Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Martinez next to Bristlecone Pine in Moriah WIlderness

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Badwater Basin, Nick Pelletier

Photo By: Nick Pelletier

Burning Man 2014, Massive Crowd of people in neon, DustToAshes

Photo By: DustToAshes

Stratosphere shot over Las Vegas lights, Jay Abramson

Photo By: Jay Abramson

Nevada's Oldest Thirst Parlor, Genoa Bar

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Winnemucca Lake Rock Art Petroglyphs

Photo By: Bob Forsyth

Michael Wetzel, NV Mag GNPH

Photo By: Michael Wetzel

Posing on one leg at top of Wheeler Peak

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Turquoise find in Royston Turquoise Mine

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

interior of Toquima cave, vivid pictographs

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

LINQ HIgh Roller

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Mesa at Alta-Toquima Wilderness, almost to Jefferson summit

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Rhyolite Bottle House, Ghost Town

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Spencer Hot Springs sunset

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

NEVADA'S WORLD OF EXTREMES

By SYDNEY MARTINEZ | April 2015
Updated: October 2019

Adventure

Points of Interest

NEVADA'S WORLD OF EXTREMES | SYDNEY MARTINEZ

THE WORLD'S OLDEST LIVING TREES

With a crazy-impressive ability to thrive in the harshest of environments tons of Bristlecone Pines can be found in Great Basin National Parkespecially along the Bristlecone Trail, or in one of the Park's three ancient groves. Though this study—that the Bristlecone Pine is the oldest living tree on planet earth—was conducted within modern day park boundaries, the largest concentration of Bristlecones in the entire Intermountain West can be found just outside the Strip near Mt. Charleston in the Spring Mountains. How's that for some unsuspecting diversity?

THE LONELIEST ROAD IN AMERICA 

After a Life Magazine writer encountered very few souls while traversing Nevada’s portion of Highway 50 in 1986, the author quickly dubbed this now famous stretch of highway "The Loneliest Road in America." While you might not see a ton of other travelers when crossing Nevada on this storied stretch, your trek will be far from lonely with quite the list of amazing Nevada stops along the way. With some of the state's best ghost towns, turquoise shops, hot springs, and even a legendary burger challenge, don't forget to grab your Highway 50 passport to become a certified survivor.

THE LOWEST, HOTTEST AND DRIEST PLACE IN NORTH AMERICA

Said to be the hottest place on earth, Death Valley National Park is certainly not for the faint of heart. Interestingly enough, it’s also home to Badwater Basin—which is considered to be the lowest, hottest, and driest part in the entire continent, sitting at a whopping 282 feet below sea level.  Road tripping enthusiasts can approach Death Valley via The Death Drive—a road trip that brings you from the Las Vegas valley into an impressive 7 climate zones equivalent to driving from Mexico to Canada. Wake up to snow on Mt. Charleston, then wind your way down in elevation to Death Valley National Park before returning to your Vegas hotel room for the night. Does it get better?  
Photo courtesy of Nick Pelletier

THE LARGEST ALPINE LAKE IN THE U.S., AND ONE OF THE CLEAREST BODIES OF WATER IN THE WORLD

At 22 miles long and 12 miles wide Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in the United States. Its vastness is totally something worth writing home about, but if you’ve never had the luxury of visiting this world-class destination, you might not guess it’s also one of the clearest bodies of water in the world. With more than 70 feet of clarity, snorkeling, scuba diving, or good old fashioned beach days are what brings visitors from around the world to Lake Tahoe each year. Recreate on the Nevada side for some of Nevada State Park's most visited places, learn the history of eccentric billionaire George Whittell and other Rat Pack glory, or even catch some thespian action from the shoreline. No matter how you drink it in, a visit to Big Blue always finds a way of delivering.  

THE WORLD'S LARGEST TEMPORARY CITY

With more than 70,000 in attendance to Burning Man, it officially makes this temporary city—Black Rock City—the largest temporary city in the world. This 1.5-mile diameter circle is comprised of theme camps, villages, art installations and individual camps and is so large that it even has it’s own police force, and complete medical team. Maybe what's most impressive is this: while this annual, weeklong party is happening, it is Nevada’s 7th largest urban environment. Once the man burns, the entire thing comes down with a serious ‘leave no trace’ mentality.
Photo courtesy of Dust To Ashes

THE UNITED STATE'S SECOND LARGEST TURQUOISE PRODUCER

While it’s no secret that boatloads of gold and silver is sourced from the Nevada countryside, you might not realize there’s something else in them thar hills.  We’re talking about turquoise—so much of it in fact, that Nevada’s the nation’s number two turquoise producing state, with more than 120 mines to sink your pick into.

