The Silver State of Nevada is a state of contrasts. From the neon lights, glitzy casinos and glamorous clubs of Las Vegas to the captivating Western towns and mesmerising parks of Northern Nevada, the diversity of the state is jaw dropping.
Nicknamed the Silver State, Nevada’s past is rooted in mining. In 1849 gold was discovered in a stream near Dayton, which later led to the discovery of silver in the Comstock Lode in 1859. Today, most people think of the bright lights of Las Vegas and Reno or the endlessly long drive down Interstate 80 when you mention Nevada. Yet beyond the crowds and hedonism of sin city, this surprising state is full of beautiful, scenic and incredibly remote areas.
Snow-capped mountains, vast meadows, sprawling valleys and deep canyons are waiting to be discovered in Nevada. From the tranquillity of Lake Tahoe and Lake Mead, with its monumental Hoover Dam, to a journey along the Loneliest Road - part of the old Pony Express Trail across the North of the state - you’ll learn how stunning Nevada's natural beauty is.
Things to do
Popular Nevada holiday ideas
Top tips for visiting Nevada
1. The urban areas
• Consisting of the Reno and Las Vegas areas, are heavily dependent on tourism and thus very welcoming to outsiders. In addition, these areas have seen a huge influx of immigration in recent years from both inside and outside the USA and thus have a cosmopolitan feel. In a gambling town, everyone's your friend as long as you have money!
2. The rural areas
• Rural folk in Nevada have an easy going nature and a tolerance of people that they don't feel threatened by. Some rural areas have significant populations of Native American peoples, mainly Paiute and Shoshone. Visitors to Pyramid Lake should know that any recreational use of the Lake and the reservation land around it require permits. Tribal police spot-check vehicles and hikers for this paperwork and will issue tickets bearing significant fines if proof of payment cannot be produced.
• English is the official language of Nevada but Spanish is also widely spoken. Like much of the southwest, Nevada was heavily influenced by the language, Hispanic culture and history under Spanish and Mexican rule. Tagalog is also spoken among Filipino populations
4. Desert Travel
• There's an awful lot of desert to explore in Nevada and it's very easy to leave civilization behind. While that is a worthy goal, common sense is necessary to avoid life-threatening situations.
5. What to drive
• Vehicle breakdown and getting stuck are the easiest ways to get into serious trouble in the desert. Don't travel far from the pavement in a low-clearance vehicle. Four-wheel drive is strongly recommended for the winter months and is advised for unpaved mountain roads anytime. It is best to travel in a convoy of multiple vehicles, so that one breakdown will not strand you. Gas stations are few and far between, and often not open around the clock, so it is a good idea to carry extra fuel. If you do break down or run out of fuel, your best bet is to stay with the vehicle - unless you're within 10 miles or so of civilization – and wait for someone to come by.
• Most of Nevada is cold desert above 4,000'/1,300m elevation with summer daytime temperatures around 85F/30C and nights cooling sharply to 50°F/10°C. Winter temperatures are more variable and can drop far below zero. Lower elevations in the Las Vegas area create hot desert with summer daytime temperatures consistently above 100°F/40°C and little night time relief, but pleasant winters.
7. Be prepared
• Carry extra clothing, sleeping bags and tyre chains between October and April and remember that occasional snowstorms are possible above 4,000 feet/1,300metres as late as June. Summer thunderstorms can be locally intense, causing flash-floods where roads cross normally-dry washes. Wear a hat, long shirt, long trousers, sunblock and drink plenty of water to avoid heat stroke and sunburn in the summer.