A drive from St. Louis to Las Vegas is one of the most unique and interesting road trips you can make. You will be starting your trip in the depths of forested terrain and ending it in a desert. What's beautiful is that this geographical change will happen right in front of your eyes.
The 1,730-mile road trip from St. Louis to Las Vegas will take you 25 hours complete. Major stops include Springfield, Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, Santa Rosa, Mark Twain National Forest, Titanic Museum Attraction, and the Grand Canyon National Park.
Keep on reading to learn some key things about this road trip including our suggestions for the best itinerary.
How far is Las Vegas from St. Louis and how long will the road trip take?
|The New Mexico Route||1,729 miles||25 hours|
|The Colorado Route||1,810 miles||28 hours|
The road trip from St. Louis to Las Vegas is 1,729 miles. If you drive on the New Mexico Route without making stops along the way, it will take you 25 hours. Realistically, you will want to stop along the way to rest and enjoy the amazing attractions.
You can opt to split your drive into at least 4 days, but this means that you will not have time to enjoy beautiful attractions like the world-famous Grand Canyon National Park to their fullest. To make the most out of your road trip, you should set aside a week or more.
There is an alternative route through Colorado, which is just as scenic, and this 1,810-mile trip will take you 28 hours to drive nonstop.
As you leave St. Louis, you will admire landscapes of scenic forest vegetation, lakes, streams, rivers, and rolling hills. The scenery will dramatically change as you near Las Vegas which sits in a basin, dotted with desert vegetation and dry mountain ranges.
On both routes, expect to find a bit of traffic because of the big crowds of people visiting the Grand Canyon National Park and other popular attractions in the area.
Best road trip route from St. Louis to Las Vegas
There are two popular road trip routes from St. Louis to Las Vegas; the New Mexico Route and the Colorado Route. The most common route is the New Mexico Route because of its many attractions and its exciting detour possibilities.
Each of the routes has unique attractions to offer, while both routes have access to the Grand Canyon National Park. However, this will mean taking a longer detour if you are following the Colorado Route compared to the New Mexico Route.
The New Mexico Route
From St. Louis, take Interstate 44 (I-44) and make your first stop in the city of Rolla. Here you can drive off the highway to explore the scenic Mark Twain National Forest, famous for its shaded trails and clear lakes, streams, and rivers.
After your detour, follow I-44 to head to Springfield, which is home to popular attractions like the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium. You can take a detour of Branson city, one of the most popular tourist destinations on this route.
If you choose to make this detour, take Exit 82A just before you enter Springfield, and follow US-65 until you reach Branson. After your visit, take the same route back and merge back onto I-44 in Springfield.
Continue on I-44 and pass by the Tulsa Zoo as you make your way to beautiful Oklahoma City. Here you can indulge in the cowboy culture as you explore the city's offerings including the historical National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
From Oklahoma, you will take I-40 and drive through Amarillo and Santa Rosa, as you make your way to the spectacular Albuquerque city. Here you can also take a detour to the historic city of Santa Fe by following Interstate 25 (I-25).
Take Exit 165 for Arizona 64, which will take you directly into the Grand Canyon Village. After your visit to the world-famous Grand Canyon National Park follow the same route back to get back on I-40 in Williams.
Continue driving on I-40 before taking Exit 48 for US-93 North at Kingman. Take a break at Lake Mead National Recreation Area to enjoy stunning views of the Colorado River just before you reach Boulder City.
Take Interstate 11 (I-11) and continue onto Interstate 515 North (I-515 N), which will take you straight into Las Vegas.
The Colorado Route
Take Interstate 64 (I-64) from St. Louis and then branch off onto Interstate 70 (I-70) by taking Exit 1A. Drive across the wineries and vineyards of New Florence and the lush greenery fields of Columbia as you make your way to Kansas City.
Take a tour of Kansas City to see the different attractions like the historical National WWI Museum and Memorial.
Continue on I-70 which cuts across Topeka, the capital city of Kansas. Ahead, you will find the breathtaking Denver Botanic Gardens, the glorious Mount Evans, and later, the Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs.
I-70 continues to Denver and cuts across White River National Forest and later McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area. Drive past Thompson Springs and take Exit 182 for US-191.