THE NATION'S LARGEST FREE-STANDING OBSERVATION TOWER

As a distinctive silhouette in the Las Vegas skyline, the Stratosphere Casino Hotel and Tower offers one signature bucket list-worthy attraction: a visit to the top of the tallest freestanding observation tower in the U.S. The Strat is also the second tallest structure in the Western Hemisphere, the tallest building west of the Mississippi River and also the tallest structure in Las Vegas. Thrill-seekers can face off with the Big Shot, the world’s highest thrill ride, or opt for a more restorative experience by drinking in the unforgettable 360-degree views at the Top of the World restaurant at, you guessed it, the tippy-top of the Stratosphere.
Photo courtesy Jay Abramson

THE OLDEST SALOON IN NEVADA

Sagebrush Saloons? No problem, we’ve got our share of those, too. True to Wild West form, the first place open for biz in Nevada’s first establishment was what? You guessed it, a BAR... Nevada’s oldest saloon, or Thirst Parlor in fact. Built in 1853, the Genoa Bar and Saloon has since served up some suds to the famed Mark Twain, was a movie set for the Hollywood elite like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, and has even hosted several U.S Presidents. If that’s not enough to get you psyched, perhaps some mementos that line the bar walls will. When visiting, keep your eyes peeled for relics whose stories are best told by the barkeep, like Raquel Welch’s bra or Willie Nelson’s hat.

THE OLDEST PETROGLYPHS ON THE CONTINENT

Nevada is home to some pretty cool stuff, but this one takes it to a whole new level. Just a stones throw from Pyramid Lake is a dried lakebed called Winnemucca Lake. Carved in Tufa—which are mysteriously captivating in itself—these prehistoric rock carvings are estimated to be 14,800 years old…the oldest in North America. Although the meanings of the carvings remain mysterious, let's remember that all art has meaning. The carvings found here consist of variety of swirls and straight lines and range from 8 inches to 3 feet, and are best interpreted with an active imagination and open mind. In addition to being the oldest in the entire continent, the petroglyphs at Winnemucca Lake are carved deeper and larger than those typically found in the US, making them that much more special.
Photo courtesy Bob Forsyth at Nevada Rock Art

THE DARKEST SKIES IN THE LOWER 48

Home to some of the last remaining true dark skies in the US, Nevada skies are next level spectacular for stargazing. On a moonless, clear night, astronomy aficionados can take part in the holy grail of stargazing at Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada. Why? The area is deliciously remote with essentially no light pollution to deter you. Here, visitors will be amazed by the thousands of stars, galaxies and planets visible to the naked eye, and if you want to kick it up a notch, be sure to check out the Park’s free astronomy festival held each fall. Though some of the state's best stargazing can be found at Great Basin, just about everywhere outside Reno and Vegas makes for an unforgettable night beneath the heavens—all you've gotta do is look up.
Photo courtesy Michael Wetzel, Great Nevada Picture Hunt

THE MOST MOUNTAINOUS STATE IN THE CONTINENTAL U.S.

Yessiree you read right, friends. Sure Nevada may be arid, but it’s definitely not flat. With over 300 individual mountain ranges spanning across the Silver State, this makes Nevada the most mountainous state in the continental U.S. Of those ranges, 42 are named summits over 11,000 feet and 172 have 2,000 feet of prominence. Best yet, of the 128 ultra-prominent peaks in the country, eight are in Nevada. 

THE NEON CAPITAL OF THE WORLD, AND WE'RE NOT JUST TALKIN' VEGAS

One thing is for sure: Nevada has nailed neon. And, as the neon capital of the world, it’s not just Vegas with glimmering glamour to be enjoyed. Spanning out into small communities all across the Great Basin are tons of neon admiring opportunities that will knock your socks off. If you’ve got that neon bug and are up for an impressive surprise, grab your DSLR and get to Ely and Elko for some buzzworthy photo ops.

THE LARGEST KNOWN CONCENTRATION OF ICKYS

Spanning over a hard-to-imagine 50 feet in length, Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park is home to the largest known concentration of ichthyosaur fossils. Rightfully earning its stripes in becoming the Nevada State Fossil, these endlessly interesting marine reptiles once swam in a warm ocean that covered Nevada around 225 million years ago. Think abot that one for a second. Make time to check out Berlin Ghost Town and the historic mine that supported it, but the real show stopper at this Nevada State Park is the Fossil House. Ranger-led tours run on the regular to give visitors their fill of more than 40 complete fossilized Ichthyosaur skeletons, so yeah, this is one you're not gonna want to miss.

THE WORLD'S TALLEST CONCRETE ARCH BRIDGE AT HOOVER

As if this modern marvel of the world isnt enough to impress, the first concrete-steel arch composite bridge in the United States towers 880 feet over the equally impressive Hoover Dam in Historic Boulder City. As the 1,905 foot-long manmade marvel saddles the Nevada/Arizona state line, it’s fitting that it’s named the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, honoring a hero from each state. With 30,000 cubic yards of concrete and 16 million pounds of steel, the massive engineered wonder is the first concrete-steel arch composite bridge in the US, and its twin-ribbed arch is the widest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. 

