From beautiful bodies of water to prehistoric fossilized fish, the Battle Born State is home to tons of natural wonders worth visiting. I’ve designed a Nevada natural wonders road trip that guides you past a good chunk of these natural wonders in Central and Northern Nevada.
If you’d prefer to take a Southern Nevada natural wonders road trip, you will find that guide
Admittedly, the kidney-shaped road trip above is fairly long at nearly 21 hours of driving and 1,184 miles. That's why I've also added suggestions along the way for shaving it down. Or, you can visit Google Maps
to see the Nevada natural wonders road trip map and customize it to fit your needs.
Now on to the Nevada natural wonders road trip destinations:
About 45 minutes from Reno, Pyramid Lake is one of the state's largest natural lakes. It's a world-class fishing destination and the only habitat in the world for the Cui-ui fish. It is also home record-sized Lohanton Cutthroat Trout. Permits are required for fishing as well as for camping. Unusual rock formations and Paiute tribal tales surrounding it add to the lakes mystique.
Note: If you decide to skip Pyramid Lake you will shave off one hour and 24 minutes of drive time.
Twenty-five miles east of Fallon, off-road enthusiasts, hikers and sand-boarders will find an enormous dune comprised of sand from the ancient Lake Lahontan. Others will enjoy brushing up on their Pony Express expertise by exploring an 1860 station or learning about the area’s plant life and wildlife at Sand Springs Desert Study Area. If you decide to camp at the mountain’s base, keep in mind that there is no water available on site, but there are three vault toilets.
Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area
The historical Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area offers a picnic area and campgrounds with the added attraction of ancient petroglyphs, 24 miles east of Austin. The petroglyphs date back 11,000 to 12,000 years ago and are similar to those at
Grimes Point Archaeological Area near Fallon (another natural wonder you could add to your itinerary between Pyramid Lake and Sand Mountain, if you have time). This is a great place to take a break or take a hike, depending on your mood.
Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park
Mingle with fish that mingled with dinosaurs (well, they were alive at the same time) at Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park. These fossilized prehistoric fish were first discovered in the late 1920s. There are 37 fossils on display, ranging in size from a couple inches to 45 inches.
Boundary Peak, within the Boundary Peak Wilderness of the Inyo National Forest, towers above all Nevada mountains. That's because it's the highest point in the state at 13,147 feet. Highlights of hiking Boundary Peak include a bristlecone pine forest and a notch on your "tallest mountain" hiking belt.
Note: If you're not interested in a strenuous hike, skip this stop to shave about one hour and a half off your drive time.
Lunar Crater Volcanic Field
We know you've been doing a lot of driving but don't worry, you didn't end up on the moon. There are those who claim Lunar Crater was formed when a meteor hit, but the 400-foot-deep maar in the Pancake Range is primarily thought to be the result of a volcanic explosion. It's definitely worth a look.
Hot Springs in Warm Springs Ghost Town
This abandoned settlement
was built in 1866 as a resting spot for tired travelers. They would rejuvenate in the natural hot springs and be on their way. While the pool pictured above is not open to the public, visitors can bathe in other hot springs in the area, which are covered by huts for privacy. Speaking of natural wonders, these hot springs are clothing optional.
Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park
The six beehive-shaped ovens mentioned in the state park's name are not natural, but the state park itself in the Egan Mountain Range is home to many spring-fed creeks, sagebrush, pinyon and juniper trees, and wildlife. There are camping and picnicking facilities as well.
Discovered 130 years ago, the marble Lehman Caves feature stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, flowstone, popcorn, and more than 300 rare shield formations. You can view these underground natural wonders on a guided tour by a park ranger. Tours are given daily, except for some holidays, and
can be purchased
upon arrival or in advance.
Lehman Caves is about an hour and a half from Ely, but it's worth the visit.
little slice of paradise in Nevada
is tucked into the Ruby Mountains of northeast Nevada. It’s a glacier-sculpted canyon that’s so impressive it’s sometimes called the Yosemite of Nevada. The canyon in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest abounds with recreational opportunities, refreshing lakes and expansive views. You will admire the scenery from the comfort of your car as you drive along the 12-mile Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway or if you feel like exploring, you can venture into the canyon itself. There are campgrounds, hiking trails, lakes, waterfalls and seemingly endless points of beauty.
It's a three-hour drive between Lamoille Canyon and Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area. It's another three-hour drive between Lamoille Canyon and Ely in the east. If you decide to go, I recommend devoting at least a full day at the canyon, which means you will probably want to consider camping here or finding lodging.
No matter how you decide to customize it, I hope you have a great time on your Nevada natural wonders road trip!