Des Moines to Las Vegas Road Trip Guide


For families itching to hit the open road on an RV adventure, a seven-day trip from Des Moines, Iowa to Las Vegas, Nevada is sure to be a blast.

Des Moines, the crown city of the state of Iowa, is a wonderful place for families to explore before heading out on a seven-day RV holiday. The Iowa State Capitol is found in this metropolitan center and is easily identified by its brilliant gold-domed roof. It is one of the most important landmarks in the region and sees many visitors each year.

For RV campers looking to enjoy some culture and the fine arts during their visit to Des Moines, there are many interesting places worth visiting including the Des Moines Art Center and the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. The city is also renowned for its farm-to-table inspired cuisine and hosts a popular farmers' market where locally produced fruits, vegetables, and other wares can be purchased.

Des Moines is home to the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, an indoor facility that houses 15,000 plants representing tropical, subtropical, and desert climates. An incredibly scenic conservatory, this garden remains in full bloom all year.

Another place well worth a visit is nearby Adventureland Park, a family fun center that is a haven of over 100 rides that also offers live entertainment for RV campers to enjoy. The property is also situated near to one of the region's most popular hotels and campgrounds.

Throughout the year, Des Moines hosts a number of popular festivals. The Des Moines Arts Festival takes place each June with the Metro Arts Festival on display in the month of July. The Iowa State Fair is such a popular event that it draws visitors from all across the state. It is held in Des Moines each August.

Des Moines is an amazing place for RV campers looking to enjoy outdoor recreation during their road trip. Families can enjoy some of the finest state parks, national monuments, and beaches found in the state in this stunning metropolitan center.

Navigating the streets of Des Moines in an RV is not difficult to do. However, the city's transportation is so good it allows families to park their rig at a public lot or campground and hop a bus or take a taxi to explore the city on foot.

Among the best places for an RV stay in Des Moines are the Iowa State Fair Campgrounds and Walnut Woods State Park.

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Max RV length
Max trailer Length
Road trip length: 7+ days
Recommend rig: motorhome
audience: family

Point of Interest

Blank Park Zoo

Found directly in Des Moines is the popular Blank Park Zoo. This much-loved attraction houses over 800 different animals. Families will enjoy the many different exhibits and the unique opportunity to interact with the creatures that make this public zoo home.

Housed on the grounds is a Discovery Center which includes over 15 varieties of birds as well as a saltwater aquarium for many species of aquatic animals. Also found on the premises are such creatures as snakes, starfish, sea lions, penguins, and large jungle cats.

Recently, Blank Park Zoo added four new animals to their facilities. Three of the creatures are considered to be endangered species with the fourth believed to be vulnerable.

Among the most recent additions to the zoo are an Amur tiger and a snow leopard that were transferred from other nearby zoos. The other two new animals are slender-horned gazelles.

For hours of operation, the event schedule, and any associated fees, consult the zoo's website.

For a relaxing place to do some overnight camping, consider an RV stay at Des Moines West KOA Holiday or Timberline Campground.

The Old Market

Located just 140 miles from Blank Park Zoo is the Old Market found in downtown Omaha, Nebraska. This unique place offers many attractions for RV campers to enjoy during their visit.

An area rich in culture and entertainment, families can enjoy perusing the work of local artisans as well as a wide array of art galleries. On the first Friday of each month, the Old Market hosts a tour that features work from area artists.

For those that love the foodie scene, there are over 45 cafes, bars, and restaurants to choose from along the Old Market's cobblestone-paved streets. Whether RV campers are looking to feast on fine French fare or handcrafted, wood-fired pizzas, this eclectic neighborhood gathering place has got it all.

Shoppers will delight at the many boutiques lining the Old Market's streets. Among the treasures to be found here include pieces of local art, handmade jewelry, unique souvenirs, and clothing. Old Market is also home to a number of trendy spas and salons where RV campers can stop for a haircut, shave, manicure, or pedicure.

After an invigorating day exploring the Old Market, a good night's rest might just be in order. Why not enjoy an RV stay at West Omaha/NE Lincoln KOA Holiday or Two Rivers State Recreation Area?

Sunken Gardens

The next leg of the journey is only 60.7 miles and brings RV campers to one of the most picturesque destinations on this route: the Sunken Gardens. This beautiful horticultural exhibition is home to over 30,000 unique plants. The gardens are designed each year to reflect a specific theme.

Sunken Gardens were included on the list of 300 Best Gardens to Visit in the United States and Canada, a grouping compiled by the National Geographic Guide to Public Gardens. The facility consists of 1.5 acres in total and was first opened to the public in 1930. It has undergone one renovation, an event which occurred in 2004.

