Nevada is an arid state of the USA, lying between California and Utah. Most of the state is within the Great Basin, but parts of the northeast drain into the Snake River and the the southern portion is within the Mojave desert and the Colorado River. Please note that while many outsiders pronounce the state’s name as “ne-VAH-duh”, the correct local pronunciation is [nəˈvædə], with a short “a” as in apple,.
Although the majority of tourists only visit Las Vegas, Reno and Tahoe to gamble, watch shows, and indulge themselves in food and drink, Nevada offers the more discerning traveler western frontier experiences verging on horse opera cliche, and landscapes utterly different from Europe, East Asia or more populated parts of North America.
Western Nevada (Carson City, Douglas County, Lyon County, Storey County, Washoe County)
Southern Nevada (Clark County, Esmeralda County, Lincoln County, Mineral County, Nye County)
Click on the city’s name for hotels and activity ideas
- Carson City – The state capital located nearby Lake Tahoe and home to the world famous Bunny Ranch and Love Ranch brothels.
- Boulder City – Home of the iconic Hoover Dam.
- Ely – Features ghost towns and is nearby the Great Basin National Park.
- Henderson – Second largest city in the state, often considered part of the Las Vegas valley and home to many educational institutions.
- Las Vegas – Known as “The Entertainment Capital of the World”, Vegas is known internationally for it’s adult entertainment venues including extravagant casinos, nightclubs and world class restaurants.
- Laughlin – third most visited casino and resort destination in the state after Las Vegas and Reno
- Mesquite – Located in the Virgin River Valley, the city is home to several casinos, resorts and retirement communities.
- Pahrump – Wineries and legal brothels such as Sheri’s Ranch and the Chicken Ranch.
- Reno – Known as “The Biggest Little City in the World,” it is famous for it’s extravagant casinos and entertainment venues, also the birthplace of Harrah’s.
- Sparks – The “Twin” city of nearby Reno.
- Fernley – One of Nevada’s fastest growing cities. Great place to Live, Work, and Play. 
- Great Basin National Park
- Lake Mead National Recreation Area
- U.S. Route 50 “Loneliest Highway”
- Area 51
- Nevada State Route 375, “The Extraterrestrial Highway”
- Black Rock City — town of 50,000 people during Burning Man Festival, wide open desert during the rest of the year
- Moapa Valley, Nevada — communities in this region include Moapa, Logandale and Overton. The area is steeped in history and is to this day still a farming and agricultural area.
Nevada achieved statehood in 1864, becoming the 36th state, despite its tiny population. The primary purpose of this early grant of statehood was to pack congress with two more Senators and thus help preserve Northern/Republican dominance in the post-civil war era. At the time, Nevada’s economy was dominated by the mining industry, thus tying the state to the industrialized North. Nevada was also seen as a counter-balance to the more agrarian and confederate-sympathizing California.
Over the years, Nevada’s economy has diversified somewhat into agriculture, light industry, distribution, and gaming. However, over 87% of the land in Nevada is still owned by the Federal Government.
There are fairly large cultural differences between Urban and Rural areas, and therefore they are treated separately here.
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. Recent immigrants from California are widely complained about (especially by the less recent immigrants from California), but that’s about the extent of it.
Rural folk in Nevada are about like rural folk in the rest of the US, except more so. Although they are mostly conservative and highly individualistic, you’ll be surprised by their helpful, easy going nature and tolerance of people that they don’t feel threatened by. As the entire rural economy of Nevada is dependent on access to Federal lands for mining and grazing, environmental activists, and BLM and US Forest Service employees may be viewed as a threat. Young and hip people, especially from the north-eastern US, may be assumed to belong to one of those groups…
Some rural areas have significant populations of Native American peoples, mainly Paiute and Shoshone. Reservations are found at Fort McDermott on the Oregon border, in the Reese River Valley between the Toiyabe and Shoshone Ranges, around Pyramid Lake and at the northern end of Walker Lake. Local tribes were traditionally identified by their dietary mainstays, which were Cutthroat Trout at Walker Lake, Cui-Ui (a large type of sucker) at Pyramid Lake, and even a type of caterpillar in the mountains near Lake Tahoe. Pine nuts from Singleleaf Pinyons were a staple in most locations and can sometimes be found for sale in rural stores. 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. Spanish is also widely spoken in Nevada, and like much of the southwest Nevada is heavily influenced by the language, Hispanic culture, and history under Spanish and Mexican rule. Tagalog is also spoken among Filipino populations.
Las Vegas and Reno are the biggest airports in the state, with the most destinations served. Elko, Boulder City and North Las Vegas are small regional airports with limited flights.Las Vegas Mccarran Airport is the popular airport serving dozens of airline carriers within the Las Vegas Area.
