Best Things to do in Nevada

The 25 Best Things to do in Nevada

While the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas typically get the bulk of attention when talking about Nevada, this incredible state is much more than that. In addition to incredible natural landscapes and scenic drives, it’s also home to fascinating small towns and fun outdoor adventures. 

Hiking, biking, and fishing opportunities can be found scattered across the state, while ski hills call to winter enthusiasts. Road trips in Nevada lead to bucket list adventures, whether you’re taking in the spectacular sights of Great Basin National Park or driving along the Loneliest Road in America. Get off the beaten path and experience cowboy culture in small towns like Elko, then embark on an extraterrestrial quest or soak in a roadside hot spring!

Whatever you do, make sure to get outdoors and experience Nevada’s most dramatic natural scenery. Hiking opportunities are endless, whether you prefer the red peaks in Red Rock Canyon, sandstone formation scenery in Valley Fire State Park, or impressive alpine lake views in Lake Tahoe. 

With so many things to see and do in the Silver State, you might be overwhelmed with where to start. So, we’ve done the hard work for you, compiling a list of the top things to do in Nevada with the best attractions, outdoor adventures, and hidden gems to add to your itinerary. Stick to this unique Nevada bucket list and experience its top adventure-packed destinations.

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25 Cool and Unique Things to do in Nevada

1. Win Big on the Las Vegas Strip 

Fun Things to do in Nevada: Las Vegas Strip

A top activity on most Nevada bucket lists, a visit to Sin City’s dazzling Strip offers access to its 24-hour casinos and endless entertainment. Las Vegas is a hive of activity at any time of day with fine dining, shopping, and live performances at your fingertips. It’s nicknamed the “Entertainment Capital of the World” for good reason!

From romantic gondola rides at the Venetian Hotel to heart-pumping freefall rides atop the Stratosphere, it’s easy to fill your itinerary in this action-packed city. If you’re looking for something unique, catch the fantastic fountain show at the Bellagio or snag tickets to the Cirque du Soleil Beatles LOVE show. 

Nights in Las Vegas can go in a thousand different directions, with most lured in by the slot machines and game tables at top casinos such as The Venetian, Caesars Palace, ARIA, and the Wynn. If you want to take your picture next to the classic retro “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, you’ll find it near the Luxor Hotel!

You can travel around the world on the Strip. Take a trip to see the faux-Manhattan skyline and Big Apple roller coaster at New York-New York and then head over to the replica Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas. Standing 550 feet tall, a ride on the High Roller observation wheel at The LINQ offers a bird’s-eye view of the Strip’s brightly lit landmarks. 

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2. Stroll the Fremont Street Experience

Nevada Things to do: Fremont Street Experience

When exploring Las Vegas, don’t overlook Fremont Street in the old downtown area, which used to be dominated by classic but less-frequented casinos. Blanketed in a canopy of LED lights, it’s now a spectacle at night with its famous Fremont Street Experience being a must-do activity in Nevada. 

Occupying several blocks, the Fremont Street Experience features the Viva Vision Light Show that is considered the world’s largest digital display and 100% free to enjoy. The area has several other activities to enjoy, including live music, food stands, and souvenir shops.

One of the most fun ways to experience Fremont is to fly high on the SlotZilla zipline, which sits 12 stories high above the crowds and pedestrian walkway. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also experience the giant 200,000-gallon shark tank via a three-story water slide at the Golden Nugget

You can also see the largest sportsbook screen at Circa or rub Happy Buddha’s belly at The California Hotel & Casino, then dine on slices of New York-style pizza surrounded by motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel memorabilia at Evel Pie. Beer lovers will want to sample the lineup of unique craft beers at Banger Brewing, which also hosts behind-the-scenes tours of their brewery.  


3. Visit the Quirkiest Attractions in Las Vegas

Cool Things to do in Nevada: Quirkiest Attractions in Las Vegas
Image courtesy of The Mob Museum

While you might not expect it, some of the coolest things to do in Nevada are actually outside of the renowned casinos. Aside from Sin City’s nightlife, shopping, and dining scene, you’ll find a long list of unique attractions that are worthy of a day trip. 

Start your journey outside the Las Vegas casinos at The Mob Museum, which is the only museum in the United States dedicated to organized crime. The Neon Museum is another top-rated unique attraction in Las Vegas. The museum is nicknamed the Neon Boneyard for its iconic signage from the city’s past. 