You can visit the breathtaking Arches National Park while you are passing through Moab. Drive south on US-191 and turn right onto US-160 West. Turn left onto US-89 S past Tuba City.
Get onto AZ-64 in Cameron, which will take you to the Grand Canyon. After your visit, follow AZ-64 through the stunning Kaibab National Forest and merge onto Interstate 40 (I-40) in Williams.
Follow the same directions as the New Mexico Route to reach your destination in Las Vegas.
Best places to stop between St. Louis and Las Vegas
Given the length of the road trip from St. Louis to Las Vegas, you will need to make several stops to find hotels or resorts where you can spend a good night. Here is a look at some of the best hotels:
Experience the cowboy culture in Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City (around 7 and a half hours along our New Mexico Route) is known for its cowboy culture, entertainment, and American football. There are many attractions to see with one of them being the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum which celebrates Western history and culture.
The best hotel to spend your night in, after living your best cowboy life, is Ambassador Hotel Oklahoma City, Autograph Collection. This luxurious hotel's proximity to Oklahoma City's popular attractions makes it every traveler's choice.
From the hotel, you can walk to the Myriad Botanical Gardens, Oklahoma City Zoo, and Frontier City, the western-themed amusement park. The hotel's downtown location means that you get to experience the best of the city's entertainment within walking distance.
On your way back you can stop at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art to enjoy world-class exhibitions, films, and arts education.
After a long day spent exploring Oklahoma, you can enjoy swimming in the luxurious hotel's outdoor pool and later a delicious meal delivered to your room from a restaurant of your choice, or enjoyed at the hotel's French cafe, Café Cuvée.
Have a culinary feast in Kansas
Located about 4 hours from St. Louis along the Colorado Route, Kansas City is world-renowned for its unique barbecue culture, but that is not all that is great about this bustling city. Here, you will find an impressive variety of activities for lovers of history, arts, sports and more.
If you are looking for luxurious accommodation in the heart of downtown, Crossroads Hotel is one of the most fantastic choices for an overnight stay. Your time in this uniquely decorated designer hotel will surely be memorable.
Penn Valley Park is less than half an hour's walk from the hotel and houses the National WWI Museum and Memorial, which is dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding WWI and its lasting effects.
If you are not a history buff, you can instead head to SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium at the Crown Center nearby to marvel at the fascinating variety of marine life that call this place home.
Make sure to sample the city's famous barbecue during your visit. Many of the world-famous and award-receiving restaurants are located downtown, just a short walk or drive from the hotel. After your barbecue feast, you can enjoy a nightcap at the hotel's hip bar.
Unwind at The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon
One of your road trip's highlights will definitely be a tour of the Grand Canyon National Park. It is quite an extensive attraction to tour that you will want to dedicate at least several days if you want to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime adventure to the fullest.
Since the tour entails a lot of hiking in the scorching heat of the desert, you will want to relax and unwind after your exhilarating day. The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon is one of the top choices in the area with its fabulous accommodation options and extensive amenities.
The renowned hotel is located only a mile from the Grand Canyon's scenic South Rim entrance, making it easy for tourists to access the Grand Canyon National Park and a great base for your adventures.
Whether you choose to hike, ride a mule, go rafting or take a helicopter tour, you will have an amazing adventure in the Grand Canyon. After your day outdoors, you can head back to the hotel for a well-deserved rest.
You can soak in the hot tub for a relaxing evening or watch the beautiful sunset in the distinctive hues of the Grand Canyon with a cocktail before heading to the restaurant on-site for an upscale dining experience.
Things to see on a road trip from St. Louis to Las Vegas
The road trip from St. Louis to Las Vegas has so much to offer that you cannot exhaust everything in one trip. For this road trip, here are some of the top attractions you can explore:
The New Mexico Route
- Mark Twain National Forest, Rolla - Named after the author, Mark Twain, this forest is renowned for its rocky bluffs, hiking trails, streams, rivers, and lakes.
- Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium, Springfield - Voted America's Best Aquarium, it is the largest wildlife and fish aquarium in the world.
- The Titanic Museum Attraction, Branson - This museum in Branson celebrates the history of possibly the most famous ship in the world, Titanic, by showcasing pre-discovery artefacts.
