Dustier and drier than Nevada's northern half, the south reels in around 40 million visitors per year, lured by the mythology of Las Vegas as the place to leave your troubles behind and even strike it rich. Although Vegas is far from a naturalist's vision of America, geologic treasures can be found in the wind- and water-carved landscapes of Red Rock Canyon and the Valley of Fire, reachable as day trips from the Strip's surreal facsimiles of ancient Rome, Paris and New York.
Escape the summer heat on the shores of Lake Mead. Here, pre-dating all of Vegas' wacky human-made wonders, the Hoover Dam is a marvel of 1930s engineering. In winter, it's even possible to ski the slopes of Lee Canyon before hitting the Strip.
Further afield, daring desert dreamers are drawn to gold-rush ghost towns like Beatty and Goldfield, while ufologists hover brazenly around top-secret USAF Area 51.