20 Nevada State Parks

- This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure.

Nevada is known for its juxtaposition of desert landscapes with the glittering globally renowned city of Las Vegas. But did you know there are some incredible state parks in Nevada you should definitely add to your bucket list? 

The state isn’t just home to desert scenery but there are also outstanding geographical formations, historic sites, prehistoric petroglyphs and even lakes. Don’t just head to Vegas, Nevada is ready and waiting to show you its incredible natural beauty. Check out these Nevada state parks when you’re next on the west coast.

Nevada State Parks

20 State Parks In Nevada

1- Fort Churchill State Historic Park

ruins of fort churchill
One of the best historic state parks in Nevada is Fort Churchill.

The park’s namesake fort was built in 1860 to protect the early settlers in the area.

It also guarded the Pony Express (an American express mail service during the 1860s) and telegraph lines.

You will find this state park in western Nevada, around 60 miles from Lake Tahoe on the California border.

While at the park, you can walk around the fort’s ruins.

The park is excellent for hiking, bird-watching, and canoeing along the Carson River.

It’s open year-round and there’s a $5 entry fee ($10 for non-Nevada vehicles).

Fort Churchill State Historic Park is at 10000 U.S. 95 Alternate, Silver Springs, NV 89429.

2- Ice Age Fossils State Park

This fascinating state park is just a 20-minute drive north of the Las Vegas strip and bursting with prehistoric fossils.

Around 200,000 years ago, this part of Las Vegas was home to herds of Columbian mammoths and sabre tooth cats.

This is one of Nevada’s newest state parks and part of the Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Park.

As this is such a new park, the visitor centre is not yet open but is due to open its doors in 2023.

When the park is developed further, this will be one of Nevada’s parks to look out for.

Ice Age Fossils State Park is at 8660 N Decatur Blvd, North Las Vegas, NV 89085.

3- Kershaw-Ryan State Park

Kershaw-Ryan State Park is just under 3 km outside of Caliente in southern Nevada, north of Las Vegas.

This park is known for its colourful canyons and 700 feet high rock faces.

The park is also an oasis in an arid landscape.

Wild grapevines have grown from the natural springs in the area, providing an enriched natural landscape.

There are white oak trees, willows, and wildlife, including wild horses, deer, and water wildlife, attracted to the spring-fed pond.

A series of trails throughout the park offer great views and excellent picnic stops, so pack some lunch.

A spring-fed pond is great for paddling and cooling off in the Nevada sun.

There is also a 24-hour campground while the day-use park area is open from 8 am until sunset.

The park costs $5 to enter ($10 for non-Nevada vehicles).

Kershaw-Ryan State Park is at 300 Kershaw Canyon Road, Caliente, NV 89008.

4- Beaver Dam State Park

Beaver Dam State Park is in eastern Nevada, close to the border with Utah and 184 miles from Las Vegas.

This park is a peaceful place to enjoy hiking, camping and fishing.

The park’s rugged landscape is intertwined with winding streams and waterfalls.

You’ll be walking on volcanic sedimentary rock and through juniper and ponderosa forests.

Beaver Dam State Park has been designated a Watchable Wildlife Area and some of the animals you may be lucky enough to see include mule deer, bobcats, fox, coyotes, great blue herons, lizards, snakes, and – on rare occasions – mountain lions.

There are a variety of hiking trails suitable for different fitness levels.

Head to the Overlook Trail for incredible 360-degree panoramic views of the surrounding canyon.

If you are into fishing, then heading along the Oak Knoll Trail with your gear is a great idea.

If you want to stay overnight, two development campgrounds have a fire pit, picnic tables, and parking for vehicles and small trailers.

Entry to the park is $5 and $10 for non-NV vehicles.

Beaver Dam State Park is at Beaver Dam Rd, Caliente, NV 89008.

5- Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park

Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park is just under 60 miles from Austin, which preserves an 1890s town.

This town has become a ghost town and many of the original buildings remain as well as a cemetery where the old town folk are buried.

When visiting this state park, you can head out along the park’s trails to discover the story of Berlin and the local mine.

This park is famous for its remains of the Ichthyosaur, which is an ancient marine reptile.

