The theme of Nevada seems to be sin. Obviously you have Las Vegas for gambling, sex, drugs, drinking and pretty much whatever you fancy. Most of the state is desert, although you can find some pretty incredible natural beauty.

My Favorites

1. Las Vegas

Vegas Sunrise

Highlights: Casinos, nightlife
Suggest Staying: 3-5 days
Stay Around: The Strip or Freemont Street (Oasis at Gold Spike)
Internet: Strong
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I’ve been to Vegas twice and I don’t gamble. There really is a ton to do and it’s quite the spectacle. I personally don’t buy into the lifestyle and resources drain that is the city of extravagance known as Las Vegas, but I do think it’s a place everyone should at least visit once in their life. It’s like no other place on Earth. From shows, to insanely beautiful casino hotels, and nearby man-made and natural feats, it’s a worthwhile destination or stopover for any road trip out west.

See & Do

  • Visit a Casino. They are quite remarkable and each has it’s own character. Some even connect to each other. They are open 24 hours. Even if you don’t gamble, it’s an adventure just to walk through. My favorites are the Venetian (looks like Venice), Bellagio (amazing lobby, water fountain shows), Caesar’s Palace (like Rome), Luxor (giant pyramid with light that can be seen from space), Mandalay Bay, Mirage, New York-New York, Treasure Island (pirate ship), MGM. I’ve heard the Stratosphere has a great rooftop pool and parties.
  • See a Show. So much to choose from, there’s always something. Penn & Teller were awesome, I’ve heard great things about Blue Man Group, and there are always live concerts.
  • Experience the Nightlife. Bars and clubs are everywhere. From Studio 54 to dueling piano bars, most charge a cover, but you might be able to find coupons to get them waived.
  • Eat at a Buffet. They are fantastic. All kinds of food, all you can eat. Found at just about every casino.
  • Freemont Street. The “old strip” still full of fun experiences.
  • Hoover Dam. Straddle 2 states and 2 timezones at this engineering marvel. I think it’s possible to take a tour.
  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Huge lake, neat drive through, great for boating.
  • Valley of Fire State Park. Haven’t been myself, but looks cool (no pun intended).


  • The Strips. There are two “strips” in Vegas: the new strip and the old strip downtown. The old strip is featured in older movies with the famous cowboy and has a covered zip line that runs over a covered outdoor strip of casinos, shops, and restaurants. It’s a bit “calmer” on the old strip and you’ll likely find better deals on accommodations. It’s a quick ride to the new strip. The new strip is where all the giant, modern casinos are, and thus more of the action. Many people like to stay in some of the casinos with rooftop pools if you’re going to relax. The ones at either end of the strip are likely to have better deals.
  • Accommodations. Try Hotel Tonight which gets you deals on unbooked rooms in nice hotels. You can only book 24-48 hours in advance. Great for passing through on a road trip, especially during the week, but maybe not so much if it’s your planned destination and you have a more rigid schedule.

2. Lake Tahoe

Emerald Bay

Highlights: Lake, nature, hiking, gambling
Suggest Staying: 2-5 days
Stay Around: South Lake Tahoe
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What a beautiful place. Lake Tahoe is actually shared between California and Nevada. In my opinion the California side is better, but it’s certainly worth exploring both parts. Although the borders are east/west, the areas of concentration for lodging and attractions are more like north/south.

See & Do

  • Emerald Bay. Breathtaking views.
  • Taylor Creek. Fish and salmon.
  • Eagle Lake. Beautiful lake nestled in the mountains.
  • Fallen Leaf Lake. Even more beautiful lake nestled in the mountains.
  • Kings Beach. Popular beach up at the north end.
  • Carson City. Nearby town. Not much to it, although I just drove through.

Food & Drink

  • Heidi’s. Breakfast.
  • Driftwood Cafe. Breakfast.
  • Capisce. Italian.
  • Naked Fish. Sushi. Not great, but a good option.


  • Harrah’s. Casino.
  • Hemmel House. German restaurant and bar.
  • Center Bar. Montbleu casino.
  • X Hale. Hookah bar and lounge.


