Cathedral Gorge State Park
Cathedral Gorge SP is located outside of Panaca and offers panoramic views of sculpted soft bentonite clay eroded by years of snowmelt and rainwater. Explore vividly colored canyons in the area. You can take advantage of hiking here year round. Park entry is $7, and camping runs between $17-$27 per night. If you’re able to spend the night out here in this remote location, stargazing is a must. During the warm summer months be on the lookout for the Great Basin Rattlesnake.
Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire is open year-round to campers and hikers looking to get a first-hand view of the coppery and white Aztec Sandstone famous in this region. Admission is only $10. The folks working at the Visitor Center of Nevada’s oldest and largest state park will be happy to take the time to help you find the right hike for your abilities. They can also offer educational information about the park’s biodiversity. Popular hikes for beginners include Elephant Rock, Petroglyph Canyon and White Domes. If you are exploring during summer months be sure to get an early morning start and pack lots of water, since temperatures at Valley of Fire are often in the triple digits May-September.
Berlin–Ichthyosaur State Park
This State Park, named after both the abandoned mining town of Berlin and the roughly 40 Ichthyosaur fossils found at the park, is a unique mix of human-made and natural histories. Entry to the park is $7 (with a two-dollar discount for Nevada locals); camping overnight is $17 and tours are offered at the Diana Mine, the Berlin Town site, and the Fossil House. Be sure to check their website for detailed times and reservation information, as programming varies throughout the year.
Big Bend of the Colorado River
If you’re seeking sunny beaches in Nevada, Big Bend of the Colorado River is where you’ll find ample boating and water sport opportunities. Big Bend is just outside of Laughlin, Nevada and offers a first come, first served 24-unit campground complete with RV hookups, tent pads, and BBQ/fire pit areas. With two miles of shoreline to explore and a recently developed four-mile trail system, this area is the perfect place to spend some time along the Colorado River.
Cave Lake is best known for its spirit of fun, with its Great Bathtub Race in summer, which features locals modifying bathtubs for a race across the lake, and the Fire and Ice show in winter, with an ice sculpture competition and fireworks. Visitors have their choice between two campgrounds–the seasonal Elk Flat Campground and year-round Lake View Campground. The park also offers both moderate and challenging hikes such as the Cave Springs Trail and the more recently built Twisted Pines Trail.
Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs
20 miles from downtown Las Vegas, Floyd Lamb Park is a desert oasis complete with lakes and tall Cottonwoods. It’s a favorite among locals for its multi-use trails, plentiful fishing, and interesting history. Prior to human settlement, many prehistoric mammal lived here. In more recent centuries, Tule Springs served residents and travelers in need of respite. Peacocks roam free at the park, which costs $6 per vehicle entry. The Las Vegas Farmer’s Market is held here on the first and third Saturday of the month.
Lahontan State Recreation Area
Prior to the construction of Hoover Dam in the 1930’s, the Lahontan Dam stretched across the Carson River. Willow trees stand tall along Lake Lahontan, which is popular for its water recreation, hunting opportunities (during designated seasons), and year-round camping. Walleye, white bass, catfish, and trout are among the catch and release fishing offered here. Birding is also prominent–herons, egrets and pelicans have been spotted in the park, and Lahontan is a nesting site for bald eagles.
Kershaw–Ryan State Park
Kershaw-Ryan State Park is a great place to travel to for a family friendly getaway. The Park hosts a wide range of festivals like the Pumpkin Fest in October and the Winter Wonderland in December. You can spend any weekend checking out the diverse trails running through nearby Rainbow Canyon. This park also welcomes pets, so long as they’re leashed and under six feet, in the quiet 15-unit campground.
Lake Tahoe State Park
Whether you crave snow-capped mountains or sandy beaches, Lake Tahoe offers wilderness experiences for everyone. Enjoy everything from a picnic lunch overlooking Spooner Lake, to camping at South Lake Tahoe, to mountain biking one of the many multi-use trails. Day entry to Tahoe runs $10 April 15-October 15, and $7 Oct 16-April 14. Be sure to stop by the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park visitor center to get the latest activities the park has to offer.
Spring Mountain Ranch State Park
Spring Mountain Ranch State Park houses one of the oldest buildings in Southern Nevada. In addition to the 60-year-old historic ranch house, this park offers multiple picnic areas, trails for varying levels of hikers – and in the summer months, outdoor theatre performances under the stars. Whether you have an hour or an entire day, at $9 per vehicle Spring Mountain Ranch is the perfect place to bring the family to create outdoor Nevada memories.
Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park
The ovens were established in the late 1800’s for processing silver ore (Nevada is the Silver State. This state park just outside of Ely preserves six charcoal ovens from a former Nevada boomtown and the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, and camping are popular activities here. Entry is $7 for day use and overnight camping $14. Be sure to tour the interior of the beehive shaped ovens as they’re still open today for educational use.
Wild Horse State Recreation Area
Photographers could not ask for a more beautiful scene than the colorful mountain and desert wildflowers at Wild Horse State Recreation Area in the spring. Wildlife viewing is also plentiful here, and although you are not likely to see the wild horses the park is named after, mule deer and elk are common sights. The 34 site campground costs $14 per night, and while RV hookups are not present, each site has firepits, shaded areas and a picnic table. The Recreation Area is about twenty-five miles north of Elko Nevada.