The geographically astute among you will realize that Nevada is a far cry from the North Pacific Ocean, but this marine reptile once swam in warm waters that covered Nevada around 225 million years ago.

While at the park head to the Fossil House to see this incredible marine reptile.

Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park is at NV-844, Austin, NV 89310.

6- Cathedral Gorge State Park

Cathedral Gorge State Park landcscape
View of Cathedral Gorge State Park in Eastern Nevada.

In southeastern Nevada sits the otherworldly Cathedral Gorge State Park.

This is by far one of the best and most popular Nevada state parks and it should be added to your Nevada bucket list.

Erosion has uniquely carved these soft bentonite clay columns and cathedral-like spires.

The dramatic landscape and the kaleidoscope of colours at Cathedral Gorge are well worth visiting.

A four-mile loop hiking trail offers incredible views of the park and a hike to Miller Point overlook.

Be sure to head to the visitor centre when you arrive at the park (it’s at the park’s entrance off U.S. 93).

You’ll be able to learn all about the park’s geological formations.

Cathedral Gorge State Park is at 111 Cathedral Gorge State Park Road, Panaca, NV 89042.

7- Cave Lake State Park

Around an hour’s drive from the Great Basin National Park is Cave Lake State Park.

This park features a 32-acre reservoir as its focal point.

The lake is stocked with rainbow and German brown trout and is a popular spot for fishing.

Summer activities include boating, swimming on the lake, hiking and mountain biking around the park’s trails.

Head to the park in winter to enjoy ice fishing, skating, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.

If you are also planning to explore Great Basin National Park, camp at Cave Lake State Park’s two designated campgrounds: Elk Flat and Lake View.

You can’t make reservations at the campsites; bookings are on a first-come basis, with stays limited to seven nights in a 30-day period.

Cave Lake State Park is at US Highway 93-Success Summit, Ely, NV 89301.

8- Cave Rock State Park

On the southeastern shore of Lake Tahoe in western Nevada is Cave Rock State Park.

On top of the Sierra Nevada mountain range is this beautiful lake oasis.

This is the perk state park to explore North America’s largest alpine lake, Lake Tahoe.

Boating is one of the most popular activities at this park, with boat launches providing easy access to the lake.

There’s a small beach at the park’s south end where you can frolic around in the water and rest on the sand.

You can also head underwater for a spot of snorkelling or launch your kayaks or canoes.

This state park is all about access to the water, so if you are searching for hiking trails, head out on the trailhead around ¼ mile along Cave Rock Drive.

If you are using Google Maps, it’s called the Cave Rock Trailhead.

Top tour: Ultimate Lake Tahoe Self-Guided Driving Audio Tour.

Cave Rock State Park is at 1430 US-50, Glenbrook, NV 89413.

9- Dayton State Park

Dayton State Park is in western Nevada, just a 20-minute drive northeast of Carson City.

This state park is on the banks of the Carson River and is a great place to return to nature and relax.

The park is known for its natural beauty and gold and silver mining history.

While at the park, you can visit the Rock Point Mill, built in 1861 and fundamental to Dayton’s history.

The old stone walls of the mill remain.

There are 10 campsites at this park, and RVs can be accommodated, making it a great place to visit with a large family or for a group event.

Two short hiking trails take you to the Carson River and Rock Mill from the campground.

Dayton State Park is at US-50, Dayton, NV 89403.

10- Echo Canyon State Park

WPA poster art of Echo Canyon State Park located east of the town of Pioche
Echo Canyon State Park is east of the town of Pioche, Nevada.

Echo Canyon State Park is along the northern banks of the Echo Canyon Reservoir in eastern Nevada, close to the Utah border.

One of the main attractions at Echo Canyon State Park is the 65-acre (26 ha) reservoir that’s the perfect watering hole for boating and swimming.

Several types of birds are also attracted to the water, including waterfowl, mallards, teals and herons.

Anglers love the water because it’s stocked with rainbow trout, crappie, largemouth bass and, if you’re lucky German brown trout.

For hikers, the Ash Canyon Trail leads around the park’s backcountry.

