What pops in mind on mentioning of Nevada when talking about fun? Las Vegas is all about fun for most people. but when all you ever want is a different kind of fun, away from the buzzles and hassles of the city, Nevada’s rich semi-arid and mountainous landscape is all you’ll ever need. Think of a road trip in a region full of snow-capped mountains, idiosyncratic ghost towns, empty roads, and colorful caves. And the most interesting bit – plenty of stress-free and uncrowded open spaces for hiking and camping. So check out dome of the best Nevada road trip destinations in our carefully curated selection.
Simply put, Nevada offers some kind of adventurous experience, one of its kind that you rarely come across. In fact, the only thing you are going to fall short of is time, not the destinations to explore.
We have sampled some of the top Nevada road trip destinations in the state and prepared the following places if you are up to the idea of staying off Vegas and all that modernity hassle!
- Red Rock Canyon National Conservation: Nevada Hiking
- Cathedral Gorge State Park: Best For Camping
- Lake Tahoe to the north: Nevada’s Best Outdoor Activities
- Valley of Fire State Park: Mars On Earth
- The famous Virginia City: Unique Quirks
- Pyramid Lake, Nevada’s largest
- The Black Rock Desert: Land Sailing & More!
- Goldfield Open Air Museum: A Roadside Gem
- The Black Canyon: Hot Springs, Paddling & More!
- Wrapping Up Nevada Road Trip Spots
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation: Nevada Hiking
If you are a climber, set your climbing gear ready. Just 30 minutes from Las Vegas to the west lies the Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area, a must-visit destination for climbers and hikers. It has 19 marked hiking trails to aid you and your crew to get a smooth hiking experience.
Inside this conservation area, there are plenty of nice features to get your adrenaline flow into proper use. Ice Box Canyon offers a cool hike through a canyon with plenty of shade to shield you from the blazing sun and seasonal waterfalls for a cool breeze. Among the most famous hikes in the area is the Calico Tanks Trails, which leads in some of the most spectacular views but with a little scrambling for space. If you aren’t up for climbing or hiking, the 13-mile picturesque drive loop has plenty to explore.
Cathedral Gorge State Park: Best For Camping
If driving from Utah, a less than 30 minutes’ drive lies the Cathedral Gorge State Park to the eastern side of Nevada. This will have you reminisce about the Bryce Canyon experience, but with no crowds. The park’s name comes from the cathedral-like pinnacles protruding over land. This together with the canyon walls displaying different layers of hues of red will make you want to hike the trails and explore the beautiful caves for the rest of the day.
The park has got plenty of campsites and shaded day-use spots with all amenities required to make your road trip remarkable.
Lake Tahoe to the north: Nevada’s Best Outdoor Activities
The fun up north of Nevada is for the skiing diehards, but don’t limit yourself to skiing. Depending on how favorable the season is, arm yourself with snowboards, hiking boots, mountain bikes, and kayaks to experience the fun in Northern Nevada.
Lake Tahoe to the side of Nevada has the most attractive shore beaches to chill or hike along. In Sand Harbor State Park has got plenty of fun activities you’re going to need your kayaks and paddleboards for. And if you’re up for the night fun, spend the evening to enjoy Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival where you get to sit on beach sand, with the stars glazing up the sky, and the waves blowing behind the stage. You’re going to fall in love with this picturesque, one of the most attractive Shakespeare venues globally.
If looking for some remoteness, along the Highway 28, there is Secret Cove, an optional clothing beach lying just a few strides from the main road. It has numerous rocks and turquoise coves for basking under the sun. Kayakers also find this spot amazing and is among their favorite.
Valley of Fire State Park: Mars On Earth
If you already know what Mars looks like from satellite photos or movies, then you’ll love the feeling brought about by the view of the brightly conspicuous red Aztec sandstone dominant in this area. Valley of Fire State Park lies an hour’s drive to the northeast of the city of Las Vegas. The park houses 2000 years old petroglyphs, petrified trees, and scenic hiking trails.
The landscape here is magnificent and has got lots of features to explore. Bring an HD camera with your crew to capture the Fire Wave Trail that forms a scenic rock folding into a series of rainbow-like views of oranges, reds, pinks, and yellows.
