Two girls sitting atop a convertible car, after finishing a road trip to Vegas, in front of the welcome to fabulous las vegas sign.

Los Angeles to Las Vegas Road Trip: 17 Best Stops to Make On the Drive!

At first glance, a road trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas might not have much appeal. A map will show the route is surrounded by not much other than barren land.

But contrary to popular belief, there are many unique places to stop at during the drive from LA to Vegas!

From the second-largest meteorite in the United States to the world’s tallest thermometer, these are just a couple of incredibly fascinating sights you can see during your road trip from LA to Vegas.

Considering the expanse of Los Angeles, this road trip starts at the midway point between L.A.’s westside and downtown: Central L.A.

So depending on where you depart from, the estimated travel time provided may vary. I recommend leaving earlier rather than later—especially on weekdays so you can avoid the morning rush hour.

Be sure to also leave with a full tank of gas because there aren’t many gas stations along the way!

The 4-hour drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas doesn’t have to be boring. It’s time to jazz up your road trip with some unique sightseeing, fun history, and amazing spots to grab some grub!

Renting a Car in LA

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An empty desert road leading to a vanishing pointing the mountains n a sunny day driving towards Death Valley from Los Angeles

If you already have your own car, skip ahead to the next section!

If you need to rent a car, I suggest picking up your car from Los Angeles International Airport for the best prices on your rental.

When booking rental cars in California, I always use RentalCars.com to look for the best price on my rental — they have the best search functionality and inventory in the U.S. by far.

Check prices on car rentals online here!

LA to Vegas Road Trip Itinerary

Stop 1: Mormon Rocks (Phelan, CA)

Driving Time from Los Angeles: 1 hour 10 minutes

At your first stop en route to Vegas you will gander in astonishment at the peculiar sandstone formations, Mormon Rocks.

Pull over to enjoy the views from afar or add some adventure to your stop and hike the easy, 1-mile Mormon Rocks Interpretive Trail to gain an up-close look of the unique character of the rocks that are permeated with holes and caves.

Wildlife unique to California is prevalent here, so keep an eye out for birds like the California thrasher and reptiles like coast horned lizards.

What better way to start your road trip to Vegas than with sights of Earth’s natural phenomena?

Mormon rocks in Phelan, California:  geological formations and a meadow beneath a blue sky on the road trip from Los Angeles to Vegas

Stop 2: Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch (Oro Grande, CA)

Driving Time from Los Angeles: 1 hour 30 minutes

In less than 15 minutes off of Interstate 15 (I-15), you’ll arrive at the one and only forest unique to this region of the desert throughout your entire road trip—Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch.

There are hundreds of “trees” with thousands of colored glass bottles representing the tree branches that make for an unusual but eye-catching display that attracts visitors to this roadside stop year-round. 

Created by the late Elmer Long in 2000, the bottle tree ranch depicts Long’s childhood and his efforts with his father to scavenge for what one would otherwise deem as trash as treasure. Thus, the enormous bottle collection was born into a one-of-a-kind desert forest. 

Art installation with collected beer bottles and other glass bottles at Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch, San Bernardino, California, between Los Angeles and Vegas.

Stop 3: Route 66 “Mother Road” Museum (Barstow, CA)

Driving Time from Los Angeles: 1 hour 50 minutes

Located in the small desert town of Barstow is the Route 66 “Mother Road” Museum

Author John Steinbeck writes about Route 66 in his 1939 classic novel, The Grapes of Wrath, describing the highway as “the main migrant road,” “the road of flight,” and “the mother road.”

This moving story is based on the impacts of the 1930’s Dust Bowl—a period of severe dust storms—that damaged the Southern Plains and exacerbated the economic impacts of the Great Depression, which forced farming families to migrate and rebuild their lives.

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The novel shares the journey of a family and their struggle to relocate from Oklahoma to California as they travel along Route 66.

Not only does Route 66 possess great value but it also bears significant history. This museum is dedicated to preserving and showcasing memorabilia and the cars that were driven along this route during this era. 

You’re already traveling along a unique part of American history, so why not stop by to learn more about its past? Plus, admission is free! 

Road sign painted on the side of the highway lane which reads "Route 66" at sunset with a sunburst as the sun dips below the horizon. Road is empty.

Stop 4: Western America Railroad Museum (Barstow, CA)

Driving Time from Los Angeles: 1 hour 50 minutes

Located next door to the Route 66 “Mother Road” Museum is the Western America Railroad Museum.

Take a few moments to see the old trains and collection of railroad artifacts that represent the railroad history in the Pacific Southwest. Railroads brought tremendous change to the economic, political, and geographic landscape of America, and continues to play an important role in the U.S. economy today.

Once again, admission is free—and it’s not often you’ll get to see real railroad cars up close! 

Aerial view of the railroad at Barstow, California, a waypoint on the Los Angeles to Las Vegas drive.

