch bridge.
Have a Safe Drive to Las Vegas
Travel Nevada, which offers the state’s official travel, tourism, and visitor information, reminds us that Nevada is home to fast-changing weather and sometimes unpredictable roads. It offers travelers some on-road highway driving tips and off-road basics.
- Don’t expect long lonely highways to remain empty at night. If you have to pull over and stop, do so only in safe locations like pullouts and off-the-highway rest stops whenever possible. In an emergency, do your best to pull all the way off the highway with plenty of shoulder space.
- Test those high beams. You’ll need your headlights in rural Nevada at night. A lot of Nevada highways require daytime headlights, too. Keep your eyes out for signs.
- Check ahead for any inclement weather that can make traveling through the low desert and high desert terrain more challenging. Nevada’s deserts make the state’s temperature range extreme.
- Travel prepared, especially through remote locations. Always carry a paper map or atlas. Cell phone connections in rural Nevada aren’t always dependable. Carry extra fuel, water, and food. A solid emergency kit includes a flashlight with extra batteries, a headlamp, jumper cables, a multi-tool such as a Leatherman or Swiss Army Knife, road flares or reflective warning triangles, and windshield cleaner.
- Watch for wildlife. Slow down and stay alert. Keep your eye out for large birds of prey sitting in the middle of the road and for unfenced, open-range cattle in some parts of Nevada.
- Slow down in small towns and ranching communities. Slower moving farm machinery may use the roads.
We hope you have a safe and enjoyable drive. But if you are involved in a car accident in Las Vegas or Southern California that was caused by another motorist, help is available. The attorneys of Sam & Ash are licensed to practice in Nevada and California. With offices in both Las Vegas and Newport Beach (Orange County). We are available to talk with you and help you understand the appropriate steps to take after a serious accident. The consultation is free. Call us today.