Springtime is here and with it the promise of a new season, new life, and new adventures. Unbeknownst to many, Nevada is among the most gorgeous states in the country with its diverse landscapes, mountains, canyons, and different wildlife and plant life. Whether one wishes to go hiking, biking, stargazing, shopping, gambling, horseback riding, traveling back in history, or simply exploring, here are the very best places to set your sights on this spring.
1. Valley of Fire State Park, Overton
Valley of Fire State Park was so named due to the stunning coloration of Aztec sandstone. Located on more than 40,000 acres, Valley of Fire is renowned for its ancient petrified trees and petroglyphs from more than 2,000 years ago. Visitors can hike, picnic, and take truly stunning photographs.
2. Lake Tahoe
Straddled across the Nevada-California border in the Sierra Nevadas, Lake Tahoe is a must-visit destination for everyone. The clear blue water in this highest U.S. alpine lake is truly gorgeous. While Lake Tahoe is a year-round destination, the spring is truly a marvelous time to visit due to the numerous activities such as hiking, boating, water-skiing, and swimming. There are also tremendous restaurants and entertainment venues nearby.
The county seat of Nye County, Tonopah, known as the "Queen of the Silver Camps," is located between Reno and Las Vegas. In addition to providing a historical glimpse into Nevada's past, Tonopah is known as perhaps the best place to stargaze in the entire U.S. There are even "star maps" where visitors can identify the billions of stars they will see.
4. Spring Mountain National Recreation Area, Las Vegas
Located just west of Las Vegas, the Spring Mountain Recreation Area occupies more than 316,000 acres of diverse landscape, flora, and fauna. Mount Charleston, a familiar sight to Las Vegans, is the highest peak in the Spring Mountains. Springtime visitors will enjoy the new life in the canyon with the stunning backdrop of snow-covered mountains.
5. Lamoille Canyon, Elko County
The largest canyon in the Ruby Mountains of northeastern Nevada, Lamoille Canyon was created by glaciers. Visitors should take the scenic LaMoille Canyon scenic byway to truly enjoy this area's beauty. Visitors can also enjoy hiking, picnicking, backpacking, mountain biking, and camping.
6. Virginia City
Storey County's county seat, Virginia City is part of the Reno-Sparks metropolitan statistical area. Known for its impressive mining history, this semi-ghost town is also among the most haunted in the entire state.
7. Carson City
Nevada's capital, visitors can experience the beauty and grandeur of northern Nevada while learning about the state's illustrious history. From touring historic buildings and sites to the variety of outdoor activities, a trip to Carson City should be on everyone's "Places to Visit this Spring" list.
8. Las Vegas
You must admit that you knew Sin City would make this list. While not a nature-focused attraction, everyone who comes to Nevada ought to visit Las Vegas at least once. This city that never sleeps is chock full of world-class dining, entertainment, museums, and, of course, gambling. Vegas in the spring is a great time to visit as temperatures have not yet reached the century mark.
9. Great Basin National Park, White Pine County
Located in east-central Nevada near the Utah border, a visit to Great Basin National Park should be on everyone's bucket list. From the majestic Wheeler Peak to the mysterious Lehman Caves, Great Basin National Park truly epitomizes the natural beauty Nevada has to offer.
10. Red Rock National Conservation Area, Las Vegas
Located just 17 miles west of Las Vegas, Red Rock is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. Among the many activities available in this stunning canyon include hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding, photography opportunities, camping, picnicking, nature trails, a visitor center with many exhibits, and a 13-mile scenic drive.
11. Cathedral Gorge State Park, Panaca
Located near Panaca in southeast Nevada, Cathedral Gorge State Park was formed by volcanic activity and subsequent erosion. The resulting patterns in the soft bentonite clay created cave-like formations and impressive cathedral-like spires which gave the park its name. Visitors can enjoy hiking, picnicking, camping, and photography.
12. Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Located south of Las Vegas, Lake Mead is among the country's most diverse recreation areas. Visitors can enjoy boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, camping, and picnicking. From Hoover Dam to Black Canyon to Willow Beach to St. Thomas, it doesn't get much better than Lake Mead in the spring.
Located about 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas in Nye County, Rhyolite was a short-lived mining town during the heyday of the gold rush but, today, is a ghost town full of history and urban legends. Many original buildings still stand, including the famous "bottle house" and the old bank.
The "Biggest Little City in the World" is a sort of mini Las Vegas in the northern part of the state. Known for casinos, restaurants, and entertainment, visitors enjoy visiting the National Automobile Museum, the Animal Ark wildlife sanctuary, and nearby Lake Tahoe.
15. Hoover Dam
One of the most famous attractions in the entire U.S., Hoover Dam's impressiveness must be seen to be believed. If you visit, you must take the tour where visitors learn about the dam's construction, function, and exploration into the lesser-known parts of the dam such as the power plant.
16. Pyramid Lake
Located approximately 40 miles northeast of Reno, the 125,000-acre Pyramid Lake is named for its trademark rock formations including the Stone Mother (pictured.) With the hatcheries, Paiute museum, and myriad activities in the area, Pyramid Lake is a wonderful place to visit this spring.
This "living ghost town" is located in Lander County along Highway 50, known as the "Loneliest Road in America." What was once a booming mining town, Austin is now home to only 340 residents. Other nearby attractions include Stokes Castle and Berlin (another ghost town).
From natural wonders to booming metropolises to abandoned ghost towns, Nevada is chock-full of interesting, scenic, historic, and just plain old fun places to visit this spring. How many have you been to? Do you have another favorite I forgot? Please share your comments below.