Thinking about expanding your Nevada travel horizons this year to visit Nevada’s unique towns, cities and villages? Here are ten towns, both small and large, that are rich with historical meaning, natural beauty and fun things to do for the traveler and explorer in you!
Genoa is an absolutely charming small town that is the oldest settlement in Nevada. Located by the Sierra Nevadas, Lake Tahoe and Reno, the countryside around Genoa is lovely all year long. Many of the buildings in the town are on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and are excellent examples of late Victorian architecture. The Genoa Bar is the oldest "thirst parlor" in Nevada, and many historical figures frequented Genoa like Mark Twain and Teddy Roosevelt. The town's main street is a fun place to visit the shops, enjoy the scenery and learn more about Nevada's history.
Gardnerville is located in Douglas County which has many of the oldest settlements in the state. The town grew as an agricultural spot and is known as "Nevada's Garden Spot." There are some beautiful historical homes in Gardnerville, such as the Jensen Mansion, a foursquare house built in 1910. There is a strong Basque influence on the culture of Gardnerville and you can find many fine restaurants serving Basque style food, such as J&T Basque Restaurant and the French Bar. Gardnerville is also near many beautiful scenic vistas and outdoor recreational opportunities.
Boulder City is often thought of as the place people go when visiting Lake Mead or the Hoover Dam, and of course it's a convenient spot for those journeys. But it's also a fun place to visit regardless. Boulder City has many excellent eateries along its main streets and it's close to natural outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking and more in addition to the proximity to Lake Mead. Boulder City was ranked as the 6th top place to retire by Money Magazine in 2009 due to it's pleasant climate and environment, low cost of housing and arts and cultural opportunities. The city originally began as a place to house workers for the Hoover Dam and history buffs will get much from a visit. You can also visit the Nevada Southern Railroad Museum which has historical exhibits and a working train that goes on short 45 minute trips through the city.
Pioche is a small town, population around 1,000 people, located near the eastern border of Nevada. It grew as a settlement during the silver mining days in the late 1880s. Today Pioche still has many historical buildings and landmarks and history lovers will enjoy a visit to places like Boot Hill, which commemorates 72 men killed in gunfights during the days of the "Wild West." Some historical buildings include the Overland Hotel, built in 1948 and the "Million Dollar Courthouse," built in 1872. For outdoor enthusiasts, Pioche is known for excellent trout fishing and its proximity to natural parks like the Kershaw-Ryan State Park, Rainbow Canyon Historic Sites, Beaver Dam State Park and Cathedral Gorge State Park.
Panaca, like Pioche, is another historical town in Lincoln County near the Eastern Nevada border. It's actually the oldest town still in existence in Eastern Nevada and was formed by Mormons in 1864. Panaca hosts a "Pioneer Days" event every July to celebrate its history. The oldest building in Lincoln County, the Panaca Ward Chapel, is one of several Nevada Historical Markers in the town. It's also right by the stunningly beautiful Cathedral Gorge State Park, which features unique rock formations and towering spires and cliffs, making the park a favorite for hikers, campers and photographers.
Beatty sits just 8 miles from the entrance to Death Valley National Park and was formed in 1905 during the days of the Bullfrog Mining District. Beatty has a large tourist base who visit each year for the many attractions in this small town, as well as use it as a base to visit Death Valley. It's also close to the Goldwell Open Air Museum, the Rhyolite Ghost Town, and the Nevada Test Site and Yucca Mountain. History buffs will enjoy visiting the Beatty Museum and Historical Society. Another popular attraction is Bailey's Hot Springs and bathhouses. There's also art galleries, shopping, and of course, casinos, providing plenty of entertainment options for visitors.
Mesquite has been found to be one of the safest towns to live in and it's a pleasant place to visit all year round. Golf fanatics will love the several professional golf courses around the town, with stunning mountain backdrops to view while you play. It's also home to several casinos, a museum and a lovely fine arts gallery. If outdoor recreation is your thing, Mesquite is right by the Virgin River and is a close drive to the Valley of Fire State Park, Virgin River Gorge Recreation Area and Whitney Pockets/Little Finland/Gold Butte. Another outdoor activity that's popular here is skydiving due to the presence of the town airport.
Lamoille is located in the north eastern area of the state and it's a small, rural town at the base of the Ruby Mountains. It's most often visited by people visiting Lamoille Canyon, an exquisite place of natural beauty that has to go on your bucket list! The area is sometimes called the Yosemite of Nevada and it's a well deserved name. In addition to natural recreation, there's also the Little Church of the Crossroads, a picturesque small church built in the late 1800's and still in operation today.
Elko, with a population around 18,000 as of 2010, is located right on the Humboldt River and near the northeastern section of Nevada. It's known as the "Heart of Northeast Nevada" because it's the largest city in the area. It's also very active with gold mining to this day and there are many mining camps around the city area. Elko is the home of the annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering which is held every January for the last 32 years. The week long event features music, poetry, dancing, specialty dining, exhibits and more and is a true celebration of cowboy history and culture. Elko is also the home of the annual National Basque Festival held each July. Visitors can also enjoy Elko's several casinos - the Commercial Casino is known for being the home of White King, the largest stuffed polar bear on display in the world. For outdoor lovers, Elko is situated close to the Jarbidge Wilderness and the Ruby Mountains.
Ely has many opportunities for visitors, such as the Nevada Northern Railway Museum, the Hotel Nevada and Gambling Hall and the Silver State Classic Challenge course, an annual race that has international participants. It's also close to such natural places as Great Basin National Park, Cave Lake State Park and the Ward Charcoal Ovens. Nature lovers will also enjoy visiting the Ely Elk Viewing Area to see live Elk roaming on BLM land. Art and history lovers will delight in the murals and sculpture of Ely, of which there are more than 20 around the town created by international artists and featuring scenes from Ely history.
Do you have a favorite town to visit in Nevada, or one on your list you’re looking forward to seeing for the first time? Share in the comments!