The state of Nevada is full of sublime scenery – from snow-capped mountains to red-sand deserts, and bright fields of wildflowers to cool blue lakes.
Nevada is more than casinos and neon lights: It contains some of the most splendid scenery in the world. Snowy peaks and desert valleys, colorful fields of wildflowers and sapphire blue lakes can all be found in the Silver State. Here are some of our favorite spots to enjoy the great outdoors and Nevada’s best outdoor activities.
Cathedral Gorge State Park
Whether you seek to explore the outdoors or preserve its beauty through art, Cathedral Gorge State Park is a must-visit destination in Nevada. The area is dominated by incredible spires, cliffs and other rock formations formed by millions of years of evolution and erosion. A wide variety of flora and fauna can be observed along the many hiking paths.
The Fly Geyser lies about two hours north of Reno in the Black Rock Desert. The geyser was created when a geothermal power company drilled a test well on the site and didn’t properly cap it, thus creating this multicolored, water-spewing rock formation. The property surrounding the geyser has been purchased by the Burning Man Project, who conduct guided nature tours on the property.
Great Basin National Park
With mountain peaks, subterranean caves, miles of hiking trails, ancient growth forests, visitor centers and camping areas, Great Basin National Park has much to offer. The Lehman Caves are fascinating to explore, while creeks and streams offer places to fish. Great Basin is also an International Dark Sky Park, providing optimal viewing of the heavens, as well as a series of astronomy programs.
The United States’ first national recreation area, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area actually contains two lakes: Lake Mead and Lake Mohave. The lakes and park are open year-round for boating, fishing, hiking, picnicking and sightseeing. Visitors can raft through Black Canyon, hike the Historic Railroad Tunnel trail, participate in watersports on Lake Mohave or take part in the many other activities available in the area. Lake Mead attracts millions of visitors each year, making it one of the most visited sites in the national park system.
Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park
Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park contains a number of recreational areas, including Sand Harbor, Spooner Backcountry, Cave Rock and Van Sickle. For water activities, head for the beaches of Sand Harbor or hit Cave Rock for boating, fishing and swimming. The Spooner Backcountry provides great opportunities for hiking and mountain biking, while Van Sickle has historic sites, breathtaking views and more.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Located east of Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon contains almost 200,000 acres of the Mojave Desert. With 19 hiking trails, several climbing sites and a campground, there is plenty to explore. The best way to take it all in is the 13-mile (21-kilometer) loop that cuts through Red Rock, which allows visitors and bikers to get a comprehensive view of the park.
The Springs Preserve offers an escape to nature in the middle of the city. Located in Las Vegas, the 180-acre site is home to two museums, walking trails, animal habitats, gardens and a mini boomtown. Springs Preserve hosts events, exhibitions and classes throughout the year, from ice cream socials to jazz concerts and cultural festivals.
Valley of Fire
Valley of Fire State Park takes its name from its red sandstone formations dating from the age of the dinosaurs. For history buffs, the park features petrified wood and 3,000-year-old Indian petroglyphs. Lovers of the outdoors will appreciate the picnic areas, camping sites and designated rock climbing areas. Lucky visitors may even come across the rare (and protected) desert tortoise.