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Take a Drive Through Nevada

Free-Range Art Highway

In addition to desert landscapes and Wild West history, Nevada offers travelers lots of opportunities to experience art of all kinds.

“There’s a spirit of creating art because you’re inspired to do so, and it has filtered throughout the state,” said Bethany Drysdale, Travel Nevada’s chief communications officer. “Because Nevada is public land and not densely populated, there’s lots of room to create that art, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. You create art because the landscape inspires you to do that.”

Groups can get a taste of this creative spirit on the state’s Free-Range Art Highway itinerary, which follows U.S. Highway 95 from Las Vegas to Reno.

The experience begins in downtown Las Vegas in the Fremont East neighborhood, which is scattered with murals and sculptures. Among the most famous is a 40-foot-tall praying mantis sculpture created for the Burning Man festival by an aerospace engineer.

Just south of Las Vegas, another oversized installation, Seven Magic Mountains, is a favorite among area art lovers.

“The Seven Magic Mountains are 35-foot-tall towers of very brightly colored rock in the middle of the desert,” Laursen said. “You can see them off the highway, and they have become a tourist attraction. You can pull the motorcoach up and take pictures in front of them.”

Highway 95 takes travelers from Las Vegas to Beatty and then on to Goldfield, a former mining community that is now a ghost town. It’s also home to Car Forest of the Lost Church, a sprawling installation of junked cars, trucks, vans and buses that were buried-nose first in the desert sand.

“Other destinations have beautiful, lush pines,” Laursen said. “We have a forest made out of cars, upside down, sticking out of the ground. It’s earth art.”

Groups traveling this route can make a stop in the town of Tonopah to visit the Tonopah Historic Mining Park on the site of one of the first silver mines in the area; these were the mines that started the rush of miners coming to the region. Nearby, the Central Nevada Museum gives visitors another glimpse of the mining boomtowns of Nevada’s past.

The art highway tour ends in Reno, a city that has developed a reputation for public art. The RiverWalk in Reno’s Truckee River Arts District is home to numerous pieces of inventive and interactive public art and gives visitors a taste of the cultural and economic renaissance that has been unfolding throughout the city.

For more information on a trip to Nevada, visit Travel Nevada’s website at

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.