Seasoned Nevada Travelers Know How to Get A Little Out There. Now You Can, Too.

Text: Robert Kachelriess | Photo: Travel Nevada

Nevada is full of fascinating settings for wide-open moments of wonder. While Las Vegas and Reno command most of the attention, other enchanting corners of this vast and diverse state hold plenty to appreciate, from the great outdoors to wonderfully weird surprises. In fact, Nevada is the seventh largest state by area, with more than 110,000 square miles to explore. So get ready to dive in and get a little out there on your way to discovering some of the memorable adventures that define the Nevada experience.

This post is proudly produced in partnership with Travel Nevada.

Big Bend of the Colorado

Laughlin, a casino town on the banks of the Colorado River at Nevada’s southern tip, is a place where vacationers can enjoy gaming and big-name entertainment without the crowds. It’s also an engaging destination for those who appreciate the outdoors. Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area, just outside of town, is a day at the beach and so much more, with clear waters for boating, kayaking, swimming, and soaking in the rays of the bright Nevada sun.

Cathedral Gorge State Park

Cathedral Gorge State Park is a stunning display of rock formations that’s incredibly easy for visitors to navigate. Take the south entrance and pass by a series of slot canyons (aka moon caves) and towering stone monoliths with a choice of hiking areas at your leisure. You’ll even spot a stone water tower built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The north entrance, meanwhile, provides access to a valley of hoodoos.

Great Basin National Park

Connect with nature and get a little out there at one of the least-visited national parks in the US. Located just outside Ely, Great Basin National Park holds some of the most rewarding hikes in Nevada. Soak in the majesty of Wheeler Peak, the second-tallest mountain in the state, and explore the terrain dotted with alpine lakes and bristlecone pines — among the oldest trees on the planet. Go underground and tour the Lehman caves, featuring a staggering collection of stalactites and stalagmites, and hang around after dark for some of the best stargazing anywhere.

Kershaw-Ryan State Park

Kershaw-Ryan State Park is a sweet spot for nature lovers, where grass-filled, tree-lined pockets contrast sharply with reddish-brown canyon walls. The park sees plenty of rock climbers and mountain bikers, but the hiking here is next level as well, with moderate trails leading to sweeping overlooks. Kershaw-Ryan is about a two-hour drive north from Las Vegas and located near Caliente, a small town with a rich heritage as a historic train depot.

Lake Tahoe

Despite the short drive out of Reno, Lake Tahoe feels a world away from northern Nevada’s most populous city. The largest alpine lake in North America can easily fill an entire trip itinerary with boating, kayaking, and sunset cruises, along with hiking, skiing, and scenic drives. It’s one of those rare places where you can experience snow and sand on the same day. Along the way, have fun pedaling the bike paths of Incline Village, taking quirky photos at spots like Bonsai Rock, and exploring historic sites such as Thunderbird Lodge.

Mormon Station State Historic Park

In 1851, Genoa was the first non-native settlement in what would become the Nevada territory, occupying a unique place in history. The small town is an intimate community of homes, shops, and restaurants with Mormon Station State Historic Park in the center of it all, offering a glimpse into the past. The grounds mark the location of a pioneer trading post, much of it recreated after a fire destroyed a few of the structures in 1910. Today, it’s a charming spot for a stroll or picnic with lush grass, trees, and log cabins.

Mt. Charleston

Las Vegas is known for its desert environment, but it’s less than an hour’s drive from Mt. Charleston. The tallest mountain in Clark County is home to a vibrant, pine-filled environment — with the slopes of Lee Canyon Ski & Snowboard Resort available to those who crave the rush of winter sports. Return to the peak after the snow melts for hiking, mountain biking, Frisbee competitions, and archery. Either way, you’ll get fresh alpine air and temperatures cooler than those in the Las Vegas Valley.

Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park

Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park is the perfect mix of nature and history in the Egan Mountain Range outside Ely. The park is named for six beehive-shaped charcoal ovens used to help process silver in the late 1800s. According to legend, they also served as hideouts for bandits on the run from the law during the Wild West era. Beyond this heritage, the park is a rewarding destination for hiking, biking, camping, and spotting wildlife such as deer and elk.

Photo credits: Ward Charcoal Ovens Hero by Irina K/Shutterstock. All other photos in this section by Travel Nevada.



Austin is roughly Nevada’s midpoint on US Route 50, infamously described as the “Loneliest Road in America” by Life magazine. The small mining town is worth a visit to see the vintage Gothic architecture of St. George’s Episcopal Church and the ruins of Stokes Castle. Mingle with the locals at Grandma’s Restaurant and Bar, and appreciate the stillness of nature in the Reese River Valley.

Delamar Ghost Town

Nevada has more ghost towns than any other state, but Delamar is among the most fascinating. The old mining town built a reputation as the “widowmaker” due to excavation dust that was fatally inhaled by workers, setting off a wave of deaths in the 1890s. Today, an ominous (metaphorical) cloud hangs over the abandoned mountain community, now empty save for an impressive number of crumbling buildings and other ruins left over from its heyday.


The largest city in northeast Nevada is rather quaint — a place that keeps to itself with a small-town, family-focused sensibility. Elko is also a great place to explore the legacy of Basque culture in the region. Enjoy a meat-heavy multi-course meal at the former boarding house known as the Star Hotel & Bar, pintxos (Basque small bites) at Ogi Deli, exhibits at the Northeastern Nevada Museum, and the annual National Basque Festival, which takes place every summer.


Ely is a splash of civilization in the middle of Nevada’s remote eastern corridor. Yet it feels like a relic of a different era, with timeless Old West Victorian architecture and an unwavering cowboy spirit. The town is most closely identified with the Hotel Nevada, which was the tallest hotel in the state when it was built during Prohibition. For more history, check out the Nevada Northern Railway Museum and East Ely Railroad Depot Museum, a fully operational depot that dates back to 1906. Guests are welcome to hop aboard for vintage locomotive rides to the outskirts of town.


When you’re visiting the aforementioned Cathedral Gorge State Park, make a point to stop by Pioche, about 10 miles north. This Old West mining hub has its share of historic sites, from Thompson’s Opera House to the Million Dollar Courthouse. But Boot Hill Cemetery might be the most unique spot. Pioche’s remote location probably contributed to its restless character in the early days, when saloon shootouts were common — none of the first 72 people to die here did so of natural causes. As a result, these days the entire town is believed to be haunted.

Rhyolite Ghost Town

Rhyolite is one of the most distinctive and most photographed ghost towns in Nevada. Located on the edge of Death Valley, it was once a population hub fueled by a mining boom in the late 1800s, a rare Old West community with street lights and a stock exchange among its thriving businesses. The town went bust, however, and today the remnants of a handful of tall buildings are visible along with the elaborate train depot. Tom Kelly’s Bottle House, built from glass bottles, is nearby, as is a series of quirky art installations known as the Goldwell Open Air Museum. And minutes away you’ll find Beatty, a small community where burros roam the streets — the animals provided the naming inspiration for the Happy Burro, a tavern famous for its award-winning chili.

Virginia City

Virginia City is a Wild West community frozen in time less than 30 miles southeast of Reno. It hasn’t changed much since the silver rush of the Comstock Lode in 1859, which makes it one of Nevada’s best examples of historic preservation — despite the gift shops on every corner. Walk the boardwalks that line the streets and visit authentic Old West saloons, museums, and historic sites, including Piper’s Opera House and the Historic Fourth Ward School Museum. Hear about Virginia City’s darker side on a ghost tour, or ride the Virginia & Truckee Railroad, which once transported the gold and silver mined near this Silver State city.

Photo credits: All photos in this section by Travel Nevada.


This post is proudly produced in partnership with Travel Nevada.