Nevada’s climate is generally dry year round, hot in the summer and mild in the winter. This makes it a fantastic road trip state year round while being especially appealing during the winter. It is home to two major cities, Reno and Las Vegas which both offer outstanding night life and entertainment. The remainder of the state is largely rural, offering many great outdoor adventure opportunities. Here we will explore 5 of the top road trips you’ll find in this great state.
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley and the corresponding national park are located on the border between Nevada and California. This is one of the hottest and driest places on earth, and at over 280 feet below sea level it is the lowest point in the US. The park itself straddles the California and Nevada line so to see it all you will have to venture in to California, which is easy enough to do. There are plenty of places to setup camp and visit on the Nevada side. In addition to the park itself, there are a number of old western ghost towns and historical sites to see. Consider traveling along RT 95 through Beady with a side trip west on 374. This will bring you to the Rhyolite Ghost town which started as a mining town in the early 1900s. It has since been a movie set and is now a national historic site housing some art businesses.
Great Basin National Park
On the east side of the state lies the Great Basin National Park. This park is one of the lower trafficked parks in the national park systems, which is a shame. It is home to significant diversity in both scenery and wildlife and is one of the only places in the US where you can visit a 13,000 foot mountain peak (Wheeler Peak) and go spelunking on the same day. The Lehman cave system here is outstanding. The park system provides tours which will allow you to view the stunning underground formations this cave system is famous for.
The beauty of this park really shines at night as it is one the best parks in the US for night sky viewing. The remote location coupled with the dry desert air allows the skies to come alive at night with a bright display of our celestial neighbors. Make sure to plan for some star gazing or meteor watching at least one night you are there.
Valley of Fire State Park
This state park is located about an hour northeast of Las Vegas which would make it a great day trip if you were staying there. It features hiking trails through stunning red rock formations. These hikes can be self-guided or you can sign up for one of the many guided hikes offered in the park. There are also several caves within the park that you can explore. There is a $10 entrance fee and the park has camping facilities for RVs and tents if you’d like to stay multiple days.
Reno. Located in the north western part of the state right along I-80 is the city of Reno. This city has many of the same types of entertainment and things to do as it’s much more famous neighbor to the south, but on a much smaller scale. If you find Las Vegas too overwhelming, Reno might be a better place for you to visit. It’s also a short drive from Reno up I-80 to Lake Tahoe which offers great skiing in the winter and lake activities in the summer.
Las Vegas & Hoover Dam
No top 5 road trip in Nevada list would be complete without a mention of Las Vegas. It is the entertainment capital of not only Nevada, but of the US and some would argue the world. It can be overwhelming and if you are not a fan of large crowded places then some planning may be in order to get the most out of it. For a less crowded and tamer visit try hitting the town between Monday and Thursday. Starting Thursday night, the crowds will begin flowing in from California and beyond. By Friday night everything will be crazy busy. If you prefer that, then by all means plan on being there over the weekend. When you go will also dictate how to plan your trip. If you plan to be there early or mid-week then you won’t have to plan ahead as much. Weekends during the winter are the hardest times to get reservations so make sure you plan ahead.
Located a short drive away is Hoover Dam. If you are into national landmarks and historical sights this is a must see. Plan on arriving early and doing a tour. They offer three tours ranging in fees from the $10 self-guided visitor center tour to the $30 Guided Dam tour. These can be purchased on-site only. The Guided Dam Tour can sell out so get there early if you want to do that. For $15, they have the intermediate Powerplant tour. Tickets and reservations for that tour can be purchased online in advance. The dam itself is one of the major engineering marvels of the world and should be a must see for everyone.
Here we have looked at 5 of the top Nevada road trips. These trips cover natural wonders, man-made engineering marvels and world class cities and entertainment. There truly is something for everyone in Nevada and the weather is almost always perfect so there is no reason to not get out there and explore.