Greyhound serves the state, with service to small towns along the interstates. Megabus run between Reno and Sacramento/Bay Area. To Vegas, several companies have buses from locations around Southern California.
California Zephyr runs between the Bay Area, Reno and Chicago. There is no train service to Las Vegas.
The interstates are the quickest way to get to the state. The population centers are on the western part of the state.
Nevada is big, but it’s population is not. Of the 2.75 million residents in the state, 2.5 live in either the Las Vegas or Reno metropolitan area. Most of the state is empty or consists of small towns. The transportation infrastructure is not as developed as other parts of the United States.
Las Vegas to Reno is the only direct air corridor in the state and has plenty of flights daily. This is the best way to get from Reno to Vegas.
Amtrak has its route from Emeryville (in the San Francisco Bay Area) to Chicago, stopping at Reno, Winnemucca and Elko within the state. In Las Vegas, there is a 4 mile monorail connecting much of the Strip.
Only along the I-15 and I-80 corridor.
The best way to travel around the state.
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. Here’s some tips for traveling to the more remote desert areas of Nevada:
- 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, 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 – Odds are that someone will come by in a day or two.
- Roads: Nevada is criss-crossed with unpaved roads, some of which are maintained, most of which are not. Due to the slow growth rate of vegetation, once a road is established it can remain passable for decades with no maintenance and little traffic. Few roads have culverts, so be on the look-out for washed out areas. These generally aren’t a problem if traversed slowly, but can cause serious damage if you don’t slow down in time.
- Fences: The boundaries between grazing allotments are fenced as are the boundaries between public and private land. On higher volume roads there will be a “cattle-guard” on the road which is passable by vehicles but not by cattle (although flush with the road, cattle feel uneasy about traversing them and will not cross). Lower volume roads will have a gate across the road. Always leave the gate in the same condition as you found it – if open leave it open, if closed make sure you close it behind you. Gates leading into private land will sometimes be locked or marked with a “No Trespassing” sign, in which case you should respect the property owner’s wishes and find another way to get where you want to go.
- Livestock: In open rangeland (just about everywhere in Nevada), cattle have the right-of-way. It is not uncommon for ranchers to leave hay and water for their stock close to a road, and thus it is not uncommon to encounter herds of cattle on or near the road. You should always slow way down for these herds, as the calves especially have a nasty habit of running out in front of cars. You break it, you buy it. Cattle are half-wild, often ornery. Don’t approach them closely on foot.
- Navigation: Navigation in Nevada is fairly easy if you keep your wits about you. The poverty of vegetation gives astonishingly long sight distance, and mountain ranges are ubiquitous for reference. Large-scale topographic maps of the entire state are available in bound form at most bookstores and many gas stations. These should be sufficient for most purposes. Smaller scale topographic maps are published by the US Geologic Survey (USGS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and can be purchased at outdoors-oriented stores (such as the REI in Reno) or photocopied at the University of Nevada-Reno (UNR) library. The BLM maps tend to be more up-to-date with regards to roads, but are more difficult to find. Due to the small scale of these maps, they are not practical for long-range vehicle travel, but can be very useful on hiking trips.
- Weather: Most of Nevada is cold desert above 4,000’/1,300m elevation with summer daytime temperatures around 85F/30C and nights cooling sharply to 50F/10C. Winter temperatures are more variable and can drop far below zero (fahrenheit or celsius). Lower elevations in the Las Vegas area create hot desert with summer daytime temperatures consistently above 100F/40C and little nighttime relief, but pleasant winters. Carry extra clothing, sleeping bags and tire chains between October and April and remember that occasional snowstorms are possible above 4,000’/1,300m 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 pants, sunblock; and drink plenty of water to avoid heat stroke and sunburn in the summer.
- Water: Away from municipal water districts, water supplies are few, far between, and usually contaminated by livestock except in the highest mountains. Bring enough in your vehicle for your entire trip, plus a few days reserve, with extra for your vehicle’s radiator in case it starts leaking. When hiking, seek local knowledge about water supplies on multi-day trips. Don’t rely solely on maps.
- Great Basin National Park. . One of the lesser known National Parks and one of the newest national parks in the system, and therefore not so crowded or over-developed. It also is somewhat small, but has some lovely campgrounds and some nice hiking trails. Beware the altitude as the upper campground is around ten thousand feet. The aspens in autumn make this park SPECTACULAR!! Truly breathtaking!
- Take part at a guided tour through the NTS, the former test site of nuclear bombs, but you may need to book one year in advance.
- Republic of Molossia a small self declared country is welcome for visitors.
