Camping at Great Basin National Park
Camping at Jarbidge Wilderness Area
Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park, Stargazing
Camping at Soldier Meadows Hot Springs
Camping at Angel Lake
Camping at Alta Toquima Wilderness Area, Backpacking
Camping at Great Basin National Park
Camping at
Camping at Lakeside RV, Pahrump
Camping at Lunar Crater
Camping at The Elbow, Walker River State Park
Camping at Death Valley National Park
Camping at Gold Butte National Monument
Camping at Lamoille Canyon, Ruby Mountains
Camping on Public Lands, BLM Camping

NEVADA CAMPING: BRING ON THAT RESTING RELAXATION FACE

By SYDNEY MARTINEZ | October 2019
Updated: December 2019

Adventure

Points of Interest

NEVADA CAMPING: BRING ON THAT RESTING RELAXATION FACE | SYDNEY MARTINEZ

We all crave it: the type of day when the only thing you want to worry about is where you set up camp and how many beers you’ve got in the cooler. Luckily, Nevada feeds that get-outside, check out that blank spot on the map need more than anywhere else, with seemingly endless choices for every camping style. 

Whether you want to be nestled into the Mojave beneath the most spectacular stargazing you’ve ever experienced, tenting it up beside a trout-packed alpine lake, pulling the RV into a beautiful park, or overlanding in spectacular countryside only the Basques and bigtime outdoorsmen really know, the Silver State’s unbeatable variety of unspoiled landscapes—and lack of other people—pretty much guarantees you the off-grid solace you dream about at that desk every day. 

Of course, we’ll never tell you everything. But scope out this snapshot of some tried-and-true Nevada camping destinations to get your motor running, as well the specs you need to know to get out there. 

Ever heard of “resting relaxation face?” Yeah. Hope you’re ready for it. #NVAdventure

JARBIDGE WILDERNESS AREA

Equal parts mystery and grandeur, the Jarbidge Wilderness Area is an echelon of enchanting in its own class, honestly. Not only situated in the tippy-top northeastern Nevada border, this place is also at the top of the list of gotta-see-it destinations for outsiders and locals alike. So remote that most Nevadans haven’t even visited, the historic Jarbidge townsite is said to be one of the most isolated towns in the lower 48—trust us, you can feel it when you’re here, too. Throwing off magical mystical vibes from high desert basin and range topography all the way down into a series of 6,000-foot-deep gorges, there’s plenty to get after in all 113,000 acres of rugged, can’t-believe-this-is-really-Nevada landscapes. 

Head for the town of Jarbidge—a place just as legendary as the wilderness that surrounds it—then beeline it south of town to the Pine Creek Campground. The deeper you can get into this inCREDIBLE campsite the better, but just about all of the dozen-or-so sites serve up Jarbidge River adjacent spots, fire rings and picnic tables. If you set up shop here and never left, it would be a perfect trip (don’t forget about those storied Dolly Vardens in that river), or you can basecamp here and pick off seven peaks in the Jarbidge Mountain Range—Jarbidge Peak, Jumbo Peak, Square Top, The Matterhorn, Prospect Peak, Cougar Peak and Government Peak...Mary’s River and God’s Pocket too, if you’re really serious. While you’re at it, keep an eye out for the most serious outdoorsmen in the state, and Bascos, their modern-day sheep camps, and arborglyphs that prove they’re the real experts in this neck of Nevada.

Are we talkin’ northern, southern, or central Nevada? NORTHEASTERN NEVADA
Closest town to snag amenities: ELKO
Road condition: 68 MILES OF DIRT ROADS, AWD OR 4WD RECOMMENDED
Cell signal situation? NONEXISTENT BEYOND JARBIDGE TOWNSITE
Camp this way: TENT OR TRAILER
Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER AND FALL

CATHEDRAL GORGE STATE PARK

Speaking of gorge-ous, say hello to the insanely beautiful Cathedral Gorge State Park— the golden goose of Nevada slot canyons, guys. Though it’s surrounded by Nevada’s Biggest Pocket of Parks—and there’s a real reason worth checking all of them out—this one is a natural front-runner because of its out-of-this-world spiry formations and slot canyons that have been part of the southern Nevada landscape for millions of years. Imagine finding this place as a pioneer! All of a sudden, you’re driving your wagon along and then BAM—amazing drops into jagged formations that even reminded some of the area’s first pioneers of a cathedral. It has a way of pulling some wild imagination out of everyone who visits, and is a place so great you won’t ever want to hit the road. 