The famous Virginia City: Unique Quirks
This city enjoyed its heydays during the 19th century when it was the most important industrial center lying between San Francisco and Denver due to the upsurge of mining activities. Get to experience the charm in Carson City through Highway 50 going beyond the brothels and Bunny Ranch. Drive through the Highway 342 which runs through Old Western cities like Gold Hill and Silver City. Gold Hill Hotel is worthwhile for a stop and refreshment. Between Carson City and Virginia City, there is a V&T Railroad with an attractive view offers a nice route for your trip.
There are plenty of Old West tales about Virginia City that you’ll find fascinating including gambling debts, prostitution, and old silver mines tales. You can also pay a visit to the famous Suicide Table found in Delta Saloon believed to have claimed the lives of three of its owners. Alternatively, you also have the option of visiting the heterogenous Prostitution Museum.
Apart from its antiques and gems emporiums, candy shops, and wooden boardwalks, Virginia City is also famous for hosting some of the most exciting festivals in the US, such as International Camel Races and Rocky Mountain Oyster Fry.
Pyramid Lake, Nevada’s largest
If you haven’t witnessed the largest natural water bodies in the desert, this is your chance to. Pyramid Lake covers an area of 125,000 acres and is actually among the largest naturally occurring lakes in the state.
An amazing fact: Pyramid Lake Scenic Byway stands out as the only existing scenic byway that is situated inside a tribal reservation (Paiute tribe). It is also home to scenic rock formations and migrating waterfowl. If yearning for more about the Paiute tribe, the Visitor Center and Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum in Nevada offers lots of historical information and culture about the tribe. The museum also features several displays and exhibits about Pyramid Lake’s natural history.
There are plenty of walk areas around the Pyramid Lake where you can hike or picnic, but a permit from the tribal offices will be required.
The Black Rock Desert: Land Sailing & More!
If you have toured Northern Nevada and never got a chance to visit the Black Rock Desert, we suggest you plan your trip back, especially during late summer. This is the period when the Burning Man is hosted, in Black Rock City. This festival traces its origin as early as 1986 and is held annually to date.
If you’re time-constrained, there are plenty of reasons to visit during any other time of the year too. You’ll get to view the scenic Black Rock Playa, which is an old lake bed of Lake Lahontan of the Pleistocene era. This is among the largest and flattest surfaces on the planet, spanning an area of 200 square miles.
This place is popular for various activities and events such as breaking of world speed record and land sailors – some type of sports involving gliding across the sand with sails.
The areas surrounding the Black Rock Desert are common with antelopes, jackrabbits, wild horses, and sagebrush making them perfect for stargazing, camping, mountain cycling, and hiking. There are Trego and Black Rock hot springs at Black Rock Playa’s edge where you can soak yourself in, but take caution as there are some springs that can be extremely hot and dangerous. If you brought your kids and canine buddies with you, be cautious as well so they don’t dive into a hot spring unknowingly.
Head north towards Soldier Meadows using the dirt road and hoist your tents to camp for a day or two beside the hot springs. Alternatively, head to Soldier Meadows Ranch and Lodge to get a refreshing experience. For animal and nature lovers, venture ahead north to Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge to get more wildlife spectacular view.
Goldfield Open Air Museum: A Roadside Gem
Two hours drive to the northwest of Las Vegas, just on the outskirt of a quirky ghost town,there lies seven enormous art sculptures that were built onsite by a collaboration of Belgian artists. This artistic attraction lying by the roadside and set against the Mojave Desert backdrop is a must-see for those who are crazy about art. Goldfield Open Air Museum is open 24/7 and free to visit, making it quite easy to view.
The Black Canyon: Hot Springs, Paddling & More!
Just 45 minutes’ drive from Las Vegas strip lies the Black Canyon Water Trail. It is a 12-mile free stretch of the Colorado River and a paradise for paddling aficionados. A paddling experience on the Black Canyon will take you through a rough ride through the dramatic narrow canyons and the desert landscapes. If that isn’t enough of an experience, get yourself into the soothing hot springs in the region, and soak your stress away.
Wrapping Up Nevada Road Trip Spots
There are certainly lots of fascinating attractions worth planning a road trip for in Nevada. It can almost be overwhelming when it comes to picking a destination for your road trip due to an abundance of choices. Simply match the destinations against your desires and you will be good to go.
Now that you know about top Nevada road trip destinations, check out about some fun and cheap things to do in the state from our dedicated sampling. Also, our platform Rental Trader has an exciting selection of vacation rental properties to choose from. For more details you can fill out the web form or call us directly.