Nevada is famous around the world for its glamorous casinos, top-notch entertainment and luxury hotels. It’s a place to come if you want to let your hair down and have a good time. Yet there’s a lot more to the place than simply its nightlife. Known as the silver state, Nevada is located in the southwest United States between Oregon and Idaho in the north, Utah and Arizona in the east, and California in the west. This perfect positioning means it’s easy to visit Nevada during a longer road trip around the western states, ticking off the major cities and parks as you go.
The remote desert state of Nevada boasts beautiful landscapes and has a lot to offer adventurous travellers, including outdoor activities, historic landmarks, and stunning scenery. You can enjoy endless wilderness rambles through the Valley of Fire, bounce around on jeep rides in the Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area and hunt for relics in the wonderfully named Ice Age Fossils State Park.
If you’re visiting Nevada for a week or two, here are some of the places you should include on your itinerary:
You can’t visit Nevada without taking a trip to Las Vegas, the entertainment capital of the world. This glitzy city is often the first point of call for many visitors since it’s a great transport hub and even boasts an international airport.
The great thing about Las Vegas is that you can spend as little or as much money as you’d like. There’s really something for everyone here. One thing to remember when you’re experiencing the delights of sin city is that you need to stick to a budget to ensure you don’t overspend. With all the glamorous trappings of Vegas, it can be easy to get blinded by the lights and before you know it, you’ve spent all your holiday savings in one evening!
There’s so much to see and do along the 2.5 miles that make up the Las Vegas Strip, so plan to spend at least a couple of days here. You’ll want to visit the iconic hotels such as the Bellagio, Venetian, Paris, and New York – stay in one if you can or book a meal there one evening if your pennies won’t stretch that far. If you do nothing else, make sure you enjoy a stroll along the Strip in the evening, when everything is all lit up against the night sky. It’s an unforgettable experience and one that you won’t want to miss.
While you’ll see roulette tables and slots at every turn in Las Vegas, you can also experience some of the best concerts, shows, and events in the world in the city. There are even several circus performances for something a bit different but do book ahead if you want to secure the best seats.
If you’re staying in Las Vegas for more than a couple of days, it’s worth venturing off the Strip to check out Freemont Street in the old downtown part of the city. Every night the district puts on a free LED light show known as the Freemont Street Experience, which is well worth seeing, especially if you want a bit of fodder for your Instagram feed.
One of the most breathtaking sites in Nevada is the Hoover Dam, which is located just 37 miles south of Las Vegas. This man-made wonder was built during the Great Depression in the 1930s and is known as a marvel of modern engineering. It supplies much of Nevada, Arizona, and California with hydroelectric power.
Hoover Dam sits across the Black Canyon on the border between Arizona and Nevada, and you can enjoy the view of the Colorado River down below from both states. Visitors can walk across the dam for spectacular photo vantage points but be careful if you have a fear of heights – it’s a steep drop down there! Another great view is from Bypass Bridge, which lets you truly appreciate the enormous scale of the project.
If you want to learn about the history of the dam, you can go on a guided tour inside the structure itself. This is a great way to discover more about the construction process and just what goes on behind the scenes.
Visiting Hoover dam makes a great road trip, and lots of people come here on a day visit from Las Vegas. However, there are plenty of campgrounds in the area if you want to stay overnight, which is highly recommended. If you’re planning to cover a lot of land in Nevada, travelling by campervan is an excellent way to see the state.
Lake Tahoe is located on the border of Nevada and California and offers visitors a wealth of outdoor activities and attractions. It’s a freshwater alpine lake, with long sandy beaches and crystal-clear water. There are plenty of hotels and restaurants here, so you could spend a few days chilling out by the shore if you like. It makes a great stop on a road trip if you’re looking for a bit of downtime in between adventures.
Swimming in summer is a popular pastime at Lake Tahoe, although the waters are a little chilly so you might not linger for too long. Meanwhile, watersports activities are enjoyed year-round, with stand up paddle boarding, kayaking and water skiing often receiving top billing. You can also have a go at sailing and finishing, or head out on a scenic sunset cruise for something a bit more leisurely.
In winter, the surrounding mountains are dusted with snow, creating a fairy tale scene for explorers who venture to these shores. Just because swimming is off the cards doesn’t mean that Lake Tahoe doesn’t have anything to offer during the icy winter months. You can have a blast on a snowmobiling tour, go skiing or snowboarding, and enjoy a well-deserved soak in the spa after a fun day out on the slopes. Shopping here is excellent too, and while the nightlife doesn’t quite match that of Las Vegas, it comes pretty close.
Valley of Fire State Park
For a final dose of adrenaline and adventure, head to the spectacular Valley of Fire State Park in the Mohave Desert and prepare to be mesmerised by geology. It’s amazing what nature can do, and there’s nowhere better to experience it than in this remote region of Nevada.
You can drive through the Valley of Fire in your own vehicle, or join a tour if you want to explore some of the more off-road areas. Either way, you’ll be able to enjoy the scenery that unfolds before your eyes as you wind down the road. It’s another easy day trip from Las Vegas if you don’t fancy spending the night in the area.
The park is famed for its red sandstone rock formations, which tower high above in all sorts of unusual shapes. Formed over millions of years, these rocky stacks, pinnacles and cliffs have to be seen to be believed. When the sun comes out, the landforms shine a bright red-gold colour, which is how the park got its name.
This is the oldest state park in Nevada, and you can really feel the passage of time here. There are several hiking trails of varying difficulties so you can get up close and personal with the ancient landscape. Keep an eye out for Bighorn sheep on your journey, and don’t miss the famous Elephant Rock that sits beside the eastern entrance to the valley.