Nicknamed ‘The Silver State’, Nevada is known the world over for Las Vegas, however, there is much more to Nevada than bright lights, music and gambling. The state has many natural wonders, such as vast deserts and the famed Sierra Nevada mountains. Nevada is a relatively young state; joining the union in 1864, it gets its name from the Spanish word ‘nevada’ meaning snow-clad, thanks to the snow that settles on the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Nevada was primarily an area for mining, and many small towns appeared across the state to house miners and their families. There are more than 100 miles of underground tunnels in the Comstock mining area alone! Nevada is still one of the largest producers of gold in the world. There have been many firsts in Nevada, from being the first and only state that allowed boxing matches in 1910 to being the first to sign the Fifteenth Amendment, which states that all can vote, no matter their race.
Las Vegas is also home to airbase Area 51, where many strange sightings of UFOs have been reported over the years. The base is a military airbase where testing had been carried out on a range of weapons, aircraft and other military vehicles.
The Silver State is one of the driest in the US, seeing only seven inches of rain annually. Due to this, much of this landscape is desert with many cacti and desert animals such as the kangaroo rat, found in Nevada’s Mojave Desert, can go their entire lives without drinking water. It’s a helpful trait to have in such a dry state! Nevada is a fascinating state with lots of history to explore and natural landmarks to marvel at. Here are 20 landmarks in Nevada to get you started.
- 21 Nevada Landmarks and Monuments
- Natural Landmarks in Nevada
- Historical Landmarks in Nevada
21 Nevada Landmarks and Monuments
Natural Landmarks in Nevada
1- Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is unique because it straddles the border of Nevada and California.
It’s the USA’s highest alpine lake and the second-largest alpine lake in the world.
This freshwater lake is in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and is the 16th deepest lake in the country.
About one-third of the lake is in Nevada and Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, which protects its northern shores, is the gateway to the stunning Tahoe Rim Trail.
This area of the lake has lovely beaches and is famous for boating, swimming and hiking.
The terrain ranges from sandy beaches to meadows to high alpine peaks.
Travel along the lake’s shore on the Nevada State Route 28 and through the state park.
Lake Tahoe-Nevada State Park is off State Highway 28 (Tahoe Boulevard). Reno-Tahoe International Airport is the closest airport.
2- Red Rock Canyon
Red Rock Canyon lies inside the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in the Mojave Desert.
As the area is a conservation area, it is protected, allowing its animals and nature to be preserved and cared for.
Within the canyon are rich red sandstone peaks and walls.
The stone walls, known as the Keystone Thrust, reach as high as 3000 ft (914m).
Thanks to these unique rock formations, the canyon is a popular destination for hiking, rock and free climbing.
Stretching through the canyon is a 13 mile (20 kilometres) looped road offering those who would rather see the canyon from a car an opportunity to take it all in.
Regular beauty spot stops offer drivers the chance to pause, enjoy the view, and snap some photographs.
Red Rock Canyon is at 1000 Scenic Loop Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89161.
3- Valley of Fire
The Valley of Fire covers 40,000 acres of red Aztec sandstone, dotted with grey and tan limestone, which creates a unique and almost otherworldly landscape.
Aside from its rocky beauty, the Valley of Fire is famous for its ancient petrified trees.
Painted on some of its rocks are petroglyphs that are more than 2000 years old.
A visitors centre explains the meaning of the petroglyphs and the history of the parkland.
There are also annual competitions held in the park where visitors and history buffs can compete to create and test a replica of the ancient spears found in the valley.
Valley of Fire is at Valley of Fire State Park, 29450 Valley of Fire Hwy, Overton, NV 89040.
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4- Mount Rose
Mount Rose is Washoe County’s highest peak and forms part of the Carson mountain range.
The mountain is 10,785ft (3287m) tall at its peak.
The mountain is an extinct volcano, and due to its height, its peak is covered with snow.
This mountain is popular during the spring and summer months for both hikers and photographers who head to this beautiful patch of green paradise to see the waterfall and wildflowers growing up the mountain’s side.
Mount Rose is at 22222 NV-431, Reno, NV 89511.
5- Cathedral Gorge
Cathedral Gorge is a seemingly endless series of slot canyons within Nevada.
These towering natural structures mirror the spires of man-made cathedrals.
The gorge is millions of years old, formed through volcanic activity, ash clouds and geological movements.
After volcanic eruptions had ceased, the area was flooded with freshwater, which gradually dried up over millennia.
Today those exploring the gorge are walking on the dried-up river bed. During the 1920s, thanks to the invention of the car, people began to flock to the gorge to use its incredible natural beauty as a backdrop for open-air plays, and of course, hiking and picnicking.
