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Editor Matthew B. Brown and I have covered more miles crisscrossing the Silver State in search of stories and photographs than either of us can rightly recall. While many of those miles are necessarily spent on highways, interstates, and other paved roads, we relish nothing more than the opportunity to leave the pavement and take a back road—luckily, Nevada has an abundance.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Highway, but I fear the grand old road is fading from our collective memories. I want to remedy that. I urge you to get off the pavement for a while and experience a little of what traveling was like 100 years ago. Our Nevada adventure starts at Fernley and ventures east.
Whether you’re root-root-rooting for the home team at a Las Vegas 51s or Reno Aces Triple-A baseball game, hitting the hardwood with the Reno Bighorns basketball team, or annoying everyone in earshot with your vuvuzela at a Las Vegas Legends soccer match, Nevada’s array of professional and collegiate sporting events will keep you entertained without breaking the bank. Play ball!
The Nevada Arts Council (NAC) unveiled the TEP in 2004, largely in response to requests from rural communities for quality visual arts exhibits. Since, the program has brought 17 different visual arts exhibits—including paintings, ceramics, photography, and folk and traditional art forms—to 24 Nevada towns and cities, reaching more than 350,000 viewers according to the Arts Council.
As large and devastating as some of the 2012 fire season’s blazes have been, as frightening as first-hand accounts like Ben Rupert’s are, and as much media attention as the fire season has garnered, it’s hard to believe that it’s not far from Nevada’s norm.
For two months, our Nevada Commission on Tourism partners asked you to Discover Your Nevada, in a campaign in which the public voted for their favorite Silver State treasures. Here are the results—a six-pack of Nevada gems (one from each territory), starting with Valley of Fire State Park.
On a recent trip to Las Vegas, Caesars Palace went out of its way to cater to me—and the little complimentary containers of designer dog food are simply delicious—but most of the benefits are to my humans. They get a very nice room, all the amenities in the world within reach, the rest of the Strip right outside, and they have me here with them, too!
Considering attendance woes nationwide—Indianapolis Motor Speedway saw crowds for the Brickyard 400 plummet from 270,000 in 2007 to less than 140,000 in 2011—it is no small feat that Las Vegas continues to fill seats. “Vegas is a lot like Talladega [Alabama] since it’s a destination race,” says NASCAR standout and Las Vegas native Kyle Busch. “People come from all over the country to have fun in the city and take in a race at the same time.”
With its beautiful new Nevada State Museum at Springs Preserve and nearly 20 more fascinating facilities dedicated to topics ranging from atomic testing to antique neon signs, Las Vegas and its neighboring communities offer a broader cultural experience than many people realize.
Starting in February, not only will guests of The Mob Museum inside the former federal courthouse and post office on Stewart Avenue relive the city’s mob past, they will get a nationwide and worldwide perspective on organized crime and the men and women in law enforcement that fought it and continue to fight it today.
Let’s just stick to the facts: more than 25,000 skiable acres, peak elevations above 10,000 feet, up to 3,500 vertical feet of drop at some resorts, nearly 1,000 designated trails, almost 200 chairlifts, and an average of 42 feet of snow—more than 63 feet fell at some locations in the 2010-11 season. Spend a winter at Lake Tahoe, and you’re going to become really good at waxing skis and snowboards.
It’s that juxtaposition—the comingling of old and new—that makes Reno, Virginia City, and all of the communities in Reno-Tahoe Territory so unique. From Sparks, a railroad town that grew into the unofficial special-events capital of Nevada, to the actual capital, Carson City, where historic buildings serve modern functions, northwestern Nevada is a region where traditional and modern seamlessly coexist.
From tent cities that grew to mining metropolises overnight and faded to obscurity almost as quickly, to a bedroom community that has grown to become a tourist destination in its own right, the once-mineral-rich Silver Trails towns still hold plenty of treasures.
Unique among Nevada’s six territories, Indian Territory is not bound by county lines, highways, or historical trails. Reservations, colonies, and other communities dot the countryside, but in truth, the entire state is Indian Territory.
Technically, Cowboy Country territory spans a massive chunk of Northern Nevada, minus a skinny western strip extending north from Reno and Lake Tahoe to the Oregon border. But, let’s be honest pardner, we kin purdy dern near call the whole kit and caboodle Cowboy Country, if y’ur talkin’ Nevada.
Off Interstate 80, the omnipresent rumble of big-rigs and whir of speeding traffic is replaced by a comforting silence that is uniquely Nevadan. Friendly towns and immense vistas are cradled between towering peaks and the impossibly big skies of Cowboy Country territory.
It was 25 years ago that Life magazine, in its July 1986 issue, designated U.S. Highway 50 across central Nevada “The Loneliest Road in America.” An AAA representative said, “It’s totally empty. There are no points of interest. We don’t recommend it.”
The path that was plagued by hellacious weather and violent bandits and natives more than 150 years ago is today beset by unique towns and friendly locals, making it feel like a pointedly un-lonely place.
The following sections are tidbits of what Nevada Magazine thinks Las Vegas might have looked like through the eyes of the very people whose experiences shaped the city. We considered many perspectives, from the early Mormon settlers to the mega-resort tycoons of the late 20th century.
It’s understandable that Southern Nevada’s smaller communities can be overlooked—they lay in the shadow of one of the world’s most ostentatious cities. But visitors and locals who pull their attention from the neon buzz for a stopover in any of these burgs will be glad they did.