Watering Holes: Where to Dip and Sip Outside Las Vegas

Wanna beat the heat? Make a splash and raise a glass at these trip-worthy watering holes.

As the thermometer climbs in southern Nevada, the search for “cool” places to go becomes a literal one. Luckily, our state is no stranger to some seriously epic watering holes. Pristine lakes, rivers, and springs? Absolutely. But also the other kind: the types of joints we here at Travel Nevada like to call Sagebrush Saloons

So the next time you’re rarin’ to get out of town and cool off—whether it’s with a refreshing dip or a frosty mug in a history-drenched tavern—check out this roundup of trip-worthy watering holes within easy reach of Las Vegas.


Get our hot tips on these cool spots and other fun stuff to do when you go.


Black Canyon Water Trail

Boulder City

Distance from Las Vegas: 30 min / 25 mi

Find it on the Neon to Nature road trip

When it comes to action-packed Las Vegas day trips, it’s hard to beat the breathtaking Black Canyon Water Trail, which flows along Lake Mead National Recreation Area’s flat, gloriously greenish-hued stretch of the Lower Colorado River, between Hoover Dam and Arizona’s Willow Beach. Kayak through 30 miles of tranquil wilderness, stopping to swim and chill at sandy beaches, colorful coves, secluded hot springs, and the stunning and aptly named Emerald Cave. Wildlife is plentiful here, so keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles, coyotes, desert bighorn sheep, and more. 

For gear rentals or guided trips (including overnighters), the resident river rats at Desert Adventures have everything you need. 

Travel Nevada Pro Tip

Hitting the Black Canyon Water Trail on a hot summer day? Do your insides a sweet favor and chill out with a legendary Dole Whip Float at Chilly Jilly’z in Boulder City on your way in or out!

Pioneer Saloon

Goodsprings Ghost Town

Distance from Las Vegas: 40 min / 40 mi

Find it on the Neon to Nature road trip

Boy, if these original stamped tin walls could talk… You may recognize this 1913-built saloon (the oldest in southern Nevada) from commercials and movies, as it’s starred in dozens. Today, the tavern—the de facto capital of Goodsprings Ghost Town—is home to legends, folklore, Food Network-famous fare, and notoriously killer cocktails. Take the self-guided walking tour of the old (allegedly haunted) miners’ cabins and schoolhouse outside, then belly up to the bar for a Pioneer Steak or Ghost Burger and wash it down with a signature Kentucky Mule or Bloody Mary. 

Travel Nevada Pro Tip

As you embrace the old-school ambiance at the Pioneer Saloon, be sure to ask about the cigarette burns on the bar—evidence of an anxious, unexpected nap once taken by Hollywood star Clark Gable.

Mount Charleston

North Las Vegas

Distance from Las Vegas: 45 min / 40 mi

Find it on the Death Valley Rally road trip

Beat the heat by a mile—of elevation, that is—with an easy jaunt up to Mount Charleston, a quiet, outdoorsy community that is usually about 20 degrees cooler than Las Vegas. Tackle trails to scenic overlooks, ancient bristlecone pine trees, and famous Mary Jane Falls (“falls” may be a bit of a stretch in the summertime, but the brook may still be babbling); then kick back on the deck at Mt. Charleston Lodge with some Mountain Margaritas, Mountain Brownie Sundaes, and other refreshers as you take in the beautiful view. Don’t want to head home to the heat? Treat yourself to an overnight at the fabulous Retreat on Charleston Peak and keep those cool mountain vibes flowing.

Mountain Springs Saloon

Pahrump

Distance from Las Vegas: 40 min / 30 mi

Find it on the Death Valley Rally road trip

Although it technically has a Las Vegas address, this legendary biker bar sits at just above 5,000 feet of elevation on the pass between Blue Diamond and Pahrump. A popular pit stop for Death Valley Rally road trippers and motorcycle enthusiasts, Mountain Springs Saloon serves up tavern-priced ice-cold beers and cocktails, as well as tasty Mexican classics from the out-back food shack. Hang out in the bar or chill in the shady back garden next to some just-nice-enough water features. 

Travel Nevada Pro Tip

Cruise up to Mountain Springs Saloon on the last Saturday of the month to enjoy the spoils of their legendary pig roast porch party. Be sure to bring your appetite. (Mar – Oct)

Laughlin

Distance from Las Vegas: 1hr 30min / 100 mi

Find it on the Neon to Nature road trip

If “wet and wild” wets your whistle, cruise the Colorado River Corridor south to Laughlin, where all manner of on-the-water action awaits. Pack a picnic to Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area and bum it up on the swim-tastic sandy beach. Rent jet skis right off the docks at several waterfront hotels. Crank things up with London Bridge Jet Boat Tours and take a round-trip blast to Lake Havasu—home of the actual English landmark that was dismantled, shipped, and rebuilt here, piece-by-piece. Or keep it chill on a sunset dinner cruise with Laughlin River Tours. Then, follow your thirst to one of dozens of bars and taprooms along the Laughlin Riverwalk to toast a day well spent.

Worth the Trip

These destinations require a little more commitment than your average daylong excursion. But we can promise you: make the trip and you’ll instantly understand why they’re some of the coolest spots in the Silver State.

Sagebrush Saloons, Historic Saloon, Historic Nevada Saloon, Old West Bar, Old West Saloon

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Beaver Dam State Park

This lesser-visited gem in the Nevada State Parks jewel box boasts trails that criss-cross a trickling, trout-packed stream; romp up a flowing tributary with multiple cascade pools (including a warm-ish one at the top); along with forested campsites among river-carved canyons and stunning rock formations where you can bed down for a starlit night—serenaded by flowing water, rustling leaves, wild turkeys, and maybe even a distant bobcat or two. (7h45m/455mi)

Beaver Dam State Park

Happy Burro Chili & Beer

In a town where burros happily roam the streets, human visitors to this old Death Valley-bordering mining town chase their pleasures at this rustic saloon that serves… well, homemade chili and frosty mugs of PBR. Sidle in after exploring Rhyolite Ghost Town and the inimitably offbeat art installations at Goldwell Open Air Museum. If you’re lucky, you’ll be cheers-ing beers and scarfing down chili burgers with some of the (in)famous Beatty Cowboys. (1h45m/120mi)

Happy Burro Chili & Beer

Cave Lake State Park

On the outskirts of Ely lies this 32-acre emerald jewel, home to tree-lined hiking and biking trails and wildlife galore. Swim, SUP, or simply float around with your favorite brew between your knees while you take in the mountain views. Afterward, head to town for one of the state’s best chorizo burgers and freshly flowing pints at Racks Bar & Grill. Then bed down for the night in the neon-buzzing, Historic Hotel Nevada & Gambling Hall. (4h/260mi)

Cave Lake State Park

Red Dog Saloon

OK, so this is one of the farthest-away NV saloons from Reno (and most places; it’s in Jarbidge, one of the Lower 48’s most remote towns), but we can’t not put it on your radar. With its original 1900s mining town decór, impressive whiskey selection, and friendly, Iron Maiden-loving proprietor—all set in an adventurer’s paradise of flowing streams, aspen forests, and 10,000-foot peaks—no Sagebrush Saloon is more on it with off-the-grid hospitality. (8+ hrs/400+ mi)

Red Dog Saloon

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