Lucky for you, this Nevada State Park has some of the very best camping of the bunch, which means you won’t have to say bye-bye till you’re really ready. Choose from 22 sites, all within walking distance of every major attraction within the park, each equipped with shade, fire rings, and best of all: super nice coin-operated shower setups. Spend all your time in the slots, or use Cathedral as your basecamp when exploring all 6 State Parks in the area.

Are we talkin’ northern, southern, or central Nevada? SOUTHERN NEVADA
Closest town to snag amenities: CALIENTE
Road condition: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY
Cell signal situation? FULL SERVICE
Camp this way: TENT, TRAILER OR RV
Best time of year to swing through: FALL, SPRING OR WINTER

SOLDIER MEADOWS

Hot springs and camping—is there a better duo? We def don’t think so, and in a state with more public lands and hot springs than most, the Soldier Meadows experience is an unbeatable one. Color and beauty is all around you in the Black Rock Desert—you’ve just got to look for it. Same goes for a variety of life, despite those stark Playa vibes—some of which exists here, and only here. 

The Black Rock Desert is one of the largest open spaces in the world—1.2 million acres, to be exact—that includes 10 wilderness areas you can find yourself in—including Soldier Meadows— all while not running into another single person. Here, vistas go on for miles, vastness can sometimes overwhelm in all the right ways, and there’s nowhere better to redefine solitude. Protected by proximity, you’ve gotta work a bit to access the place, but once you do: plan for a massive concentration of public lands hot springs, staggering canyons, and one of the best places in the country to really see the stars. The stars up here—specifically at Massacre Rim, but really anywhere in the Black Rock—are so bright, navigating to a hot spring by way of starlight is an actual thing. Sink into the actual rivers of hot springs, pooled up since the pioneers came through, then settle into a half dozen primitive Bureau of Land Management (BLM) campsites within walking distance. Or if you’re especially lucky, BLM-managed Soldier Meadows Cabin will be vacant and all yours.

Are we talkin’ northern, southern, or central Nevada? NORTHWESTERN NEVADA
Closest town to snag amenities: GERLACH, DEPENDING ON WHAT YOU NEED
Road condition: PAVED UNTIL THE PLAYA, THEN DIRT ROADS. AWD OR 4WD RECOMMENDED
Cell signal situation? NONEXISTENT BEYOND GERLACH
Camp this way: TENT, OR PICKUP BED
Best time of year to swing through: SPRING, SUMMER OR FALL

ANGEL LAKE

“The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious. And why shouldn’t it be?—it is the same air angels breathe.” Mark Twain was talking about another iconic Nevada lake, but considering Angel Lake is a whole 2,000+ feet in elevation higher, it doesn't get a whole lot more heavenly than this. 

Situated in the unbelievably pristine East Humboldts just outside Wells, Angel Lake is textbook Nevada alpine lake, and an amazing basecamp for any outdoorsmen looking to access this range, and the eastside of the Rubies. Knowing that the water that goes into making the always-hits-the-spot craft beers of Ruby Mountain Brewing Company comes from this very lake and runoff creeks is enough to get us there, and in a hurry. But getting your hands on some of that beer, then drinking it at Angel Lake Campground? Legendary stories, guys. There are about a dozen spots at Angel Lake with access to trails, restrooms, and of course the lake itself, which makes for perfect float tube fishing. If being a little closer to town and amenities is more your speed, check out the Angel Creek Campground, a few miles back down the mountain, nestled in shady trees with the relaxing bubbling of Angel Creek, which flows through the campground.

Are we talkin’ northern, southern, or central Nevada? NORTHERN NEVADA
Closest town to snag amenities: WELLS
Road condition: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY
Cell signal situation? HIT AND MISS BEYOND WELLS
Camp this way: TENT, TRAILER OR RV
Best time of year to swing through: SPRING, SUMMER, OR FALL. NO WINTER ACCESS

ALTA-TOQUIMA WILDERNESS

A place known for its “extreme alpine conditions” and home to the tallest peak in Central Nevada, or the fourth tallest in the state. If that’s not enough to get you here for the crazy-insano amazing camping and all-around tranquility, what will? This off-grid hideout is a definite favorite for most Nevadans who know what’s up, particularly those who Live by the Dirt Road Code. Like it’s almost hidden in plain sight, the Alta-Toquima Wilderness isn’t far from the geographic center of the state and has been staring at you all this time without you even realizing it. There are three summits within—North, Middle and South, the South being the tallest, called Mount Jefferson. Choose one of the most memorable spots you’ll camp at within Pine Creek campground, situated at the base of the trailhead. Here, well maintained campgrounds and restrooms are tucked into lush scenery, and you’re likely to bump into some Nevadans who covet the sacredness the place holds. If you’re up for a bigger adventure, summit the mountain or backpack into the Sawmill Campground, which is a hunter-maintained campground about halfway to the peak. On the way, you’ll cross Pine Creek about a half dozen times, get to know the region’s rich Basque culture by way of 90-year-old tree carvings, and maybe even see some Desert Bighorn Sheep—after all, they thrive better here in this elevation than any other spot in the world.

