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There’s no need to go abroad when you can find adventure in your own backyard! Get inspired to #HikeYourHomeState with guides to all 50 US states – starting with Nevada!
Nevada is an arid state famous for its free-wheeling reputation. Not many people think about outdoorsy places when they hear about Nevada.
Most picture the glitzy Sin City and all the classic stereotypes that come with it. Think crazy parties, neon lights of the Las Vegas Strip and 24/7 casinos where so many people hope to strike it rich.
And yet, the image of Las Vegas perpetuated by the media doesn’t accurately represent the state.
After living in Nevada for a couple of years, I found that it’s one of the most misrepresented and misunderstood states in America.
Nevada is a sparsely populated and beautiful state that offers a lot in terms of outdoor recreation. It’s home to incredible deserts with plenty of biodiversities; snow-capped mountain ranges, world-famous state parks, and gorgeous Lake Tahoe.
There are plenty of reasons to venture outside of the Las Vegas Strip – one of them is to explore a multitude of incredible hiking trails in every corner of the Silver State. So buckle up and get on one of those wide-open roads that Nevada is so famous for!
Valley of Fire State Park
10 Best Places to Go Hiking in Nevada
Our guide starts with the 10 best places for hiking in Nevada. If you only have time to hit a few trails, these should be at the top of your bucket list.
1. Red Rock Canyon National Recreation Area
If you need a break from the madness of Las Vegas, hop on Beltway-215 and drive for 30 minutes west toward the Red Rock Canyon for some incredible views and cool hikes.
If you want to learn more about some of the best hikes at Red Rock Canyon, check out this guide.
Thanks to its proximity to Sin City, Red Rock Canyon is one of the most well-known places for hiking in Southern Nevada.
Here, you will find challenging trails such as the Turtle Head Peak from where you can enjoy the unparalleled views of the Las Vegas Valley and much easier trails such as Calico Hills, a bright-orange collection of rocks that many people think about when they mention Red Rock Canyon.
Most hikes at Red Rock Canyon begin near the 13-mile loop-drive that traverses through it.
2. Valley of Fire State Park
Located just over an hour north of Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park is home to blazing red Aztec sandstone, bright blue skies and quirky rock formations.
This place is a photographer’s dream!
White Domes Loop is perhaps one of the most scenic hikes in the Valley of Fire. The 1-mile loop trail famous for its unique sandstone formations has been featured in numerous movies and TV series.
When you come to the Valley of Fire, you should bring your camera, because as soon as you get here, you will want to take a lot of photos!
This guide to Valley of Fire State Park will give you detailed information on where to find the coolest trails and plan your trip.
Mount Charleston in the winter
3. Mount Charleston
Not many people know that you can find snow just about one hour away from Las Vegas.
Just to the west of the Las Vegas Strip sits Mount Charleston, the highest peak in the Spring Mountains and Clark County, the home of Sin City.
In winter, Mount Charleston offers an opportunity for skiing and snowboarding. However, it does tend to get a bit busy here, since many Las Vegas locals and tourists flock to this place to enjoy some snow in the desert.
In the summer, it’s a popular place for hiking in Nevada because it offers a respite from the triple-digit temperatures in Las Vegas. While summiting Mount Charleston is ultimately the most challenging and rewarding trail, there are plenty of easier trails.
One of the most popular trails on Mount Charleston is called Mary Jane Falls Trail.
While this 3-mile round-trip hike is considered fairly strenuous, it also provides an opportunity to enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding Spring Mountains.
Although Mary Jane Falls might not be the huge cascading waterfall, it’s still beautiful and refreshing to get near after a long challenging hike.
4. Gold Strike Canyon
Gold Strike Canyon Trail is a strenuous 4.5-mile round trip trail near Boulder City that will bring you to the hot springs.
As you hike through the canyon, you might be able to spot the famous bighorn sheep that often roam Nevada’s desert landscapes. The hike begins at the Gold Strike Hot Spring Trailhead and considered to be fairly tough.
Because of the rough terrain and extreme heat in Nevada during summer months, this trail is closed from May through September.
Las Vegas by night. These 10 places for hiking in Nevada are a great escape from the non-stop party of the city!
5. Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area
Home to the ancient petroglyphs and trails that meander through the black volcanic rock, Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area is one of the best places for hiking in Southern Nevada.
One of the most famous hikes in Southern Nevada is the 7-mile long Black Mountain Trail located within the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area. Although it starts as a paved walkway, it quickly turns into a dirt trail with a lot of loose rocks.
The hike to the top is considered moderate and requires a bit of scrambling as you get closer to the end. However, when you get to the top of the mountain, you will be treated to an incredible panoramic view of Las Vegas that not many other people get to see.
6. Cathedral Gorge State Park
Cathedral Gorge State Park is one of the most beautiful state parks you will ever see and you can explore most of it through the three-mile loop called Cathedral Gorge Trail.
Located about 2.5-3 hours away from Las Vegas, Cathedral Gorge State Park sits in a remote area near Utah’s border.
You are unlikely to see the tourist crowds here like in Red Rock Canyon or Valley of Fire, so you will have a better chance to enjoy these incredible rock formations that look like they were taken straight from Mars.
7. Incline Village
Another gem on Nevada’s map, Incline Village is located on the northern end of Lake Tahoe.
While Incline Village is mostly famous for its majestic landscapes and water-related activities such as paddle boarding and kayaking, it also has some gorgeous hiking trails.
One of them is Mount Rose Trail, a 10-mile round-trip loop that snakes along green meadows and gives you a chance to see a waterfall before culminating with a view of the lake.