THE BEST EXAMPLE OF PICTOGRAPHS IN NORTH AMERICA AT TOQUIMA

Feast your eyes eyes on what are considered to be the best examples of pictographs in the entire continent at Toquima Cave, about 45 minutes outside of Austin. Different than petroglyphs—or drawings etched in the rock face, pictographs are ancient drawings prehistoric people painted drawings inside this enchanting rock shelter between 3,000 and 1,500 years ago.  You'll notice this place is special in more ways than one, but the reason it's one of the best examples of pictographs in North America is not only because of their immaculate preserved state, but also because the drawings employ all four colors available during the time they were made: red, yellow, black and white. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002, visitors can view over 300 images on the cave walls, and be sure to pay attention to that million dollar view from the cave, too. One visit here, and you can see why this was, and still continues to be a culturally important and sacred site for the Western Shoshone.

LAS VEGAS' HIGH ROLLER IS THE WORLD'S TALLEST

Towering high over the famed Las Vegas Strip is the unmatched High Roller at the LINQ. As the world’s tallest ferris wheel, this beauty is an astonishing 550 feet tall and 520 feet in diameter—narrowing beating the London Eye but just one foot. Illuminated by a multi-color, 2,000-LED system, each of the 28-passenger cabins can accommodate 40 people and is equipped with eight flat screens, an iPod dock and unmatched 360-degree views. Equally if not more as grand as a heli-ride over the Las Vegas Strip, this unforgettable ride takes the glimmering lights below to new heights.

THE HIGHEST PREHISTORIC NATIVE AMERICAN HUNTING GROUND IN THE UNITED STATES

Towering 11,949 feet above sea level is the highest known permanent American Indian village in North America, and its inconspicuously tucked away in central Nevada only an hour north of Tonopah. Known as the Alta-Toquima Wilderness, the Western Shoshone occupied this range 7,000 years ago, living off the lush vegetation, streams and big game like the desert bighorn sheep. Interestingly enough, the largest known population of these creatures is also found at Alta-Toquima and are so successfully thriving that biologists have placed pairs in different regions of the world, hoping to adapt them to similar high altitude areas. Thousands of arrowheads, spear points and grinding stones, among other artifacts were excavated from the area—keep an eye out when exploring the area... you never know what you may just come across. When hiking Mt. Jefferson—Nevada’s 4th tallest summit—keep an eye out for the prehistoric hunting blinds that can still be seen on the mesa.

THE OLDEST AND LARGEST BOTTLE HOUSE IN THE U.S. AT NEVADA'S MOST PHOTOGRAPHED GHOST TOWN

As the most photographed ghost town in Nevada, it should come as no surprise that it's hard to take a bad photo at Rhyolite Ghost Town. Though there are important reminders of the past just about everywhere you look, one ruin in specific is extra special: the Tom Kelly Bottle House. The reason? It's the oldest and largest house made completely of bottles in existence. During a time when timber was scarce, having just been leveled for the railroad or other mining efforts, early pioneers had to get creative, using other supplies available. And true to Nevada fashion, you can bet Rhyolite had dozens of bars. The Tom Kelly Bottle House was made of thousands of soda, medicine, beer and whiskey bottles, and completed in 1906. It took six months to complete, was resided in full time, and then renovated by Paramount Pictures as a movie set in 1925. Today, it’s the only one of its caliber and is in the heart of one of our favorite #NVGhostTowns.

THE MOST NATURAL HOT SPRINGS IN THE UNITED STATES

With more than 300 natural hot springs peppered throughout the state, Nevada has more hot springs than any other state in the country. Come to terms with the true definition of adventure up in the Black Rock, or kick back and enjoy a face-melting sunset at Spencer. There are tons of state and federally managed hot springs that are all yours for the taking, but if you aren't so interested in becoming one with nature, zero in on a handful of seriously impresive resort hot springs—like Steamboat Hot Springs, or David Walley’s Hot Springs Resort & Spathat are so legendary they predate statehood, AND captured the attention of people like Mark Twain himself. 

MORE GHOST TOWNS THAN ACTUAL POPULATED TOWNS

Yep, you read that correctly...and how cool is that?! There are close to 100 towns in Nevada with an actual zip code, and 668 Nevada ghost towns in the record books, which officially means that there are more mining camps of yesteryear dotting the hillsides than actual populated communities. If that’s not a reason to grab the gazetteer and drop a gear and disappear, we're not sure what is. #WeirdNevada

READY TO HIT THE ROAD? Plan a trip

With such a mind-blowing number of things to do in one state, use these tools and resources to help you prepare for an absolutely killer Nevada experience.

GET STARTED

suggested adventures

Point of Interest Go››

X
Stay Connected
Get in the loop on what to do, where to go, events not to miss and more.