Skip to Content

20 Best Things To Do in Nevada

Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!). Opinions are always my own and I’ll never promote something I don’t use or believe in.

20 Best Things To Do in Nevada

Nevada is an arid state known for its sprawling deserts, gambling, and relaxed rules. And when most people hear about Nevada, they probably think about Las Vegas with its neon lights, big casinos – and not much else.

While this stereotype has been perpetuated by pop culture and media, there’s a lot more to Nevada than that.

This seemingly desolate state boasts rich opportunities for outdoors. Here you will find scenic deserts, snow-powdered mountains, and cobalt-blue Lake Tahoe among a few places – and contrary to what you might think, some of these places are very easy to reach.

[This is a guest post from travel writer Daria of The Discovery Nut. I rarely have guest poster these days, but there is nowhere in the U.S. I love more than the Southwest and I am always keen to discover new spots and here about other people’s adventures in this region. I have mixed in some of my own experiences as well as additional posts from Daria as she has explored a lot of the American Southwest! More on Daria at the end of this post!]

In this post, I’m going to show you some of the best things to do in Nevada that have nothing to do with partying or gambling, so buckle up and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime!

1. Las Vegas

Las Vegas Nevada USA

Las Vegas is the city where most travelers start their adventures in Nevada. Although there are plenty of stereotypes about this place, it is still one of those quintessential American cities that you should visit at least once in your lifetime.

The good news is that you don’t have to be a gambler to have a good time in Las Vegas. The city offers several museums (Neon Museum, Mob Museum, Atomic Museum), and entertainment venues (Brooklyn Bowl or the Linq). And besides, Las Vegas has many scenic areas that are perfect for visiting from late fall through mid-spring, when temperatures hover between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

[Note from Andi: While you are staying Las Vegas, don’t forget to check out the most colorful photo spots, the best murals, and never pay for parking!]

2. Red Rock Canyon National Recreation Area

Red Rock Canyon near Las Vegas Nevada USA

Photo provided by Daria Bachmann.

You don’t have to drive for hours to escape Las Vegas. There are plenty of hiking trails within one hour away from Sin City where you can relax and enjoy the beautiful desert scenery.

One of the most popular outdoor destinations in Southern Nevada is Red Rock Canyon National Recreation Area that is just 30 minutes away from the Las Vegas Strip. Many trails within Red Rock (as it’s popularly called) begin around the 13-mile loop that traverses through this scenic area and doesn’t require advanced hiking skills.

However, when you come here, you need to remember that hiking in the desert is different from hiking in parks or mountains. Make sure to bring plenty of water, snacks and apply enough sunscreen as you can sunburn in less than an hour if you hike on a bright sunny day.

To learn more about Red Rock Canyon hikes, check this guide.

3. Nelson Ghost Town

Nelson Ghost Town Nevada USA

There are dozens of abandoned ghost towns across Nevada – the legacy of the state’s mining history. Many of these ghost towns have been forgotten about, while some have become museums under an open sky. One of them is Nelson Ghost Town where visitors can learn about the history of the Techatticup Mine – One of the most remote and lawless places in Nevada at a time when it was operating with many Civil War deserters and outlaws coming here to hide.

Nelson Ghost Town is located about 40 minutes away from the Las Vegas Strip and offers daily tours to its visitors. To get to Nelson Ghost Town, you have to rent a car because the area is not serviced by public transportation.

4. Gold Butte National Monument

If you want to escape the crowds for good, head to Gold Butte National Monument – one of Nevada’s newest scenic landmarks. Gold Butte covers almost 300,000 acres of remote desert sprinkled by bright orange outcrops and Joshua trees.

This remote area was once populated by the Native American Tribes who left many petroglyphs throughout the area, so a trip to Gold Butte is also a great cultural lesson.

To access most places in Gold Butte you will need a 4X4 vehicle because of the roads within this national monument for the most part lack pavement. Also, Gold Butte lacks cell phone service and amenities that you can find in more developed recreational areas, which means that when you take a trip to Gold Butte, you need to bring your gas, food, and water.

5. Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas Nevada USA

Located one hour away from Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park is a perfect day trip to take a break from the craziness of Sin City.

While you will not find challenging hikes in this place, you will find some of the best landscapes in the region as the bright orange rock formations resemble a fire wave on a sunny day – hence the park’s name.

I recommend setting aside your entire day for Valley of Fire to be able to explore it. This place doesn’t have your typical tourist amenities, so make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks, but most importantly, don’t forget to bring your camera, because you will want to take a lot of photos of this scenic place!

[Note from Andi: This is my absolute favorite spot near Las Vegas, we make it a point to visit every time we go to Vegas. I’ve written about it a few times here, and here and here.]

6. Lake Mead National Conservation Area

Lake Mead National Conservation Area

Photo credit: sushiesque

Lake Mead National Conservation Area is sprawled over 1.5 million acres near the Nevada-Arizona border. Visitors enjoy access to the historic Hoover Dam, as well as Lake Mojave and many hiking trails that hug Lake Mead.

