Nevada has something to offer anyone and everyone looking for an adventure, from hiking and biking to rafting, kayaking, or hot-air ballooning. If you’re ready to step a little outside your comfort zone without quite going all the way over the edge, there is a wide world of intermediate-range activities.
Here are some of our favorite things to do in this always-surprising state – perfect for people looking for a challenge but wanting to avoid anything too extreme.
1. Mountain Biking at Bloody Shins
Bloody Shins is a mountain biking destination just outside Winnemucca, Nevada. But don’t let the name fool you; there are trails for beginner, intermediate, and advanced riders. The trails wind through the beautiful desert landscape with the Ruby Mountains to the east and the Sierra Nevada to the west.
The intermediate trails run 12 miles and offer a variety of challenges, from technical climbs to fast descents. The trails are also well-maintained, making for a smooth ride. On top of that, the trails are relatively quiet so you can enjoy peace and solitude of the outdoors without having to worry about other riders or cars.
2. Skiing and Snowboarding at Lee Canyon Ski Resort
Lee Canyon Ski Resort is located just under an hour outside of Las Vegas and has a variety of trails for all levels of skiers and snowboarders.
Of the 30 trails offered on the mountain, 85 percent are designated for intermediate to advanced skiers, making it the perfect place for skiers and snowboarders with some experience. The resort also has a terrain park for those who want to practice their tricks on rails and jumps, and you can take lessons to improve your skills.
On off days, you can get in more winter activities like snowshoeing and snow tubing. Just south of the canyon, Mt. Charleston offers ideal conditions for hiking, even in the snow. If you're visiting during warmer weather, Lee Canyon also has a brand new Mountain Bike Park you can check out.
3. Guided OHV or Dirt Bike Riding
The Logandale Trail System is a network of off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails located an hour outside Las Vegas. More than 200 miles of trails cover 45,000 acres of land, perfect for OHV enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels.
Parts of the trail runs around the outside of Valley of Fire State Park. Off-roading is prohibited in the park itself, but you can take a guided ride through similar landscape of red sandstone formations, steep hills, and winding dunes. One of the best parts about going on a guided tour is you can be assured you’ll hit the best spots without having to worry about getting lost or having previous experience.
It is a dusty adventure so be sure to wear clothes in which you don’t mind getting dirty. A mask or buff is also helpful to keep the dust off your face.
If you are comfortable navigating on your own, you can also rent and/or bring your own ATV, OHV, 4x4, or dirt bike and explore independently. Look for one of several areas where people bring their own vehicles.
4. Truckee River (Reno) Floating
The Truckee River is a popular destination for floating in Reno, Nevada, and one of the best summer activities. The river flows right into the heart of Downtown Reno, making it a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Since the water is often calm and the current is gentle, it makes for an excellent outing for the whole family – however, the river is fed by snowfall so gauge its conditions accordingly. There are a few options for starting and ending points, with the longest taking roughly 2.5 hours during normal summer flow.
Just keep your eye out for rapids and potential hazards. Flow is typically the highest and fastest during the spring when the snowmelt is starting. If you wait until later summer, there may be portions of the river you have to walk through when it’s shallow.
5. Hot Air Ballooning over Carson Valley
Experience Carson Valley’s stunning landscape from above on a hot air balloon ride with Balloon Nevada. Options for morning and evening rides offer different experiences.
No matter which you choose, you’ll see the beautiful valley, snowcapped Sierra Mountains, and winding Carson River. When conditions are right, you might even catch a glimpse of Lake Tahoe. You’ll also get a unique perspective on local wildlife, including eagles and antelope.
You can also upgrade your experience to catch the sunrise over the horizon to make the outing extra memorable.
6. Kayaking the Black Canyon National Water Trail
Although Nevada is technically the nation’s driest state, there are plenty of water adventures. The Black Canyon National Water Trail offers stunning scenery, hot springs, and beautiful canyons.
One of the most popular spots to visit is Emerald Cave. Starting at Willow Beach, you can either rent a kayak and go on your own or join a kayak tour. You’ll start by paddling upstream to the cave, with plenty of opportunities to stop along the way. Then reap the rewards of your hard work by paddling with the stream on the way back.
There are also longer kayak tours that take you from the base of Hoover Dam to Willow Beach. Along the way, you'll stop at hot springs and see different landmarks.
Nevada is a land of adventure with something for everyone, whether you're looking for a challenging hike, an adrenaline-pumping bike ride, or a chance to conquer your fear of heights. If you’re looking for more of a first step, check out our guide to more easy experiences in the state. And when you’re ready for a thrill unlike any other, you’ll be blown away by our guide to the most challenging adventures in Nevada. Start planning your adventure today.