There are a lot of states in America that call to mind their largest city and nothing else. Everyone knows Chicago, but the rest of Illinois is something of a mystery. We all know about the hippies and yuppies in Portland but couldn’t tell you much about the rest of Oregon. As far as Nevada is concerned, it’s usually Las Vegas, and that’s it—a city of gambling and entertainment inside a big empty quadrilateral. What is there to do in Nevada besides go to Las Vegas?
To think of Nevada this way sells it far too short. In addition to hosting the classic home of the Rat Pack and more neon lights than you could imagine, it’s also a terrific destination for outdoor activities. You can make a trip here without playing poker or losing a single coin to the one-armed bandit.
See the Hoover Dam
Where does Las Vegas get the energy to run all those lights? It’s from this modern marvel of engineering, a hydroelectric dam that has brought power not only to Nevada but parts of Arizona and California for over 80 years. Just about 25 miles from Vegas, it’s a quick and easy trip from the home base that keeps you away from the hustle and bustle of Fremont Street. If you have any interest in the STEM world, a guided tour of the dam will fill your brain with facts. The dam is just outside Boulder City, Nevada, the rare example of a company town built around a single construction project that still exists today.
Explore the Caves of Great Basin National Park
Nevada is one big state. Drive 300 miles north of Vegas, and you’ll find one of the most remarkable spots on the continent: Great Basin National Park, a sprawling preserve of long-untouched pines, mountain lakes, and no shortage of breathtaking hiking trails. However, the highlight of a trip to this park is a journey deep into the Lehman Caves, the limestone caverns with an exquisite array of stalactites and stalagmites.
Do Some Off-Roading
Las Vegas represents a tiny sliver of the state’s total area. Besides the rampant private enterprise in Sin City, most land in Nevada is under the auspices of the Department of the Interior, which manages our vast natural resources. One aspect of that management is to provide ample recreation opportunities, including some of America’s best trails for off-road driving enthusiasts. Why sit in a dark casino when you can get moving through some amazing natural terrain? You can find things to do in Nevada besides go to Las Vegas by going way off the beaten path.
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