Stop 5: Big Fire Helmet (Barstow, CA)

Driving Time from Los Angeles: 1 hour 50 minutes

Head south down Barstow Road from the Desert Discovery Center and the Big Fire Helmet will instantly catch your eye. You don’t need to stop here unless you want to take photos, but it’s a valuable sight to see while you’re in the area.

The giant fire helmet was created to pay tribute to the firefighters who died during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The “343” on the front of the helmet represents the number of firefighters from the NYC Fire Department that lost their lives on this day.

Feel free to take a few moments to pay respects to the firefighters for their bravery and sacrifice.

Stop 6: Desert Discovery Center (Barstow, CA)

Driving Time from Los Angeles: 1 hour 50 minutes

Just 5 minutes south of the Western America Railroad Museum is the Desert Discovery Center.

Through its various exhibits, this large facility is dedicated to informing the public about the culture of the local community and the natural history of the Mojave Desert—the desert land that Barstow resides.

Explore the trail outside the museum and don’t leave until you check out the display of the second largest meteorite found in 1975 in the United States—the “Old Woman Meteorite.”

This meteorite originally weighed a whopping 6,070 pounds before a segment of the mass was removed and sent to a lab for scientific study. Like the last two museums, the center is free to visit. 

View of the Old Woman Meteorite: silver-gray and large and rocky chunk of space rock

Stop 7: Mojave River Valley Museum (Barstow, CA)

Driving Time from Los Angeles: 1 hour 50 minutes

Hopefully you can acknowledge by now that you don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate and enjoy a former time in history!

Continue your exploration of the past and head right around the corner to the Mojave River Valley Museum. Founded in 1964, the museum promotes and educates visitors on a little bit of everything.

You can spend a fair bit of time here absorbing every exhibit and learning about the mining history, Native American history, and more of the history of the Mojave Desert. And last but not least, it’s free admission again!

Stop 8: Barstow Station (Barstow, CA)

Driving Time from Los Angeles: 2 hours 

Your last stop in Barstow is the unique Barstow Station.

A real bus station exists here, but the station is primarily frequented by drivers looking for a restroom break, a place to stop and stretch, and snacks to stock up on for the road.

It’s not your typical pitstop either—there are souvenir shops and restaurants as well. The most interesting part of this road stop between LA and Vegas is that you can eat McDonalds inside a passenger train car!

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A view of a quiet railway station in good condition but with no one around to use it in the desert in Barstow California on the way between Los Angeles and Vegas

Stop 9: Liberty Sculpture Park (Yermo, CA) 

Driving Time from Los Angeles: 2 hours 30 minutes

Liberty Sculpture Park is a must-stop during your road trip. You can’t miss thesizeable monuments standing proudly on empty, desert land.

Chinese artist and sculptor Chen Weiming created this park to promote freedom and democracy and commemorate the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre in Beijing, China.

Stop 10: Calico Ghost Town (Yermo, CA)

Driving Time from Los Angeles: 2 hours 30 minutes

If you’ve never visited a “ghost town,” this is your chance! Once an old mining town, Calico had prospered since its establishment in 1881 due to its production of silver ore. 

The town was later abandoned in the mid-1890’s when silver lost its value. In the 1950’s, Calico was restored and had maintained the appearance of its original buildings.

Today, Calico Ghost Town serves as an attraction and historical site for visitors. You can find more information on its various attractions here.

A wooden old-timey building that says "Town Hall" in the abandoned mining town of Calico, California, a road trip stop between Los Angeles and Las Vegas

Stop 11: Zzyzx Road (Zzyzx, CA)

Driving Time from Los Angeles: 3 hours 15 minutes

The unusually named road, Zzyzx Road, is not your typical road stop! In fact, it’s rather unusual, to say the least. But that’s what makes it even more interesting.

Despite the road being dry and desolate, you can see a fairly large lake lined with palm trees. As you venture down the road, you might see some wildlife like a pack of bighorn sheep.

At the end of the road, you’ll encounter a research center. It’s a quiet area that appears abandoned and will either give you the creeps or pique your interest even more. Learn about the complete history of Zzyzx Road here.

A green street sign with white letters which reads "Exit 23 Zxyxx Road" with some other cars on the highway out in the desert.

Stop 12: The World’s Tallest Thermometer (Baker, CA)

Driving Time from Los Angeles: 3 hours 20 minutes

At 76,812 pounds and 134 feet tall, you’re looking at the world’s tallest thermometer.

In 1913, it recorded the world’s hottest temperature at 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56.67 degrees Celsius).

You won’t see anything like this anywhere else on Earth, literally!

A really tall thermometer which reads "Baker CA Gateway to Death Valley" with an American flag flying in the background.

