Nevada, sometimes called the Silver State or the Battle Born state, is so much more than casinos and deserts, though I couldn’t blame you for assuming otherwise.
From the dazzling lights of Las Vegas to the crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe, Nevada is surprisingly diverse in landscape, adventure options, and culture. A few fun facts:
- Nevada is the most mountainous state in the lower 48.
- Nevada is 85% public land – the highest amount of any state in the USA.
- There are more ghost towns than live ones.
- Nevada has more hot springs than any other state!
Those facts all surprised me when I first moved here, but after exploring more, I can see that Nevada is probably the best-kept secret in the whole country. Read on for some of the best adventures in this amazing place!
Where in Nevada?
Budget Solo Travelers ($0 – $38): Free camping is widely available, as there is more than a hundred of Land Management (BLM) land that is owned by the public out in Nevada. This website is really helpful if you need some help finding options in your area. While hostels are pretty much non-existent, there are plenty of budget motels, bed & breakfast, and inns that cost $19 – $38 per night for a basic private room, especially along the Strip and downtown.
Mid-range Solo Travelers ($35 and up): If you are looking for a decent spot that’s not part of a casino, expect to pay about $70 per night at a mid range hotel with en-suite bathroom. Airbnbs average at about $35 – $60 for a private room, and at about $80 – $150 for an entire unit.
Getting There: The two main international airports are Reno-Tahoe Airport up north, and Las Vegas McCarran Airport down south, both of which offer direct flights from all major cities in the US, as well as around the world. Amtrak’s California Zephyr Train arrives at Reno daily. A train ride from Utah to Reno costs about $73. Greyhound offers bus rides from its neighboring cities. Expect to pay about $47 to get from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Finally, driving into Nevada from its neighboring states is generally fuss-free.
Getting Around: Nevada is the most mountainous state in the lower 48 and has the highest percentage of public land of any state in the US. That means a whole lot of adventures without many people. With most attractions being the national parks, state parks, hot springs and lakes, having your own vehicle will be the best way to get around. Rent a car at the airport, or if you are roadtripping in remote places, consider having a camper van. In the city, you can easily walk, take the monorail or buses between the Strip and downtown in Vegas. Uber and Lyft are also widely available.
Grocery Shop & Cook Your Own Food ($5 – $10): If you are road tripping with cooking utilities, see my camping checklist with a complete grocery list to plan your meals. If you are traveling in Vegas, there are many affordable, only-in-Vegas style buffets at the casinos or hotels that cost about $10 – $25. Fast food chains are widely available.
Local Restaurants & Bars ($7 – $15): Mid-range dining options are widely available. Expect to pay about $20 for a main course. If you are ready to splurge, Las Vegas is ready to serve. The city houses some of the most renowned restaurants in the world.
Things to Do
Basin National Park: One of the least visited national parks in the US houses the last glacier in Nevada and the oldest living organism on Earth. Basin National Park was such a pleasant surprise and I recommend spending 2 days, to enjoy the pristine lakes, beautiful night sky and hike. Keep in mind that you will be at elevation, which will make the hikes much harder.
Lake Tahoe: Lake Tahoe is one of the biggest freshwater lakes in the US. Great for year-round, this is probably one of the prettiest places to do kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding in warmer months, and hiking and skiing in wintertime.
Burning Man Festival: If you’ve been around for a while, you know that I’ve religiously attended Burning Man in the last 8 years, and it is a festival that I don’t write about on the blog (though I do have some postcards for you!). It’s the kind of place where people can discover something new about themselves, and sometimes something even deeper that extends beyond themselves. You will have to attend it yourself to see what I mean.
Las Vegas, baby: You are in Vegas, baby! I’ve spent so many girlfriend weekend getaways in Vegas in my early 20s. Watch world-class shows and dance the day away at pool parties, but also head away from the Strip for a day and check out the Seven Magic Mountains art installation just a 20 minute drive down Interstate 15!
American Southwest road trip: Nevada was one of the 3 Southwestern states I explored in a camper van. You will realize that there’s much more to Nevada than just Las Vegas. The surroundings are beautiful, and if on a trip where your aim is to appreciate the natural beauty, you’re still in luck in gorgeous Nevada.
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