From waterfalls to slot canyons to… aliens?
There’s so much to see and do just outside the bright neon lights of Las Vegas. It’s a veritable outdoor playground for adventurers and explorers to discover! From majestic sandstone arches to twisting slot canyons to lush waterfalls, you could easily spend a few days, a week, or even a month exploring Southeast Nevada… oh, and you might even encounter some extraterrestrial life along the way.
Located right near the notoriously top-secret military base Area 51, the Little A’Le’Inn is a great roadside attraction to stop by during your trip across Nevada. The Little A’Le’Inn triples as a motel, restaurant, and gift shop, where you can stock up on kitschy alien souvenirs. As it’s located pretty much in the middle of nowhere, it’s a welcome sight for travelers. Friendly service, good food, and cold beer can be hard to come by in the middle of the desert, and they provide all of that, plus a few great alien conspiracy theory stories, to boot.
The closest (legal) spot to peer into Area 51, Tikaboo Peak offers a rare glimpse into the famed bastion of extraterrestrial lore. The base is still about 26 miles away from the peak, but on a clear day, you can see the buildings as well as aircraft taking off. But, if you’re looking to spot UFOs, bring flashlights and make the trek around sunset… you never know what you might see.
Featuring deep canyons and rushing streams, Beaver Dam State Park is a relaxing place to spend your day hiking, camping, and fishing. Make sure to check out the Overlook Trail, which gives you a panoramic view of the entire park. The park’s history dates back to 1849, when a family of pioneers named the Hamlins settled down in the area and built a blacksmith shop, house, and schoolhouse for local children. The remains of the Hamlin settlement are still available for public view and are located in the northern part of the park.
Located within 10 miles of the Arizona, Nevada, and Utah borders, Virgin River Canyon is a delight for people of all ages. The canyon contains two short hiking trails that lead to the Virgin River and provide the opportunity to spot bighorn sheep, which are plentiful in the region. The campground is well maintained and only costs $8.00 per night. If you really want to get away for a night, this is the place to stay!
Built to preserve artifacts from southern Nevada, the Lost City Museum is an amazing celebration of human history. With artifacts from a variety of sites along the Muddy River Valley (discovered by explorer Jedediah Smith), the museum now contains a theater, a library, and some outdoor exhibits. The main gallery focuses on Ancestral Puebloans, but you also can check out displays on fossils and ancient baskets, as well as a reconstructed pit house. Wild fact: All of the artifacts were nearly lost under water when the Hoover Dam (then the Boulder Dam) was built. They were excavated just before Lake Mead was created by the dam!
Located along the White Domes Trail in Valley of Fire State Park, the Valley of Fire Slot Canyon is a dream come true for desert landscape-lovers. The 1.1-mile trail loops through an old Western movie set and then brings you to a slot canyon, which features a narrow opening that drops a hundred feet below. Visiting the canyon is a truly magical experience that you won’t want to miss.
For only $10.00 a night, Arch Rock Campground is a great place to bed down. Each campsite is located in a notch in the canyon, providing visitors with a sense of privacy as well as with the ability to get up close and personal with the rock formations. Plus… free showers and dump stations! (Bonus: The facilities are immaculate.) Desert nights can be far colder than desert days, so make sure to pack accordingly.
Picturesque Mary Jane Falls and its surrounding areas offer a variety of activities, from rock climbing to hiking to just picking wildflowers. The hike up has a pretty steep incline, so get ready to work up a sweat as you make your way to the falls. The payoff is definitely worth it.
As you explore the alien legends, desert rock formations, and ancient archaeological sites around Nevada, you’ll forget entirely that the state is mostly known for the bright neon and bustle of Las Vegas. There’s so much more to the state than Sin City, so get ready for the adventure of a lifetime exploring everything Nevada has to offer!
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