Nevada, home of Sin City and countless bucks and hens parties. But there’s a different side to the state of Nevada you’ve probably never known. Nevada will surprise you. A state full of life and great things to see and do. The locals refer to it as “A World Within & a State Apart.” We give you 6 ways to take a different kind of gamble in the state of Nevada.
In the afternoon, when the light hits just right, Emerald Cave shows where its name comes from with an incredible display of greeny-blues. The cave lies downstream from Lake Mead in the Black Canyon and is accessible via the Black Canyon Water Trail — the only water trail system of its kind in the Southwest. Numerous Las Vegas adventure outfitters offer trips down the water with stops at Emerald Cave.
In fact, there are hundreds of ’em — and hundreds more than actual towns in the state! Most had their heyday during the 19th-century gold and silver mining boom (Nevada’s not called the Silver State for nothing), but today they lie largely abandoned, because the mining boom became…well, the mining bust.
Start by checking out the Berlin Historic District. It’s been abandoned since 1911, but on summer weekends you can take tours of its disused mines for a glimpse of 19th-century livin’ — Nevada style. Then there’s Belmont. It hit the mining boom big in 1865, producing a reported $15 million in silver and lead ore before its demise. Head to Dirty Dick’s Saloon while you’re in town, an authentic Western throwback serving a Bloody Mary recipe handed down from Dirty Dick himself (though the swooshy-petticoated girls and gun-slinging cowboys are sadly long gone).
And of course there are the ethereal white sculptures at Rhyolite (see below), proving that good things happen when contemporary artists and abandoned desert towns come together.
How long does it take to learn to fly an airplane? One hour. What takes elite pilots years to master, you can do in less than a day with Sky Combat Ace on the southeastern edge Las Vegas in Henderson. There are numerous flying options where you get to be the passenger of an aerobatic plane looping and barrel-rolling through the sky over Southern Nevada. And in the Top Gun experience, it’s you who takes control of the two-seater aerobatic plane (with a pro pilot guiding you through your loop-de-loops).
It’s not every day you get to tour a gold mine that’s seen millions of dollars’ worth of gold pass through it. Enter Techatticup Mine. Less than an hour’s drive southeast of Vegas in the ghost town of Nelson, Techatticup is one of the oldest and, back in the day, one of the richest mines in the state. On the tour, you get to go seriously deep into the Savage Mine. There’s gold in them thar hills.
Who says America doesn’t have history? Genoa Bar and Saloon has been going strong on Main Street in Genoa, Nevada, since 1853 when it first opened as the “gentleman’s saloon” Livingston’s Exchange. Much of the original bar remains, and every new year the one original red lamp is lit. Belly on up to the bar, order a tipple, and you’ll be following in the tipsy footsteps of past customers that include Mark Twain, President Ulysses S. Grant, and President Teddy Roosevelt.
Nevada is — literally and figuratively — one of the hottest biking destinations in the US. Just outside of Vegas there’s the 35-mile River Mountains Loop Trail (trailheads in Boulder City, Henderson, and Lake Mead NRA), and there are killer biking routes along the Tahoe Rim Trail as well. Road cyclists have US-50, home to OATBRAN – America’s Loneliest Bike Tour every year.