Las Vegas, Nevada…Sin city is a vibrant bucket list city to visit, with the greatest casinos in the world, live entertainment and the wildest parties, 24-7!
It’s also close to some incredible natural landmarks such as the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and even Death Valley national park!
Whereas the rocky mountains of Colorado, are a jumping of point for the greatest ski resorts in america, such as aspen and home to historic mining towns such as Durango, Silverton and of course the picturesque Grand Junction, Colorado.
Of course the road trip in-between these two great cities is an epic experience, through the states of Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and of course Colorado! With highlights such as hoover dam and Moab en route!
The question is always asked Denver to Las Vegas or Las Vegas to Denver! The answer generally depends on where you are coming from! Of course geographically if you are in a state closer to Las Vegas you will start there and vice versa. However, flight prices are also a major factor to take into consideration.
Having gotten multiple domestic flights to Las vegas in the past it seems there prices are 20% cheaper then flying to alot of other states! I’ve also spoke to many friends who experienced the same. But why?
Some people theorise that the casinos subsidise the airlines, to Las Vegas to encourage more tourism and thus more gambling! There are no facts publicly backing the argument but the price difference cannot be ignored. Thus flying to vegas is a cost effective option compared with Denver.
If your flying internationally from say Europe, you may find the opposite is true. You may find that flights to Las vegas are more expensive due to the immense popularity of the route! In that case you may prefer to fly into Denver, Colorado or another nearby state and take the trip from there.
Heading out west is a right of passage for many, so take a read of itinerary below to really get some inspiration, which should help with you planning your next road trip!
How Long is the Drive from Las Vegas to Denver?
There are 604.99 miles from Denver to Las Vegas in southwest direction and 749 miles (1,205.40 kilometers) by car, following the I-70 W route. If you were driving directly there it would only take you 11-14 hours.
For this journey we have spread the trip over a 12 day Las Vegas to Denver Itinerary…but it easily could have been much longer, with so many amazing sights en route.
Las Vegas to Denver Road Trip Map:
(From my last road trip I have created this Map of the Las Vegas to Colorado Road trip and popular attractions en route. To use it, simply share to your facebook (click the link top right), email it or just turn your phone sideways and use it on your phone! )
(For Webmasters, why not embed this map into website to inspire your readers)
Las Vegas to Denver Road Trip Itinerary:
Budget Las Vegas Itinerary:
Las Vegas is the type of place where you can spend alot, so as we still had a big road trip to go on, we decided to be smarter and more savvy! Check out our 2 day Itinerary below which includes a host of true las Vegas activities with many for free.
Day 1: Arrival in Las Vegas
After getting off your flight, head down into Las Vegas strip to take in the Bright lights and big city!
When should I rent my car?
You have two options here, either rent a car from the airport now or wait until you set off to Denver, Colorado. This all depends on your budget, convenience and how many days you wish to spend in Vegas.
We chose to rent now, as we figured we would probably spend quite alot on taxis and transport anyway over the first 2 days.
The Las Vegas Strip – Free
Afterwards head down to the famous Las Vegas Strip! You will see the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” along Las Vegas Boulevard South before coming to the strip.
This is an astonishing place to take in “Vegas”, landmarks include Bellagio Fountains and the popular landmarks from around the world: The Sphinx, the pyramid, the Eiffel Tower at Paris and of course The Venetian’s Grand Canal.
How to explore the Las Vegas strip?
The Las Vegas strip runs from Mandalay Bay in the south to Stratosphere casino in the north. Where you’ll find the Stratosphere tower, towering at 1149 feet tall making it the tallest observation tower in the USA. Great place to capture a classic Las Vegas photo.
Exploring the Las Vegas Strip by car?
If you have your rental car, simply take a cruise down the strip and soak up the sights along the way.
Can I explore the Las Vegas Strip on foot?
If you didn’t rent a car yet you can take a stroll down the Las Vegas Strip yourself. The whole thing is around 4 miles so be wear comfy shoes and be prepared for a walk!
You could also take a guided tour of the strip and benefit from the local knowledge.
Exploring the Las Vegas Strip via Bus?
