Nevada is just a big, hot, flat ol’ desert and all there is to do here is gamble… right? Don’t bet on it. Here in one of the country’s most visited states—one flocked to by travelers and adventurers from all over the world—you can bet your bottom dollar there are plenty of not-so-accurate Nevada myths bouncing around out there. If you’re pumped to visit Nevada, but don’t want to be that person, take a sec and check out these frequently asked questions. Peruse our favorite questions and answers for some solid advice that’ll help you and your travel pals make the most out of exploring the mighty Silver State.
This website is by far your best resource for all your Nevada homework. Whether you’re itchin’ to investigate Area 51, explore the Ruby Mountains and their snow covered peaks, or are finally gonna make it to Burning Man… we’ve got on the skinny on how to do it right. But let’s do you one better and throw in the kind of fun Nevada facts that’ll not only help you better understand the state of Nevada, but will also make your trivia team glad they keep inviting you to the party.
Nevada Myths: Busted
Nevada is a LOT of things. But allow us to set the record straight on some popular rumors, misunderstandings, and straight-up Nevada myths.
Nevada is just a flat ol’ desert…right? Each year, millions of visitors do indeed flock to our desert wonderlands—like Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire, and the Black Rock Desert—and go home mesmerized. But here in the most mountainous state in the Lower 48, those majestic landscapes are just the tip of the sandstone spire.
Reno… that’s just up the road from Vegas, right? Sure, kinda…if you consider about 450 miles “just up the road”—which, here in the Road Trip Capital of the USA, you bet we do. Because, whether you find yourself ghost town-hopping at golden hour, getting weird in a “car forest”, bravely taking your first Picon “punch” to the stomach, or simply full-on falling for whatever surprises you encounter traveling this wild state, the point is: even with our wealth of world-class, vacation-worthy destinations, Nevada just makes that journey part so damn fun.
It’s hot, like all the time. Well, maybe—but only right where you want it to be. Thanks to Nevada’s wildly diverse landscapes, spanning vibrant, low desert to sky-scraping peaks, few places offer as wide a range of winter action. No matter the season, you can always find somewhere amazing to explore, be that on two wheels or four—or with two limbs or more. And, weather or not, if chilling indoors is your jam, we know a fascinating place or two where you can do that, too.
People just go to Nevada to gamble. Granted, we do have the most incredible casino-resorts on Earth. And as a state where gaming is legal—strictly for individuals over the age of 21—you will find slot machines in airports, gas stations, and even grocery stores. But with millions of acres of parks and wilderness, heart-stealing towns, and something going on just about everywhere you go with more envy-sparking scenery than you can shake a selfie stick at, your odds of a one-of-a-kind, story-filled payoff are pretty much 1:1.
Travel Nevada Pro Tip
Got fishing, hiking, or hot spring hunting on the brain? More than 80% of Nevada is public land—the highest percentage among all states. Meaning this land literally is your land.
The only thing there is the Las Vegas Strip. Pssh, please. Not only are Downtown Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Arts District worlds of excitement unto themselves, but wait till you’ve slipped beyond the glow of our largest city and “saloon-crawled” in Virginia City, hip-checked your scene cred in art-fueled Reno, bombed fresh singletrack in Caliente, swapped rhymes with cowboys in Elko, or found true clarity at Lake Tahoe… then come talk to us. (But only so we can send you off to even more only-in-Nevada adventures.)
Fun Nevada Facts
It’s pronounced “Neh-VAD-uh, not “Neh-VAH-duh”
Nevadans are friendly. Just make sure you pronounce Nevada right. Say Nevada with a short “a”… not like you’re opening wide for your doctor. It’s “Neh-VAD-uh” not “Neh-VAH-duh.” And most Nevadans will know immediately that you’re not from around these parts if you say it the “wrong” way.
Nevada’s got More Ghost Towns Than “Living” Towns. Boasting around 100 locales with zip codes to 600+ ghost towns, Nevada has more historic mining camps and bygone boomtowns than actual populated cities and towns. If that’s not reason enough to grab your atlas, drop a gear, and disappear (Nevadan for off-roading), we’re not sure what is.
With damn near 300 days of sunshine, Nevada is the driest state in the U.S. Pack that sunscreen, chapstick and extra water—you’re gonna need it. Northern Nevada’s high desert terrain promises snow during winter months, but no matter where you travel in the Silver State, it’ll probably be beautifully bright and sunny (at some point). Just over the border, Death Valley National Park’s Badwater Basin is 282 feet below sea level—the lowest, hottest, and driest place in North America. Traveling there from Mt. Charleston, one of Nevada’s tallest peaks (we recommend the Death Drive) means descending through seven distinct climate zones over the course of just 17 miles—the same amount you cover on your way from Mexico to Canada.
Burning Man’s Black Rock City is the largest temporary city in the world. With more than 70,000 partygoers in attendance each August—most only for about a week—Burning Man’s Black Rock City becomes not only the world’s largest temporary city, but also the 6th-largest urban environment in Nevada. Comprised of elaborate theme camps, villages, art installations, and individual camps, Black Rock City is so large it builds its own post office, DMV, and complete medical team. When the celebration concludes, the city is disassembled, and the landscape is restored to its natural Black Rock Desert state.