Cathedral Gorge is at 111 Cathedral Gorge State Park Road, Panaca, NV89042.
6- Pyramid Lake
Pyramid Lake covers 125,000 acres of Nevada, making it one of the largest lakes in the state.
The lake was once part of the much larger Lake Lahontan, an inland sea that once covered most of the state.
The lake gets its name from the unique pyramid-like rock formations that surround its waters. Most famous is Stone Mother, the largest of the rock formations.
Pyramid lake has great significance for the Paiute Tribe, whose myths and legends are centred around its waters.
There is a visitor centre on the lake’s edge, which shares the importance of these blueish grey waters to the tribe.
Pyramid Lake is at Pyramid Lake, NV 89510.
7- Lehman Caves
Great Basin National Park’s Lehman Caves is an incredible natural landmark in Nevada and one certainly not to miss.
Absalom Lehman discovered the marble cave in 1885. Lehman was a rancher and a miner who was exploring the area.
Inside the cave are more than 300 rare shield formations and many stalactites, stalagmites and helictites.
Lehman Caves can be explored only by guided tours and take in either the Lodge Room or the Grand Palace.
Lehman Caves is at 5500 NV-488, Baker, NV 89311.
8- Lake Mead
Lake Mead is a reservoir formed through the creation of the Hoover Dam.
The lake has more than 750 miles of shoreline dotted with beaches, moorings and jetties for boats, and camping grounds.
It’s one of the largest artificial lakes globally and stretches for 115 miles (185 kilometres).
Visitors flock to the shores of Lake Mead to see its incredible Joshua trees, slot canyons and to take part in water sports.
Camping on its shores offers up incredible views of the Milky Way at night.
Lake Mead is at 601 Nevada Way, Boulder City, NV 89005.
9- Sloan Canyon
Another incredible natural landmark not to miss when visiting Nevada is Sloan Canyon.
Sloan Canyon is an area of National Conservation that protects the canyon and the petroglyphs it houses.
The canyon is considered to be the Sistine Chapel of Native American rock art.
The petroglyphs are large, with more than 300 panels of rock covered and at least 1700 individual images displayed.
Sloan Canyon is at Nawghaw Poa Rd, Henderson, NV 89052.
10- Lunar Crater
Lunar Crater is a national natural landmark in Nevada formed from ancient volcano matter.
The landscape features cinder cones, lava flow tracks and elongated fissures.
The most notable attraction within the landscape is the Lunar Crater.
Lunar Crater is 430ft (131m) deep and gets its name from the unusual circular impressions akin to those viewed on the moon.
Within the Lunar Crater National Natural Landmark park are 20 extinct volcanoes, all worth exploring.
Visitors can explore the obsidian lava beds and unique landscape bedrock formed over millennia of volcanic activity, which has now ceased.
Lunar Crater is at US Highway 6, between Tonopah and Ely.
11- Fly Geyser
One of Nevada’s more unique natural landmarks is Fly Geyser because, unlike other geysers found across the world, it was made by humans.
This uniquely shaped geyser sits on the Hualapai Geothermal Flats.
The geyser emerged in 1964 when a geothermic energy company was drilling in the area.
They found that the temperature of the water was not hot enough for their needs, so they sealed the hole.
Pressures mounted, and due to a poor seal, the water burst out, creating Fly Geyser.
The geyser is covered in minerals from the earth below and the desert surrounding it. This has created an unusual multicoloured surface.
Fly Geyser is at Fly Ranch, Washoe County.
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Historical Landmarks in Nevada
12- Fort Churchill
Fort Churchill is a former United States Army Fort built to protect the settlers travelling to the west of the country.
The fort also served as a safeguard for the Pony Express and a location where riders and horses could pause for a rest on the long journeys.
The fort stands ruined and in a state of decay today, however, the structure is still a fascinating day out and a testament to the American pioneers of times gone by.
Fort Churchill is at 10000 US-95 ALT, Silver Springs, NV 89429.
13- East Ely Depot
East Ely Depot stands today in very much the same condition as it did during its heyday in 1907.
This railroad yard serves as a landmark and tribute to Nevada’s railroad and mining heritage.
Within the depot are the original 1907 furnishings and includes era-appropriate waiting rooms, baggage storage and offices.
The rooms and buildings are echos of the past, with stacks of papers and logs in the offices, and baggage piled high.
Two museums are dedicated to the states railway heritage; the Nevada Northern Railway and the East Ely Depot Railroad Museum, which shares more of the depot’s history with visitors.
East Ely Depot is at 1100 Avenue A, Ely.