This 2.5-mile trail starts at the upper campground and allows you to experience the canyon up close.

Echo Canyon State Park is at State Routes 322, Pioche, NV 89043.

11- Mormon Station State Park

Mormon Station State Park is tucked away in the small town of Genoa in western Nevada, close to Lake Tahoe.

This state park marks the site of Nevada’s first permanent, non-native settlement.

The Mormon Station was built back in 1851.

It acted as a trading point along the Carson Route, which connected the Carson Valley in Nevada with the goldfields in California.

This trading post was a welcome stop for those travelling the Sierra Nevada California Trail.

Today you can see a reconstruction of the 1851 trading post and the museum, home to original pioneer-era artifacts.

At the park’s north end, the Campbell Homestead provides insight into life in Genoa in the 1900s.

You can also tour a blacksmith shop built in 1908, where inside, there are several educational exhibits.

Mormon Station State Park is at 2295 Main St, Genoa, NV 89411.

12- Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park

The Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park is (you guessed it) in Las Vegas.

While people visit for the glitz, gambling and glamour, many miss out on visiting this state historic park.

The Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort was the first permanent non-native settlement in the Las Vegas Valley.

The fort was built by Mormon missionaries in 1855 along a creek that had the only free-flowing water for miles around.

The site was home to an outpost used by travellers and today, you can check out the fort’s remains and historic artifacts. 

There is also a visitor centre which provides greater insight into the fort’s history.

If you’re looking for an unusual thing to do in Las Vegas, check out Mormon Fort.

Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park is at 500 E Washington Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89101.

13- Sand Harbor State Park

rocks in clear water with snowcapped mountains in the background
Sand Harbor in Lake Tahoe is one of the stunning state parks in Nevada.

On the northeastern shores of Lake Tahoe is another popular Nevada state park.

Sand Harbor State Park is picture-postcard beautiful and is a great place to visit with family and friends.

This Nevada state park is perfect for swimming, relaxing on the beach, kayaking and even scuba diving.

The park also has two ramps where boaters and water skiers can launch boats from and anglers can fish.

Pack a picnic and plenty of drinks and spend the entire day exploring the park, relaxing and cooling off in the water.

There is also BBQ equipment and picnic tables too.

Don’t forget your camera; Sand Harbor offers one of the most stunning views of Lake Tahoe.

Sand Harbor State Park is at 2005 NV-28, Incline Village, NV 89452.

Top tours:

14- Spooner Lake And Backcountry State Park

Spooner Lake and Backcountry State Park are on the eastern side of Lake Tahoe but set back from the water.

This state park is less than 20 miles (32 km) outside of Carson City.

Spooner Lake is surrounded by beautiful aspens and around 12,000 acres (4856 ha) of forest.

This is a wonderful park if you want to hike; there are more than 50 miles (80 km) of trails for hiking, equestrian and mountain biking.

Some of the best trails in the park include Marlette, Red House, Flume and the Tahoe Rim Trail.

Camping is available at three primitive walk-in campgrounds: Marlette Peak, North Canyon and Hobart.

Stay in one of the backcountry cabins just north of Spooner Lake for a little more comfort.

Spooner Lake and Backcountry State Park is in Carson City, NV, 89703.

15- Spring Mountain Ranch State Park

Soaring mountain in Spring Mountain Ranch State Park Nevada against blue sky
Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, Nevada.

Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is south of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, west of Las Vegas.

Spring Mountain Ranch State Park has, in the past, been a working ranch and has even had some celebrity owners.

Today people visiting the park can see one of the oldest buildings in Nevada, an 1860 blacksmith shop.

There is also the Sandstone Cabin which was the home of the founding family of the ranch.

The park is $10 or $15 for non-NV registered vehicles.

Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is at 6375 NV-159, Blue Diamond, NV 89004.

Top tour: Spring Mountain Scenic Mountains Peak Hike.

16- Spring Valley State Park

WPA poster art of Spring Valley State Park with Eagle Valley Reservoir in eastern Nevada
Another Nevada State Park to visit is Spring Valley State Park – pictured here is Eagle Valley Reservoir.

