driving on a road at lake tahoe

Driving Tips

We’re adventurous—not crazy! From weird weather that rolls in from nowhere to roads that seem to point there, you never know what you’ll encounter in this awesomely uncanny state. Part of the fun? You bet. But let’s keep it that way with a few tips, road rules, and general bits of wisdom to prep you for your unforgettable Nevada experience. Before you buckle up for an adventure of a lifetime, there’s a few on-road highway driving tips and off-road basics you’ll need to know, like ensuring there’s enough gas in the tank, how to prep for inclement weather, registering your OHV, fees and other safety equipment needed. Read on for Travel Nevada PRO TIPs for driving to Nevada, in and around the state.

Highlights
  • Driving Nevada Highways
  • Nevada Wildlife Encounters
  • Live by the Dirt Road Code

Highway Driving Tips

From High Beams to High-Speed Limits

Those long stretches of road that splice through Nevada’s peaks and valleys are certainly picture-perfect, but sometimes require smart maneuvering, especially if you plan on driving to Nevada from out of state or driving at night. Before you hit the road, embrace a few highway driving tips that will make your time in Nevada fun, safe, and mindful of others on the road.

Nevada Map

Season

All Seasons

Region

State of Nevada

Driving Nevada Roads at Night

Though it may seem like those roads are lonely, don’t rely on little to no traffic as a constant too much—it’s always when you think you’re the only one on the road that oncoming traffic comes out of nowhere and surprises you. When pulling over, be sure to stop only in safe locations like pullouts, and off-the-highway rest stops whenever possible. If emergency strikes and you don’t have those opportunities, remember to pull all the way off the highway with plenty of shoulder space if at all possible. 

pyramid lake at night
Pyramid Lake
night driving in las vegas
Downtown Las Vegas

Renting a car? Make sure your vehicle’s turn signals are working properly and be sure to test those high beams—you’re going to need ‘em in rural Nevada. A lot of our highways require day-time headlights (keep your eyes out for signs). Be sure to use the left lane for passing, but only when you’ve got tons of distance to safely do so, and always remember to obey posted speed limits. Like we said, you may think you’re the only one on the road, but a lot of the time, so are our rural officers of the law. And they like to keep their highways as safe as possible. Trust us. 

Driving Nevada in the Winter

Nevada is a land of extremes, and the weather is no exception. Check ahead for any inclement weather that may make traveling through low desert and high desert terrain harder than it needs to be. There are two of America’s four deserts in Nevada—The Great Basin and Mojave—which means the temperature range around here is extreme across the state, even within the space of a day. Travel prepared, especially when accessing remote locations.

mountain ranges in red rock national conservation area
Mojave Desert
ski tracks in the ruby mountains
Great Basin Desert

Make sure your gear kit has a flashlight with extra batteries, a headlamp, and jumper cables. Bottled water, a multi-tool—think a Leatherman or Swiss Army Knife—road flares or reflective warning triangles, and windshield cleaner are all items that are always good to have with you on Nevada highways, too.

Wildlife Crossings

Nevada is very much a wild place, and definitely has all kinds of animals roaming freely to prove it. Beyond the asphalt, Nevada wildlife ranges from rattlesnakes to rabbits, coyotes, antelope, wild horses, and burros. While you’re out here, remember that you’re on their turf, especially considering many of these herds are protected and fixtures of the very places you’re visiting. 

Animal safety crossings—or passages above or beneath roadways—help prevent human and animal injuries or deaths, but they don’t exist everywhere, so slow down and stay alert. Keep your eye out for large birds of prey sitting in the middle of the road, too—though you think they may take flight as you approach hawks, eagles and other large birds of prey characteristically… won’t. 

nevada burros crossing the road at a ranch
Spring Mountain Ranch State Park
jeep driving on a dirt road in nevada
Success Loop Scenic Drive

And of course you’ve got unfenced, open-range cattle in some parts of Nevada, too—and some of those things are bigger than your vehicle. In this case, we’re talking about a rancher’s livelihood if one were to be struck—accident or not. Keep your eye on speed, especially when driving at night, and always try and give more than you take. 

Travel Nevada Pro Tip

Really want to get to know the Nevada backroads? Follow the Dirt Road Code and you’ll be an expert in no time.

Exploring Rural Nevada

What does freedom feel like? It normally hits the second your tires drop off the pavement and grip onto a wide-open dirt road. Few feelings beat the feeling of true freedom, and there sure is a lot of it calling you from hundreds of miles of Nevada’s backroads. Sometimes traveling unpaved roads can seem intimidating, but with the right packing list and a few solid road rules like what nighttime safety on rural roads actually looks like, there’s no way to go wrong out here. 