Deuce Bus offers bus rides from the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas to the south of the strip. These services run 24/7.
Exploring the Las Vegas Strip by Monorail?
You can also take the Monorail from the MGM Grand and Sahara Avenue.
Helicopter Tours over the Strip?
If you really want a bucket list experience then take a Helicopter ride over the strip. This is the most incredible way of seeing the whole of Las Vegas! There are even tours over the strip and to the Grand canyon!
Bellagio Casino and Fountains – Free
Check out the Bellagio Casino & Fountains, on the main strip. Here you can immerse yourself into some exciting table games from the slots, to sports betting. This place attracts many high rollers and even the World Poker Tour. A great place to people watch or get involved.
Location: 3600 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Caesars Palace Casino & The Forum Shops
A staple of the Vegas Strip, Caesars Palace has been an iconic Casino in Las Vegas since the 1960s. It has even been in popular movies such as “The Hangover” and “Iron Man”. The decor is based on Ancient Rome and is truly immersive with large columns and roman frescoes amore.
The Mob Museum
Sin city has always had a dark side, big money, high rollers and excess will always attract organised crime. The Mob Museum, has a variety of interactive exhibits dedicated to Mob life in vegas.
The Venetian Casino and Grand Canal
No need to travel to Italy, take in the highlights of Venice right from Vegas. Here you can take a gondola ride on the Grand Canal and see live entertainment, such as stilt walkers, singers and living statues.
Just 5 minutes walk from the Mob Museum is Fremont Street. Attractions include a:
- Iconic Casinos
- Viva Vision light show with 12.5 million LED lamps and a 550,000-watt sound system.
- Food Vendors
- Souvenir Shops
- Slotzilla Zip Line 10 stories above the pedestrian walkway!
Here you will find lots of buskers and crazy entertainment, including many half naked strippers!
Evening Show: Cirque du Soleil
For the evening show we heading to Cirque du Soleil. Which translates to circus of the sun, is a bucket list experience of dare devil acrobatics and true artistry! This is a great family activity, tickets can be expensive but I think it’s worth it if you have a good seat.
Day 2: Las Vegas
Mandalay Bay Casino, Aquarium and Beach
Mandalay Bay is a Casino, Aquarium and Beach!
Mandalay Bay Beach
The Mandalay Bay Beach is man made and has over 2,700 tons of sand and a 1.6 million gallon wave pool to create an oceanside atmosphere in the middle of the Nevada desert.
They have rentable cabanas where you can relax and get a tan, you can also head to the Moorea Beach Club.
Shark Reef: Aquarium
Shark Reef aquarium houses over 2,000 animals which include: stingrays, sea turtles, crocodiles and of course, sharks!
How much are tickets?
Admission is $25 for adults and $19 for children ages 4 to 12 (children ages 3 and younger can enter for free). (Discounts are available for senior citizens and Nevada residents).
New York & the Big Apple Rollercoaster
No need to head to the big apple, it’s all right here in Las Vegas. A mock up of Manhattan includes all the New York highlights such as the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge .
High Roller Observation Wheel
As the tallest observation wheel in the world , high roller stands 550 feet tall and offers breath taking views over las vegas.
Paris & Eiffel Tower Experience
Having heading to the Venetian canals yesterday, now it’s time to say Bonjour! This is a miniature mock up of the major Paris attractions which include: the Eiffel Tower (Half size replica), Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre decor.
Head up to the observation deck with 360 degree views of “Paris”
How much does it cost?
Tickets cost $16 or $22 (depending on if you visit during the day or at night).
Day 3: Hoover Dam & Lake Mead via Route 66
Before heading out of Las Vegas, head to the local store and grab some road trip snacks and drinks as there is not much once you leave the big city.
Hoover dam is located just 45 minutes drive from central Las vegas. On the border between Nevada and Arizona. Head along I-515 S and I-11 S. This huge concrete dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River.
The dam’s generators provide power for public and private utilities in all over Nevada, Arizona, and California. It is also a major tourist attraction with over one million people visiting annually.
