I was recently invited to speak at Nevada Commission on Tourism’s annual Rural Roundup, which is a conference and social gathering of people working in the tourism industry in rural Nevada. Yes, there are places to visit in Nevada outside of Las Vegas, Reno and Lake Tahoe, and there is something to do besides hitting up Burning Man one week in August. For a state with a whole lot of empty space, there are an impressive number of interesting and quirky towns, attractions and historical tidbits, and that’s exactly what the Rural Roundup is intended to highlight.
In many of the destinations outside of Nevada’s biggest and most popular cities, tourism budgets are small and staff is often made up of part-time employees or volunteers. These are people who are passionate about the places they represent, and their passion has spurred a desire within me to explore more of my state.
Because of the way I travel, I’ve probably seen more of the state of Nevada than most people, but there is so much more in the state that I want to see and experience. During this particular trip, I got a peek at just a few of the highlights tucked between Las Vegas and Ely, where Rural Roundup was held this year.
- Cathedral Gorge State Park in Panaca is almost like a miniature version of Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah with its own version of hoodoo-like spires. It’s a small park with only a couple hiking trails, but there is camping available and lots of free space to wander up the slot canyons and into the caves created by the spires. Next time I pass through, I definitely plan on having my good camera with me.
- I’ve been to Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park before, and I’ve written about my conflicted feelings regarding the site. During this visit, I was pleased to discover that the park rangers are talking about how we can learn from the mistakes made in the past, and there is an emphasis on protecting those natural assets that we’ve chosen to explore and share.
- I rode the Nevada Northern Railway, just one of the many trains like this throughout the state. We got to witness a recreated Wild West shoot out while we were on board, which was lots of fun, and I’ve heard that the wintertime Polar Express train that runs here is pretty awesome as well.
These are a few of the many relatively unknown sites in Nevada, and now that I’ve spent a little more time in some of the loneliest, most isolated parts of the continental United States, I’ve resolved to spend even more time there. My husband and I are already talking about taking a couple weeks to road trip through rural Nevada to explore some of these hard to reach but no less rewarding attractions.
The Nevada Commission on Tourism has an awesome website that assists in travel planning for all parts of the state. It’s where I’ll start when I begin to make our travel plans. If you’re considering a similar trip, I’d suggest a stop there first.