Gambling is the major industry in Nevada, directly responsible for about 20% of total employment. Gambling establishments range from huge casinos boasting slot machines, table games and sports books to small bars and convenience stores with a few video poker games apiece.
Las Vegas is the mecca for gambling and people from around the globe come to try their luck at winning big in Vegas’ plethora of expansive casinos. If you can bet money on it, you will find a location within one of any of the casinos to do so. Keep in mind that strict restrictions are placed upon casinos concerning where minors may be present within a casino and these rules are harshly enforced.
You must be 21 years of age to gamble or be present whatsoever in a gaming area, such as a casino.
Burning Man Festival  The Burning Man festival, held annually in the northern Black Rock City in late August and early September, is a festival of “radical self-expression”. The City of Black Rock could be considered one of the most environmentally unpredictable cities in Nevada, travelers going there should be prepared for anything.
Most of Nevada is federal land managed by the BLM (U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management) or by the Forest Service (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service). Self-sufficient campers can camp free of charge on land under the management of either agency as long as camping doesn’t interfere with other legitimate uses. Both federal agencies also have developed campgrounds where fees are usually charged. Fees vary by location, averaging about $5 at BLM campgrounds and $10 at Forest Service campgrounds.
There are two National Parks (U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service) in Nevada: Great Basin N.P. in east-central Nevada and Death Valley N.P. straddling the California-Nevada state line. The Park Service offers developed campgrounds where fees are charged and no-fee primitive campgrounds. 
Most of Nevada lies within the Basin-and-Range geographic province, so there are literally hundreds of mountain ranges. Some ranges are short, ten miles (16 km) or so, but others are over a hundred miles (161 km) long. Several ranges have well developed trails, however others are just beginning to be discovered by enthusiastic hikers, who often make their own routes from backcountry jeep roads, cattle or game trails, desert washes, and crosscountry travel which the lack of dense forests makes fairly straightforward. Perhaps not the place for novices to venture alone, however intermediate hikers will find abundant opportunities.
The highest peaks over 13,000′ (4,000m) are right on the California border (Boundary Peak in the White Mountains and near the eastern border with Utah (Wheeler Peak in Great Basin National Park. Other ranges scattered all over the state rise into the alpine zone which begins above 11,500′ (3,500m) in the south to as little as 9,000′ (2,700m) in the north. Many peaks reaching into the alpine zone have evidence of past glaciation such as cirques, moraines and even glacial tarns (lakes), but Nevada has only one contemporary glacier on Wheeler Peak.
The driest ranges are those of moderate elevation in the rainshadow of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains which parallels Nevada’s southwest border. Precipitation increases with elevation, to the north where the Sierra and Cascade ranges are lower, and to the east where the rainshadow effect lessens and moisture moving north from the Gulf of California comes into play. Hikers used to streams and mountain lakes will certainly find them in the Ruby and East Humboldt Ranges in the northeast, and in the Snake Range near Wheeler Peak, however drier ranges have unique landscapes not found in hiking venues elsewhere except perhaps in Central Asia, Africa and Australia. Dry ranges also have unique flora including open subalpine woodlands of Bristlecone and Limber Pine and lower down of Singleleaf Pinyon Pine which bear nuts that were a dietary mainstay of the Paiute and Shoshone tribes.
Restaurants in and around casinos in Reno, Las Vegas and Tahoe especially cater to the dietary whims of urban California. Notable chefs have opened restaurants worth a detour from the usual tourist activities. Buffets in casinos are often heavily subsidized in hopes that those who come to eat will stay to gamble. The more upscale examples offer surprisingly good food and plenty of it.
Outside of these tourist meccas, food takes on a western character. This is certainly the rule in small town cafes, but also in casinos along borders with Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Arizona drawing a western clientele with different dietary preferences than Californians.
Nevada and other parts of the larger intermountain region export beef and lamb, but are no cornucopia when it comes to fruit and vegetables. These are produced in very finite quantities because water is scarce and elevations usually high enough to induce late and early frosts. Accordingly cafes and restaurants with local clienteles serve ‘meat and potatoes’ fare. Coffee can be a weak disappointment. Nevertheless the food can be interesting in a regional way, often making inventive use of a limited range of ingredients.
Chinese immigration drawn by railroad-building and mining opportunities established chinese-american cuisine even in remote towns. Urban sophisticates may find it quaintly amusing — chow mein, sweet-and-sour, egg drop soup, fortune cookies and all. Basque sheepherders went everywhere green grass could be found. Their cuisine may not actually be very distinctive, but it is served in multiple courses — perhaps three different entrees — at long communal tables.
