Bighorn Sheep
Icthyosaur Fossil
Wild Horses
Joshua Tree

Photo By: Matthew B. Brown

bristlecone pine

Icons of Nevada

Updated: October 2016


Points of Interest


Nevada Relevance: State Animal

The desert (Nelson) bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) is found throughout the southern, central, and western part of the state and in mountain ranges as far north as Interstate 80.

Tourist Tidbit: Boulder City's Hemenway Valley Park is popular for its herds of bighorn sheep, which routinely come to the park to water and graze.

Nevada Relevance: State Bird

The mountain bluebird (Sialia currucoides) lives in the Nevada high country and eats insects, berries, and other fruit. Most vocal at dawn, its song is a clear, short warble similar to the caroling of a robin.

Tourist Tidbit: The male is azure blue with a white belly, while the female is brown with a bluish rump, tail, and wings.

Nevada Relevance: State Fossil

This fossil (genus Shonisaurus) was found in Berlin, east of Gabbs. Nevada is the only state to possess a complete skeleton (approximately 55 feet long) of this extinct marine reptile. Ichthyosaurs (meaning “fish lizards”) were predatory reptiles that resembled, in body form, modern dolphins.

Tourist Tidbit: Visit Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park in central Nevada to learn more about this ancient sea creature—and see a ghost town. A 40-minute Fossil Shelter Tour is available most days of the year.

Nevada Relevance: State Reptile

The desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) lives in the extreme southern parts of Nevada. It spends much of its life in underground burrows to escape the harsh summer heat and winter cold. It can live to be more than 70 years old.

Tourist Tidbit: The Live Exhibits at Las Vegas' Springs Preserve give guests a firsthand view of how animals such as the desert tortoise have adapted to the harsh climate of the desert.

Nevada Relevance: State is home to nearly half the nation’s wild horses

These majestic animals move with the seasons within more than 80 Herd Management Areas on nearly 15 million acres of public Nevada land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Tourist Tidbit: Mustang Monument, Madeleine Pickens' Wild Horse Eco-Resort and preserve near Wells in northeastern Nevada, is projected to open in June of this year.

Nevada Relevance: Thrive in Nevada’s desert environment

The cactus at right is a Golden Cholla, spotted near the Southern Nevada community of Nelson, but the cacti family is vast in Nevada. From the Mojave Desert to the high mountains of central and northern Nevada, you can spot cacti just about anywhere in the Silver State.

Tourist Tidbit: Henderson’s Ethel M Chocolate factory is home to the Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden, open seven days a week for self-guided tours. The Cactus Garden is decorated special for the holidays.

Nevada Relevance: State Tree

The bristlecone is the more celebrated of Nevada’s State Trees (the other is the Single-Leaf Piñon) because of its uniqueness—and its age. It’s the oldest-living organism on Earth, with some specimens in Nevada more than 4,000 years old.

Tourist Tidbit: Hundreds of bristlecones exist in Great Basin National Park in three major groves: Mount Washington, Eagle Peak, and Wheeler Peak. The Wheeler Peak Grove is the most accessible and can be reached via a 2.8-mile round-trip hike starting at the end of Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive.

Nevada Relevance: Thrive in Nevada’s desert environment

The Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia) is native to the states of California, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, where it is confined mostly to the Mojave Desert ranging between 1,000- and 6,000-foot elevations.

Tourist Tidbit: Travelers on U.S. Highway 95—from roughly Goldfield to Las Vegas—will be treated to a steady dose of yucca. For more of a rural highway experience, consider the State Route 160 diversion to Pahrump.


Point of Interest Go››