The state of Nevada is the most mountainous in the Lower 48. You read that right. More than 300 individual mountain ranges span the Silver State. Nevada claims 42 named summits over 11,000 feet, including eight of the nation’s ultra-prominent peaks—that means these bad boys rise a minimum of 4,900 feet up from their surrounding valleys. The highest point in Nevada is Boundary Peak at 13,140’, while the lowest point is 479’ on the mighty Colorado River.
Turquoise, garnet, and black fire opal galore means Nevada is a rockhounder’s paradise.Nevada is the country’s second-largest turquoise producer—tailing Arizona to the south—and has more turquoise mines than any other state. Sink your pick into 120 mines around the state or try your luck at rockhounding black fire opal—the official state gemstone—and natural garnets, originally mistaken as rubies in the northeast.
Nevada is one of the darkest and quietest places in the U.S. Home to some of the last remaining true dark skies in the country, expect to uncover the holy grail of stargazing at places like Tonopah Star Park, Great Basin National Park and Massacre Rim. Far beyond the reach of light pollution and sound, these places not only serve up thousands of stars, galaxies, and planets right to your naked eye—some visible nowhere else on earth—but also draw a variety of wildlife that thrive in this exceptionally dark and quiet nocturnal environment.
Nevada is home to nearly 50% of the nation’s wild horse herds. What’s more freeing than watching a wild horse charge through the Nevada landscape, realizing they’re not fenced in? An icon not only to Nevada but also the entire American West. More than 60,000 wild mustangs and burros roam the Silver State—more than half the entire population of wild horses in the U.S.
The Oldest Petroglyphs and the Most Vibrant Pictographs on the Continent: Nevada’s got ‘em.Petroglyph rock carvings can be found all over Nevada’s Great Basin. The oldest confirmed petroglyphs in North America are located near Pyramid Lake in northwest Nevada, where American Indians have lived for nearly 15,000 years. On the outskirts of Austin, Toquima Cave boasts the continent’s most prime pictographs (drawings, not carvings), thanks to their immaculate preserved state, and distinct use of black, red and yellow—all the colors that were available at the time they were made. Though the meaning of these ancient art pieces remain mysterious, all art has meaning. And maybe you’ll come to find your own once you visit.
Nevada has more natural hot springs than any other state. Nope, not a typo. With more than 300 natural hot springs bubbling up across the Silver State, know that in this soak-rich state, there’s probably going to be a hot spring waiting for you at the end of the road. Dip a tire or two into backcountry Nevada to access public lands hot springs, or plan a spa-aahhh day at one of Nevada’s luxurious resort hot springs.
Nevada is home to the ancient bristlecone pine—the world’s oldest living trees. With an impressive ability to thrive in against-all-odds environments, these ancient beauties are known for their uniqueness and 5,000-year lifespans. They thrive all over the state in secluded, arid, high-altitude mountain ranges, including Great Basin National Park and the Mount Moriah Wilderness Area. The largest grove of bristlecones in the West lies just beyond the Strip at Mount Charleston in the Spring Mountains.
Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in the U.S. and one of the clearest bodies of water in the world… and nearly half of it is in Nevada. At 22 miles long and 12 miles wide, Lake Tahoe’s vastness is more easily experienced than explained. With clarity down to a depth of 70 feet, activities like scuba diving, paddling across its glassy surface, or simply kicking back on dozens of sandy beaches all beckon visitors from around the globe each year.
Nevada is the neon capital of the world—and we’re not just talkin’ Vegas. Las Vegas is known for its boulevards shimmering with miles of neon. In fact, the Las Vegas Strip National Scenic Byway is America’s only official night-time byway. Sure, some of the best examples of modern-day and retro neon were born in Las Vegas, but grab your DSLR camera and head for some of the state’s best-preserved pockets of retro neon still buzzing in places like Boulder City, Ely and Elko.
Yep. You Can Do That Here…
Just Know the Laws and Your Limits
OK, so the rumors are true. In fact, if you and your just-hitched-by-Elvis beau really want to celebrate your honeymoon sipping (or puffing) on something with a bona fide “lady of the night” at a modern-day bordello—go for it. But make sure you know what is—and isn’t—legal, and where you’re allowed to do it.
Wedding Chapels and Getting Married in Nevada
Whether it’s a let’s-do-it decision at a Las Vegas wedding chapel or dreamy destination event, Nevada is definitely for lovers. To get married in the Silver State, you just need to be 18 or older with a photo ID to prove it, not already be married to someone else or blood-related to your partner, and get a wedding license from the county. No waiting periods or blood tests required!
Nevada’s Marijuana and Liquor Laws
Yep! You can smoke marijuana here—and not just the medicinal kind. Residents and out-of-staters 21 and older can take their buds to (and from) licensed and regulated dispensaries throughout the state. But be sure to smoke it all here (it’s illegal to carry legally-purchased marijuana across state lines) and don’t do it in public or at a casino. Alcohol is also sold seven days a week and, in many places, 24 hours a day in Nevada. Public consumption is legal in some places (Las Vegas), but not all (Reno). Obviously, driving under the influence of either alcohol or marijuana is illegal here, just like everywhere else. So please respect that.
Legalized Prostitution in Nevada
Nevada lays claim to lots of “onlys” and this sure is one of ‘em. Nevada is the only state that allows legal prostitution, which is only permitted in licensed and regulated brothels in specific non-metro counties. Travel Nevada Pro Tip: Prostitution is not legal in Reno or Las Vegas. If you suspect sex trafficking, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1 (888) 373-7888 or text “HELP” or “INFO” to 233733.