8. Mount Rose
The highest mountain in Washoe County (at 10,785 feet), Mount Rose is the most prominent peak of the Sierra Mountain Range in the state of Nevada.
This extinct volcano sits between Lake Tahoe and Reno and is incredibly popular for hiking, especially on weekends, when scores of people hit the many trails that this mountain has to offer.
Valley of Fire State Park
9. Ruby Mountains
Located in the Humboldt-Toiyable National Forest, Ruby Mountains are a mountain range in the northeastern corner of Nevada. Since this area offers a multitude of hikes with incredible scenery, it might be hard to pick just one.
If you have limited time and want to explore this area, go with Lamoille Lake Trail, a 4-mile round-trip trail that will treat you with scenic views and also help you get some good exercise.
10. Marlette Lake
Another scenic Northern Nevada spot, Marlette Lake offers jaw-dropping views of Lake Tahoe and the nearby Spooner Backcountry.
The round-trip uphill hike is about 10 miles and it takes you through the canyon lined with aspens. It also connects with the scenic Tahoe Rim Trail, if you have some spare time and want to see the jewel of Northern Nevada.
Most Challenging Hike in Nevada
Looking for something a little more difficult?
Located within the Great Basin National Park, Wheeler Peak is considered a hard hike.
The round trip to Wheeler Peak is about 8 miles and is ultimately the best way to explore the park. Once you get to the peak you will see an incredible view of the Nevada mountains in all directions.
Valley of Fire State Park at sunset
Easiest Hikes in Nevada
Compared to other mountainous states, Nevada doesn’t have many towering mountains or high elevations that will make you dizzy. There are many easy hikes in Nevada that you can do with little to no preparation.
And while some of them are located literally in the middle of nowhere, others can be accessed via a short drive from cities such as Las Vegas or Reno.
If you are looking for easy trails to start hiking in Nevada, here are some of my suggestions:
1. Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge
When you drive to Cathedral Gorge State Park, make a stop at Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge near Alamo.
Not only you will have a chance to see some amazing wildlife, but you will also be able to enjoy many scenic hiking trails that are rated as easy.
These trails will take you through lush green meadows, desert landscapes, marshes and will showcase an incredible array of desert biodiversity.
2. Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail
This historic trail is believed to have been used in the early days of the construction of Hoover Dam.
To find it, you need to head toward Boulder City and follow the road toward Hoover Dam before you find a turnout at Lakeshore Road near Lake Mead Visitor Center.
This trail will take you through several different railroad tunnels, home to a lot of history and fascinating facts.
3. Tahoe Meadows Trail
Although this trail sits in the mountains, it’s flat and easy, making it accessible to all types of hikers. It even has handicapped access. Tahoe Meadows Trail is located along the Mount Rose Highway summit.
Best Time to Go Hiking in Nevada
The direst state in the United States, Nevada has a desert and arid climate for the most part.
And although winters in the Northern part of the state can be snowy in frigid, winters in the Southern part of Nevada bring more mild temperatures and tend to be brief.
To put it shortly, hiking in Nevada depends on what part of the state you want to choose.
While late fall through mid-spring is generally a good time to enjoy Southern Nevada hikes at a lower elevation, if you want to head to the northern part of Nevada, it’s better to wait until the summer season when the temperatures are warm enough to hit the trails.
Rhyolite Ghost Town
More Notable Natural Sites in Nevada
If you are looking for a less-discovered place, Nevada has plenty of them. Due to the state’s harsh climate, long driving distances between towns and vast unpopulated areas, the state is a treasure trove when it comes to middle-of-nowhere cool spots.
Gold Butte National Monument
Gold Butte National Monument is a recreational gem that spans nearly 300,000 acres of rugged wilderness where bright-red sandstone, Joshua trees, canyons, and desert flats dominate the landscape.
The Native American tribes that once roamed this desolate area left beautiful petroglyphs and other forms of wall art chiseled into the bright red rock. These sites are still scattered throughout the park, and to access most fo them, you will need a 4X4 vehicle.
Take Gold Butte Backcountry Byway to explore the area and check out Gold Butte’s ghost town. But keep in mind that the area doesn’t offer any amenities, so you will need to bring enough food and water for your adventure.
Lake Mead from above
Lake Mead National Conservation Area
Did you know that Lake Mead was America’s first national conservation area when it was established in 1936?
The area is spread over 1.5 million acres and encompasses two big lakes, mountains, and canyons.
Visitors enjoy access to popular places such as Hoover Dam, Lake Mojave, and Lake Mead and also have an opportunity to discover less-touristy areas such as nine of the wilderness peaks located inside the area.
Rhyolite Ghost Town
Nevada has a long mining history fueled by boom-and-bust towns that sprung across the state as prospectors once rushed here from all over the country in hopes of becoming rich.
To this day, you can find many mining ghost towns throughout the state. While many of them have been abandoned and only serve as backgrounds for photographers who occasionally stop there, others have been transformed into popular tourist sites.
One of these sites is Rhyolite Ghost Town located in Bullfrog Hills near the small town of Beatty about 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Today Rhyolite is a popular stop along the way to Death Valley National Park.
The Discovery Nut is a travel blog focused on adventurous destinations around the world. Daria created The Discovery Nut to share her favorite places with the audience and to encourage everyone to get out of their comfort zone and explore more. If it’s a scenic destination with gorgeous nature and amazing culture, it surely sounds like a Discovery Nut kind of place!
Ready to go?
There’s no need to go abroad when you can find adventure in your own backyard! Plan a day trip to the top hikes on this list or browse Airbnbs for a spontaneous weekend away to explore a new corner of your home state.
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