Off The Beaten Path | Nevada
From the bright lights of Reno and Las Vegas to solitary red rocks and clear, blue lakes, Nevada is a state full of amazing sights. Within the state, visitors can explore the Mojave Desert, see one of the country's greatest construction projects, have fun recreating in some of the area's unique landscapes and much more. No matter what interests visitors may have, everyone will find something of interest in Nevada.
National Cowboy Poetry Festival
Each year the community of Elko hosts the National Cowboy Poetry Festival. This festival draws thousands of people interested in keeping the western culture and traditions alive. The festival was started in 1985 by a group of poets and folklorists and is produced by the Western Folklife Center. Attendees of the festival celebrate the art, culture and history of the region. Each year the event attracts poets, musicians, scholars, cowboys and cowgirls. Together these people are helping to preserve and enjoy the traditions of the west, and this festival has inspired many other festivals throughout the country.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
This National Conservation Area is located just 17 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip, making it the perfect outdoor adventure to combine with a visit to Las Vegas. Red Rock Canyon has over 190,000 acres of conserved land which presents a very different draw than Las Vegas. Visitors to Red Rock Canyon can enjoy the 13 mile scenic drive, or the 30 miles of hiking trails. Red Rock Canyon is also a great destination for rock climbing, mountain biking, road biking, nature watching and there is even a visitor center. While there, visitors can't miss the beautiful red rock of the canyon and the beauty of the Mojave Desert.
Great Basin National Park
Great Basin is a very diverse park and is a great example of Nevada's natural environment. It is also a great destination to enjoy the night skies, as it has some beautiful dark nights. Great Basin even holds a yearly Anatomy Festival for visitors to better enjoy the night skies. The park is in the shadow of Wheeler Peak. Visitors can enjoy a Lehman Cave Tour to see the stunning marble cave with stalactites, stalagmites and much more. On the 12 mile Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive visitors can enjoy view of the valleys and mountains. Throughout the park visitors can enjoy back-country hiking, including overnight back-country adventures. Another special feature of the park is the Bristlecone Pine Trail on which visitors can see the oldest living organisms in the world. Great Basin National Park is home to 5,000 year old Bristlecone Pine Trees.
Valley of Fire State Park
This park is located just six miles from Lake Mead, and it has the distinction of being Nevada's oldest and largest state park. The park gets its name from the red sandstone formations, and in addition, visitors have the opportunity to marvel at the unique beauty of the Mojave Desert. Throughout the park visitors will find acres of petrified wood and even 300 year old Native American petroglyphs. The park also has plenty of recreation including camping, hiking and more. To learn more about the park visitors should stop at the Visitor Center and check-out the interpretive displays.
The Hoover Dam is one of the top construction achievements of the 20th century. The dam, which is over 70 years old gets over one million visitors every year. The dam was built in just five years, which was two years ahead of schedule and under budget. It was also the largest of its kind at the time. Today the Hoover Dam is a National Historic Landmark and is the highest concrete dam in the western hemisphere. It stands over 725 feet above the Colorado River and its 17 generators produce four billion kilowatt hours every year. Visitors to the dam can walk across to marvel at its enormity and they can enjoy one of the two tour options. The Hoover Dam Power Plant Tour allows guests to take the elevators to descend 500 feet to see the generators, the original diversion tunnels and much more. The Dam Tour has all of the options of the first tour, but it is an even more intimate tour of the dam. On this tour visitors can see the inside of the dam, entering through inspection tunnels, and look through vents to the river below and more.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is filled with many canyons. Within this park visitors can participate in many outdoor activities throughout the park's many canyons. There are many places to hike and bike in the park, as well as many back-country adventure opportunities. The Zion Shuttle is a great way for visitors to enjoy the park, as well as tours through certain parts of the park. The Pa'rus Trail is a paved bicycle path and the shuttle buses through the park have bicycle racks for increased biking access. Zion is also home to over 200 species of birds, making it a great bird-watching destination.
Pyramid Lake is located near the town of Sutcliffe and it is located entirely within the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation. The lake is a remnant of Lake Lahontan which at one time covered most of northwest Nevada. It gets its name from the tufa formations in the area. The largest of these formations is Anaho Island, which is home to a colony of American White Pelicans and is a heavily protected National Wildlife Refuge that is closed to the public. Pyramid Lake is also a saline lake, with a salt content that is about 1/16 of sea water. The lake is fed by the Truckee River after it leaves Lake Tahoe, but Pyramid Lake does not have an outlet, so the water only leaves by evaporation or by soaking into the ground. Visitors to Pyramid Lake can enjoy a wide variety of recreation, especially water sports, including boating, canoeing and kayaking.