Stop 13: Alien Fresh Jerky (Baker, CA)

Driving Time from Los Angeles: 3 hours 20 minutes

Alien Fresh Jerky began as a small shop selling healthier snack alternatives for road trips and later evolved into a booming business selling unconventional but tasty beef jerky with flavors like carne asada and mango habanero.

Even if you’re not a fan of beef jerky, it’s still a cool spot to check out as you can purchase other types of snacks and beverages, including alien-themed souvenirs.

The store’s exterior is built to look like an alien spaceship, so have your camera ready!

Stop 14: Death Valley National Park (Death Valley, CA)

Driving Time from Los Angeles: 5 hours 10 minutes

At this point of your road trip, you’re nearly three quarters of the way to Vegas! Venture up Death Valley Road to—you guessed it—Death Valley National Park.

From the turning point off of I-15 at Baker, the drive into the park is another 1 hour and 40 minutes.

If your road trip from LA to Vegas is part of your adventure and you’re not pressed for time, you can simply enjoy a scenic drive through the park and visit spots like Badwater Basin or Devils Golf Course to see the out-of-this-world yet natural desert landscape. 

Because this is a longer detour, I suggest planning a separate trip and an overnight or weekend stay to make your visit here worth it. I have a two-day itinerary for Death Valley here and you can also check my complete list of the best things to do in Death Valley.

Planning to stay the night in Death Valley? I also gathered the best Death Valley Airbnbs near the park.

You can also skip this stop and head straight to Vegas if you’re in a rush.

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View of white salt flats in the middle of the valley floor of Death Valley's lowest point, seen from above, with red, purple, and brown rocky landscape in the desert.

Stop 15: Mojave National Preserve (Kelso, CA)

Driving Time from Los Angeles: 4 hours 30 minutes

Like Death Valley National Park, the Mojave National Preserve is where you can go for a scenic drive through isolated but spectacular desert grounds.

Since the turning point into the preserve from Baker will tack on another hour to your drive, you may want to consider visiting when you can stay overnight at a nearby location.

A few noteworthy spots in the Mojave are the Kelso Dunes, the Mitchell Caverns, and Soda Lake.

There’s no lodging, restaurants, or grocery stores in the Mojave National Preserve, so if you decide to visit, come prepared with enough food and water… remembering that this is a desert, so water is essential!

Pale yellow-brown sand dunes against a pale, cloudy sky with desert brush and flora.

Stop 16: Seven Magic Mountains (South of Las Vegas, NV) 

Driving Time from Los Angeles: 3 hours 45 minutes

It’s your last road trip stop! Take in the sights of the Seven Magic Mountains, a special 35-foot high art installation that displays brightly colored boulders stacked upon each other to depict the mountains of the desert.

This outdoor exhibit is a popular spot for photographers or those who simply want to capture the Instagram-worthy shot. Note: Seven Magic Mountains will remain open through to the end of 2021.

Seven colorful painted stacked rocks in the middle of a desert landscape outside of Las Vegas, a popular road trip stop between LA and Vegas.

Stop 17: Las Vegas

Driving Time from Los Angeles: 4 hours

Finally, you’ve arrived in Vegas, baby! Take your photo with the famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign” to start the Las Vegas portion of this trip.

From there, there so much to do in Vegas, from helicopter flights over the Strip (or even to the Grand Canyon) to checking out the casinos and sights along the Vegas Strip to checking out Fremont Street for an alternate side to Vegas.

And of course, you could optionally continue onwards to the Valley of Fire State Park, which is another 45 minute drive and well worth the extra push!

The sign that reads "Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas" lit up in neon and shown at night against palm trees and Vegas skyline.

Places to Eat During your Road Trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas

There’s a likelihood that you’ll get hungry at some point during the 4+ hour drive, so here’s a handful of options for places to grab a bite to eat or to take out with you for the ride!

  • Outpost Cafe—Highly-rated, American comfort food with hearty servings. Offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • Address: 8685 US-395, Oak Hills, CA 92344. 

  • Del Taco—A Mexican fast-food restaurant. It’s also the original Del Taco. Many rave that it’s the best Del Taco ever. (Grace and Frankie fans will love this!)
  • Address: 401 N 1st Ave, Barstow, CA 92311

  • In-N-Out Burger—If you’re a fellow Californian, then this is likely an obvious choice for you! You really can’t go wrong with their burger and fries.
  • Address: 2821 Lenwood Rd, Barstow, CA 92311 

  • The Mad Greek—Popular for its gyros and other Greek dishes.
  • Address: 72112 Baker Blvd, Baker, CA 92309
  • (Note: The restaurant is temporarily closed for renovation, so keep an eye out for their reopening date.)
  • Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner—A 1950’s-style diner serving American classics like chicken fried steaks and ice cream sundaes. It also has its very own pizza parlor that serves calzones, wings, and breadsticks.
  • Address: 35654 Yermo Rd, Yermo, CA 92398

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