Do you think Nevada is only about card tables and slot machines? There's a lot more to Nevada than glitzy casinos, nighttime performances, and resorts.
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If you are a nature lover, there is no better place to visit than Nevada. To help you plan your trip, we have compiled a list of things that every nature-loving traveler should do when they come to the Silver State. From easy day trips outside Las Vegas to epic backpacking adventures in the Mojave Desert, we will give you plenty of ideas for how best to enjoy Nevada's amazing natural beauty!
The Ultimate Nevada Bucket List for Nature Lovers
Think of Nevada as your personal nature retreat. With stunning mountain ranges, deep desert spaces, and waterways worthy enough to make any photographer drool over how beautiful they are… this state has it all!
From majestic mountains that reach up into the sky or wide-open plains where you can find miles upon endless miles without so much as another human being in sight; there’s truly something here for everyone.
There are numerous waterfalls that will take your breath away in the Hoover Dam National Park or awe-inspiring views from high atop Colorado's tallest peaks. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, this is where it's at. You'll find no shortage of gorgeous things that are waiting for you to see. Come and see what Nevada has to offer.
Whether you're seeking to take a day off the glitz and glam of Vegas or plan an extensive trip throughout Nevada's natural wonders, we'll do our best to show you the finest that Nevada has to offer for nature enthusiasts.
Spring Mountains National Recreation Area
Also known as Mount Charleston, this recreational area is just 35 miles northwest of Las Vegas, making it a must if you’re on the lookout for an easy day trip from the Silver City.
At Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, hiking is a must. You'll get some of the most magnificent views of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Death Valley, and Las Vegas from the top!
There's something for everyone when it comes to nature excursions on Mount Charleston, with 60 miles of paths. There are a few picnic areas on-site as well as several campgrounds if you want to relax or spend the night in the great outdoors.
The Spring Mountains provide excellent snow skiing and snowboarding opportunities in the winter. The season is filled with activities like sledding, snowshoeing, snowball battles, and wildlife viewing. If you want to go skiing or snowboarding, Lee Canyon is an excellent choice.
Mount Charleston is open as of this posting. Their website states “WE ARE OPEN! Current Operations are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm. We're also operating on most holidays. We are following the agency and CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19, closely monitoring the situation, and responding to current conditions”
The Ethel M Chocolates Factory and Cactus Garden
Step into a world of beauty and wonder at Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden. The three-acre garden, located inside the factory complex where cocoa was once born (hence its name), features over one hundred cacti from around the globe as well as exhibits on Nevada's rich history with chocolate production dating back to 1875.
Why not spend some time at the Ethel M Cactus Gardens? It is one of the largest botanical cactus gardens in the southwest and is sure to please. With more than 350 types of plants and animals, you're bound to find something that piques your interests or surprises you. You will definitely want to bring your camera to this amazing hidden wonderland.
Valley of Fire State Park
Tucked in the heart of the Mojave Desert, Valley of Fire State Park is made up of 46,000 acres of striking red Aztec sandstone. The stunning landscape at this unique national park glows red for miles into the horizon, and when sunlight hits the rocks that dot the area, just right they turn into swirling shades of reds, oranges, and pinks, making them look as though they’re actually on fire. This is where this amazing park gets its name from.
With elevations ranging from 1,500 feet to 3,000 feet, hiking here is a real treat, especially around sunset when the rocks put on their fiery show. The White Dome's trail is a must to get an overall feel of the park, as the hike will have you passing incredible viewpoints to see the rocks changing colors, mesmerizing slot canyons, and even a cave or two! Other trails include the Mouse Tank and the Atlatl Rock hikes, both of which will have you witnessing prehistoric petroglyphs that tell the story of the area.
It's not just about reaching your destination but also experiencing all this amazing scenery along the way.
Whether you want to spend the night or just visit for a day, don't miss out on witnessing one of nature's most breathtaking sunsets here. The Valley of Fire looks particularly beautiful during those hours as it captures all colors and forms in its stone landscape that seems like an image straight from ancient times when people were more in tune with their spirit and lived amongst these incredible ruins.
Camping is available at this park, offering those looking for a genuinely immersive encounter of natural beauty. There are plenty of opportunities to pitch a tent or park your RV and begin exploring the area's natural wonders. The Nevada State Park Campground is open all year round, so you can visit any time of the year and enjoy some truly memorable experiences in this amazing place.
