The first thing most people think of when thinking of Las Vegas is the strip. Bright blinking neon lights, loud music, and spotlights are more of what people envision in Vegas than wide open spaces, natural park like settings, nature watches, and the beauty of the desert at sunset. Of course that is if you can get a little ways out of Vegas otherwise you'll never notice the sun going down for all the bright lights.
Granted most of these beautiful places to visit are fair distances from Vegas but if you are this close to them it would be a shame to miss out on their beauty for the sake of a car ride. The first one I'd like to mention is Bryce Canyon National Park. It is actually in Utah and about 270 miles from Vegas. The fee to enter is $20 per vehicle but the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. The views you will see are worth every mile and every penny. You should also be on the lookout for some of the wildlife particularly the Great Basin Rattlesnake, bald eagles, and golden eagles. There are beautiful flowers that often bloom in the spring and early summer months if you happen to be visiting at this time it's worth keeping an eye out.
The Grand Canyon is about 300 miles southeast of Vegas. This is another beauty that is well worth seeing if you have a day free or even really to make a priority of. There is a fee to bring your car into the park and you should check to see exactly what the current rate is before making the drive. For most people any fee is well worth experiencing this piece of American legend and lore. You can also opt to take one of many tours that will take you around the canyon and some that will take you to the bottom and back up again. If you are truly brave you should also consider one of the helicopter tours.
Floyd Lamb Park is open each day from 6 in the morning until 7 at night. This park is located about 20 miles from the strip in Vegas. It also has four fully stocked ponds, a barbecue area, and is home to some very interesting fossils and remains. The fossils and remains that have been identified here include the following: bison, mammoths, camels, giant sloths, and horse among other animals. This area became a state park in 1977 and visitors who have a fishing license for Nevada may fish in any of the park's ponds but there is a limit of three fish per person.
Lake Mead is another great area nearby in which to enjoy the great outdoors of the Nevada desert. Lake Mead is a man-made lake and the 16th largest of its kind in this hemisphere. This lake was created by the Colorado River and the Hoover Dam and is about 1.5 million acres (I don't know about you but that figure to me is actually staggering). This area is a very popular area for boating, swimming, and as wildlife observation area.
If you love the great outdoors there are plenty of places to get out there and enjoy nature in and around the Las Vegas area. You can do a lot more than view wildlife in any of these parks and each one offers something special to those that visit. I would hope that you could enjoy them all, however I would recommend that you spend at least one day of your trip outdoors in nature somewhere.