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Nevada Road Trips: Where to Go and Where to Stay while Enjoying the Best Road Trips in the State

Nevada has hundreds of miles of desert highway, making it one of the best states to take a road trip. Here's how to explore each and every corner.

It took me a while to realize that Nevada was about more than just nightclubs and casinos. With an area of approximately 110 square miles and just two major cities, there’s a lot of open space out there. So after moving to Las Vegas eight years ago, I wanted to see what the rest of the Silver State was all about.

My first road trip was a short one. I took the scenic loop through the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area — a 10-to-15 minute drive through colorful red and pink sandstone formations. By pulling over a few times, the experience was even more rewarding. Hiking a few short trails was more than enough to forget the rat race of the Strip and breathe in the fresh air that comes with higher elevation.

On my way back to Vegas, I stopped by Bonnie Springs (an old ghost town that’s no longer open) and Blue Diamond, a charming residential neighborhood of homes and parks that only welcomed its first restaurant a couple years ago. The short trip opened my eyes to the disparity and beauty of Nevada and encouraged me to further explore the state whenever possible.

To cross the following road trips off your bucket list is no quick and easy task. Some are longer than others, but each one is a rewarding journey. Enjoy the moments, take your time and you’ll experience a distinctive sense of history and Old West spirit that truly belongs to Nevada.

Drive the Electric Highway and Road Trip from Reno to Las Vegas

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Traveling between Nevada’s two largest cities isn’t as easy as it seems. The seven hour trip covers more than 400 miles — most of it on U.S. Route 95. While gas stations are sometimes few and far between, you may not need them at all. The state government dubbed the route the Electric Highway, after offering incentives for small towns to provide electric vehicle charging stations along the way. That means your Tesla can handle a long-distance drive without worry. The extra zip on the gas pedal is also a nice advantage for passing tractor trailers on what is mostly a two-lane highway. Recharging can be done in two stops and takes about 20-40 minutes. It’s a good excuse to grab a bite to eat in the quirky, semi-abandoned pioneer towns that occasionally frame the highway.

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The final stretch to Las Vegas is quiet, which just makes the bright lights of Sin City even more exciting as they emerge over the horizon. Try skipping the excitement of the Strip for a night at the Red Rock Resort. The hotel has a sharp and modern design, an expansive pool deck and strong lineup of restaurants.

The property is next to Downtown Summerlin, a shopping plaza that’s home to both City National Arena (where the Vegas Golden Knights practice in front of the public) and the Las Vegas Ballpark (which hosts the Aviators minor league baseball team). It also isn’t far from the scenic loop of Red Rock Canyon. Think of it as a small way to extend your road trip a few more miles.

Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa

Top rated
Las Vegas
9.0 Excellent (4340 reviews)

Get lost in your thoughts on America's Loneliest Highway between Fallon and Ely

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Cutting across the midsection of Nevada, U.S. 50 was famously dubbed the “Loneliest Highway in America” by Life Magazine. While that doesn’t sound like the most complimentary descriptor, the towns that line the corridor have actually championed the tag, turning the route into a compelling journey that embraces the isolation while offering a few unique stops along the way.

Words of advice: fill up at every gas station you can, don’t worry if you don’t see another car for a while and be ready to pass the occasional cyclist. Biking the highway is an ambitious personal challenge that seems especially popular with European tourists.

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Unless you plan to go trout fishing at Illipah Reservoir, you’ll then wrap things up in Ely. The Hotel Nevada is Ely’s most famous building, but the Prospector offers a more satisfying night’s rest. The lobby is full of quirky décor and it has a rare doggie-friendly casino. The hotel is the perfect base for exploring the great outdoors of Ely, including Great Basin National Park, possibly the quietest national park in the United States. If you prefer to stay close to the hotel, the indoor pool will keep you busy for hours.

Prospector Hotel & Gambling Hall

Top rated
Ely
8.7 Excellent (1495 reviews)

Explore Southern Nevada with a road trip between Las Vegas and Primm

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Not every road trip needs to be a long one. Head southwest on Interstate 15 from Las Vegas and you’ll encounter a fair share of roadside attractions in less than an hour before reaching the California state line.