Sunken Gardens is open year-round for families to enjoy. In the spring months, the flower beds are alive with tulips while annuals line the grounds in the summer. It is still well worth visiting the property in the wintertime to see the incredible array of lush trees and shrubs that are beautiful to behold.

One of the gardens' most popular attractions it is Healing Garden, a space sometimes referred to as the White Garden. This particular floral display took its inspiration from a similar botanical feature found at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, England. The grounds are intended to invoke an air of peace and tranquility in all who visit.

Tired out from enjoying leisurely walks through the gardens' grounds? Park the RV for an overnight stay at Pawnee State Recreation Area.

Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park

Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park is located 230 miles from Lincoln's Sunken Gardens. A property that pays homage to William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, this stunning facility is well worth a visit when traveling through Nebraska en route to Las Vegas.

Buffalo Bill Cody was born in Iowa on February 26th, 1846. During his childhood, the Cody family relocated to Kansas, becoming some of the earliest settlers in the state. At the tender age of nine, Buffalo Bill began working for a company known as Russell, Majors, and Waddell, a firm that later was responsible for the development of the Pony Express.

In subsequent years, Buffalo Bill would become a soldier in the Union Army, serving during the time of the Civil War. His nickname was given to him as a result of his new role providing the Kansas Pacific Railway with meat from buffalos.

In the late 19th century, Buffalo Bill began touring the United States and Europe with his well-acclaimed Wild West Show. With the funds earned from these tours, Buffalo Bill was able to construct "The Mansion on the Prairie" on a tract of land in North Platte. Buffalo Bill lived here until 1913 during which time he raised both cattle and horses on his property which consisted of over 4,000 acres in total.

Today, this property is now a public park with many outdoor attractions to offer visitors. There are many trails that are suited to both hiking and horseback riding on the grounds. The body of water found on the premises is perfect for doing some fishing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, or tubing.

This property sits directly next to the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Recreation Area which features other outdoor activities and is also home to a campground that is ideal for RV stays.

Denver Art Museum

The drive to Denver is quite lengthy at 263 miles from the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park, but it is well worth the effort to spend the day enjoying the magnificent artworks found at the Denver Art Museum.

This popular facility is one of the biggest museums of its kind found en route between Chicago and California. The Denver Art Museum places a high priority on providing its visitors with the opportunity to enjoy hands-on learning opportunities in addition to the rare occasion to view some truly spectacular pieces of art.

One of the most interesting features of the building itself is its unique design. It is the vision of a local architect by the name of Daniel Libeskind and was created with the intent of helping visitors to experience art and design in a novel way.

The Denver Art Museum, commonly referred to simply by the acronym DAM, houses an extensive and eclectic collection, treating its visitors to the opportunity to view many different types of art from a wide representation of styles.

Thinking of catching up on some zzz's before the next leg of the journey is in order? Among Denver's best campgrounds are Cherry Creek State Park Campground and Indian Paintbrush Campground.

Colorado National Monument

RV campers have a long drive ahead of them with 262 miles as the next leg of the journey which lands them at the Colorado National Monument. This incredible property is well-renowned for its beautiful scenery, making it well worth the trip to spend the day exploring the grounds.

The Colorado National Monument stands as a tribute to the American West. It is rich with amazing topographical features that are so stunning they defy description. The property can be explored on foot, on a bike, or even in a vehicle.

The entrance to the monument includes a visitor center where families can gain information about the area and its attractions as well as a map of the grounds. The property consists of 31 square miles in total. Among the features glimpsed while traversing this landscape are vast expanses of rich crimson-colored rock, expansive canyons, and steep sandstone formations.

Colorado National Monument is relatively remote, lending itself to an air of calm and tranquility. It is the ideal place to do some hiking or to simply relax and reconnect with nature.

Ample parking for RVs is provided in the lot outside the visitor center.

Among the best places to enjoy an RV stay in Grand Junction are Grand Junction KOA Holiday and Saddlehorn Campground.

Fishlake National Forest

Fishlake National Forest is an incredible destination found 234 miles away from Colorado National Monument. This stunning recreational area is found in the heart of Utah and features rich aspen growth and vast open meadowlands surrounded by mountain ranges.

Fish Lake is one of the most frequently visited bodies of water in Utah. A lake formed from natural mountain runoff, Fish Lake is well stocked with many different fish species, making it an excellent place to do some angling. The area is also a renowned habitat for many different varieties of birds. Many types of wildlife make Fishlake National Forest their home including elk, deer, black bear, cougar, wild turkey, mountain goats, and moose.