Are we talkin’ northern, southern, or central Nevada? CENTRAL NEVADA, CLOSE TO THE GEOGRAPHIC CENTER
Closest town to snag amenities: TONOPAH
Road condition: WELL-MAINTAINED DIRT ROADS
Cell signal situation? NONEXISTENT BEYOND SOUTH OF HIGHWAY 50 OR NORTH OF TONOPAH
Camp this way: TENT, OR BACKPACK IN
Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER

GREAT BASIN NATIONAL PARK

After you set up camp at the 10,000-foot-elevation Wheeler Peak Campground, realizing Great Basin National Park is one of the least visited parks will bring on a deep range of emotion. Maybe even most of the stages of grief: shock, then denial the site was open, anger knowing nobody else is here seeing what you’re seeing, then acceptance that you get this place all to yourself. It’s true, people blow right by this place, thinking they’ve experienced Great Basin from the highway or not seeing something from that vantage point to draw them in. But the good stuff, like Nevada’s second tallest peak, the impressively intricate Lehman Caves, stargazing, and bristlecones is the stuff that quickly makes you realize, “Ok yep, now I get why it’s a National Park.” That epiphany usually goes down AT Wheeler Peak Campground, people. 

Aside from rolling out of your tent to THE best views of Wheeler, Jeff Davis Peak, and the entirety of the range that defines the park, camping at Wheeler Peak Campground promises one amazing scenic drive, access trails to ancient bristlecone groves, Wheeler Peak itself and other natural features that put this place on the map. You can’t go wrong stargazing from anywhere within the park, but posting up at this campground launches you 3,000 feet higher into the sky than at the visitors center. In our book, that counts.

Are we talkin’ northern, southern, or central Nevada? EASTERN NEVADA
Closest town to snag amenities: ELY
Road condition: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY
Cell signal situation? SURPRISINGLY GOOD, DEPENDING ON CARRIER
Camp this way: TENT, TRAILER OR RV
Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER OR FALL, NO WINTERTIME ACCESS 10K ELEVATION 

BEAVER DAM STATE PARK

If you’re in need of a true off-grid reset, we can’t think of a much better qualifier than a campout at Beaver Dam State Park. Though it’s said to be one of Nevada’s (if not THE most) remote Nevada State Park, the area’s deep canyons, thickly wooded forests, flowing streams and waterfalls—and of course cutie baby beavers at work—are sure to impress the nature-loving nerd in all of us. If you’re hoping for a real deal escape that doesn’t involve a whole lotta human interaction, well then, you’ve just found your park. Of all the times we’ve been here—we’re talkin’ hiking trails, fishing holes, and the campground itself—we’ve seen about a half dozen people, max. Best yet, the campsites have all been recently revamped with spacious tent pads, parking for one vehicle and small trailer, and practically brand new, super clean restrooms. Situated in southeastern Nevada, just outside Caliente and about 1 mile from the Utah border, straight up redefined serenity is what this place translates to, even in “peak” season.

Are we talkin’ northern, southern, or central Nevada? SOUTHERN NEVADA
Closest town to snag amenities: CALIENTE
Road condition: 28 MILES OF DIRT ROAD DRIVING, AWD OR 4WD RECOMMENDED
Cell signal situation? NONEXISTENT BEYOND PARK TURNOFF
Camp this way: TENT OR TRAILER
Best time of year to swing through: ALL FOUR SEASONS AIM TO PLEASE

LAKESIDE RV PARK

Tent camping? Pitch, don’t kill our vibe. If you’re rolling 8 wheels deep and looking for a killer place to basecamp, while in proximity to a place people from around the globe travel to, Pahrump’s Lakeside RV is where it’s at. If you’re an RV-er, I bet you know about a little ol’ destination called Death Valley National Park—a world of extremes all on its own. With narrow perfect weather windows, visiting the lowest, hottest and driest place in North America requires some creature comforts, and Pahrump has the RV park scene totally nailed, with Lakeside RV a frontrunner. With Mt. Charleston—Nevada’s fifth tallest peak—towering over Lakeside RV in the distance, and a place 282 feet below sea level in the other direction, road tripping this part of Nevada along The Death Drive means traveling through 7 climate zones, equivalent to traveling from Mexico to Canada. When pulling your rig into one of 159 full-service hookup sites, it will become clear why desert explorers call this oasis in a land of extremes their homebase. Named Lakeside, you bet your booty there’s a lake: seven whole acres of lakeside RV spots, to be exact. Also serving up a swimming pool, hot tubs, kayaks, pedal boats, fishing, nine hole frisbee golf, horseshoes, a beach cabana and an entire casino floor, the amenities are certainly not sparse around here.