Located near the city of Boulder, Lake Mead is a must for anybody who comes to Las Vegas. The area is a mix of incredible scenery and fascinating history, and if you decide to come here, I recommend taking no less than half a day.

7. Cathedral Gorge State Park

Cathedral Gorge State Park Nevada USA

Photo credit: James Marvin Phelps

Cathedral Gorge State Park is one of Nevada’s hidden gems that is located about 3 hours north of Las Vegas. One of the most remote state parks in Nevada, Cathedral Gorge sits near Utah’s border.

The scenery of this state park is second to none with sandstone spires rising above the lunar landscape, however, you will not encounter as many people here as in other more popular places to visit in Nevada such as Red Rock Canyon or Valley of Fire State Park. And if you want to stay in the area after hiking and exploring Cathedral Gorge, your best bet is the nearby town of Panaca.

8. Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park Nevada USA

Continue driving north from Cathedral Gorge State Park and you will come across Nevada’s biggest secret – Great Basin National Park.

One of the most scenic places in Nevada, Great Basin has been quietly flying under the radar over years and while the scenery here is unparalleled, you will not find the crowds akin to those in Yosemite or Zion National Park. Located in the eastern part of the state near Utah’s border, Great Basin is one of the top destinations in Nevada if you want to explore the great outdoors.

9. Spring Mountains

Spring Mountains Mount Charleston Nevada USA

Photo credit: Renee Grayson

You might be surprised if I were to tell you that the Las Vegas area gets snow during winter.

Just to the west of Las Vegas sits the Spring Mountains, a mountain range that is one of the locals’ favorite places to escape the hot Las Vegas temperatures from late spring through early fall. Home to Mount Charleston, the highest peak in Clark County, the Spring Mountains area offers skiing and snowboarding in winter and hiking and camping during summer.

I recommend setting aside a day for visiting the area, as it has many hiking trails and scenic vistas where you can sit down and take in gorgeous views.

10 Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area

Sloan Canyon Nevada USA

Photo provided by Daria Bachmann.

Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area is one of the best places for hiking in Southern Nevada. Here you can hike to the top of the Black Mountain, a 7-mile trail that leads to incredible views of the Las Vegas Strip and the entire Las Vegas Valley – a panorama that you will not see anywhere else in the area.

You can also check out ancient petroglyphs when they hike trails in the area.

11. Extraterrestrial Highway

Stop along the Extraterrestrial Highway Area 51 State Route 375 Nevada USA

Photo credit: Travel Nevada

Located near the secret Area 51, State Route 375 has become a magnet for UFO enthusiasts from all over the world after many UFO sightings were reported in the area. The desert highway has been officially renamed into the Extraterrestrial Highway in 1996, and today it is one of the major tourist attractions in Nevada with many people coming here in hopes of catching a glimpse of aliens.

Visitors who come here typically stay in Rachel, a small town that sits in the middle of the highway and offers an array of alien-themed businesses from hotels to restaurants that cater to UFO enthusiasts. The highway begins at the junction near Crystal Springs, a ghost town in Lincoln County.

12. Rhyolite Ghost Town

Rhyolite Ghost Town Nevada USA

Another place where you can learn about Nevada’s boom-and-bust mining history, Rhyolite Ghost Town is a ghost town where prospectors from all over the country once rushed as gold deposits were discovered in the area. The town’s ore mine, the Montgomery Shoshone Mine closed in 1911 and after the population of the town got to zero, Rhyolite has become a tourist attraction.  

13. Beatty

Beatty Nevada USA

A gateway to Death Valley National Park, Beatty is a quiet desert town. It’s a perfect stop if you are headed north from Las Vegas and want to make a stop to relax and unwind. Here you can get a glimpse into the good old days of Wild West. Visit Beatty Museum and Historical Society that tells a story of the early days when first settlers came to the area hoping to strike it rich by mining gold in the nearby hills.

Another famous spot in Beatty is the Goldwell Open Air Museum where one-of-a-king art pieces are displayed in the middle of the rugged Mojave Desert.

14. Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

Longstreet Spring in Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge Nevada USA

Photo credit: Travel Nevada

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is located near Death Valley National Park on the border between Nevada and California. These small wetlands boast beautiful springs, marshes, and endemic plants, lizards, and birds. What makes this little desert oasis famous is the Devil’s Hole, a flooded cave that is a habitat for the endangered species of pupfish.

[Note from Andi: if you are going to be visiting near Death Valley, make sure to read the survivor’s guide!]

15. Tonopah

Clown Motel in Tonopah Nevada USA

Photo credit: Jasperado

The historic mining town of Tonopah sits exactly halfway between Las Vegas and Reno. While it used to be rich because of the silver deposits in the surrounding tar hills, today Tonopah is just a small in the middle of the desert. However, a couple of things that make it a worthy stop.