Take the time to browse the fascinating exhibits in the National Atomic Testing Museum, which documents the history of nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site. For something lighter, the Pinball Hall of Fame is a fun place to explore with its playable machines that have been restored to their former glory. 

Located next to the popular Bodies: The Exhibition at the Luxor Hotel – where you can get a close-up look at various organs – the Titanic: The Expedition is a family-friendly activity. At this attraction, you can get a look at the construction of the famous ocean liner and experience what it was like being a traveler onboard the ship. 

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4. Visit the Hoover Dam

Built 80 years ago during the Great Depression, the Hoover Dam is a marvel of modern construction. Located in Black Canyon, it is actually the highest concrete dam in the Western Hemisphere. 

Visit this must-see attraction in Nevada and walk across the dam via a walking bridge. If you want to learn more about the site, you can also take one of the tours to hear about how the dam came to be and how it manages to provide hydroelectric power to Nevada, Arizona, and California. 

Head to the Hoover Dam Visitor Center to pick up tour tickets. You can choose a Guided Dam Tour for a look at the tunnels and original elevator, while the Guided Powerplant Tour offers a look at the viewing platform overlooking where you can feel the vibration created by water rushing through the pipe. Lastly, the Self-Guided Visitor Center Tour allows access to the narrated exhibits and 360-degree views of the Dam, Colorado River, and Lake Mead. 

From the 726-foot-high dam, you can enjoy beautiful views of Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States. Set on the Nevada and Arizona state line, it’s an easy day trip from Las Vegas, which is just 45 minutes away. 


5. Follow the Scenic Drive in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Cool Things to do in Nevada: Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is easily one of the most scenic destinations in Arizona. Located 17 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip, this stunning area is known for its striking red rock formations that jut high above the Mojave Desert. 

If you’re short on time, one of the best ways to explore this area is via the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive. While only 13 miles long, this backcountry byway passes through some of its most spectacular sights, including desert landscapes, red rock formations, and 7,000-foot sandstone and limestone cliffs. 

Hiking is also a popular activity at Red Rock Canyon, as well as rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing. With more than 195,000 acres to explore, you’re spoiled for choice with sightseeing and photography opportunities. 

Some of the highlights of Red Rock Canyon include the Calico Basin, which features vibrant red landscapes and vistas on its scenic trails. The Lost Canyon Children’s Discovery and Keystone Thrust trails are ideal for low-key adventures, while the five-mile Turtlehead Peak Trail is ideal for expert hikers. 

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6. Go Swimming and Hiking at Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Fun Things to do in Nevada: Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Featuring some of Nevada’s most spectacular scenery, Lake Mead National Recreation Area is one of the best spots in Nevada to beat the heat. Stretching for nearly 1.5 million acres on the shores of Lake Mead and Lake Mohave, it’s a hotspot for swimming, beaching, boating, and camping on the shorelines. 

One of the most popular places to swim is at Boulder Basin on Lake Mead, which is located just north of the Hoover Dam. Willow Beach and Cottonwood Cove are also popular swimming spots at Lake Mohave, while Princess Cove, Cabinsite Cove, and Katherine Beach are favorites with locals. 

If you want to stretch your legs, the dog-friendly Historic Railroad Trail is an interesting 7.1-mile round-trip hike along the old railway bed. Along the way, you’ll traverse large tunnels that were once part of the railroad route and enjoy beautiful panoramic views of Lake Mead.

The area also features more than 700 miles of fishable shoreline, where anglers can hook in striped bass, channel catfish, bluegill, and rainbow trout. Alternately, opt for a scenic drive along the Lake Mead Scenic Byway for views of the surrounding canyons, cliffs, and rock formations. 


7. Hike to Rock Art Sites at Gold Butte National Monument

Best Things to do in Nevada: Gold Butte National Monument

Covering nearly 300,000 acres of remote and rugged desert landscapes in southeastern Nevada, Gold Butte National Monument is one of the state’s best-kept secrets. Expect to see photogenic landscapes around every corner at this natural wonder nestled in the Mojave Desert, including dramatic red sandstone formations and twisting canyons.

