10 greatest road trips in Nevada – the "Road Trip Capital of the USA"

Peter Watson

Here are the 10 magnificent Nevada road trips. Peruse our pick of the best drives across America's Road Trip Capital – they're all worth adding to your itinerary.


Nevada is known as the Road Trip Capital of the USA (Image: Travel Nevada)

It’s time for cowboys and counterculture. Wildlife and wilder tales. Open roads and open hearts.

There’s a very specific freedom that comes with road trips – the ability to set your own course wherever you are in the world. More importantly, you can change that course when you want to.

Nevada road trips take you from one extreme to the next (Video: Travel Nevada)

Whether you choose to spend some extra days in a national park or depart early from a tourist town, you’re the master of your own time.

And those who enjoy wild and lonely places will love driving Nevada's scenic and remote back roads. Sure, Nevada teems with destinations you can only dream of, but it is during the journey to get there when those stories really come to life.

In fact, in the Road Trip Capital of the USA, with breathtaking scenic byways and endless dirt-road horizons, “taking the road less traveled” isn’t just an idea… it’s a guarantee.

1. Loneliest Road in America

First was described by Life magazine in 1986 as the "Loneliest Road in America," the name has stuck ever since.

The stretch of U.S. Route 50 traverses central Nevada, and I guarantee you’ll find more than peace and quiet.

A timelapse of driving the "Loneliest Road in America" in Nevada (Video: Travel Nevada)

Stretching east from Fallon, Nevada, to Great Basin National Park and the state line, isolated Highway 50 follows some of America's most iconic routes – the Pony Express, the Overland Stagecoach and the Lincoln Highway – across the heart of the state.

2. Neon to Nature

Las Vegas reels in visitors with its glitz and glam, endless entertainment, and bustling casinos.

But just an hour or two from the Strip, some of Nevada’s most alluring scenery, famous landmarks, and exciting attractions beg to be explored.


Pausing for a selfie (Image: Travel Nevada)

With day trips in every direction, there’s plenty to satisfy your adventurous side without having to travel too far from the entertainment capital of the world.

3. Free-Range Art Highway

Nevada is full of talented traditional artists, with a long list of galleries and museums to show for it.


Car art in Nevada (Image: Travel Nevada)

But for some reason, on Highway 95 in Nevada between Las Vegas and Reno, there’s a lot of stuff that’s just plain “far out” — in more ways than one — which is exactly why we dig it.

4. Extraterrestrial Highway

In the belly of Nevada, surrounded by miles of undeveloped desert, lies a mystery that involves the alleged home of recovered alien spacecraft, extraterrestrial technology, and maybe even a few little green men on the federal payroll.

The Extraterrestrial Highway in Nevada (Image: @travelnevada)

5. Great Basin Highway

From sandstone canyons to alpine lakes and plenty of history along the way, the Great Basin Highway — which closely follows Nevada’s U.S. 93 — will take you through several Nevada state parks and several intriguing communities.


The best place to observe the Milky Way is in Nevada (Image: Travel Nevada)

The route finally climaxes at Great Basin National Park, home of 13,064-foot Wheeler Peak and the Lehman Caves system.

6. Lake Tahoe Loop

Scale the tallest outdoor rock climbing wall in the world, paddleboard on one of the clearest (and coldest!) bodies of water in North America, knock one back at the oldest saloon in Nevada, and walk the original wooden boardwalks in Virginia City where famed writer Mark Twain got his start (and his pen name).


Lake Tahoe (Image: Travel Nevada)

7. Cowboy Corridor

Next time you’re cruising Reno to West Wendover on Nevada’s Interstate 80, the speed limit may hit 80 mph. But when you hit a town, slow down.


Slow down and enjoy the music in Nevada's towns and cities (Image: Travel Nevada)

Because just down that offramp you’ll discover lively, welcoming communities inviting you to explore Nevada’s history and plenty of exciting present-day attractions at the same time.

8. Death Valley Rally

This route constantly travels from one extreme to another, including from Pahrump’s elegant vineyards to the natural splendor of Desert National Wildlife Refuge.


Desert National Wildlife Refuge (Image: Travel Nevada)

And from the lowest point on the continent to the montane wilderness of nearly 12,000-foot (3,660 m) Mount Charleston — one of Nevada’s tallest peaks. 

9. Rubies Route

Adorned with alpine peaks, lakes and flowing streams, tree-studded canyons and horizon-chasing, high-desert valleys, Elko County is vast and varied.


the mountains of Elko County (Image: Travel Nevada)

Recreational opportunities abound, like hiking, cycling, fishing, and photography, along with skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling in winter, Nevada’s majestic northeastern corner has much to explore.

10. Burner Byway

The spirit of Burning Man can be found year-round in northern Nevada. Trace the route Burners take every August on their annual pilgrimage “home” to Burning Man from Reno, out to the Black Rock Desert and beyond.


Hot springs in Black Rock Desert (Image: Travel Nevada)

Tips for driving in Nevada

  • Most drivers traverse Nevada on interstate highways I-80 or I-15. However, US 6 or US 50 are excellent, uncrowded alternatives.
  • Many scenic back roads are unsealed. Check with your car rental provider to make sure you're permitted to drive off-road.
  • It takes less than two hours to drive 125 miles from Primm, on the California state line, to Mesquite near the Utah border via I-15; Las Vegas is the most popular overnight stop along this route.
  • When driving across the state on I-80, Winnemucca and Elko are the most interesting places for a spend the night.
  • US Hwy 95 may be the fastest route between Las Vegas and Reno, but it's still a full day's drive without very little to see or do en route.
  • For road conditions, especially in winter, call 877-687-6237 or visit the Nevada Department of Transportation.

Comments / 0

Published by

Peter Watson is a writer, photographer and adventurer. A keen trekker and climber he can usually be found on the trails of the Greater Ranges. He’s visited over 80 countries and is currently focused on climbing the seven summits – the highest mountain on every continent. Four down, three to go... He has also travelled extensively around the US developing a penchant for American backcountry, abandoned buildings and natural wonders en route.

Phoenix, AZ

More from Peter Watson

Comments / 0