One of them is an iconic Clown Motel that has been featured in TV shows, documentaries, and recently a movie. The property has over 2,000 clowns in different forms and shapes that greet visitors in many spots. And if that isn’t creepy enough, there’s also a cemetery right nearby! The combination made Clown Motel one of the most famous places in Nevada with many people making a drive to this remote place just to see the Clown Motel.

Other places that you might want to check out are the Tonopah Historic Mining Town where you can learn about the town’s history and Mizpah Hotel, which is believed to be haunted.

And if that’s not enough, Tonopah also has a distinction of having some of the clearest dark skies in the country due to its remote location! And Tonopah Stargazing Park is dedicated to that.

16. U.S. Route 50 (The Loneliest Road in America)

U.S. Route 50 Nevada The Loneliest Road USA

Photo credit: Mobilus In Mobili

While Nevada is generally known as a desolate state, few places beat U.S Route 50 that runs east-to-west across the state. While the route runs from Sacramento, California to Ocean City in Maryland, and traverses many states, the Nevada portion is by far one of the loneliest stretches.

The term “The Loneliest Road in America” was coined in 1986 by Life magazine and has stuck around since then, as state officials tried to capitalize on it to promote Nevada tourism. The Nevada portion of the highway runs through an open desert and while it has very few towns or rest stops (Austin and Baker are one of them), it boasts amazing blue sky and green sagebrush which combined with the mountains creates a truly remarkable scenery!

Don’t forget to get “The Official Nevada Highway 50 Guide” where you can find several businesses where you can get an official stamp from the Loneliest Road in America.

[Note from Andi: Mr. Misadventures and I RV’d along this route and thought it was awesome!]

17. Reno

Reno Nevada USA

Nevada’s second-largest gambling heaven, Reno might not be as popular as Las Vegas, however, it has more enough to offer. Nicknamed “The Biggest Little City in The World,” Reno boasts a vibrant Midtown District with many stores and restaurants, and the city also has a buzzing art scene that has been spurred by multiple festivals such as the Burning Man.

18. Incline Village

Incline Village Nevada USA

Photo credit: Al Case

The jewel of Northern Nevada, Lake Tahoe is a must-stop on your Nevada itinerary. While the area offers many overlooks and scenic vistas, I recommend spending a few days in Incline Village, a small resort town that sits on the northern tip of Lake Tahoe.

While Incline Village is known for its water-related activities such as kayaking and paddleboarding, you can also test your hiking skills such as Mt. Rose Hike, Tahoe East Shore Trail, and Stateline Fire Lookout.

19. Elko

Elko Nevada USA

Photo credit: Jeff

Elko is a true western town. Nestled in the Ruby Mountains, it offers tons of history, nightlife, and outdoors. Take a trip outside of downtown Elko and you will have great opportunities for rock climbing, hiking, off-roading, and other fun activities. While Elko was established as a railroad town in 1869, it has come a long way and today it attracts many visitors from all over the United States.

20. Lamoille Canyon

Lamoille Canyon Nevada USA

Photo credit: loren chipman

Known as the Grand Canyon of Nevada, Lamoille Canyon is one of the most striking places in the snow-capped Ruby Mountains.

The scenic drive snakes for 12 miles through the glacier-carved canyon and brings visitors to an altitude of nearly 9,000 feet. The area is a true heaven for adventurers with over 100 miles of hiking trails and tons of space for camping and picnicking.

Thank you, Daria, for your curated list of the best things to do in Nevada, some of these were brand new to me and I am adding them to my list of places to check out on my next trip. (Given I work in tech and there are a lot of conferences in Vegas, I am sure that isn’t going to be too far into the future!) If you enjoyed this guest post from The Discovery Nut, check out more of her blog and follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook!

Now, how about you? Have you been to any of these spots in Nevada? Have another spot to share? Do tell!

For a visual summary of this post, check out my Nevada web story!

Like it? PIN it!

20 Best Things To Do in Nevada 20 Best Things To Do in Nevada 20 Best Things To Do in Nevada 20 Best Things To Do in Nevada

Currently June 2020
← Previous
Becoming More Spiritual - It's A Journey
Next →

rachel

Thursday 9th of July 2020

We have a visit to Nevada planned next year! I'll have to add a few of these to our list!

Caitlin

Thursday 9th of July 2020

Gosh some of these spots are so gorgeous and unexpected! Incline Village is not something I think of when I think Nevada!

Amber Myers

Wednesday 8th of July 2020

What gorgeous photos. I would love to make it to Nevada one day. There's so much to see and do.

Anna Elle Liz

Wednesday 8th of July 2020

I'll admit I had no idea Nevada was this cool (sorry Nevadians)! I love your thorough lists because I have so much in mind to do when I go to the places you recommend! The Lamoille Canyon would be for sure on my list!

Francesca

Tuesday 7th of July 2020

I just went to Valley of Fire for the first time a few weeks ago. With Nevada so close to me, I really need to explore more of other places besides Las Vegas. The Extraterrestrial Highway looks cool and I would love to hit the National Park as well.