In addition to its vibrant landscapes, this area is known for its ancient petroglyph panels and variety of wildlife, including desert bighorn sheep. Whitney Pocket is your first stop in this unique destination, featuring the remnants of an original prehistoric roasting pit and panels of ancient petroglyphs. 

Little Finland is another highlight of Gold Butte, where you’ll discover a photogenic landscape of wind-swept red rock formations. In addition to its forests of Joshua trees, this site also features a collection of ancient petroglyphs. 

The 110-foot-deep Devil’s Throat sinkhole is worthy of a stop, while hiking lovers can add a scenic (but strenuous) hike to the summit of Virgin Peak for impressive views at 8,000 feet. If you’re interested in history, you can also visit the Gold Butte Historic Townsite that features old mine shafts and historic gravesites.  


8. Marvel at Elephant Rock in Valley of Fire State Park

Cool Things to do in Nevada: Valley of Fire State Park

Set within the Mojave Desert, Valley of Fire State Park is known for its striking red sandstone formations and scenic hiking trails. You can spend a day exploring the cactus-studded landscape, which includes 40,000 acres of petrified trees and petroglyphs dating back more than 2,000 years. 

It’s one of the top things to do in Nevada for outdoor adventures, with its famous Elephant Rock sitting as its centerpiece. Located next to the east entrance, this one-of-a-kind arch rock formation actually resembles an elephant and is one of the most photographed spots in the park. 

Other highlights at Valley of Fire State Park include the unique sandstone formations that look like beehives, as well as the petroglyphs found along the short family-friendly 0.75-mile round-trip hike to Mouse’s Tank. For panoramic views over the landscape, follow the scenic one-mile Rainbow Vista trail. 

Nature photographers flock to the white and red zebra print sandstone found along the 1.5-mile Fire Wave Trail to see its unique patterns up close. You can also walk through a narrow slot canyon in the 1.25-mile White Domes trail or climb the staircase at Atlatl Rock to discover stunning displays of petroglyphs. 


9. Hike Cathedral Rock Trail in Mount Charleston

What to do in Nevada: Mount Charleston

Mount Charleston is just 35 miles northwest of Las Vegas and is one of the best places in Nevada to escape the summer heat. The region has more than 315,000 acres of incredible natural diversity, making it an ideal spot for a hiking adventure. 

There are over 60 miles of trails up and around Mount Charleston, with a route available for every skill and fitness level. One of the best hikes in the area is Cathedral Rock Trail, a 2.7-mile journey that features incredible views. 

It’s a moderate hike with a trailhead that starts at 7,600 feet above sea level, while you’ll gain around 970 in elevation during the hike. Trek through Ponderosa pine and fir forests, then admire a waterfall at the halfway point. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Kyle Canyon. 

Other popular hikes in Mount Charleston include the 3.2-mile Mary Jane Falls and the Fletcher Canyon Trail, which offers beautiful views of Mummy Mountain. However, avid hikers can tackle the South Loop Trail to the summit of Charleston Peak at almost 12,000 feet. This epic hike is so spectacular that it’s usually at the top of local hiker’s bucket lists! 

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10. See the Ruins of a 1905 Gold-Mining Town

Best Things to do in Nevada: Goldwell Open Air Museum
Image courtesy of Goldwell Open Air Museum

Located near Death Valley, Rhyolite Ghost Town is one of several short-lived boomtowns from the Gold Rush era. It’s one of the coolest things to do in Nevada if you love history, as this desolate community was once booming in 1905 when gold was discovered. 

Taking its name from a native rock, this eerie town is set in the Bullfrog Hills. Come and tour the Goldwell Open Air Museum at its entrance and hear about its glory days with its bustling saloons, gambling tables, lodging houses, restaurants, and barbershops. It’s said to be one of the most photographed ghost towns in the West!

Today you can find several remnants of the fascinating boomtown to explore, including the walls of a three-story bank building, part of the old jail, and a train depot. Don’t miss the pristine Tom Kelly bottle house that was built completely out of 50,000 medicine, beer, and whisky bottles. 

You’ll also find a collection of unique outdoor art strewn around this ghost town, including 12 life-sized disciples patterned after The Last Supper. With empty flowing robes made of fiberglass, they appear like ghosts! 


