Published June 02, 2014
There’s nothing more American than the road trip, and Nevada is an ideal destination for road trippers.
Most travelers arrive in Nevada through gaming gateways such as Las Vegas and Reno. And although there’s plenty to do in those destinations, some of Nevada’s truest treasures lie out on the road.
Easy day trips from popular Nevada destinations can take groups to fascinating places such as Virginia City and Rhyolite, where travelers learn about the state’s Wild West and gold rush past. The California Trail Interpretive Center tells the stories of the pioneers who traveled through the area on their way to the West Coast.
Older cultures can be found in southern Nevada, where the Lost City Museum exhibits artifacts from Native American groups. And near the center of the state, Sand Mountain Recreation Area gives adventurers a chance to explore the dunes of the Nevada desert.
Just a 45-minute drive east of Reno, Virginia City gives gaming-weary travelers a chance to experience Nevada as it was 150 years ago. Travelers take a serpentine mountain road to arrive at the destination, which preserves much of the state’s Wild West culture.
Groups visiting Virginia City will find wooden sidewalks, saloons, Mark Twain artifacts and memorabilia. Trolley tours offer the best way to get an overview of the city and its historic landmarks. After the tour, travelers can browse Western-themed boutiques and gift shops, have their photos taken in Old West garb or sidle up to a century-old saloon bar.
To make the visit longer than a road trip stopover, arrange to have a meal at one of many local restaurants and stay in the town’s hotel. Smaller groups can make use of the numerous bed-and-breakfasts around town.
California Trail Interpretive Center
In the early days of Nevada statehood, it wasn’t leisure road trippers traveling in the northeastern reaches of the state but rather pioneers moving west along the California Trail. In Elko, modern travelers learn about the adventure of trail life at the California Trail Interpretive Center.
The interpretive center is situated directly on the historic trail overlooking the Ruby Mountains and the Hastings Cutoff, the supposed shortcut to California taken by the ill-fated Donner Party. Exhibits at the museum explore the stories of the pioneers who spent months making the 2,000-mile trek west to California in search of land, gold, adventure or a new life.
The interpretive center also exhibits original artwork that depicts life on the trail and the characters who ventured out to California. Groups can experience a sample of the journey for themselves by taking guided hikes along a short section of the trail adjacent to the interpretive center.
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