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The Ultimate Nature Lovers Nevada Bucket List

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Are you one of those who think that Nevada is all about casinos, shows, swanky restaurants, and slot machines? Believe us when we tell you, there’s much more to the state than this.

You’re guaranteed to feel comfortable and right at home if you’re a nature lover. The state isn’t lacking with shockingly beautiful natural scenery in every direction. With jaw-dropping mountains painting a striking backdrop, vast deserts, glistening waterfalls, sweeping canyons, and lush thick valleys, visiting Nevada in search of beautiful nature is something that belongs on every nature lover’s bucket list.

Mount Charleston
Mt. Charleston offers year-round recreation including hiking, camping, nature walks, and skiing in winter.

Regardless if you’re looking to escape the glitz and glam of the cities for a day or want to go out and explore as many natural places Nevada has to offer, this is the definitive list that shows the very best of what Nevada has to offer for outdoor lovers and nature enthusiasts.

What to bring for your nature-inspired escapade?

  • water
  • food/snacks
  • hat/sunscreen
  • first aid kit
  • bug spray
  • navigation tool
  • comfortable walking shoes
  • multi-use tool

Spring Mountains National Recreation Area

Also known as Mount Charleston, this thrilling recreational area is only 35 miles northwest of Las Vegas, making it a must if you’re looking to plan a terrific day trip. The area is over 316,000 acres in size and is home to several threatened species, making it a unique place to visit. At Mount Charleston, you’ll see and experience things that you can’t do anywhere else.

Hiking must be at the top of your things-to-do list at Spring Mountains National Recreation Area. As you climb, you’ll witness some of the most striking vistas of the Sierra Nevada mountains on one side and Death Valley on the other.

With approximately 60 miles of trails on Mount Charleston, there is something for every nature buff that visits. There are a few picnic areas on-site and several campgrounds, so pack a tent and plan a night under the bright stars.

During the winter months, snow activities shine brightly in the Spring Mountains. Sledding, snowshoeing,  and winter wildlife watching are just a few things you can do during the season. If you’re a thrill seeker, plan to go skiing or snowboarding because Lee Canyon is a fabulous choice!

Pyramid Lake
Pyramid Lake was named after the stone formations that can be seen in the huge lake that look like pyramids.

Pyramid Lake

Wait until you set your sights on Pyramid Lake. It would help if you saw it to believe it. It’s absolutely spectacular. Pyramid Lake is approximately fifteen and eleven miles long and floods across 125,000 acres. It is one of the largest natural lakes in the state. It’s famous for its terrific fishing opportunities and color-changing waters. (The water color changes shades depending on the clouds and sky.)

The Ethel M Botanical Gardens

Located in Las Vegas, inside a chocolate factory, this botanical garden is the perfect escape from the city’s business. The gardens don’t require admission to visit and promise spectacular sights. With over 3 acres of cacti, succulents, and fantastic floral arrangements, the Ethel M. Botanical Gardens are so pretty.

The neat thing about the Ethel M Botanical Gardens is seeing the largest botanical cactus garden in the entire state of Nevada. With more than 300 types of cacti and succulents, a walk in this garden is guaranteed to please.

Bonsai Rock
Bonsai Rock at Lake Tahoe

Bonsai Rock

Capturing a photo of the Bonsai Rock at Lake Tahoe is a must if you’re a nature lover. The rock can be found nearby Carson City and invites photos and exploration. A top of the Bonsai Rock, you’ll find four small Bonsai trees that inspired the rock’s name. 

Sand Mountain
Sand Mountain singing sand dunes

Sand Mountain

Ever heard of a musical sand dune? Us neither, until Sand Mountain. Sand Mountain is a gigantic singing dune. It’s two miles long and six hundred feet high. The area is a popular off-roading route, offering thrilling adventures and beautiful scenery.