- Branson Scenic Railway, Branson - Take a scenic trip across Lake Taneycomo and over the Ozark Mountains on one of the vintage railcars.
- Tulsa Zoo, Tulsa - An advocate for wildlife welfare, this nonprofit zoo is located across 85 acres in Mohawk Park and houses animals from all over the world in its numerous complexes.
- National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City - A historic museum that preserves and showcases Western art and artifacts.
- Oklahoma City Zoo, Oklahoma City - A renowned zoo with animals such as elephants, tigers, and African lions. It has a lush green botanical garden.
- Myriad Botanical Gardens, Oklahoma City - A stunning green space, these gardens are a natural escape in the heart in downtown Oklahoma City.
- Frontier City, Oklahoma City - Take a trip back in time and visit Oklahoma's oldest theme park, where adventure awaits guests of all ages.
- Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City -This museum is home to a permanent collection of European and American art including one of the world's largest collections of Dale Chihuly art glass.
- Blue Hole, Santa Rosa - You can take a dip in the breathtaking turquoise blue waters of the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa.
- Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque - This is a park dedicated to the protection of a petroglyph site that features carved symbols and designs by ancient Spanish settlers and Native Americans.
- Sandia Peak Tramway, Albuquerque - Take an unforgettable ride on this aerial tramway which is the third-longest single-span tramway in the world.
- New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Albuquerque - Take a trip back in time in this museum that exhibits Jurassic era replicas and rare finds of dinosaurs.
- The Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona - Explore the beauty of this geological wonder, including the history of its formation.
The Colorado Route
- Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, Columbia - Scramble, hike, and bicycle through this scenic park where you can also see a large cave system with its rock bridge, sinkholes, a spring and underground stream.
- National WWI Museum and Memorial, Kansas City - A museum dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding WWI and its lasting effects.
- SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium, Kansas City - Escape into a 180-degree underwater tunnel, and marvel at the fascinating variety of marine life in this complex.
- Legoland Discovery Center, Kansas City - Fun adventures for the whole family await in this large indoor playground based on the world's favorite building blocks.
- Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver - One of the top five botanic gardens in the nation, this oasis in the city offers year-round events.
- Mount Evans, Denver - Enjoy the breathtaking views alpine lakes, massive granite walls and ancient pine
- Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs, Steamboat Springs - Relax in 104 degree Fahrenheit mineral water and enjoy a massage in one of the beautiful private massage huts or a watsu therapy in our private pool.
- White River National Forest, Colorado - World-renowned recreation destination, which is home to iconic Maroon Bells and Hanging Lake as well as 11 ski resorts.
- McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, Fruita - Be stunned by the red-rock cliffs of Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness in this area where you can also enjoy flatwater boating, mountain biking and visiting an active dinosaur quarry,
- Arches National Park, Moab - This park contains world's largest concentration of natural sandstone arches and offers a variety of trails for hikers of any level.
- Kaibab National Forest, Arizona - Bordering the south rims of the Grand Canyon, this forest is the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in the USA.
- Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Boulder City - You can swim, boat, hike, cycle, camp and fish at America's first and largest national recreation area.
- Walnut Canyon National Monument, Flagstaff - Take a hike here to see curved canyon walls and to explore the history of the Ancestral Puebloans of Flagstaff.
- Bellagio Fountain, Las Vegas - This is a choreographed magical aquatic performance by water fountains in Las Vegas.
Best time to go on a road trip from St. Louis to Las Vegas
The best time to go on a road trip from St. Louis to Las Vegas largely depends on the attractions and activities you are interested in. However, the recommended time to visit is between March and May or October and November when temperatures are tolerable.
In March, the temperatures in St. Louis drop to an average low of 41 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a great time to make your way to Las Vegas to enjoy its relatively warm weather, which can go to highs of 71 degrees Fahrenheit.
March also marks the beginning of the NASCAR races at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, so don't miss this big event if you are visiting in Spring.
The summer season gets extremely hot in Las Vegas with temperatures going up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. This is not the best time to take a road trip to Las Vegas. It is also the period that the city receives the highest number of visitors, so expect big crowds and high hotel rates.
Whichever season you choose to visit, make sure to avoid weekends, notable dates like Valentine's Day, and holidays, when there is an influx of visitors.