  • Weather. Water sports on the lake during the summer and skiing in the winter. I visited in October which was nice during the day, perfect for hiking. At night however, I camped and it went down into the mid 30s. Since I’m a wuss with the cold, I stayed at an inn my next visit.

3. Valley of Fire

Atlatl Rock Campground

Highlights: Hiking, rock formations
Suggest Staying: 1-2 days
Stay Around: Las Vegas or Atlatl Rock Campground
Internet: Weak (ViaSat available)
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Having been through Vegas twice, I can’t believe I had never heard of this place! It’s absolutely gorgeous, under an hour from Vegas, incredible natural colors and rock formations, and light hiking. Camping there was great, you’re nestled right in rocks.

See & Do

  • Fire Wave. Unfortunately closed when I visited, pictures of this look incredible. A relatively short hike takes you through some gorgeous rock formations and colors.
  • White Domes. Awesome, short hike with unbelievable colors, rocks, lizards, and remnants of an old film set.
  • Fire Canyon. You can see 3 distinct rock formations and colors that I would assume were formed independently over the course of millions of years despite being right next to each other.


  • Fire Wave. At least when I went it was closed for the summer due to extreme heat. So if it is open and you go, bring water and wear sunblock.
  • Camping. Atlatl Campground has several bathrooms, showers, and both RV and tent spots. You can nestle yourself in the rocks or more in the campground’s center. Watch where the sun is so your campsite/tent will be in the shade as the sun sets which will result in your tent being cooler. Climb the rocks for a beautiful sunset view.

4. Great Basin National Park

Stella Lake

Highlights: Bristlecone pines, alpine lakes, forests, hiking
Suggest Staying: 1-2 days
Stay Around: Baker or Ely
Internet: Weak (Great Basin)
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I had only recently learned about this park and while it’s not really near anything, it can be worked into a road trip if traveling around Utah, Nevada, and/or California. It turned out to be much better than I expected. Hiking to the bristlecone pines was unreal and continuing on to the alpine lakes was exceptionally beautiful. You can actually pretty easily do both loops in about 3 hours, totalling about 6 miles. It’s definitely worth it. I would budget a half to full day, depending on where you stay, if you just want to do one or both loops. If you want to hike Wheeler Peak, add an extra day.

See & Do

  • Bristlecone Pine Grove. The oldest living things on Earth dating back to 5,000 years old! Nothing like it exists anywhere else in the world. The trail was lovely, shaded, mostly up hill. The trees are really quite cool. The contorted shapes, pines needles, and colors are impressive in person especially.
  • Alpine Lakes Loop. There is one tiny lake and another larger lake at the base of the summit that makes for a lovely picture and space to relax. The forest that’s part of the trail is especially pretty in the fall when the leaves change color.
  • Rock Glacier. There’s a glacier in Nevada!
  • Wheeler Peak. The main summit peak of the park. There is a base parking lot for several trailheads, including to the summit. Plan at least half a day for the summit hike.
  • Lehman Caves. I didn’t do this, but it sounded cool. Reservations required.


  • Cave Lakes State Park. Really beautiful lake for swimming with camping options.
  • Wood Charcoal Ovens. Old wood burning ovens.


  • Lodging. You can camp at the park, but just know it’s at 10K feet elevation so it gets cold! Baker is nearby but not many options. Ely is farther away but more options.
  • Hiking. There’s a shared initial path to both the bristlecone and alpine lakes trails. I was surprised how fast the hike seemed, I must have zoned out or been very enthralled with the scenery. If you have to pick one, I would choose the bristlecone pines, they are absolutely fantastic. The elevation is high so if you’re not acclimated it might be tough so pace yourself, rest, and drink plenty of water.

5. Cathedal Gorge State Park

Cathedral Gorge State Park

Highlights: Hiking, camping
Suggest Staying: 1/2 day (overnight)
Stay Around: Campground
Internet: Good (ViaSat available)
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Neat set of rock formations and “slot canyons” with some light hiking. Fun place to camp, showers, bring cash.

Other Considerations



The little brother of Las Vegas, Reno has similar ambitions, but doesn’t get to the same level. It mostly just casinos and places to eat. That said, it’s a convenient stop for a break and worth driving through. Didn’t explore much, but Circus Circus was awesome with a bit of creepy.

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