Nevada’s highways lead to some of the most incredible destinations in the entire world.
Home to ghost towns, expansive deserts, pristine alpine lakes, and remote national parks, Nevada doesn’t slack at all when it comes to fabulous landscapes. Because the state is so vast, it makes for the perfect place to road trip through if what you’re after are roads less traveled, solitary experiences, and a whole lot of diversity when it comes to scenery.
If you’re currently wondering what stops to make in your Nevada road trip, I’ve put together a list of some of the places you absolutely cannot miss out on!
Starting in Las Vegas and ending in Reno, you can easily complete this itinerary in a week while also taking your time to enjoy each location.
The Ultimate Nevada Road Trip Itinerary
Recommended time to spend at Red Rock Canyon: One day
Think red expansive red canyons, sandstone peaks piercing the sky, and ancient petroglyphs scattered all over – that’s Red Rock Canyon in a nutshell.
Located only 17 miles west of Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon is one of the easiest destinations to head to in Nevada to explore its desert magic. The ultimate way to see the most of the park is by driving its scenic 13-mile road, which cuts right through the park and provides fantastic viewpoints of the landscape.
Moreover, hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding, and biking are other activities to try your hand on if you’re feeling adventurous!
Recommended time to spend at Lake Meade: One day
Get away from the desert’s arid landscape and into a day spent enjoying all sorts of water activities by driving to Lake Mead Recreational Area. Created by Hoover Dam, the largest manmade reservoir in the United States, this lake close to las Vegas is one of the most popular destinations in entire Nevada.
During your visit, you can partake in all sorts of water activities, including swimming, boating, kayaking, canoeing, or just sunbathing at the beach!
Recommended time to spend at Hoover Dam: few hours
Needless to say if you’ve made it this far on your journey around Nevada, stopping in to the Hoover Dam Visitor Centre on the border with Arizona is a must. Truly one of the greatest engineering projects in the country’s history, and at the time of completion in the 1930s one of the largest man-made structures in the world.
Standing at a 726 feet high and 1,244 feet wide, the Hoover Dam has to be seen in real life to truly appreciate the size and power of this structure. Tours cost more but are worth it for this incredible educational experience. Whilst it’s an easy day trip from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam, we would take it in as part of your trip from Lake Mead and onward to the Valley of Fire.
Recommended time to spend at Valley of Fire: One day
Valley of Fire got its name from its red Aztec sandstone that looks exactly as though it’s on fire when sunlight touches the horizon, making the entire landscape look straight out of Mars!
The park is a wonderful place to test out your desert hiking skills, with lots of easy and short trails available for visitors to get to know the area in a more personal way. The Beehives, Rainbow Vista, and White Domes trails are all wonderful choices for awe-inspiring views!
Recommended time to spend at Tonopah: One to two days
Nevada has a pretty unique mining history, and there’s no better way to travel back in time than by visiting Tonopah.
The main attraction at this historical town is Mining Park, where you’ll get to explore abandoned mines which provide a window into the past of this unique region in Nevada. Moreover, you can also go in search of all the ghost towns in the area, which were once thriving communities that were abandoned after the mines closed down.
Something else that’s interesting about Tonopah is its somewhat eerie accommodation options. If you love all things haunted, make sure you stay a night at the Mizpah Hotel, which is said to be haunted! The Clown Motel is another interesting choice – it’s located near the Old Tonopah Cemetery and has clown-themed décor!
Recommended time to spend at Lake Tahoe: Two to three days
White sandy beaches and turquoise waters aren’t exactly the first things that come to mind when you think of Nevada, but Lake Tahoe’s got that and more!
Straddling the Nevada-California border, Lake Tahoe is a prime destination to visit in order to experience the Silver State’s alpine region. If you’re traveling during the warmer months, you’ll love playing around in the lake, with boating, kayaking, swimming, and canoeing being just a few of the activities on offer.
Come winter, snowy activities become the stars of the show, including skiing, ice-skating, and snowboarding! See over complete guide to enjoying Lake Tahoe in the winter.
If you’d rather not get wet, hiking is another incredible activity here, with lots of beautiful trails providing fabulous views of the lake and the mountains that surround it.
If you have a bit more time left to explore, these two destinations are wonderful additions to your Nevada road trip in order to get to know the state’s more remote destinations. Both stops require significant detours, but they’re definitely worth visiting if time isn’t an issue!
The Black Rock Desert was always a bit of a hidden gem in Nevada until the Burning Man festival put it on the map. Today, it still remains a bit of a solitary place when the festival isn’t taking place, making it a great destination to explore one of Nevada’s most exciting desert locations in complete solitude.
The desert covers a whopping 800,000 acres across Northwestern Nevada. Because this place is so expansive, you could literally dedicate your entire trip to the Silver State to it and never have to do the same thing twice!
Hiking here is a treat if you don’t mind the heat, with hundreds of miles of trails available perfect to explore this vast desert with mesmerizing views all over!
Moreover, rock climbing, hot tubing, and camping under a billion stars are other incredible activities to take part in here, so try dedicating at least two days in your Nevada itinerary to this gem of a place.
Located on the eastern border just next to Utah, Great Basin National Park is one of the most remote and diverse destinations in entire Nevada.
Home to lakes, streams, milestone caverns, groves of ancient bristlecone pine trees (some of which are over 4,000 years old!), hiking at this remote park is a dream, especially if an itinerary filled with entirely different trails and lots of wildlife encounters is what you’re after!
Plot Out Your Nevada Route Here
Are you currently planning a road trip through Nevada? Which of these destinations are you looking forward to visiting the most during your trip?
Continue your road trip onwards from Lake Tahoe with these incredible northern California scenic routes.
More Tips for Road Tripping Nevada
- You’ll be covering State Parks on this itinerary which incur daily entrance fees (more for non-Nevada residents). If you’ll be in Nevada for an extended period of time, it’s worth considering an annual permit.
- Think you can visit all 15 of Nevada’s State Parks? Pick up a Nevada Passport and take on the Passport Challenge to win yourself an annual pass.
- Nevada is on Pacific Standard Time (PST) then switches to Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) from mid March to mid-November. Some parts of the state follow MST/MDT near the Utah border.
- If you want to extend your trip onwards through the southwest, check out our 7-day Southwest itinerary.
- Summer’s in the desert can be brutally hot. Always set out with plenty of water and observe our desert driving tips.
- Never forget a road trip essential again with our downloadable family road trip checklist.
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