Nevada's Top 5 State Parks For Outward Bound

Lake Tahoe, NV, Sand Harbor
Lake Tahoe, NV, Sand Harbor | © Don Graham / Flickr
Photo of Paige Watts
9 February 2017

Nevada is home to 23 state parks, recreational areas and historic sites that stretch across the state’s alpine forests and deserts. These world-famous parks receive more than 3.3 million visitors each year. Read on to find out about how to explore the great outdoors in Nevada.

Cathedral Gorge

Cathedral Gorge State Park covers 2,000 acres of land that was once home to the Fremont, Anasazi, and Southern Paiutes. The park offers walking trails, shaded picnic areas, and camping sites so that visitors can explore the cave-like formations and the cathedral-like spires caused by tens of millions of years of erosion. Be on the lookout for birds of prey, black-tailed jackrabbits, cottontail rabbits, mule deer, coyotes, and kit foxes. Since Cathedral Gorge is so far out away from anything in the desert, it is perfect for stargazing.

111, Cathedral Gorge State Park Road, Panaca, NV, USA, +1 775 728 4460

Cathedral Gorge State Park | Courtesy of Cathedral Gorge State Park

Cathedral Gorge State Park | Courtesy of Cathedral Gorge State Park

Valley of Fire

Map View
Valley of Fire | Courtesy of Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire | © Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire State Park is Nevada’s oldest and largest state park. Deriving its name from its red sandstone formations formed during the age of the dinosaurs, Valley of Fire features petrified wood and 3,000-year-old Indian petroglyphs. The park has plenty of trails you can hike, picnic areas, and camping sites, and specific areas in the park are open to rock climbing. Visitors may even be lucky enough to come across the rare and protected desert tortoise in the Valley of Fire.

Lake Tahoe

Map View
Lake Tahoe, NV, Sand Harbor | © Don Graham / Flickr
Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park consists of Sand Harbor, Spooner Backcountry, Cave Rock, and Van Sickle. Visitors can swim and launch boats from Sand Harbor or Cave Rock. Spooner Backcountry offers miles of trails to hike as well as camping, fishing, picnicking, and winter sports. Van Sickle offers trails with rock outcroppings with views of the lake, including the famed Tahoe Rim Trail; it also has opportunities for mountain biking, horseback riding, and winter sports.

Ward Charcoal Ovens

Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park is located in the Egan Mountain Range and is known for its six beehive-shaped charcoal ovens. The Ward Charcoal Ovens operated from 1876 to 1879 during the silver boom years of the Ward Mining District two miles to the north of the park. In addition to the historic ovens, the park has a trail system that is suitable for hiking and mountain biking. In the winter, these trails can be used for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.

Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park, Ely, NV, USA, +1 775 289 1693

Spring Mountain Ranch

Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is a 520-acre oasis in the desert that was used by Paiute Indians and was developed by early settlers into a working ranch and luxury retreat. The park features picnicking areas, tours of the ranch house, summer theater events, and living history programs that include costumed role playing, reenactments, and demonstrations. The park offers opportunities for studies of diverse plant and animal life, from desert species to those that thrive in higher elevations.

6375 NV-159, Blue Diamond, NV, USA, +1 702 875 4141