There are many different activities RV campers can enjoy during a visit to Fishlake National Forest. Among the most popular things to do are fishing, hiking, camping, mountain biking, and snowmobiling. There are also several roads that are wonderful for families looking to enjoy some scenic drives though these are better accessed by a car rather than an RV.

To the east of the forest is a public park known as the Fish Lake-Johnson Valley Area. A facility that consists of 13,700 acres in total, this recreational center boasts of four campgrounds, many lakes and reservoirs, picnic areas, resorts, a boat launch, and much, much more.

Quail Creek State Park

RV campers can hit the open road and travel 159 miles, and they will soon be delighted to discover the hidden gem known as Quail Creek State Park. This lovely, naturally landscaped property is a true haven to all who choose to visit.

Quail Creek State Park is home to a reservoir that enjoys beautifully warm waters and mild winter conditions, making it an excellent place to visit any time of year. This popular park is a great place to enjoy all kinds of outdoor recreation from hiking and boating to fishing, camping, and more.

The reservoir found on the grounds was built in 1985 with its main purpose being to provide both needed irrigation and drinking water to residents in nearby St. George. The vast majority of the water provided to St. George is filtered to homes and businesses through a pipeline with direct access to the Virgin River.

The reservoir is kept well-stocked with such fish species as rainbow trout, bullhead, catfish, crappie, bluegill, and largemouth bass. There is no question that Quail Creek State Park is an anglers' paradise.

Enjoy an RV stay directly on the grounds or consider parking your rig for an overnight at Snow Canyon Campground or St. George/Hurricane KOA.

Camel Safari

After a good night's rest at Quail Creek State Park, RV campers should be refreshed and ready to tackle the 64.1 miles to their next destination: Camel Safari. A visit to Camel Safari is truly a unique experience, affording families the rare opportunity to explore the Nevada desert perched on the back of a camel. The safari also houses other animals on a farm on their property. Some of the creatures RV campers can visit include sloths, armadillos, and porcupines.

Camel Safari offers several different packages from which families can choose. Their Camel Encounter is a lot of fun, permitting RV campers to spend quality time with the desert creatures, getting close enough to do some petting and take some selfies.

The Zookeeper Experience provides families with the chance to go behind the scenes at the safari to understand all of the roles a zookeeper undertakes in a day. During this excursion, RV campers gain information about how to care for each of the animals housed on the grounds.

But by far, the most popular package is the opportunity to participate in an actual safari by riding a camel throughout the grounds. The activity is led by one of the safari's professional handlers, ensuring the experience is both safe and educational. The tour takes an hour in its entirety. En route, the handler provides important facts about the camel itself and its role in history.

For more information about tours, packages, and pricing, contact the safari's website.

After a day of fun in the sun at Camel Safari, consider an RV stay at Virgin River Canyon Campground or Desert Pass Campground.


The final leg that brings RV campers to their intended destination of Las Vegas is very short at only 73.4 miles. Families will be thrilled to park their RV in a semi-permanent "home" to enjoy a few days of R&R.

Las Vegas, a Spanish term meaning "the meadows," has many different handles including the more formal City of Las Vegas, the affectionate Vegas, or the more sinister-sounding Sin City. One of America's greatest capitals of entertainment, Las Vegas has a lot to offer all who visit. This metropolitan hotspot is best known for its neon-bright casinos, elegant resorts, and a wide variety of first-class live entertainment. Among the most popular activities along Las Vegas' famous "Strip" include shopping, gambling, and fine dining.

Las Vegas has bestowed upon itself the title of "The Entertainment Capital of the World." It is considered to be one of the top three destinations in the country and is a common locale for many business conventions and conferences. The name "Sin City" has been applied to Las Vegas for its large number of "adult" activities which regularly take place in the city.

But Las Vegas is far more than a place to gamble, eat, and shop. Located in the heart of the desert, this popular city offers families the opportunity to visit some of the most interesting places in the country including Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, the Fremont Street Experience, the Mob Museum, and Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. The area is also home to many state parks, beaches, campgrounds, and national monuments.

Tooling around Sin City in an RV is a bit of a challenge. It is recommended that RV campers park their rig at their campground or a public parking lot and make use of the city's transit system; be it a tram, a taxi, or a bus.

Among the best spots to enjoy an RV stay in Las Vegas are Las Vegas KOA at Sam's Town and Red Rock Campground.

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