Are we talkin’ northern, southern, or central Nevada? SOUTHERN NEVADA
Closest town to snag amenities: PAHRUMP
Road condition: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY
Cell signal situation? FULL SERVICE
Camp this way: TRAILER OR RV
Best time of year to swing through: FALL, WINTER OR SPRING

LUNAR CRATER

To camp in ancient lava beds. Yeah, let that one marinate for a minute. As if lava beds and the largest natural crater in Nevada aren’t dialing in those supernatural vibes, everything happening along the Extraterrestrial Highway will, which is about 35 miles away from this glorious place. There are all kinds of energies channeling the mysterious unknown in this part of Nevada—enough goodies for that colorful imagination of yours to really take flight, anyway. But Lunar Crater Backcountry Byway? Really swingin’ for the fences—or atmosphere. Formed by explosive eruptions close to ground level that merged liquid hot magma with groundwater, this massive crater is surrounded by 20 extinct volcanoes and lava beds. So lunar-like, even Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong bounced around this place before training for real missions to the moon. Do the whole 24-mile scenic loop, live out those karate chopping crater dreams, then stake out a primitive, dry camping spot in the lava beds. It’s BLM land, so pretty much anywhere goes. Travel Nevada PRO TIP: make enough time to hike through the lava beds… you can plan to find giant chunks of obsidian in the lava fragments. 

Are we talkin’ northern, southern, or central Nevada? CENTRAL NEVADA
Closest town to snag amenities: TONOPAH
Road condition: PAVED ENTIRELY, EXCEPT FOR THE BYWAY ITSELF. 2WD ALL DAY
Cell signal situation? HIT AND MISS, DEPENDING ON CARRIER
Camp this way: TENT OR TRAILER
Best time of year to swing through: SPRING, SUMMER OR FALL

THE ELBOW

A place so special it gives the word “legendary” a run for its money. This unspoiled section of the East Fork of the Walker River—fabled among fly fishermen for decades—remains pristine and primitive, piquing allure to tried and true anglers. One of four parts to the Walker River State Recreation complex, this beautiful, storied bend in the river is called “The Elbow”—just like someone’s arm cupped to their mouth whispering to you, “Yeah, come fish this secret river filled with giant trout.” This particular section of the park is known for world-class fishing, but the entire 29 miles of picturesque river within captures the attention of kayakers, birdwatchers, and of course campers from near and far. The Walker River State Recreation Area is big—the largest of all Nevada State Parks—covering a hard-to-believe 12,000 acres of land. Set up camp at The Elbow in the Bighorn Campground, choosing from nearly two dozen new spots that set the stage for pretty incredible recreation. Say you’re one of the few who’s fished this mythical stretch, then be sure to check out 9 Mile Ranch—the oldest building in the county, tucked in a region of Nevada so special, it made the cut for Twain’s time in Nevada in his book Roughing It.

Are we talkin’ northern, southern, or central Nevada? NORTHERN NEVADA
Closest town to snag amenities: YERINGTON OR HAWTHORNE
Road condition: WELL MAINTAINED DIRT ROADS. 2WD ALL DAY
Cell signal situation? HIT AND MISS, DEPENDING ON CARRIER
Camp this way: TENT OR TRAILER
Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER OR FALL

DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK

While the rest of the state is starting to freeze their tiny hineys off, Death Valley is just rearing up for primetime camping season: fall and winter, babes. Sure, this state-straddling, low desert National Park can get pretty nippy at night, but all those dreamy hikes within the park are actually possible this very time of year. Sink those stakes into the Furnace Creek Campground, then brace yourself for one mind blowing camping trip that puts you in places you can’t reach when it’s 130 degrees out. Telescope Peak, Zabriskie Point, Golden Canyon, Natural Bridge and Titus Canyon are all hikes within definite reach during fall and winter months, and that cooler crisp air seems to make those dark skies seem even darker for ideal stargazing conditions at camp.