Spring Valley State Park is less than 20 miles (32 km) outside of Pioche in eastern Nevada and is shaped by volcanic rock, giving it a beautiful colourful backdrop.

The 59-acre (20 ha) park is popular among outdoor enthusiasts, in particular, people who like being on the water.

There are chances to swim, boat and fish on the Eagle Valley Reservoir.

This reservoir in an arid part of the state attracts an array of wildlife, including waterfowl, mallards, heron and the trumpeter swan.

To the west of the Eagle Valley Reservoir is the Horsethief Gulch Campground.

There are 39 campsites and 24 power hookup spots.

Take the trail walk around the reservoir for an all-encompassing view of the park and reservoir.

Spring Valley State Park is at Pioche, NV 89043.

17- Valley of Fire State Park

Valley Of Fire State Park barren landscape
Of the Nevada State Parks, Valley of Fire State Park is one you will love exploring.

Valley of Fire State Park is in the Moapa Valley in southern Nevada, around 50 minutes’ drive northeast of Las Vegas.

This state park is best known for its red Aztec sandstone outcrops, which cover an area of 40,000 acres (16187 ha).

As well as incredible rock formations, there are petrified trees and petroglyphs that are 2000 years old.

Walking around this state park, you would be forgiven for thinking you’d landed on Mars; the landscape is unique.

Head to the visitor centre to learn more about the area’s unique geology, history and hiking trails.

Valley of Fire State Park 29450 Valley of Fire Hwy, Overton, NV 89040.

interesting elephant rock formation
When you see formations like Elephant Rock in Valley of Fire State Park, it’s easy to understand why this is one of the top Nevada state parks.

18- Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park

Yes, you read that correctly, this state park is all about charcoal ovens!

This state park is a unique retreat in the Egan Mountain Range in eastern Nevada.

The park is home to six beehive-shaped charcoal ovens used during the 1870s.

They were used to process silver ore which was found in the area.

After the silver mining finished, these cute ovens were used by travellers and several bandits.

Today you can tour these odd structures and enjoy hiking, camping and fishing in the surrounding area.

Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park is a great place to spot mule deer, grouse and elk.

There is also camping at Willow Creek Campground, where you can camp for 14 days in a 30-day period.

Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park is at Ely, NV 89315.

19- Washoe Lake State Park

WPA poster art of Washoe Lake State Park on the southeast shore of Washoe Lake
Washoe Lake State Park on the southeast shore of Washoe Lake is one of the state parks in Nevada to tick off your list.

East of Lake Tahoe is Washoe Lake. The Washoe Lake State Park is on the southeastern banks of the lake.

This park offers superb views of the Sierra Nevada, Carson and Virginia mountain ranges.
It has long been a popular place for hiking, mountain bikers and equestrian riders.

There are kiosks dotted around the park that provide maps of the trails.

There are also 49 campsites all with tables, grills and fire rings.

This is a truly beautiful place to go camping and where you can easily step back and connect with nature.

Washoe Lake State Park is at 4855 East Lake Blvd, New Washoe City, NV 89704.

20- Floyd R Lamb State Park

Another Las Vegas state park is Floyd R Lamb at Tule Springs, an attractive 680-acre (275 ha) oasis. 

There are four small lakes in the park, and as you walk around, you can take in views of the Sheep and Spring Mountain Ranges.

Bird life is abundant in the park, and there are also some interesting surprises in the form of wild peacocks.

They also allow fishing on the lakes.

If you are travelling with kids, there’s a large grassy area to enjoy games.

Floyd R Lamb State Park is excellent if you want to escape the bustling city of Las Vegas for a few hours!

Floyd R Lamb State Park is at Las Vegas, NV 89131. 

Previous article20 Florida Keys State Parks
Next article20 Towns And Cities In Colorado
harriet comley
Harriet Comley is a travel enthusiast, freelance travel writer and a lover of safaris. Since 2017 she has been travelling the globe living in the UK, Canada, Vietnam, China and now Zambia, where she is completing her PhD in Sustainable Tourism. For 3 1/2 years she taught English in Vietnam and China. Now she has turned her attention to writing, having contributed to a number of travel blogs and websites always focusing on what she loves most…exploring!