11. Spot Rare Fish at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

Cool Things to do in Nevada: Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

​​One of the most underrated nature sites in Nevada, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is a haven for wildlife. This Mojave Desert location is home to rare fish, plants, snails, and insects, as well as crystal clear ponds and picturesque landscapes. 

It provides a habitat for at least 24 plants and animals found nowhere else in the world, with a few fish and one plant listed as endangered. Walk along its winding boardwalks and take in the spectacular views, including the pristine Crystal Spring that pushes 2,800 gallons of water per minute!

There are other trails worth exploring, such as the Longstreet Spring and Fairbanks Spring, while the Point-of-Rocks area has interesting interpretive panels and bird-watching spots. See if you can spot the Desert Pupfish at Devil’s Hole, which was the very first listing of endangered species.

Just 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, the refuge is easily combined with a visit to nearby Death Valley National Park, which is a 30-minute drive away. The best time to visit is in spring and fall because the temperatures are more comfortable for wildlife to explore. 


12. Visit Alien Country on the Extraterrestrial Highway

Best Things to do in Nevada: Extraterrestrial Highway
Image courtesy of Alien Research Center

If you’re looking for an out-of-this-world adventure in Nevada, pack your bags and head for the Extraterrestrial Highway. With rumors of alien spacecraft and UFOs, this wide-open road is a worthy alien-themed adventure in the Silver State. 

Running past the Nevada Test and Training Range, including the infamous Area 51, this voyage along state Route 375 is a one-of-a-kind road trip. Start in Las Vegas and head north to Crystal Springs, stopping in Rachel or Tonopah to explore their unique attractions.

You’ll find worthy stops along the way, including the snack-filled E.T. Fresh Jerky shop and the Alien Research Center, a self-proclaimed gateway to the highway. You can even leave a message at the infamous “Black Mailbox” or opt to moonwalk at the 430-foot-deep Lunar Crater. Make sure to snap a photo of one of the Extraterrestrial Highway signs at either end of your route and the “Welcome Earthlings” sign outside the town of Little A’Le’Inn (pronounced Little Alien).

For a unique overnight adventure, book a night at the 1907-built Mizpah Hotel known for its ghostly guests or the infamous Clown Motel decorated with thousands of clowns! Both are located in Tonopah. 

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13. Enjoy a Soak in Spencer Hot Springs

Travelers have been soaking in the soothing mineral waters of Spencer Hot Springs for decades. It’s a must on any nature lovers Nevada bucket list, offering the perfect post-adventure treat after a long day of hiking. 

Set in an open desert, Spencer is actually a cluster of natural springs on public land and a unique off-road experience. A relaxing retreat, the rustic hot springs offer the perfect combination of enticingly warm temperatures and panoramic nature views of the Toiyabe National Forest. 

There are four different sources and you can control the flow of water into the tubs. Two of the bathing spots are manmade pools constructed from metal cattle troughs – called cowboy tubs – while the other features a natural soft bottom. 

Best of all, Spencer Hot Springs is managed by Nevada BLM, making it free public access available to all. After enjoying a relaxing soak, it’s also worth exploring the surrounding region, as the springs are only a 30-minute drive to the historic pictographs at Tequila Cave.


14. Hike to the Summit of Mt. Rose at Lake Tahoe

Unique Things to do in Nevada: Mt. Rose at Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is one of Nevada’s crown jewels, surrounded by the snowcapped Sierra Nevada Mountains. The 22-mile-long alpine lake is the largest in North America and offers endless opportunities for both water and land recreation. 

The freshwater lake sits on the Nevada and California border and is a popular year-round destination for outdoor lovers. There are plenty of hiking trails here to choose from, but if you’re looking for a real adventure, one of the best ways to experience the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe is by summiting Mt. Rose. 

In addition to waterfall views, the reward of hiking this Nevada trail is the 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape, including the beautiful mountain scenery that make up the Lake Tahoe skyline. While Mt. Rose is the second-largest peak in the Tahoe Basin, you’ll only find a 2,300-foot elevation gain on this 10-mile trek. Shorter treks can be found nearby at Tahoe Meadows, just west of the Mt. Rose summit. 

When you’re ready to get out on the water, you can canoe, water-ski, or jet across the sparkling blue waters. You can also come to relax on the beautiful beaches or camp overnight in a nearby campground. Plus, Lake Tahoe’s ski resorts are also nearby. 

