Nevada is known as the "Silver State" - and has long attracted those seeking to strike it rich. From hardy miners digging for treasure in the 19th century to folks hitting the casinos of Las Vegas, it's a place of dreams and dazzle.
Those qualities aren't limited to Sin City; Nevada has a wealth of both impressive natural wonders and awe-inspiring manmade structures. From the Hoover Dam to Lake Mead, the Neon Museum to the incredible stargazing over Tonopah, you're pretty much guaranteed a jaw-dropping experience. Here are 20 things that'll do it.
This marvel stands 725 feet above the Colorado River, and 80 years after its completion, still has the power to awe. It's considered one of the Top 10 Construction Achievements of the 20th century.
Located just a few miles outside of Vegas, this serene canyon offers great hiking - or just a chance to capture some spectacular photos.
Vegas, baby! It may only be about 4 miles long, but the Las Vegas Strip packs a ton of eye-popping dazzle into that space. Hotels, rides, shopping, restaurants, fountains….whether you gamble or not, your mind will be blown. Mainly by the 75,000 miles of neon lights.
This desolate and fascinating landmark features everything from ash piles to many extinct volcanoes. It makes for super-interesting hikes. Don't miss the deep Lunar Crater, which was used by Apollo astronauts as a training ground. (Tonopah area)
During the 1800s, settlers and miners brought hardy mustangs and burros with them. Now, there are thousands of their descendants roaming the landscape, protected by the Bureau of Land Management. Take a tour and see them in their natural environment. (Reno)
Garish neon signs are as much a part of Las Vegas as slot machines. This cool museum features neon treasures from back in the day, spread out over 6 acres and tracing Vegas' history in a unique way. (Las Vegas)
Tucked inside a low mountain range, this beautiful lake attracts locals for its excellent wildlife spotting, water sports, hiking and fishing. It gets its name for the odd rock formations that jut out of the water. (Reno area)
Technically, it's among the deepest reservoirs in America, having been formed by the Hoover Dam. Along its 550 miles of shoreline, you can fish, swim, take your boat out…or just hang out in the sun.
During the 19th century, Nevada attracted plenty of folks hoping to strike it rich with a gold or silver claim. Get a taste of what they endured as you explore a mine shaft - conveniently located under an Old West saloon. Raise a glass to those hardy souls. (Virginia City)
At 550 feet, it's the world's tallest Ferris Wheel, and overlooks the Vegas strip. Climb aboard and take a breathtaking ride into the skies over Sin City.
Las Vegas has a long, storied history with the Mob - and this museum documents it all. There are many cool artifacts, an interactive timeline - and more than a few pairs of cement shoes.
It's a combination of the world's oldest trees (bristlecone pines), quirky art sculptures and the Lehman Caves. What a wonderful place for a hike, camping or exploration. (Baker)
Get your "Bob the Builder" on, and drive a bulldozer or excavator in the sands around the Las Vegas Strip. First, you get a safety/equipment demo, then you get behind the wheel and indulge in a grown-up sandbox fantasy.
Affiliated with the Smithsonian, this museum documents the history of the Nevada Test Site and its nuclear testing. Besides the usual wonky equipment on display, there's plenty of pop culture memorabilia from one of the more nervous chapters in our history. (Paradise)
It was once a booming mining town, but it all went south in the early 20th century. Remnants still exist, including the bank, train depot and the jail.
There are hundreds of vintage machines on display (and you can play them!). Lots of colorful history - not to mention, nostalgia. If you're a Pinball Wizard, here's your chance to prove it. (Las Vegas)
Located in the Sierra Mountains, it's one of the most popular destinations in the state (and country) for winter sports. There are numerous resorts for skiing, snowboarding, tubing and more.
Even those not into cars are impressed with this place: over 200 different vehicles from different eras give you a real sense of how cars have evolved. It's been named one of the top auto museums in the world. (Reno)
This little town, a few hundred miles outside of Vegas, is known as the best place in the country for stargazing. While most of us can spot maybe 50 stars where we live, this place offers a chance to see 7,000 or more. The town offers "star trails" maps so you know what you're looking at.
It's famous for the candy, but this place also has one of the world's largest collections of cacti (over four acres worth). At the holidays, all of the plants get dressed up in dazzling holiday lights. Plus, you get a free candy sample! (Henderson)