Are we talkin’ northern, southern, or central Nevada? SOUTHERN NEVADA
Closest town to snag amenities: BEATTY OR PAHRUMP
Road condition: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY
Cell signal situation? HIT AND MISS, DEPENDING ON CARRIER
Camp this way: TENT, TRAILER OR RV
Best time of year to swing through: FALL, WINTER, OR SPRING. WITH TEMPS BEYOND 120 DEGREES, HARD NO ON SUMMER ACCESS

LAMOILLE CANYON

Do we even need to sell this place with a picture like THAT? Sometimes called the Alps of Nevada, this incredibly gorgeous glacier-cut canyon is 20 minutes south of Elko. Yep, all those times you blew through there rippin 80 MPH, you never realized Lamoille Canyon and the Ruby Mountains offered up this caliber of mind-melting adventure ops, did ya? Though the Ruby Mountains stretch about 90 miles, Lamoille Canyon itself offers up some of the best access points to this spectacular wilderness area, as well as all around, any-skill-can-do-it camping. If you’re up for a backpacking overnighter, these mountains are known for impressive pockets of alpine lakes with Carribbeanesque quality, giving Tahoe a run for its money. Drive the 12-mile long Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway to the end, where you can access Island, Dollar, Lamoille, Liberty Lakes and beyond. This is also a starting (or ending point) of the Ruby Crest Trail, if you’re down for a 35-ish mile expedition. If you’re not looking to bite off that caliber of camping, snag a spot in the Thomas Canyon Campground—right around the 6th mile into the Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway. Access opens around Memorial Day with crazy insano wildflower blooms that always makesummer a memorable time to be in the canyon, and the fall? A kaleidoscope of colors you won’t soon forget.

Are we talkin’ northern, southern, or central Nevada? NORTHERN NEVADA
Closest town to snag amenities: ELKO
Road condition: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY
Cell signal situation? NOT MUCH SIGNAL WITHIN THE CANYON
Camp this way: TENT, TRAILER, RV, OR BACKPACK IN
Best time of year to swing through: SPRING, SUMMER OR FALL. NO WINTERTIME ACCESS IN THE CANYON

GOLD BUTTE NATIONAL MONUMENT

With National Monument swagger, it’s at Gold Butte where you can camp beneath starry skies, get your ghost town fix, drink in some of that CCC history we love, stare down the Devil’s Throat, appreciate the most impressive petroglyph panels ever and get to know Nevada’s piece of the Grand Canyon. The place is special and powerful, has a true sense of sacredness with intensely personal American Indian ties, and for the most part, unknown or “undiscovered” by the masses. While thousands upon thousands of visitors head for Valley of Fire, Gold Butte quietly sits directly across the basin, on the back side of Lake Mead, almost hidden in plain sight—despite vibrant sandstorms frozen in time and formations equally as impressive, if not more. Primitive, dry camping at Whitney Pocket is the easiest access point and sure to please, and if you’ve got a serious adventure rig in the wings, Little Finland never, ever disappoints, so just freaking go for it. We’re all about camping in beautiful places, but being in a place where you can feel its geological and historical importance? No doubt that right there in the stuff Nevada camping dreams are made of.

Are we talkin’ northern, southern, or central Nevada? SOUTHERN NEVADA
Closest town to snag amenities: MESQUITE
Road condition: REALLY ROUGH ONCE-PAVED-ASPHALT-TURNED-DIRT. DEFINITELY DO NOT ACCESS WITHOUT 4WD.
Cell signal situation? NONEXISTENT BEYOND MESQUITE
Camp this way: TENT
Best time of year to swing through: FALL, WINTER OR SPRING. WITH TEMPS BEYOND 120 DEGREES, HARD NO ON SUMMER ACCESS

... OR JUST ABOUT ANYWHERE ELSE YOU DAMN PLEASE, 'CAUSE MOST OF NEVADA IS YOUR LAND

Think of the last time you couldn’t do what you wanted on public land. K, so never? Got it, we think so, too—the sky’s the limit when it comes to enjoying Nevada’s still wild, unfenced, vastly freeing public lands. Some things require a permit (think hunting, fishing, and some other specialized hobbies), but one thing sure as heck doesn’t: C-A-M-P-I-N-G. Yet another thing that makes Nevada different than any other, the BLM manages nearly 50 million acres of land in Nevada, aka almost the entire damn state. If you have to enter a gate, that probably means it’s private so flip a uie, and always keep an eye out for people who’ve built fire rings before you instead of trying to make one of your own. But chances are, that gorgeous valley, stunning overlook, or public hot spring is on BLM land, and you can settle in with those coyote lullabies for all the way up to 14 days if you really want to. Get out there and camp like you mean it—there’s so much fresh air out there it’s sure to have you hearing color and seeing sounds in no time. #NVAdventure

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