At its base, Hoover Dam is as thick (660 ft.) as two footballs fields measured end-to-end!
How much is admission to Hoover Dam?
It is FREE to walk or drive across Hoover Dam and the Colorado River Bridge. However, if you wish to park up, or take a tour there is a charge. Parking is $10 or $30 per person for a 1 hour tour of hoover dam which includes entry to the visitor center.
Lake Mead is less then 20 mins drive from Hoover Dam, you can also take a hike which takes around 2 hours (6 miles) via the historic railroad hiking trail.
Lake Mead is a man made lake and the largest reservoir in the United States in terms of water capacity.
Thing to do at Lake Mead:
Lake Mead is best experienced by Boat, due to it’s vast size. However, you can also check out the campgrounds, lodges and hiking trails.
Where to stay?
Afterwards we took the 3 hr drive via route 66 to Williams, Arizona. (US-93 S and I-40 E).
Day 4: Grand Canyon, Arizona
From Williams you can take a drive up to Grand Canyon. You can head to the ever popular south rim which is open all year round and can get really busy. Or Alternatively head to less crowded north rim for a more authentic experience.
Opening Months – May 15th – October 15th.
(North Rim roads are closed to vehicles between December 1st and May 15th, and no visitor services are available. ) NPS
Highlights of the North Rim:
- Popular Hiking Trails – North Kaibab Trail, South Kaibab Trail & Bright Angel Trails.
- Camping at the North Rim Campground. Permits required.
Day 5: Grand Canyon – More exploring!
Either spend a few nights in the North Rim or check out the South Rim.
Highlights of South Rim/Hiking:
- Bright Angel trail
- Tusayan Ruins
- Moran Point lookout
- Desert View lookout.
If you really fancy exploring the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, I suggest doing it in a more unique way check out:
Day 6: Monument Valley, Utah
Head to the Monument Valley, via the Painted Desert, which offers many breath taking overlooks, which you definitely have to pull over for!
Tribal Park Loop:
Monument Valleys 17 mile loop is one most incredible driving roads in america!
Characterised by it’s sandstone towers & buttes of the Navajo Tribal Park. This is a popular filming location for many of the great western movies. This is a dirt and gravel road that starts and ends at the Monument Valley Visitor Center.
Vital Note 1: If it rains the road can become very difficult and impassable, even with a 4×4.
Vital Note 2: This is the only part of Monument Valley you can visit without taking a tour
Most of the views can be experienced on the drive through Monument Valley and stopping of at various points along the way. I suggest spending 2-4 hours here to really experience the views and take some good photographs.
A 4×4 with high clearance will give you an advantage if you wish to explore other routes but is it possible with standard vehicles.
John Ford Point
This is a must see, view point along the route.
Forrest Gump Point:
Located on US-163, this is the place where you see those epic pictures of Monument Valley captured and is featured in the Forrest Gump Movie. It is located just 20 minutes from the visitor centre.
Insider Tip 1:
Use these GPS coordinates in your Sat Nav for the exact location as it can be difficult to find: 37.101393, -109.990973.
Insider Tip 2:
Everybody wants that epic photograph with no one else around. Unfortunately, it’s pretty difficult with lots of tourists taking photos and sun glare.
You best option, is to head their in the Morning, midday and early afternoon. Don’t head their in the late afternoon/early evening as you will be facing the dun and get glare! With the tourists there just be patient!
Do I need a guide?
To go of the valley drive and explore the area more you will NEED a tour.
The trailhead is just a short walk on Indian Route 42. The Wildcat Trail is the only self-guided trail in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.
However, this route offers some world-class scenery as it takes hikers, through the world renowned Mitten Buttes and Merrick Buttes. For other hiking routes you will need a guide.
How much does it cost to enter Monument Valley?
Fees and Permits: The entrance fee for Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is $10 per person or $20 per vehicle. Children 9 and younger are free.
Where to stay?
Head to the Mexican Hat rock formation, just of the main road. Take the easy to drive up the flat dirt road. This is strange looking rock formation will astound you! Nearby you can stay in a few inns or even a yurt!
