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Take a Drive Through Nevada

Not all neon in Nevada is found on the Vegas strip.

Gaming destinations get the lion’s share of attention in Nevada, a state that has built its tourism reputation on glitz and gambling. But beyond the casinos lies a wealth of colorful natural, artistic and historic attractions.

For groups spending time in Las Vegas or Reno, fascinating culture and breathtaking vistas are remarkably easy to find. The state’s tourism experts have put together a series of itineraries highlighting interesting stops, many of which are within a short drive of these two cities.

“We’re hearing more and more that people want to get out and explore,” said Teri Laursen, director of sales and industry partnerships for Travel Nevada. “So we created a road trip guide that features six different itineraries, with suggested stops along the way.”

On your next trip to Nevada, treat your travelers to some of these stunning red-rock canyons, larger-than-life public art and desolate ghost-town experiences that will leave them with a new picture of the Silver State.

Neon to Nature

Most trips to Nevada include a stay in Las Vegas, a city renowned for its casinos and accompanying culinary and entertainment scenes. But Las Vegas also serves as a great jumping-off point for explorations that showcase the beauty and diversity of the area’s natural attractions.

“The Nevada landscape is so diverse,” said Laursen. “Within a 90-minute drive of Las Vegas, you can see seven state parks, and people don’t even know they’re there.

“In the continental U.S., we’re the most mountainous state. People don’t necessarily think of Nevada for mountains. But if you’re an outdoor enthusiast, Nevada should be in the forefront of your mind.”

Travel Nevada’s Neon to Nature itinerary includes several sites that will give visitors a look at incredible landscapes. Just 55 miles northeast of the city, visitors will find Valley of Fire State Park, a site known for its vibrant rock formations. The rock in the area is heavy in iron content, which gives it a deep-red hue that looks almost as if the stones are ablaze. Groups can take in the scenery during driving tours to Rainbow Vista or take a hike on the trail at Mouse’s Tank to see petroglyphs carved thousands of years ago.

Many visitors who stay in Las Vegas make time to visit Hoover Dam, about 35 miles away. On the way there and when the weather isn’t too hot, groups will want to stop at Gold Strike Hot Springs, where visitors can soak in thermal springs. There are also guided boat and kayak tours available there that take visitors from the springs to the mouth of the dam on the Colorado River.

About a 20-minute drive west from Las Vegas is Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, a beautiful, protected landscape that gets more than 2 million visitors a year. Visitors can take guided hikes to see petroglyphs and natural rock formations at Red Rocks. For a more relaxed way to visit, the Red Rock Canyon Backcountry Byway is a 13-mile loop that stretches through the canyon and gives travelers looks at some of the best scenery in the area.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.