Sponsored by

Nevada is a playground for adventurers, from easy beginner activities to experiences that challenge you to the extreme. Throughout this geographically diverse state you’ll find everything from sprawling desert landscapes to snow-capped mountains where you can experience the beautiful outdoors.

Nevada has something for everyone, whether you're into hiking, snow sports, flying, climbing, or water sports. Here, we’re looking at challenging adventure activities that will test your limits. Are you looking for an adrenaline rush and don't mind putting in the work? This list is for you. 

The Ruby Mountains of Nevada are often compared to the Swiss Alps © Courtesy of Travel Nevada

1. Sled/Ski/Snowmobiling in Lamoille Canyon

Lamoille Canyon in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada is often compared to the Swiss Alps and is a popular destination for hikers and anglers in the summer. In the winter, Lamoille Canyon transforms into a winter wonderland with an average of 300 inches of the fluffiest snow in the US.

Since the scenic byway is inaccessible, it calls for true adventurers looking for backcountry skiing and sledding adventures. One of the best ways to see the canyon is with a backcountry ski and sled tour. You can carve through untouched powder while having expert guides ensure you have the best time possible.

Sky Combat Ace offers aerial experiences, from an introductory flight to basic aerobatics to a full-on Top Gun experience © Courtesy of Sky Combat Ace

2. Aerial adventures over Lake Tahoe

If you've ever wanted to be a fighter pilot, this is your chance. Sky Combat Ace, located in Tahoe, offers different aerial experiences, from an introductory flight to basic aerobatics to a full-on Top Gun experience.

As you soar above one of North America's most beautiful alpine lakes, you can choose how involved you want to be. Some prefer just to ride along and enjoy the barrel rolls and loops, while others want to fly the plane themselves. You can even learn advanced maneuvers if you have your pilot's license. The company’s best-known experience pits you against other pilots for a head-to-head battle in the sky. Unleash your inner Maverick where part of the second Top Gun movie was filmed.

Nevada has plenty of off-road trails perfect for RZR desert dune buggies © marekuliasz / Shutterstock

3. Self-guided RZR Desert Dune Buggy trails in Moapa Valley

Moapa Valley has various off-road trails perfect for RZR desert dune buggies. Rent a RZR and explore the miles and miles of trails while enjoying the beautiful landscapes and colorful red rock formations.

You’ll find many terrains, including rocky trails, steep inclines, and winding paths through sand dunes. There are even trails that run around Valley of Fire State Park. You can’t go off-roading inside the park itself, but hitting these surrounding trails offer similar scenery and give you a view of the park that most visitors will never see.

If you want to make the most of your time, you can book guided tours too. They’ll ensure you see the best destinations with however much time you have so you can focus on the adventure.

Barnes Canyon is a world-class mountain biking destination in southern Nevada © Courtesy of Travel Nevada

4. Mountain biking at Bootleg Canyon and/or Barnes Canyon

Bootleg Canyon and Barnes Canyon are world-class mountain biking destinations in southern Nevada. The areas are known for their challenging trails and stunning scenery.

The trails at both locations aren’t for the faint of heart – most of the routes are for intermediate to advanced riders. The International Mountain Bike Association ranked Bootleg Mountain Bike Canyon Trails as an “Epic Ride,” which has only been given to 17 other locations in the world.

Fear-inducing trail names, like Armageddon and Elevator Shaft, are rideable all year round, although most people avoid the summers since temperatures are often well above 100 degrees. If you love mountain biking, you must test your skills here.

Whether you prefer bouldering, sport climbing, or trad, you will find thousands of routes and problems in Nevada, including at Calico Hills © Courtesy of Travel Nevada

5. Rock Climbing & Rappelling Calico Hills

Most visitors who stop at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area will drive through the main loop and enjoy the views from pullouts or short hikes. But adventure seekers will go for world-class rock climbing.

Whether you prefer bouldering, sport climbing, or trad, you will find thousands of routes and problems in the park. During peak season (Nov-Mar), climbers crowd the Calico Hills area. You'll find everything from technical face climbs to overhanging boulder problems. If it's too crowded, pick up a local guidebook where you can also see less popular options in the area too.

Be sure to keep an eye on the weather. The sandstone in Red Rock Canyon is porous and very fragile, so if it rains, you typically need to wait at least 48 hours for the rock to dry. Otherwise, you risk breaking holds. A good rule of thumb is to dig 2-3 inches below the surface of the area you want to climb. If the sand is damp, then the rock is too wet. While you wait for the weather, check out one of the local gyms, like The Refuge Climbing Gym.

The towering 9-story Sand Mountain is a popular OHV destination © Courtesy of Travel Nevada

6. Off-Roading the “Super Bowl” at Sand Mountain

Sand Mountain is another world-renowned adventure spot in Nevada. The towering 9-story mountain of sand is a popular OHV destination and is known for its challenging off-roading terrain. People come to practice their technical maneuvers and jumps, and even hold competitions here.

If you visit and stay late into the night, you'll see the mountain light up with headlights under the star-filled skies.

If you're ready for a challenging adventure, Nevada is a beautiful place to visit. One great option is the Ruby Crest Trail © C2 Photography / Courtesy of Travel Nevada

If you're ready for a challenging adventure, Nevada is a beautiful place to visit. If you’re looking for something a little less challenging, you’ll love our guide to intermediate adventures in Nevada. For more of a first step, check out our guide to more easy experiences in the state. Start planning your adventure today.

Sponsored by Travel Nevada

As a travel entertainment and inspirational media outlet, we sometimes incorporate brand sponsors into our efforts. This activity is clearly labeled across our platforms.

This story was crafted collaboratively between Travel Nevada and Lonely Planet. Both parties provided research and curated content to produce this story. We disclose when information isn’t ours.

With sponsored content, both Lonely Planet and our brand partners have specific responsibilities:

  • Brand partner

    Determines the concept, provides briefing, research material, and may provide feedback.

  • Lonely Planet

    We provide expertise, firsthand insights, and verify with third-party sources when needed.

Explore related stories



6 Not-Too-Challenging Adventures in Nevada

May 23, 2023 • 5 min read