A vast sagebrush steppe, the western corner of the state is carved by mountain ranges and parched valleys. It's also the place where modern Nevada began. It was the site of the state's first trading post, pioneer farms and the famous Comstock silver lode, which spawned Virginia City, financed the Union during the Civil War and earned Nevada its statehood.
A soothingly schizophrenic city of big-time gambling and top-notch outdoor adventures, Reno resists pigeonholing. the 'Biggest Little City in the World' has something to raise the pulse of adrenaline junkies, hardcore gamblers and city people craving easy access to wide open spaces.
Geographically speaking, nearly all of Nevada lies in the Great Basin – a high desert characterized by rugged mountain ranges and broad valleys that extends into Utah and California. Far from Nevada's major cities, this land is largely empty, textured only by peaks covered by snow in winter. It's big country out here – wild, remote and quiet.
Around Las Vegas
You might be surprised to discover geologic treasures in Nevada's amazing wind- and water-carved landscape, all within a short drive of surreal facsimiles of Ancient Rome and belle-époque Paris. While Las Vegas may be the antithesis of a naturalist's vision of America, it's certainly close to some spectacular outdoor attractions.
Lake Mead & Hoover Dam
Even those who challenge, or at least question, the USA's commitment to damming the US West have to marvel at the engineering and architecture of the Hoover Dam. Set amid the almost unbearably dry Mohave Desert, the dam towers over Black Canyon and provides electricity for the entire region.
I-80 is the old fur trappers' route, following the Humboldt River from northeast Nevada to Lovelock, near Reno. It's also one of the earliest emigrant trails to California. Transcontinental railroad tracks reached Reno in 1868 and crossed the state within a year. By the 1920s, the Victory Hwy traveled the same route, which later became the interstate.
Along Hwy 50
The nickname says it all: on the 'Loneliest Road in America' barren, brown desert hills collide with big blue skies. The highway goes on forever, crossing solitary terrain. Towns are few and far between, with the only sounds being the whisper of wind or the rattle-and-hum of a truck engine.