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Introducing Nevada

From ski boots to stilettos, Nevada is a paradox, a place of contrasts and contradictions, which could make packing tricky. Vast, empty and the driest state in the nation, it's only recently coming into its own as an outdoors destination. Three-quarters of the population surrounds the desert star of Las Vegas, a glittering world unto itself.

In this libertarian state, freedom rules. Rural brothels coexist with Mormon churches, slot machines and Basque cowboy culture. The ghost of the Wild West persists in old silver mining towns, while Vegas polishes its own brand of modern-day lawlessness.

Seeking thrills? Start on the Vegas Strip, but don't hesitate to step into Nevada's wide wilderness. The cobalt lakes and snowy mountains around Reno and Tahoe are a world away from the Great Basin expanses and the lonely curves of Highway 50, where fighter jets pierce the sky…or was that alien spacecraft?