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15. Hit the Slopes at Mt. Rose – Ski Tahoe

Must do things in Nevada: Ski Tahoe

​​Ski enthusiasts exploring Nevada are in luck because Mt. Rose – Ski Tahoe offers more than 1,200 acres of ski terrain. With beautiful views overlooking Reno and Lake Tahoe, this ski resort caters to skiers and snowboarders with over 60 trails accessed by eight lifts. 

About half of the trails at Mt. Rose are designed for beginner and intermediate runs, while the other half is designated for advanced and expert skiers. Both of the north and east slopes at Mt. Rose feature high-speed “six-pack” chairs, which allow for quick and easy base-to-summit rides. 

In addition to its trails, Mt. Rose also has multiple terrain parks, many of which feature tabletops, boxes, and rails. For more than 1,000 feet of north-facing slopes with pitches from an impressive 40-55 degrees, head to the resort’s 200-acre Chutes section. 

Mount Rose – Ski Tahoe also provides access to both group and private lessons, as well as beginner-specific equipment for rent at the Main Lodge. Only 25 minutes from Reno and 15 minutes from North Lake Tahoe, it’s in a convenient location for exploring Nevada. 


16. Go Off-Roading at the Black Rock Desert

Best Things to do in Nevada: Black Rock Desert

If you’re looking for an off-the-grid adventure surrounded by stunning landscapes, head to the Black Rock Desert. Located north of Reno, this vast landscape features 1.2 million acres of national conservation and wilderness area (making it the largest collection of publicly managed land in the continental US).

Come and explore the otherworldly landscape, which features rugged canyons, pristine hot springs, and dry lakebeds. With over 900 miles of primitive roads, this area offers a variety of opportunities for off-highway vehicle (OHV) and ATV exploration. You can drive across the barren Black Rock Desert Playa, then test your skills with a ride through the High Rock Canyon. 

For a hot springs experience, head to Soldier Meadows. Fed by both warm and cool springs, it features several dammed-up areas where you can enjoy a soak after your adventure. It is also home to a collection of primitive campsites. 

If you plan your trip to the Black Rock Desert accordingly, you can also attend the famous Burning Man festival, which is one of the largest parties in the world! This eclectic annual event focuses on creativity and self-expression and is typically held in late August and early September.  

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17. Visit the Capital City of Carson City

Nevada Bucket List: Capital City of Carson City
Image courtesy of Carson Canyon Railbike Tours, photo by Visit Reno Tahoe

With a rich history and access to the great outdoors, Carson City is the capital city of Nevada and a fun place to visit. From fascinating museums to family-friendly activities to outdoor recreation, this destination offers year-round adventures. 

Learn more about the Silver State at the Nevada State Capitol and the history of silver mining at the Nevada State Museum, which is housed in a former US mint building. You can also follow the 2.5-mile Kit Carson Trail through the historic district to see 1800s-era Victorian-style homes, museums, and churches. 

Families will love a scenic ride through the canyon on the Carson Canyon Railbike Tours at the V&T Railway Eastgate Depot. Afterward, browse a collection of railroad artifacts at the Nevada State Railroad Museum or enjoy the impressive Carson Range and Pine Nut Mountain views at Prison Hill Recreation Area

Only a short drive away, Washoe Lake State Park features scenic hiking trails and opportunities for boating and fishing. Kings Canyon Waterfall Trail is another popular trail located just minutes from the downtown Reno area and features a picturesque 25-foot waterfall. 


18. Explore Museums and the Riverwalk District in Reno

Best Things to do in Nevada: National Automobile Museum
Images courtesy of National Automobile Museum

The second-largest city after Las Vegas, Reno is a worthy stop on your Nevada road trip. Known for its bright neon lights in the casino district, this city also boasts several excellent museums and a beautiful Riverwalk area. 

Dubbed the “Biggest Little City in the World,” Reno features a lively arts scene with dozens of street murals downtown. For a glimpse at one of the finest art museums in the state, plan an afternoon of browsing the unique collections in the two gallery levels and sculpture garden of Nevada Museum of Art

Car enthusiasts won’t want to miss the National Automobile Museum, which showcases more than 200 remarkable automobiles in 100,000 square feet. You’ll find everything from vintage cars to hot rods to modern vehicles on display. Don’t miss Elvis Presley’s Cadillac Eldorado and John Wayne’s Chevrolet Corvette. 