Valley of Fire Nevada
Nevada’s Valley of Fire is a brilliant and colorful sandstone wonderland

Valley of Fire State Park

Nestled deep in the heart of the Mojave Desert, Valley of Fire State Park comprises 46,000 acres of distinct red Aztec sandstone. The striking landscape at this unique national park radiates scarlet red for miles into the horizon, and when sunlight touches, the rocks that dot the area turn into twirling shades of reds, oranges, and pinks, making them look as though they’re actually on fire!

With elevations ranging from 1,500 feet to 3,000 feet, hiking here is a real treat, especially if you’re keen to experience what hiking in the desert brings. The White Dome’s trail is a must to get an overall feel of the park; The hike will have you passing incredible viewpoints to see the rocks changing colors, hypnotizing slot canyons, and perhaps even a cave or two! Other great trails include the Mouse Tank and the Atlatl Rock hikes; both will have you witness prehistoric petroglyphs that tell the area’s story!

Lehman Caves
Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park is filled with thrilling cave shield formations.

Great Basin National Park

Located on the eastern border of the state of Nevada and Utah, Great Basin National Park is diverse. Rock climbing is popular here; the star for this is the 13,000 ft. ascent to Wheeler Peak. 

If you’d rather hike instead, there are over 60 miles of trails on offer, all of which are vastly different from the next and can provide experiences ranging from wildlife sightings to limestone caverns, idyllic lakes, and more!

If you’re up for a night of a lifetime, camping at Great Basin National Park is an absolute treat. Also, thanks to its incredibly remote location, this national park is one of the darkest places in the United States, making it a real treat for stargazing (so much that astronomy programs are conducted year-round here!)

Badwater Basin Salt Flats Trail
The famous Badwater Basin Salt Flats Trail in Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Straddling the border between California and Nevada, Death Valley National Park is absolute heaven for nature lovers. Death Valley National Park is plentiful with colorful mountains, canyons, and miles of pristine sand dunes, the park brims with lively scenes and life, making its somewhat somber name somewhat contradictory.

If you put aside its natural beauty, Death Valley is also a historical gem. Hell’s Gate, Coffin Peak, Funeral Mountain, and Starvation Canyon are witnesses of the history of the land. The park is also home to many artifacts that tell the story of the people who once called it their home. Aside from that, Death Valley is dotted with ghost towns, abandoned metal, and other ancient landmarks and tourist spots; visiting here is a spectacular nature + history combo! 

Riverwalk District Reno, Nevada
Reno’s Riverwalk District offers a medley of shops, bistros and cafés, lodging, bars, taverns, indoor and outdoor entertainment venues.

Reno

Reno is commonly called “The Biggest Little City in the World.” Reno is a fantastic casino-packed city with plenty to offer tourists. Visitors can enjoy rafting or kayaking down Truckee River and visit the Riverwalk District, the National Automobile Museum, and Animal Ark. Though the city is small, Reno has plenty to offer, ranging from exciting recreation, beautiful scenery, and plenty of opportunities to enjoy wildlife. 

Lake Tahoe Nevada
Lakefront communities in North Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

Nevada might be a mountain-packed state, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t able to offer some serious water adventures! Lake Tahoe is the most fabulous place to visit if you’re after a day spent out in the sun, especially if you happen to be visiting the state during the hotter months.

With shimmering waters that turn from blue to emerald green and white sand so soft, you could easily confuse the beaches at Lake Tahoe for one in the Caribbean if it weren’t for the views of the Sierra Mountains lining the horizon.

Simply put, Lake Tahoe is your go-to for anything involving water fun, as you’ll be able to find activities like boat riding, fishing, swimming, hiking, and more! During the winter, the snowy peaks surrounding the lake become the stars of the show, with some of the best ski resorts and winter sports in the country being offered here.

Topaz Lake Nevada
Topaz Lake is a popular outdoor recreation area, especially for trout fishing.

A Few More Great Spots To Add To Your Nevada Bucket List:

  • Trego Hot Springs
  • Bog Hot Springs
  • Henderson
  • Carson Valley
  • Clear Creek Trail
  • Topaz Lake

Did any of these Nevada destinations catch your eye? What are the ones you feel you definitely can’t miss out on? Let us know in the comment section down below!

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