Have you ever had one of those days with absolutely nothing to do? Of course you have; we all have. Well, Nevada is chock-full of fun-filled and interesting day trips for just that type of occasion. From exploring beautiful scenery to learning about Nevada’s history to hunting for ghosts, there are several options for enjoyable, historical, and amazing day trips within this wonderful state.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area
A short 17-mile drive from the Las Vegas strip, Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area is one of the most beautiful places in the entire state. Visitors can take the 13-mile scenic loop through the park or enjoy other activities such as rock climbing, mountain biking, picnicking, nature study, bird watching, and horseback riding. For more information please call (702) 515-5367.
2. Virginia City
Virginia City is chock full of day-trip-worthy activities such as visiting the old mining district, learning about the city's haunted history, visiting the Mark Twain Museum, Piper's Opera House, Western Historic Radio Museum, Comstock Gold Mill, Yellow Jacket Mine, and other haunted sites such as the Silver Terrace Cemetery, Gold Hill Hotel, Fourth Ward School, Silver Queen Hotel, Mackay Mansion, and Washoe Club. There are also several fun and delicious saloons and restaurants to make this popular day trip a winning outing. For more information, please contact the Virginia City Visitor Center at (775) 847-7500.
3. Hoover Dam/Lake Mead
A great day trip from Las Vegas, guests can enjoy a historical and informative tour of Hoover Dam and then bask in the fun and sun of Lake Mead. This 16th-largest man-made lake in the world has numerous activities such as boating, water-skiing, picnicking, sunbathing on the miles of beaches, animal and bird watching, and nature study. For longer than a day, guests can also camp in the area or rent a houseboat. For more information, please call (702) 494-2517 (Hoover Dam) and/or (702) 293-8990.
One of the most photographed ghost towns in the western U.S. and the site of many movies, Rhyolite is located just four miles from Beatty off State Highway 374 near Death Valley. Once a booming gold rush town of over 10,000 people, Rhyolite fell into ruin and disrepair almost as quickly as it rose. A true ghost town, there are many areas to explore like the famous bottle house, the remains of the Cook Bank building, and Goldwell Open Air Museum.
5. Carson City
Located about 30 miles from Reno, Nevada's state capital offers a wonderful day trip through the state's history. Visitors can take the Kit Carson Trail, a 2.5-mile walking tour throughout Carson City's historic district and see such sights as the state capitol building, Nevada State Museum, Nevada Railroad Museum, and governor/lieutenant governor houses. For more information, please contact the Carson City Visitors Bureau at (775) 687-7410.
6. Bonnie Springs Ranch
Just 30 minutes from Las Vegas, Bonnie Springs is 115 acres of Wild West-style family fun that includes a petting and regular zoo, train, horseback riding, gun-fighting shows, and several museums. For more information, such as operating hours and directions, please call (702) 875-4191.
Editor's Note: Unfortunately, Bonnie Springs Ranch officially closed on March 17, 2019. Its replacement will be known as The Ranch at Red Rock.
7. Lehman Caves/Great Basin National Park
Part of Great Basin National Park near Ely, Lehman Caves are beautiful marble caves that are ornately decorated with stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, flowstone, popcorn, and over 300 other rare shield formations. Various guided tours are available where visitors can learn about the caves' ecology, geology, and history. For more information about the caves, please call (775) 234-7517. The rest of the day can be spent exploring the awe-inspiring beauty of Great Basin National Park. For operating hours and various activities and attractions inside the park, please call (775) 234-7331.
8. Goodsprings/Pioneer Saloon
Located a mere 25 miles from Las Vegas, Goodsprings was once a bustling gold town and is now one of the most popular day trips in the area. The popular and historic Pioneer Saloon is the last remaining bar in Goodsprings from the gold rush era. Constructed in 1913, the Pioneer Saloon transports visitors back in time and allows history buffs the opportunity to examine historical memorabilia, dine on great food and drinks, and explore the neighboring Goodsprings General Store for unique souvenirs. For more information, please call the Pioneer Saloon at (702) 874-9362.
9. Gold Point
Another well-preserved ghost town located just 25 miles from the Las Vegas Strip, Gold Point was once a hustling and bustling mining town. Today, visitors can explore the well-preserved town, talk to one of about a dozen residents who still live here and who love to share their town's history, dine at the Gold Point Nevada Saloon, visit historic mining sites, and even catch historic reenactments by the High Desert Drifters Western Historical Society. For more information, please call (775) 482-4653.
10. Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park
Located near Ely, the Ward charcoal ovens are six beehive-shaped charcoal ovens used from 1876 through 1879 to help process the silver ore found in the area. Following the mining boon, the ovens were used as a shelter for travelers and even as a stagecoach bandit hideout. The ovens are open for touring and provide an amazing glimpse into Nevada history. Other area activities include hiking, photography, bird and animal watching, picnicking, and mountain biking. For more information, please call (775) 289-1693.
11. Fort Churchill State Park
Located in Silver Springs, Fort Churchill was built in 1861 as protection for early settlers and to guard Pony Express mail runs. Today, the ruins are preserved in a state of arrested decay in the Fort Churchill Historic Park. Visitors can explore the ruins along designated trails as well as enjoy hiking, bird-watching, canoeing along the Carson River, horseback riding, and checking out the renovated Buckland Station. For more information, please call (775) 577-2345.
Nevada is far more than Las Vegas, Reno, gambling, and desert. Instead, it is a state rife with natural beauty and impressive history. Several locations provide wonderful day trips for a fun-filled family outing. How many of these day trips have you taken? Have I left your favorite off my list? Please comment below.