14- Virginia City Historic District
Virginia City Historic District is an area of Virginia City that encompasses four 19th century mining towns and their surrounding landscapes.
The towns were models for future mining settlements across America.
Close to Virginia City, a mine struck gold in 1859, resulting in one of the richest strikes in America’s history.
Today the city is filled with more than 400 original buildings, abandoned mine shafts and historical streets.
The city is filled with museums and festivals celebrating mining history.
Virginia City Historic District is at 39 S C St, Virginia City, NV 89440.
15- Nevada State Capitol
Abraham Curry, the founder of Carson City, reserved and built the state Capitol in the city.
Building commenced in 1870, with a cornerstone filled with a brass box time capsule laid.
The Capitol is designed in the Neoclassical Italianate style and features glass panes from French crystal and Alaskan marble wainscotting.
For much of its life, the Capitol served as the home for the Supreme Court and the Nevada Legislature.
Today the Capitol is still in use and houses the offices of the Governor of Nevada.
It is also home to historical exhibits which show many artefacts from its earlier days as the state Capitol in a new and blossoming state.
Nevada State Capitol is at 101 North Carson Street, Carson City.
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16- Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam borders Nevada and Arizona and sits on the Colorado River.
The dam was designed to protect Southern California and Arizona from flooding that would have resulted in great loss of life and buildings.
The anti-gravity dam also provides water for farming in the immediate locales and provides water and power for cities such as Los Angeles.
The dam was built between 1930 and 1936. From its creation stemmed Nevada’s Lake Mead.
The dam is a top-rated tourism destination and unmistakable landmark in Nevada, with approximately seven million visitors on tours to the dam each year.
Hoover Dam is at Nevada 89005.
17- Ward Charcoal Ovens
Ward Charcoal Ovens is a preserved historical area of Nevada’s Egan Mountain Range nestled in a forested area.
Ward Charcoal Ovens are six beehive-shaped charcoal ovens that were used to process silver ore from local mines.
The ovens were in use from 1876 to 1879.
After the mines were emptied of their precious metals, the ovens were abandoned and became an infamous hideout for bandits.
The ovens are open to the public to explore, and the surrounding natural parkland is a popular location for hiking, camping and fishing.
Within the park are mule deer and elk.
Ward Charcoal Ovens is at Ely, NV 89315.
18- Rhyolite Ghost Town
Like many once-prosperous mining towns in the American Southwest, when the gold dried up, the citizens of Rhyolite left, abandoning the town.
The ghost town is one of the most popular in the state and is often considered the most photographed.
Miners and their families filled the town when prospectors struck gold in 1905.
As well as exploring the ghost town, visitors to Rhyolite can experience the Goldwell Open Air Museum, which features sculptures and a unique rendition of a famous painting.
Albert Szukalski, a Belgian artist, created a ghostly version of ‘The Last Supper in 1984, which features white rock draped like fabric over bodies that aren’t there.
Rhyolite Ghost Town is at Beatty, NV 89003.
19- Lost City Museum
The Lost City Museum began its life as the Boulder Dam Park Museum in 1935.
The museum aims to preserve and exhibit artefacts found in prehistoric archeological sites within the area.
The artefacts were unearthed before much of the area flooded when the Colorado River was dammed to form Lake Mead as part of the Hoover Dam project.
The museum features three galleries, a screening room that shows short films, and a store.
Outside in the grounds are reconstructed pueblos that would have been in the area and a Native American pit house.
Lost City Museum is at 721 S Moapa Valley Blvd, Overton, NV 89040.
20- Mormon Station
Mormon Station was the first non-native settlement in Nevada.
It was settled in 1851 and served as a training post along the Carson Route for the California Trail.
The settlement provided supplies for those making the journey over the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
After many years of success, the trading post burned down in 1910.
Today, there is a reconstruction of the trading post, surrounded by idyllic, lush, green parkland.
The trading post houses a museum that shares artefacts from the pioneer age.
Mormon Station is at 2295 Main St, Genoa, NV 89411.
21- Las Vegas Strip
Perhaps the most iconic and famous landmark in Nevada is the Las Vegas Strip.
The Las Vegas Strip stretches for 4.2 miles (6.75 kilometres) and bustling with stores, luxury hotels and, of course, casinos.
The ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign is just the start of notable landmarks along this stretch of road.
Pause here for a fun photo both during the day and at night before exploring the strip in all its neon glory.
Famous hotels on the strip include Luxor, which features a pyramid that launches a light up into the night sky from its tip, and The Venetian, which allows visitors to America’s adult playground a chance to relax in European luxury.
Las Vegas strip stretches from Sahara Avenue in the north to Russell Road in the south.
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