After museum hopping, take a stroll through the Reno Riverwalk District. Offering beautiful views of the Truckee River, it’s dotted with fantastic restaurants with large patios overlooking the water. If you’ve got extra time, bike the scenic Tahoe-Pyramid Trail, plan a day trip to the Old West town of Virginia City, or visit top casinos at THE ROW


19. Plan a Road Trip Along U.S. Route 50

Unique Things to do in Nevada: U.S. Route 50

Dubbed “The Loneliest Road in America,” Nevada’s Route 50 is worthy of a road trip. Fuel up the car and make the trek down this quiet highway, which actually runs coast-to-coast and passes through 11 states for a total of 3,100 miles. 

In Nevada, a journey down this wide-open road offers views of some of the state’s most beautiful mountain landscapes, deserts, and forests. From ghost towns to state parks to hot springs, this famous road is anything but lonesome. 

Start your journey in Reno or Carson City. Then stop in Fallon, Sand Mountain, the Shoe Tree, and more on your way to Austin. Pull up a stool at a classic Sagebrush Saloon (like Lucky Spur Saloon) and enjoy Big Smoky Valley views. 

Before making your way to Eureka, take a break for a soak in Spencer Hot Springs. You can also plan a day trip to admire the ancient art at Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area and Toquima Cave. 

Next, enjoy hiking and fishing at Cave Lake State Park and explore historic charcoal ovens at Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park before reaching Ely. The last leg of the road trip includes a day trip to Great Basin National Park to see its 5,000-year-old trees and scenic hiking trails.

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20. Visit One of the Best Stargazing Spots in the US

Nevada Things to do: Stargazing Spots
Image courtesy of Tonopah Stargazing Park

If you’re fascinated by celestial wonders, set your sights on Tonopah Stargazing Park. It’s one of the best destinations in the United States for stargazing! Professional astronomers and amateur stargazers alike flock to this top destination in Nevada, where you can bask beneath the bright stars among the darkest skies in the Lower 48. 

Put it this way, in most cities you can see between 25 and 50 stars. In Tonopah, you can often see up to 7,000! At Tonopah Stargazing Park, you’ll find cement pads and picnic tables for telescope viewing, where it’s possible to marvel at the beautiful stars shining overhead and the spectacular Milky Way.

Open 24 hours a day and seven days a week, Tonopah Stargazing Park offers free stargazing access. If you visit from June to October, you can attend the monthly Star Parties, while annual photography workshops are also available. 

Other popular stargazing spots in Nevada include Great Basin National Park, which hosts astronomy programs, a Star Train route, solar telescope viewing, and full moon hikes. Located 150 miles north of Reno, the Massacre Rim Wilderness Study Area has also been dubbed one of the darkest places on Earth. 


21. Experience One of the Last True Western Towns in the US

Fun Things to do in Nevada: National Cowboy Poetry Gathering
Images courtesy of National Cowboy Poetry Gathering by Charlie Ekburg

If you’re looking for unique destinations in Nevada to explore, add Elko to your itinerary. As the largest town in northeastern Nevada, it offers a fascinating blend of Western cultures and is a gateway to the beautiful Ruby Mountains. 

Considered one of the last true Western towns in the United States, this thriving Nevada town is home to a long list of fascinating cultural attractions. It was once a base for gold and silver mining as well as raising livestock. Today, you can experience real Buckaroo charm throughout Elko. 

Learn about Western artists in the six galleries at the Northeastern Nevada Museum or see world-famous custom saddles and leatherwork at J.M. Capriola Co. in downtown. Afterward, enjoy family-style Basque cuisine at the famous Star Hotel, as it’s considered a rite of passage for visitors.

If you time your visit right, you can attend annual events like the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the National Basque Festival, and the Elko Band Powwow. Don’t miss the Silver State’s oldest rodeo, the Silver State Stampede, for classic Western-style entertainment.


22. Drive Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway for Ruby Dome Views

Take the scenic route up Lamoille Canyon for views of some of Nevada’s most beautiful landscapes, including picture-perfect peaks and valleys. At the top sits Ruby Dome, the highest of the peaks in Elko Country. 

