Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire State Park

Photo by Staplegunther (wikimedia commons)

Nevada

Valley of Fire. Frank Kovalchek via Flickr

There's two things you should know before you even start planning a trip to Nevada, firstly, it's Nevada, not Ne-vaah-duh. If you knew this already, as you were. If you didn't, don't worry too much – it's a common mistake. Secondly, despite popular belief, there's a whole lot more to the Silver State then the flashing lights and ringing slot machines of Las Vegas.

With winding desert roads lined with sagebrush, imposing peaks that slowly fade in rear-view mirrors and the turquoise shores of Lake Tahoe lapping its western border, Nevada offers a wealth of stunning scenery and options for those who choose to venture beyond Mandalay Bay.

 

Occupying the North East corner of Nevada is the riverside city of Elko. Home over the years to miners, ranchers and basque sheepherders, Elko to this retains a distinct wild west feel and is well known for its annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering. This city is also popular with outdoor recreation fans due to its position on the outskirts of the Humboldt National Forest and Ruby Mountains. When traveling by RV, you're only ever a short drive away from activities such as bush walking and hiking, kayaking, river rafting, mountain biking, wildlife watching, rock climbing, fly fishing and camping.

 

It's dusty earth concealing veins rich with silver, gold and lead, Nevada was once a mecca for prospectors (who were, in fact, the very same people who established Nevada's other important economy – gambling). Although lead is still mined today, the gold and silver rushes are long over and the slow death of the mining industry can be seen in the number of eerie ghost-towns dotted through counties such as Pershing, Nye and Esmeralda. Located 120 miles from Las Vegas, Rhyolite is perhaps the most prominent of these abandoned townships. Once a bustling metropolis boasting over 50 saloons, a town pool and even a red light district, Rhyolite was born in a 1904 gold rush, peaked not long after and was all but deserted by 1911. Today its stone and adobe relics and famous “Bottle House” attract hundreds of passing visitors every year.

 

Of course, many of those aforementioned visitors are on their way to Las Vegas and, realistically, it would be regretful to travel all the way to Nevada and not at least stop in at its most famous destination. It may be known as “Sin City” but that certainly doesn't have to be everyone's experience of Vegas - in fact, the city is becoming increasingly well known for its world-class restaurant scene and (if you're looking to well and truly splash out) you'll get a meal to remember at the establishments of culinary stars such as Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse.

 

Quietly snaking out of the never-ending party that is Las Vegas are a number byways that lead to some of the most stunning natural and man-made scenery in Nevada. The epic Hoover Dam looms large over the surrounding Red Rock Canyon and still remains one of the worlds great engineering marvels, while the Valley of Fire State Park gives a peak into an ancient time with its jutting red rocks and centuries-old petroglyphs. Nevada's western border also lays claim to a portion of California's spectacular Death Valley and the nearby town of Beatty offers a number of parks in which RV campers can set up base.

Another popular attraction that is shared by both Nevada and California is the incomparable Lake Tahoe (although you could argue that Nevada has the more stunning side!). Described as “America's all year playground”, the southern shore of Tahoe is big on recreation. In the winter, ski bunnies flock to its world-famous slopes and resorts and, in summer, opportunities for fishing, river rafting, golf and general sight-seeing abound.



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