The Valley of Fire has been used as inspiration for many artists, musicians, visual poets, and painters to name but a few throughout the years. It’s no surprise that visiting here will inspire you too. Be sure to bring along your camera, sketchbooks, journals—whatever creative tools work best for you when inspiring yourself with new ideas, You never know what wonderful memories you could make if you're willing to open your mind and enjoy Nevada's natural splendor.
If you’re ready to see Nevada from a different perspective, then visit the Valley of Fire State Park for an unforgettable adventure into Nevada’s rich past as well as its fascinating present. It is sure to take your breath away and inspire countless works of art in all forms of media.
The Nevada State Railroad Museum
The Nevada Northern Railway is one of the state’s greatest resources for education, history, tourism, and recreation. The Nevada Northern runs the trains along a variety of scenic routes through the wilderness areas in both Nevada & California including Death Valley National Park.
Visitors can enjoy breathtaking views as they ride aboard Nevada Northern trains. Nevada Northern passenger excursions, dinner, and brunch specials are offered year-round.
The Nevada State Railroad Museum is an educational institution dedicated to the preservation of Nevada's rail history for future generations.
A visit to this museum will provide you with a look back into Nevada’s colorful past as well as give you hands-on experience with Nevada's railroad history!
Great Basin National Park
The Great Basin National Park is located in Nevada and Utah on the eastern edge of the state, and it is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. Wheeler Peak's 13,000-foot climb is a favorite pastime at this location and the highlight of Rock Climbing in Great Basin National Park.
If you'd rather go on a hike, there are over 60 miles of trails to choose from, all of which are quite different from one another and may provide encounters ranging from sightings of animals to limestone caverns, peaceful lakes, and more.
If you're up for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, camping at Great Basin National Park is a must. Because of its remote position, this national park is one of the darkest places in the United States, making it a real treat for stargazing, astronomy programs are held year-round here, so you know it is going to be a treat.
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park, which sits on the border between California and Nevada, is a paradise for environmental enthusiasts. The park is teeming with vivid mountain vistas, canyons, and miles of untouched sand dunes, ensuring that its somewhat dreary name does not apply here.
Aside from its natural splendor, Death Valley is also a historical treasure. The area's history is recorded by Hell's Gate, Coffin Peak, Funeral Mountain, and Starvation Canyon, as well as numerous relics that tell the story of those who lived here before. In addition to that, Death Valley has ghost towns, abandoned metal facilities, and the remains of the Nevada Southern Railway, which is now a part of Death Valley's history.
There are plenty of things to see at this incredible national park and you'll probably run out of time as there are so many activities for every season here. There’s no doubt that visiting Nevada will not be complete without a visit to Death Valley national park.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Covering an area of more than 700 miles, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area is Nevada's most popular destination for outdoor activities and home to the largest reservoir in the United States.
The recreation area offers plenty for visitors including fishing, boating, and camping, as well as hiking trails ranging from the Nevada desert to lush forests. There is something for everyone here..
The Virgin River Gorge National Conservation Area
This one is a must-see and is so close to Nevada we had to include it here. The Virgin River Gorge sits on the border of Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. Visit one of Nevada's, Arizona's; and Utah's most popular outdoor attractions, The Virgin River Gorge National Conservation Area. If a scenic drive that stretches almost 40 miles is appealing to you, then this multi-state attraction will surely not disappoint. This area features some of the most beautiful desert scenery in Nevada and it offers a range of activities for visitors at almost every turn from hiking trails to scenic flights.
Nevada, despite being a landlocked state, is capable of providing some incredible beach excursions! If you're looking for a day spent in the sun while visiting Nevada during the summer months, Lake Tahoe is your destination.
The stunning scenery on these California beaches is hard to beat. From blue water that turns emerald green and white sand so soft, you could easily confuse it for a Caribbean coastline if not the views of Sierra Mountains hovering in the distance like some guardians angelic wings shielding their charges from harm.
Lake Tahoe is your one-stop shop for aquatic activities. Simply said, Lake Tahoe is a lovely place to go for anything related to water fun, as you'll be able to do things like boating, fishing, swimming, and more! During the winter season, snowcapped mountains surrounding the lake become the highlight of the show, with some of the best ski resorts and winter sports in America.
The snowy summits that surround the lake become the main attraction during the winter months when they're bathed in the moonlight.
There are so many things to see and do in Nevada, making it the perfect destination for nature lovers of all kinds. Make sure you add some of these amazing national parks and recreation areas to your Nevada bucket list! You won't regret it!