If you, like many, are laboring under the misapprehension that Las Vegas is composed of one large strip of hotels encircled only by miles and miles of characterless suburban sprawl, you’ll be surprised at the variety of parks the city has to offer.
In fact, there are dozens of parks right in the city, from the public art-filled Park Vegas to Springs Preserve, whose history of civilization dates back to at least 500 A.D., when ancient people thrived around its natural springs.
Among the parks, you’ll find wetlands and oases, red rock wonders and urban constructions you can easily access from The Strip (which arguably belongs on this list as a giant amusement park). A note: We have purposely limited this list to parks within Las Vegas or within very close proximity. We go further afield in other lists that explore the best hikes and trails around Las Vegas.
This 180-acre, $250 million Mojave Desert preserve, 3 miles west of the Strip, takes visitors through museums, galleries, and a living collection full of Gila monsters, foxes, and nocturnal critters (think recluse spiders, sidewinders, and black widows). The most interesting biological resource in southern Nevada, Springs Preserve is also one of the state's oldest archaeological treasures. Nomadic Native American tribes lived at the Springs 12,000 years ago, and in the 19th century, the grounds were used as a campsite along the Mormon Road between California and Salt Lake City. Don’t miss the butterfly habitat and the botanical gardens, which host more than 1,200 species of native plants. The flash flood exhibit in the springs’ Origen Museum is an alarmingly realistic recreation of the natural desert phenomenon.
You’ll know you’re close to the Downtown Container Park when you see its 40-foot-tall, fire-breathing praying mantis sculpture, which guards the entrance. Some might say that it’s a stretch to call this construction of 40 old shipping containers housing retail shops, bars, restaurants, and an ultra-HD entertainment experience a park—but being Vegas, we’ll call it what we like. Did we mention there’s also a wedding chapel? For those who are sticklers for conventional park features, look toward its center for the treehouse play area with a 33-foot slide for both kids and adults.
The main attraction at this 680-acre, wildlife-packed Floyd Lamb Park is the historic Tule Springs Ranch, a cluster of historic buildings that are great examples of early ranches in the area—including an adobe hut that’s the oldest building in the park. Wander the trails, and you’ll see peacocks, geese, and ducks among the several ponds that dot the park; a lake full of rainbow trout; and maybe, if you’re lucky, one of the burrowing owls that live here. If you have the time, sign up for horseback rides offered at the equestrian center.
Around 30 miles of incredible hiking trails, mountain biking, and rock climbing up the stunning faces of deep red Aztec sandstone cliffs make Red Rock Canyon, Nevada’s first National Conservation Area, hugely popular with Vegas visitors who want to take time out from the gaming tables. Nearly 200,000 acres, it’s a great area for those who love a little Vegas glitz with their nature: Red Rock sits only minutes from the Summerlin area, a large development west of the Strip. Take the easy loop that goes around the park and split off for dozens of hikes that range from super-easy to expert.
Another verdant natural springs area in the Las Vegas Valley, Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is just down the road from Red Rock Canyon on Highway 159. Its early working ranch was used as a luxury retreat by marquee-name owners, including Howard Hughes, who owned the 25,000-acre parcel in the foothills of Red Rock long before it was developed into one of the earliest and largest master-planned communities in the US: Summerlin. You can still visit the ranch house itself, whose interior has been preserved, and which now functions as a visitor center. The park is home to some of the oldest buildings in the state, including an 1860s blacksmith shop. There are hiking trails throughout the park, and shaded picnic sites dot its many scenic acres. If you’re here in the summer, join the hundreds of locals that come to enjoy outdoor evening plays on its grassy meadows during Super Summer Theatre.
The space between T-Mobile Arena, Park MGM, and New York-New York Hotel & Casino is one of the liveliest (and most needed) public areas on the Las Vegas Strip. For The Park Vegas, the idea of a traditional park has been reimagined, and is surrounded with open-air restaurants, plenty of hangout spaces, and a 40-foot-tall sculpture ("Bliss Dance") that’s become iconic on The Strip. Those in for a Las Vegas Golden Knights game or concert at the arena will find everything from a fried chicken and waffle sandwich joint to a wildly entertaining, two-floor sushi restaurant with its own private sake label. Of course, if you came just to get a break from the confines of your Strip hotel, that’s fine, too. There’s plenty of space just to wander around and get some fresh air.
A former ranch—and later a stock farm that trained thoroughbred racehorses—Clark County bought this spot near McCarran International Airport and turned it into a public park in 1967. Sunset Park is one of the largest parks in the city, with nearly 190 out of its 323 acres developed into tennis, volleyball, and basketball courts; softball fields; dog parks; playgrounds; and picnic areas. There's even a lake where you can fish (so long as you have a one-day license issued by the Nevada Department of Wildlife). Recently, walking trails have been added through the natural mesquite. Don’t miss the dunes—the last remaining natural dunes that used be found all over the southern end of the Las Vegas valley.
If you weren’t aware Las Vegas has a wetlands area, you wouldn’t be the first. Between Las Vegas and Lake Mead, Clark County Wetlands Park is 2,900 acres, making it the largest park in the county. Though it is a constructed wetlands (it was fabricated to reduce the impact of waste water and stormwater runoff by creating ponds that can slow its flow), it’s a wetlands, nonetheless. The park has a thriving community of snowy egrets, burrowing owls, wood ducks, and herons, as well as more than 70 species of mammals and reptiles. You can take a picnic to its various picnic areas, and walk around the 210-acre nature preserve.