Tonopah, Nevada

Situated nearly smack dab between Reno and Las Vegas, the former home of one of the biggest mining booms in the entire state has another feather in its cap. Tonopah sits under the darkest skies in the United States, making this remote old mining town the best stargazing spot in the country. That’s according to USA Today, although the locals will tell you the same, because on a clear night they can look up and see the Milky Way and literally thousands of sparkling stars.

Like many Silver State towns, Tonopah is rooted in mining. Known as the Queen of the Silver Camps, Tonopah sprang into existence following the 1900 discovery of a huge silver deposit. The boom lasted until the 1920s and Tonopah became a large city during those two decades. Remnants of the town’s proud mining past can be explored at the Tonopah Historic Mining Park, which is located on the site of the original claim made by rancher Jim Butler, and the Central, Nevada Museum, which highlights Tonopah’s rugged history. There are also various murals and outdoor sculptures depicting the town’s early days, plus the downtown highlight, the circa-1907 Mizpah Hotel which some still insist is still haunted by “The Lady in Red.”

Besides stargazing and exploring the town’s mining history, there’s quite a bit of wilderness to explore near Tonopah. Geology buffs flock to the natural formations at Monte Cristo’s Castle and the Crescent Sand Dunes are a great spot for off-roaders. There’s also plenty of hiking, camping, hunting, biking and wildlife viewing to be had, and Tonopah hosts quite a few annual events too. Jim Butler Days, every Memorial Day Weekend, is a grand celebration of the first silver strike, and there are also off-road races at the Tonopah Speedway, fishing derbies, farmers’ markets and traditional holiday celebrations like Independence Day and the Christmas Stroll.

Explore

Entrance to Otteson's Turquoise Shop inside Mizpah
Tonopah, NV
$$

You wouldn’t know it, but the hills in the Tonopah area are riddled with unimaginable amounts of turquoise. With a retail store and tour office located in the alluring Mizpah Hotel in downtown Tonopah, plan ahead for one of the most authentic Nevada experiences you could ask for: turquoise mining. Best yet, Tonopah lies just in between Reno and Las Vegas, which means it's a manageable escape from the big city. Tours begin at the Otteson Turquoise Jewelry shop, where visitors will carpool out to the Royston Turquoise Mine, a short 30 minute drive from the Mizpah. 

Courthouse from side view with Belmont in background
Belmont, NV

Built in 1876, the Belmont Courthouse was the seat of Nye County government until 1905.

Central Nevada Museum Exterior
Tonopah, NV

For a true sent of Nevada’s Western roots, head to the Central Nevada Museum for an unsuspectingly delightful dose of Tonopah history. As the recipient of the 2011, 2011 and 2012 ‘Best of Nevada’ award, the Central Nevada Museum is a favorite among Nevadans!

Effortlessly encompassing the true Old West, the Central Nevada Museum executes this era’s authenticity with ease. The famous, not so famous and infamous all left their marks on this former mining boomtown, including Howard Hughes, Jack Dempsey, Wyatt Earp, and of course Jim Butler. 

Jim Butler close up of sign
Tonopah, NV
$$

With repeat visitors from all over the world rave about the unique, comfortable and homey rooms, the Jim Butler Motel is the answer to your traveling needs. At the Jim Butler, their mission is to ensure guests feel comfortable and welcome, demonstrating exemplary customer service and spotless amenities, working to create a restorative atomosphere. The staff will ensure visitors will be able to take full advantage of the Jim Butler's central location in the heart of downtown Tonopah, and will offer boundless information about the area and exciting activities that last 15 minutes or 15 days.

Tonopah, NV
$

With its friendly, competent staff, great rates and clean, comfortable rooms, the National 9 Inn offers guests exceptional value. Enjoy a complimentary Continental breakfast and your choice of smoking and non-smoking rooms.