Get Out There

Five Stops on a Trip to Nevada Away from City Lights

When you think about taking a trip to Nevada, you most likely think about Las Vegas or Reno. Those might be great spots to visit, depending on your interests. And, visiting the Hoover Dam or Grand Cannon would be a great trip for folks who like nature or history. You should stop in at the Hoover Dam to see the marvel of engineering and exquisite Deco architecture. It’s truly something to behold. But, we wanted to take a look at spots that are a little quirkier.

We encourage you to see more than Sin City and traditional sites in this amazing state. You can enter Nevada from the east or west using Route 50 — the Loneliest Road in America. The long desolate road gives travelers great views but little in the way of excitement. If you stop at one of the businesses along the route (they are few and far between), you can get an “I survived the loneliest road in America” passport and get stamps when you stop in at the few small businesses along the road. Once you’re over the state line, see the offbeat sights.

Area 51

Image: X51, Wikimedia

You might think of visiting Area 51, where the aliens landed. However, as the place is a military test facility, trespassers may face fines, incarceration or lethal force. You can, however, go to the perimeter to see the warning signs, a spooky reminder on what lies beyond the fence: aliens or secret test flights? Don’t worry, if you are in the area and longing for an alien experience, there is Little A’Le’Inn in the nearby town of Rachel. This inn/restaurant/bar/shop has mixed reviews — some people love it, other people think it’s creepy — but most seem to really enjoy the alien giftshop, even if they don’t like the accommodations and food.


Image: Amboy, Atlas Obscura

With dozens upon dozens of ghost towns, Nevada is a great destination for people who love forgotten history. Between closed mills, closed mines and more, towns were abandoned when industries shut down. You can even visit a modern ghost town, Coaldale. The town was a bustling place in the 1930s, with an operating coal mine. When the mine closed, the town carried on, limping along off the strength of a motel, diner and gas station. Then the EPA shut the gas station, in 1993, down because of a leaking tank. The visitors stopped coming, and the town died fast, leaving behind a shell of the life that was. Unlike most ghost towns, the recent abandonment of the spot means that the forgotten furniture in the motel looks dated, not antique. This isn’t an old west spot; it’s a place where streetlights still stand despite the fact that they will never light up again.

Atomic Survival Town

Image: Wikipedia, DOE

If you want a spot a little older and more famous than Coaldale, head over to Atomic Survival Town. There are public tours of this odd place. Although the location was blown up in the most recent Indiana Jones movie, in real life, the town is still standing. This was where 1,000s of people gathered to watch bomb tests at a “safe distance.” Later, that distance would be proven to be much too close. The houses were filled with mannequins positioned in tableaux of ordinary life. Eventually, the tests got close enough to damage the buildings severely, but it hasn’t been wiped off the map. If you would like to go on a tour, learn more here. Follow up your tour with a visit to the National Atomic Testing Museum to get even more insight into the work performed in the state.

Fly Geyser

Image: Jeremy C. Munns, Atlas Obscura

If you are in the mood to see nature, but not too much nature, visit Fly Geyser. A geyser was created when people were drilling for crop irrigation water. The water was too warm and was abandoned, a cone forming with calcium carbonate. Later, seeking geothermic energy drillers visited the same site, digging only feet from the first geyser. They found the water wasn’t hot enough. The drillers capped the spot and left. But the water pressure broke the cap and a new geyser form, growing a mound covered in colorful algae. The first geyser dried up, losing the water pressure it had once had to the younger spring. This clash of man and nature really is something to behold with its vast array of bright algae.

The Bristlecone Pines of the Great Basin

Image: Famartin, Wikimedia

Visiting the Great Basin, you will see a unique sight. Unlike Fly Geyser, you can see nature that is entirely raw. The Bristlecone Pines are the oldest living organisms on Earth. These trees are so important that they have been given individual names. Methuselah is around 4,852 years old. Sadly, a tree named Prometheus was even older before a researcher cut it down to retrieve a drill he had broken inside the trunk. These trees like growing on hard rock in brutal landscapes so little vegetation surrounds them. The limited resources leave them stunted and bare enough that some people assume they are dead. But, they are far from death and will outlive us all.

Finally, if you are on a diet and struggling to stick to it, drive to the “McFarthest Spot.” You will be as far from a McDonald’s as you can possibly be within the contiguous U.S. That’s helpful when all you can think about is fries.

We hope you enjoyed this digital trip! Let us know what your favorite spots in Nevada are by emailing

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