The biggest surprise is Seven Magic Mountains, a collection of towering rainbow-colored rocks stacked on top of each other. The art installation, visible in the distance from the highway, is a short detour and free to explore.

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Goodsprings doesn’t have a hotel, but there are a few near the California border in Primm. Your best bet is Buffalo Bill’s. The resort has comfortable accommodations and is attached to the Star of the Desert arena, which hosts concerts by national acts. The resort even has a roller coaster that passes through the casino.

On the other side of Interstate 15, the Bonnie & Clyde “Death Car” is on display in the lobby of Whiskey Pete’s. Riddled with bullets, it’s where the criminal duo met a violent demise. Shoppers will find more than a few discounts at the nearby Fashion Outlets shopping mall.

Hotel Buffalo Bill's

Primm
6.1(4486 reviews)

Take a tour of ghost towns on a road trip between Rhyolite and Virginia City

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This road trip — mainly for the ambitious — is truly off the beaten path. Begin between Beatty and Death Valley in Rhyolite, an old, abandoned mining town left in ruins. You can still explore what’s left of the bank and other buildings. There’s also Tom Kelly’s Bottle House, built from leftover glass bottles from Rhyolite’s dozens of saloons, as well as the Goldwell Open Air Museum, an outdoor collection of art sculptures that’s free to explore.

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After visiting all those ghost towns, you’ll be eager to reconnect with U.S. 95 and continue to Virginia City, which retains the culture and architecture of a hilly mid-1800s mining town. And yes, it’s very much alive and active.

Book a reservation at the B Street House, a charming Victorian-style bed and breakfast just steps away from Virginia City’s saloons, museums and other historic sites. Beware of the Suicide Table in the Bonzana Saloon. A few who owned it were cursed with bad luck and met untimely deaths.

B Street House

Virginia City
8.9 Excellent (19 reviews)

Gallop through Cowboy Corridor on a road trip from West Wendover to Reno

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Unless you plan to camp out for Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert, Interstate 80 is the farthest north most travelers will find themselves in Nevada. Known as Cowboy Corridor, it’s the most direct route between Reno and West Wendover — the first Nevada town to greet cars driving west from Salt Lake City. The casinos are a big draw for Utahans, but make sure to take a photo with Wendover Will, a neon cowboy who’s considered a distant cousin to the more iconic Vegas Vic in Las Vegas.

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After arriving in Reno, explore the city’s emerging restaurant, beer and art scene, especially in the up-and-coming Midtown neighborhood. The city also has plenty of casino hotels.

Your best bet is the Grand Sierra Resort, which feels brand new despite dating back to the ’70s with a few name changes over the years. The renovations are dramatic and include a few fun attractions, like the majestic Grand Theatre, multi-level pool deck and the Ultimate Rush, a slingshot-like carnival ride. You can also drive golf balls into a small lake.

Grand Sierra Resort and Casino

Reno
8.2 Very good (14480 reviews)

Tour the Valley of Fire with a road trip between Las Vegas and Mesquite

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Half the fun in traveling from Vegas to Mesquite is the northeast drive on Interstate 15. Take a few hours to detour on the Valley of Fire Highway, which travels through the state park of the same name before reconnecting to the interstate. The impressive collection of multi-colored sandstone formations is easily one of the best photo spots in Nevada. You may even see some bighorn sheep or petroglyphs (ancient rock carvings).

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From lavish resorts to indulgent restaurants, it feels like there’s always something new in Las Vegas. Yet Nevadans who appreciate the comfort of the familiar often relish day trips and weekend staycations in Mesquite.

The town is known for golf courses, old-school casinos and the charm of the outdoors. There’s even a Camel Safari. Katherine’s Steakhouse at the Casablanca hotel is known for its vintage supper club atmosphere and intricate tableside presentations. However, Mesquite’s best accommodations are at the Eureka hotel and casino. Ask for a Garden Suite with an outdoor patio.

Hotel Eureka Casino Resort

Mesquite
8.4 Very good (1576 reviews)