Art looks good on every state... but in Nevada, it just fits.
Nevada is full of talented traditional artists, with a long list of galleries and museums to show for it. But for some reason, on US-95 between Las Vegas and Reno, there's a lot of stuff that's pretty dang “out there”—in more ways than one—which is exactly why we dig it.
From colorful murals livening up entire neighborhoods and galleries filled with all manner of media, to kinetic public sculptures our kids (OK, and plenty of us adults) can climb on to odd-ball objects rising from the desert floor… there is certainly enough eye-catching, camera-hogging art to grace Nevada’s urban districts, small towns, and even natural spaces with an exciting extra layer of flavor.
So whether you’re livening up a Vegas-Reno run or treating your palate to an abstract adventure, be ready to get face-to-face with some of the most unique, unrestrained—or as we like to say, “free-range”—art you may ever encounter.
473 miles/1,244 kilometers, plus side trips to Seven Magic Mountains and other attractions
Check out the map HERE
- LEG 1: Fremont Street Experience, Seven Magic Mountains, Beatty, Goldwell Open Air Museum, Rhyolite Ghost Town. Overnight in Beatty.
- LEG 2: Goldfield, International Car Forest of the Last Church, Mizpah Hotel, Tonopah Brewing Company, Tonopah Mining Park, Crescent Sand Dunes. Overnight in Tonopah.
- LEG 3: Continue on to Reno via Yerington and Fernley
DAY 1: LAS VEGAS TO BEATTY
Start your trip in the heart of downtown Las Vegas and its budding arts district. Thanks to the arts and music festival Life is Beautiful, downtown Las Vegas is now an open-air art gallery. Murals and sculptures are scattered along Fremont East and adjoining neighborhoods. One of the most eye-catching pieces is the 40-foot praying mantis sculpture at Container Park. This towering insect, created by artist and former aerospace engineer Kirk Jellum, originally made its appearance at Burning Man. If you catch it at night, it periodically breathes fire.
Before leaving Las Vegas, take a detour just south of the Las Vegas Strip to visit Seven Magic Mountains, a colorful large-scale public artwork featuring seven 30- to 35-foot-high fluorescent totems comprised of painted, locally-sourced boulders.
Getting there: Follow Interstate 15 south to Sloan Road (exit 25). Turn left (east) to Las Vegas Boulevard. Drive approximately 7 miles south on Las Vegas Blvd. and the artwork will be on your left (east).
After leaving the bright lights of Las Vegas, you’ll drive toward the small town of Beatty along U.S. Highway 95. Beatty is about 120 miles from Las Vegas, making it about a two-hour drive. Before making your final stop for the day you’ll want to take a quick detour to the Goldwell Open Air Museum and Rhyolite Ghost Town.
When you arrive at Beatty, turn left (east) on State Route 374 toward Death Valley National Park. Follow the signs for Rhyolite ghost town (six miles from Beatty). Adjacent to Rhyolite is the Goldwell Open Air Museum, home of seven large-scale sculptures created in the 1980s. You can’t miss it.
Here you can walk among larger-than-life sculptures and explore the well-preserved ruins of Rhyolite. Stick around for sunset for incredible photo opportunities.
Beatty is known as the gateway to Death Valley, but there’s more to this little town. Order the world-famous chili at the Happy Burro and while there be sure to check out the men’s restroom. Keep an eye out for the Beatty Cowboys: they like to hang out around KC’s outpost -- but be careful, they might mix you up with a wily prospector and throw you in (temporary) jail.
CATCH SOME ZZZs:
DAY 2: BEATTY TO TONOPAH
From Beatty, it’s 67 miles to Goldfield, a once-booming mining community that is now a living ghost town. Here you’ll find the International Car Forest of the Last Church, a sprawling artistic junkyard of cars, trucks, vans, and buses tipped on their noses or stacked on top of each other. Each junked car has been uniquely painted by roaming artists passing through.
It’s worth mentioning that Goldfield is a town worth getting out of the car and exploring. Grab a cold one and rub elbows with “Nevada’s Meanest Bartender” at the Santa Fe Saloon, stroll the Goldfield Cemetery and for a truly immersive experience, tune into Radio Goldfield, KGFN 89.1.
Tonopah is 27 miles north of Goldfield, or about an half-hour drive. Grab lunch at the Pittman Cafe inside the historic Mizpah Hotel, where they serve delicious soups daily along with traditional American cuisine. Head up the road for some barbeque and brews at the Tonopah Brewing Company. Try the beer sampler flight if you’re not the one driving. It’s a great way to taste all the brewery's craft beers. Maybe fill up a growler of your favorite to take with you.
Like Goldfield, Tonopah is a great town to explore. Check out the Tonopah Historic Mining Park on the site of the original mining claims that started the rush to Tonopah, making it the “Queen of the Silver Camps.” The Central Nevada Museum is also a place where you can step into the past and explore the rich and colorful history of central Nevada and early boomtowns of the West.
Tonopah is home to some of the darkest night skies in the country. After nightfall, head out to the Crescent Sand Dunes just outside of town for spectacular stargazing.
CATCH SOME ZZZs:
DAY 3: CONTINUING ON TO RENO? THERE'S MORE ART ALONG THE WAY
Drive through downtown Fernley and stop at the new Main Street Art Park. Here you’ll find three former Burning Man artworks - The Bottlecap Gazebo, Rockspinner 6, and Desert Tortoise.
Make a stop along the Reno RiverWalk to check out public artworks along the river including several interactive pieces from Burning Man.
TravelNevada PRO TIP: While adventuring our great big state remember to travel prepared to surivive, Loneliest Road in America or not. With so much room to explore, you'll likely be covering a lot of ground. Be sure to plan ahead and carry extra fuel, water, snacks and even a paper map, and pay attention to amenity opportunities along the way. Often times, it might just be your last chance to refuel, grab a bite to eat, use a restroom or catch some ZZZ's. And hey, it might be a good idea to call ahead to check on room availability or campsite reservations and plan your gas stops prior to hitting the pavement. While you're at it, also remember that a lot of these off grid gems are in fact small towns; don't expect restaurants to be open late, regardless of advertising online or even billboards you encounter as you ramble on. Nothing beats a good ol' fashioned phone call, especially if it can curb some serious heartbreak after discovering your favorite burger joint isn't open. Nevada is an incredible place to redefine your sense of freedom, but remember that a lot of our favorite haunts are most certainly remote in the most satisfying of ways. Take advantage of places to stop when you can get 'em. Our road trip rundowns should help get you off and running, but are a far cry from every place to see and do along this amazing route. Peruse this itinerary for some road trip inspiration, and customize your #NVRoadTrip by planning ahead and building out your very own itinerary in the toolbar above. Use that noggin out there, happy and safe exploring!