Nevada may very well have the most relaxed liquor laws in the entire country. Although anti-drunk driving measures and the drinking and purchasing age of 21 are as strongly enforced as anywhere else, that’s pretty much where it ends. Most bars are open 24-7. Privately-owned liquor stores tend to have an extremely comprehensive selection of liquor, beer and wine, especially in Las Vegas. While some bars may close they do so by choice, not by legal necessity. Indeed many Nevada bars have been continuously open every single second for well over 40 years, including holidays. Underage drinking is allowed on private, non alcohol-selling premises, no parental consent is required. However if the legal guardian(21 or older) is present, the minor must get permission. Underage drinking is allowed on alcohol selling premises with parental consent, the legal guardian must be 21 or older though. Underage drinking is allowed for religious purposes. However Underage drinking still counts as a misdemeanor.
Most bars feature some sort of casino gaming. Video poker machines are often built right into the bar itself. Indeed it’s unusual to not see something like that in a Nevada bar. Bartenders may even offer you free drinks if you’re actively playing.
As with the casinos, Nevada bars tend to take a decidedly cavalier attitude towards smoking; ask first, but chances are it’s perfectly OK to light up if you so choose. If that bothers you, well, California isn’t too far away …
The Nevada Highway Patrol is the state law enforcement that patrols major highways and cities. They have jurisdiction over the entire state of Nevada. The Nevada Highway Patrol normally has dark navy blue cars with yellow lettering and white stripes.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police patrols the city of Las Vegas and Clark County. The Las Vegas Police cars are typically black and white.
Residents of Nevada are allowed to conceal/open carry firearms after a thorough out extensive background check and training.
A high mountain environment containing some of the snowiest places in the US. During winter you should always carry tire chains in your car and know how to use them.
When hiking or backpacking where you will be far from help, check the weather first. The first snows of Winter may come earlier than you expect.
In summer during the North American Monsoon, thunderstorms often build up near the crest of the Sierra Nevada, particularly during late afternoon. It is unwise to be in a high, treeless place during a thunderstorm. If hiking far in summer, it’s a good idea to carry a light rain jacket just in case.
Marijuana is now legal in Nevada. Anyone must be 21 or older to consume, possess, or purchase marijuana – it doesn’t matter if its for recreational or medicinal reasons and it is strictly enforced. Keep in mind that marijuana is still illegal under federal law, so you could still be under scrutiny. Do not bring marijuana into and out of the state, into any Indian reservation that deemed it illegal, nor any federal enclave, or you will be charged under both state and federal law.
Restricted Areas In the State of Nevada
- Mercury is a city in Nevada approximately 1 hour away from Las Vegas. The city of Mercury is owned by the U.S Department of Energy and the US Government. The city is a part of the Nevada Test Site and nuclear weapons are being tested and used at this site. This city is restricted to the public. Authorization is required from the U.S Government to access this area. . Anyone who enters the city without goverment id or permission from the government is considered a trespasser and will be subject to arrest.
- Area 51 is a active military base owned by the U.S government and the military, two hours away from Las Vegas. This area is top secret, and is strictly controlled by the U.S Government. Authorization from the U.S Government is required to access this area. Homey Airport will not appear on your GPS, although if you drive on the road you will notice a sign stating that you are near the airport.
WARNING: Area 51 is patrolled 24/7 by armed guards. Anyone who enters the base without special permission from the U.S Government will be arrested, if not shot. Guards can and will use deadly force to stop trespassers. Deadly force is authorized on base. KXTA airport otherwise known as Homey Airport is inside area 51 and is heavy guarded by prohibited airspace. Any attempt to fly an aircraft into Area 51 will immediately result in military interception, armed fighters and interrogation along with imprisonment providing that the military does not shoot you down.
Nevada is the only state in the US where prostitution is not outlawed at the state level, except in the counties around Las Vegas, Reno and Carson City. Other counties are free to allow or outlaw prostitution in licensed brothels. This is a controversial subject with some Nevadans, especially in mixed company. Tread lightly.
- California – America’s most populous state shares an extensive border to the west of Nevada, offering easy access to destinations such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Lake Tahoe and Death Valley National Park.
- Arizona – Home to the Grand Canyon, Arizona borders Nevada to the southeast across the Colorado River.
- Utah – Nevada’s eastern neighbor is worth visiting for the mind-blowing rock formations found in places like Arches National Park and Zion National Park, as well as the winter recreation opportunities found around Salt Lake City, host of the 2002 Winter Olympics.
- Idaho – Nevada’s northeastern neighbor is a rugged state, with snow-capped mountains, whitewater rivers, forests, high desert, and plenty of wilderness.
Oregon – Sharing a border to the northwest, Oregon is home to impressive mountains and extensive forests.
Content copyleft courtesy of the wonderful wikitravel.org.