- Hat Rock Inn
- Mexican Hat Lodge LLC
- San Juan Inn
My favourite place to stay in Monument Valley:
The View Hotel
The View Hotel offers a selection accommodations on for varying budgets. The best but also most pricey is the rooms with large windows overlooking Monument Valley. The Premium Cabins are amazing, waking up with spectacular views of Monument Valley is a breath taking experience.
Day 7: Valley of Gods & Monument Valley Tour
Just 30 minutes from Mexican Hat, you can take a drive up Valley of the Gods Road. ( UT-261 S and US-163 S. )
There less tourists here so it’s a great place to take a drive!
Tour of Monument Valley:
There are a variety of tours which allow you to truly explore monument valley.
- The Valley Drive on a Tour – Driving tour, for those who don’t feel comfortable driving the dirt road by themselves.
- Lower Monument Valley – This takes you around the totem pole and other rock formation highlights. $80 per person average and last 3 hours.
- Mystery Valley – The most popular tour which takes you to the petroglyphs and Anasazi sites. ($90 per person and last 3 to 4 hours.)
- Teardrop Arch
Teardrop Arch Tour:
We took the Tear drop arch tour, although not as popular as the others, it’s a true off the beaten track experience. Prices average $80 and it lasts 2-3 hours.
Day 8: Moab, Utah
Take the 2h, 30 min (133 mile) drive to Moab Utah from Monument Valley, via US-191 N. On your first day here take the easy hike up to Bowtie Arch (suitable for families) before heading to the Mill Canyon Dinosaur trial to see some ancient dinosaur bones!
- Canyonlands National Park
- Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail
- Bowtie Arch
Day 9: Moab – Arches National Park
- Hike the Devil’s Garden Trail.
- Hike to Delicate Arch.
- Drive the scenic road.
- See the Fiery Furnace.
If you have more time head to Dead Horse Point State Park, this was featured in the movie, Mission Impossible 2! Tom Cruise can be seen free climbing the famous butte, during the opening credits.
Day 10: Grand Junction, Colorado
Take the 1hr , 40 minute drive (109 miles) via I-70E over the state line to Grand Junction, Colorado.
Spend the day exploring, Colorado National Monument. Take a hike, climb or even a horseback ride!
Hiking the National Monument offering some spectacular views which rival almost any western national park but without the huge crowds!
The Monument canyon trail winds past some immense rock formations such the “Kissing Couple” and Independence tower. The views are breathtaking as the route takes you between 4,700 and 7,000 feet above sea level.
Alternatively take a ride on some wild mustangs on one of the popular tours! Afterwards head to the Dinosaur Journey Museum.
During the evening head to Grand Junction’s quaint downtown, to talk about your days adventures over a few local beers and tasty foods. Cafe Sol, is a nice spot for lunch with fresh salads and sandwiches. If you love a beer, check out Rockslide Brewery.
Day 12: Glenwood Hot Springs
Glenwood hot springs is the largest mineral pool in the world, the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool is one of the hottest in Colorado. A must visit for any road trip!
Glenwood Hot Springs Resort
Day 12: Denver, Colorado
Take the drive down to Denver, Colorado from the hot springs. This takes around 2 hours (96 miles) via US-40 E and I-70 E.
16th Street Mall
The 16th Street Mall is to Denver, is like Denvers Rodeo Drive. Expect a variety of stores, entertainment venues and restaurants.
Denver Art Museum
Union Station – For Foodies!
Listed in our recent article: Epic Food Hall Road Trip USA: 21 Best Food Halls!
Union station is “Denvers living room” and includes unique eclectic array of Denvers top local restaurants, bars and shops! All located inside the 100 year old landmark.
Molly Brown House Museum
Denver Bontanical Garden
The Denver Botanic Gardens hosts 24 acres of beautiful gardens, with over 50 types! The Gardens here range from Japanese Garden (with Bonsai Trees) as standard to a South African Garden. For More Gardening inspiration check out: 21 Epic Flower/Garden Festivals: U.S.A
- Jogging Paths
- Eight Tennis Courts
- Boat Rentals
- Recreation Centre – Pool, fitness classes.