This 23-mile road is officially a designated National Forest Road, which winds around the base of the almost 12,000-foot-tall Ruby Dome. Take in the views as you climb up the canyon carved by glaciers and pull over to see the alpine meadows blanketed with beautiful flowers. 

It’s one of the best things to do in Nevada if you’re looking to combine a road trip and outdoor adventure. You’re spoiled for choice with outdoor recreation at this natural playground, with a chance to hike, fish, mountain bike, ski, or take it up a notch with a heli-skiing excursion in the winter. Hikes here range from couple-hour excursions to multi-day adventures on the Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail and lead to beautiful, trout-packed alpine lakes. 

Wildlife spotting is common, with bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and a variety of birdlife found among its hills. The lower region of Lamoille Canyon is available year-round. However, the upper section is unreachable in the winter due to snowfall. 


23. Marvel at Beehive-Shaped Ovens at Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park

Must do things in Nevada: Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park
Images courtesy of Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park

A fascinating attraction for nature lovers and history buffs alike, Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park is perched in the Egan Mountain Range in eastern Nevada. Combining history with beautiful wilderness areas, this park features six beehive-shaped charcoal ovens that were used from 1876 through 1879. 

Standing 30 feet tall and 27 feet in diameter, these unique formations have 20-inch thick walls that were used to help process rich silver ore that was discovered in the area. However, once mining ended, they were used to shelter travelers. Rumor has it they were also used as a hideout for stagecoach bandits. 

The charcoal ovens are open for visitors today, with their surrounding high desert elevation landscape perfect for camping adventures with two large pull-through spaces for RVs. Hiking trails offer beautiful views of the Steptoe Valley and fishing can be accessed at Willow Creek. Wildlife such as mule deer, grouse, and elk can often be seen roaming the grounds. 

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24. See the Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park

Cool Things to do in Nevada: Great Basin National Park

One of the most underrated national parks in the United States, Great Basin National Park is where to go to avoid the crowds. It’s a must-do thing in Nevada, where you can experience beautiful mountain terrain, tranquil streams, and pristine lakes all to yourself. 

Nature lovers will be in awe of the park’s 5,000-year-old bristlecone pine trees, which are among the oldest living organisms on the planet. However, a highlight of visiting this park is the Lehman Caves, which can only be seen on a guided tour. 

On one of the park’s most popular tours, rangers highlight the cave’s history, ecology, and geology. Explore underground and see how these unique caves were formed over millions of years, tracing back roughly 600 million years ago when the area was covered by the sea. 

Other highlights at Great Basin National Park include the 13,000-foot-tall Wheeler Peak, which is Nevada’s only glacier. Lexington Arch is another must-see natural wonder, while the 2.7-mile Alpine Lakes Loop Trail offers incredible nature views. 

If you’re looking for a leisurely experience, follow the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive. Great Basin is also a designated International Dark Sky Park, and Astronomy programs are typically offered May through September.


25. Photograph Unique Formations in Cathedral Gorge State Park

Fun Things to do in Nevada: Cathedral Gorge State Park

One of the top things to do in Nevada if you’re an outdoor enthusiast, Cathedral Gorge State Park is home to a collection of unique spiky-looking ravines, grooves, caves, and passageways. For up-close views of the cathedral-like spires, you can hike explore this beautiful terrain on a variety of scenic hiking trails.

Hikes at this southeastern Nevada park cater to all skill levels, from short to long and easy to challenging. Miller’s Point one definitely of the most popular options. Set on the main trail, the two-mile out and back hike features an incredible overlook with sweeping views of the gorge and striking landscapes below. 

If you’re looking for more of a challenge, follow the four-mile Juniper Draw Loop. As the longest hike in the park, the trail offers a diversity of landscapes. Alternately, for a short trek, the 1.6-mile Eagle Point Trail offers beautiful panoramic views. You also can’t miss the unique and winding paths through the Cathedral Caves. 

While hiking is the biggest reason travelers come to this attraction – which is just 2.5 hours northeast of Las Vegas – other activities include camping, picnicking, wildlife viewing, and photography. The campground has 22 sites, each with a table, grill, and shade ramada.

There you have it! 25 of the best things to do in Nevada. What’s your favorite thing to do in the Silver State?


Planning a trip to Nevada? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!


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