Whether you’ve rambled our backroads more than once, or are just dippin’ your tires in for the first time, we’ve got the dirt on what it takes to unlock some tried and true off-grid bliss. Follow these tips when driving Nevada’s unpaved roads:

woman inspecting a paper map
International Car Forest of the Last Church
silhouette of a man watching the sunset  in rural nevada
Black Rock Desert
  • Get your pack list dialed, then don’t take it out of the trunk. Keep it stocked, that way, you’ll automatically be ready the next instant you wanna peel out of town.
  • Bring a tire patch kit, shovel, and jumper cables. Always have a full-size spare.
  • Always carry a paper map or atlas—cell coverage in rural Nevada isn’t always dependable, and Google Maps are not a reliable source.
  • Carry extra fuel, water and food.
  • Keep your distance between cars to avoid broken windows, and stay to the right, even if it seems like a one-lane road.
  • If you’re going so fast you can’t avoid running over an animal—you’re going too fast.
  • Slow down in small towns or ranching communities.

#TravelNevada

Whether you’re a dusty ol’ pro or just dippin’ your tires in, we’ve got the dirt on what it takes to unlock some great highway driving and off-grid bliss. Want to help us show it off? Use #TravelNevada on all your Nevada backroads adventures. If we love your photo, look for it here.

The sun is setting but the day is not done. The crew of NNRY 93 prepares to bring the engine to the Cherry Creek Depot for a night time photo shoot. Taken during the Nevada Northern Winter Spectacular. February 16, 2024

#trains #locomotive #railroad #railroadphotography #railphotos_usa #railfans #railfans_of_instagram #trainphotography #steamlocomotive #steamtrain #steam #steamengine #photography #nikon #travel #everything_transport #railphotography #nevada #nevadaphotography #travelnevada #nnry #nevadanorthern #ely #elynevada #winter #desert #greatbasin
Aurora only showed herself for a few minutes last night, but we did get a fireworks show to make up for her fleeting visit. 
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#auroraborealis #northernlights #astrophotography #sandmountain #nevadaskies #starrynights #fireworks #travelnevada #moonshotdesignlab #nikonz8
We went for a drive last night to try and capture the Aurora Borealis and it was so subtle compared to Friday night we could baaaarely see it but you can see the “slight” purple and green!🌟🙌🏼
Definitely was still a fun late night drive with the pups and took a few Milky Way pictures while we were out and about!💫🤭 
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#auroraborealis #milkyway #shootingstar #desertdweller #nevada #travelnevada #explorenevada #nevadaskies #homemeansnevada #northernlights #desertlife #highdesert #nevadadesert #northernnevada
2023 Season Recap Part 2: 
1. Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park, Ely, NV
2. koaofely 
3. And 4. Silver Strand State Beach 
5. sunoutdoorspasorobles 
6 sensoriopaso 
7. harvesthosts findletonestate 
8. flyingflags_buellton 
9. Orangeland 
10. losthillskoa
Our family vacations involve the desert, clowns, and golden hour portraits! clownmotelofficial #clown #clownmotel #weirdnevada #nevadadesert #scaryclown #familyvacation #goldenhour #portrait #portraiture #clownphotography #ericvogelphoto
It was a flowery day again. Don't see this much bloom too often, so I'm taking it all in, and I just wanna take pics of something 😅

#bloom #desertmarigold #yellow #flower #spring #1picaday #frontierwestphotography #nvmag #nevadaphotographer #nyecounty #amargosa
Wrapping up #NationalParkWeek with an incredible lesser-known park that we visited for the first time last year.

📍Great Basin National Park (Nevada)

Great Basin isn't a national park that you hear a whole lot about, but we were so impressed!

⛺We visited in August 2023 and camped in Wheeler Peak Campground within the park. The campground is at the top of Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, sitting at 9,500 feet above sea level. This has been one of our all-time favorite camping experiences. The sites were well-spaced, and the views were incredible! We also liked that we could walk from our campsite to the trailhead for several of the Wheeler Peak area trails. 

🥾During our visit, we went on two hikes in the Wheeler Peak area. We hiked the Alpine Lakes Loop trail the afternoon/evening we arrived and enjoyed some sunset views on the trail. The next morning, we hiked the Glacier Trail, which also took us past Bristlecone Grove.

🔦Great Basin NP is home to Lehman Caves. The only way to tour the caves is by purchasing a ticket for a ranger-led tour. Two tours are offered. We chose the longer one, which was 90 minutes long. While it's not the biggest or the longest cave we've been in, I felt like it had some of the most impressive cave formations!

Photos
1) Hiking the Glacier Trail
2-3) On our Lehman Caves tour
4-6) Hiking the Alpine Lakes Loop Trail
7-9) Hiking the Glacier Trail and Bristlecone Grove
10) Our campsite at Wheeler Peak Campground
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#greatbasinnationalpark #wheelerpeak #wheelerpeakcampground #themountainsarecalling #bristleconepine #nationalparkgeek #national_park_photography #travelnevada #explorenevada
Never an ordinary day⚡️
Spring in Nevada 💗

I’ve been loving these views from Carson Valley, Reno, and Tahoe. Having fun on pet-sitting adventures and can’t get enough of these spring blooms!

#travelnevada #carsonvalley #springtime #nevadaphotography #sierramountains #tahoereno #exploremore #tahome
And it’s one more day up in the canyons.
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