10 Nevada Day Trips That Feature Otherworldly Landscapes
Nevada is a land of extreme and varied landscapes, with the highest record temperature at 125°F (52°C) and the coldest at -52°F (-47°C). The northern region is in the Great Basin; the middle region is covered with valleys and mountains, some of which are over 6,000 feet high. The southern part of Nevada lies in the Mojave Desert, which is famous for its extremely hot summer days but cool, chilly winter nights. This land of extremes has given way to some of the weirdest and most unique landscapes in the United States, some of which are hard to believe unless you see them!
ten Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon is one of the most iconic and otherworldly landscapes in the United States. Although it’s in Arizona, it’s an easy day trip from Las Vegas, Nevada. This spectacular canyon is a slot canyon which is a long, narrow channel with steep rock faces. It is in Navajo Territory and is a sacred place among Arizona’s native groups. The canyon has an upper and lower section, and visitors can hike up the steep rock face of Horseshoe Bend and stop at a lookout to take in views of Lake Powell.
9 Charcoal Ward Ovens
For a completely surreal view in Nevada, take a trip to Ward Charcoal Ovens. It is about 20 miles from Ely, Nevada in the White Pine Country. These are six 30-foot beehive-shaped kilns that were built in the late 1800s to supply charcoal to two area silver smelters. Charcoal was only made here for a few years because after the silver smelters closed there was no longer a need for charcoal, so the kilns were abandoned. Today they make an interesting and historical day trip.
8 Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Just an hour from Las Vegas, the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in the Mojave Desert feels like a whole other world. There is a whole series of impressive canyons and the beautiful red and cream hills of Calico. A 21km one-way scenic drive is the best way to see the region’s most spectacular sights, but there are also over 30km of hiking trails and plenty of incredible climbing routes around the 3,000 m cliffs. feet.
seven black rock desert
In northwestern Nevada is the Black Rock Desert National Conservation Area, which encompasses nearly 400,000 acres of mountains, canyons and hot springs to explore, but what makes this area so special are the incredible and vast Alkaline Flats. There are approximately 120 miles of emigrant trails perfect for historical and wildlife tours, and there are plenty of off-roading and land-sailing opportunities on the eerie Black Rock Desert.
6 death valley national park
Death Valley National Park is one of the driest and hottest places on earth, so it’s easy to forget that it’s not a whole other planet. It is actually located below sea level and is a land of complete extremes, with record high temperatures in the summer but often snow on top of the jagged peaks. Park highlights include Furnace Creek, Badwater, and Zabriskie Point, as well as desolate Rhyolite, a ghost town left behind by the gold rush.
5 bonsai rock
On Lake Tahoe, between Hidden Beach and Sand Harbor, is Bonsai Rock. The rock sticks out of the water and on top grow some small trees. The trees will never grow tall due to the arid location on the rock, giving visitors a unique insight into life in a desolate environment. The lake itself is the second deepest alpine lake in the United States (after Crater Lake) and is stunningly beautiful.
4 Flying Geyser
Fly Geyser is one of those places that has to be seen to be believed. Most are surprised to learn that it is actually a man-made geyser following a series of mishaps. In the early 1900s the area was sought after for irrigation water, and after drilling a well it was realized that geothermal hot water was not ideal for farming, so they left the area. About 60 years later, a geothermal energy company came back to test the geyser for its geothermal waters and after testing they closed the geyser again. But they must not have sealed it well because soon after, a new geyser (Fly Geyser) appeared nearby and has been growing ever since. Now Fly Geyser shoots water 5 feet into the air and the mineral deposits from the water buildup continue to grow. Minerals, along with thermophilic algae, are responsible for their spectacular, otherworldly colors.
3 Valley of Fire State Park
Another spectacular day trip from Las Vegas is Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada’s largest and oldest state park. The name comes from the bright red sand dunes that seem to be on fire when hit by the sun at right angles, and this incredible valley is known for its swirls of multicolored rocks. It is also home to native Indian petroglyphs, believed to be over 3,000 years old. Some of the most iconic rock formations include Elephant Rock, Natural Arch, Fire Wave, Atlatl Rock, Seven Sisters and White Domes.
2 Great Basin Bristlecone Pines
Great Basin National Park is relatively unknown and is one of the least visited of all national parks. In the park stand two Bristlecone pines, one dead and one alive. They are believed to be the longest living non-clonal organisms in the world and are named Prometheus and Methuselah. Prometheus was studied by researchers who decided to cut down the tree and found that it was around 4,800 years old. The living tree, Methuselah, is about the same age and is now protected by the national park. They are extremely adept at withstanding inclement weather, including freezing temperatures and high winds, which occasionally batter the park.
1 Cathedral Gorge State Park
Unlike many red rock formations found in Nevada, Cathedral Gorge is composed of soft clay deposits that once formed a freshwater lake bed. These deposits have eroded into spiers and columns, creating a unique, otherworldly landscape. For spectacular panoramic views of the state park, hike up to the Miller Point Overlook.