Through our Lens:

A Highway Guide to Nevada


From the shores of Lake Tahoe to the allusive Area 51 and to the majestic Hoover Dam, our Nevada road trip was full of unique signs, historic towns, and a handful of tumbleweeds. Join us as we cruise from Reno to Vegas exploring the tiny towns, natural wonders, and hidden gems of the Silver State.

National Automobile Museum

Many believe that the Reno Automobile Museum, opened in 1989, set the standard for automobile museums both in the US and around the world. The museum features the collection of Bill Harrah of Harrah’s Hotels and Casinos, who established what many consider is the largest and most historically significant collection of cars in the world, reaching around 1,400 vehicles!

1 Museum Dr, Reno, NV 89501

Arches National Park may not be in Nevada, but Nevada’s “Biggest Little City in the World,” Reno, is home to a special arch of its own: the iconic Reno Arch. Today’s arch, which has a street address of its own, 255 ½ Virginia Street, can be spotted in other films such as Sister Act and the cult classic Kingpin.

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345 N Virginia St, Reno, NV 89501

Black Rock Desert

Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, comprised of picturesque canyons, hot springs, and dry lake beds, consists of 1.2 million acres of nationally conserved land, which makes it the larget collection of publicly managed land in the continental US. At one time, pioneers in covered wagons trekked across the Black Rock Desert on their way West. Nowadays, you might find folks traveling with a different type of caravan on their way to Burning Man, the weeklong experimental art festival and gathering that takes place in the Black Rock Desert every year!

Gerlach, NV 89412

Gerlach, NV

What Gerlach, NV lacks in population (the 2020 census reported a population of 130 people), it makes up for in personality. According to the town sign, Gerlach is the Center of the Known Universe, the Potluck Capital of the World, and home to “3 bars, no churches, and no wars.” It’s also the location where in 1997, the British team of the Thrust SSC supersonic car achieved their goal of being the first vehicle to travel faster than the speed of sound. The record still stands today—and the local Black Rock Saloon was there to keep track of the Brits’ progress along the way!

390 Main St, Gerlach, NV 89412

Miners Club

If you’re in Gerlach, NV and looking to grab a coffee, a cocktail, or a riveting conversation with a local, grab a seat at the Miners Club in the middle of the town’s main street. The Miners Club is open “6:00 AM to noon, and 5:00 PM to whenever,” but locals say that if the lights are on, come on in!

415 Main St, Gerlach, NV 89412

Bruno's Country Club & Motel

At the classically Old West Bruno’s Country Club & Motel in Gerlach, NV, they have a saying: “This isn’t the Middle of Nowhere, but you can see the Middle of Nowhere from there.” It makes sense, considering that Bruno’s is one of the only establishments for miles around. Luckily, though, Bruno’s is home to a saloon, a cafe, a motel, a casino, and an RV Park… talk about a one-stop shop!

445 Main St, Gerlach, NV 89412

Genoa Saloon

The Genoa Bar and Saloon, nestled in the oldest settlement in Nevada, has a sign that reads “Nevada’s Oldest Thirst Parlor.” There is no hyperbole here: The Genoa Saloon first opened in 1853—11 years before Nevada was officially granted statehood. The saloon has been pouring drinks, including their legendary Bloody Marys, for over 170 years, outwitting prohibition by disguising the establishment as a soda fountain. Seated at their bar over the years have been numerous icons, including Mark Twain, Teddy Roosevelt, and John Wayne.

2282 Main St, Genoa, NV 89411

Carson City, NV

After recognizing the importance of Nevada’s mining production to the Union’s Civil War effort, President Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation establishing Nevada as a state on October 31, 1864. Carson City was chosen as the state capital and has retained the title for 160 years. Yet, this Nevada capital has had quite a storied past. Before the turn of the century, shootings, stabbings, and street brawls were no rare sight in Nevada, but Carson City faced a unique challenge: managing outbreaks from its State Prison! A block north of the Carson City Capitol, you’ll find the Carson Nugget Casino, which was an instant success after its completion in 1953 by Richard Graves, surprising even Graves himself. It is still running today- anyone feeling lucky?

Nevada State Capitol, 101 N Carson St, Carson City, NV 89701

Only reachable by boat or a one-mile hike, a sumptuous “Viking” citadel sits on the shores of Emerald Bay. This mansion, touted as one of the finest examples of Scandanavian architecture in the United States, was built by an heiress of English descent. This citadel of Lake Tahoe can be seen from the magnificent M.S. Dixie, which departs from the historic Zephyr Cove Resort.

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760 Hwy 50, Zephyr Cove, NV 89488

Chocolate Nugget Candy Factory

The Chocolate Nugget Candy Factory in New Washoe City, NV is home to a third generation candy makers who have been crafting candies and chocolates for over 80 years. This candy shop is known for its finest ingredients for their chocolates and candies, but visitors shouldn’t skip their award-winning Peanut Brittle: the signature creation of Grandpa Frank, who began the business in 1936.

611 US-395, New Washoe City, NV 89704

Virginia City, NV

The National Parks Service has designated the entire town of Virginia City, NV as a National Historic Landmark, so it is no surprise the city remains one of Nevada’s most popular and historic tourist destinations. After the Comstock Lode, a rich deposit of silver ore, was discovered here in 1859, Virginia City became the most important industrial city between Denver and San Francisco! Miners pulled millions of dollars worth of ore from tunnels that ran 3,000 feet beneath the historic town. The city is also the “birthplace” of Mark Twain (in a sense): it was the first place Samuel Clemens used his iconic penname. One of his novels, Roughing It, is actually set in Virginia City!

86 C St, Virginia City, NV 89440

Fort Churchill

In 1860, Fort Churchill was built with the goal of protecting early settlers and guarding the Pony Express and telegraph lines. Today, there may not be pioneers taking refuge with their horse and wagons, or a Pony Express to protect, but it is a great spot for visitors to walk designated trails, see ruins of earlier times, camp, hike, birdwatch, and canoe!

10000 US-95 ALT, Silver Springs, NV 89429

Mitzpah Hotel

At the time of its opening in the early 1900s, the five-story Mizpah Hotel was the tallest building in Nevada. Once the meeting place for Nevada’s mining and political elite, the hotel also hosted some (in)famous guests such as Wyatt Earp, Tex Rickard, and Jack Dempsey. There may or may not have some unwanted guests as well… The Mizpah was voted the #1 Haunted Hotel in America by USA Today 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards, with many visitors and employees reporting encounters with the ghost of “The Lady in Red.” Maybe sleep with one eye open here!

100 N Main St, Tonopah, NV 89049

Belvada Hotel

Fred and Nancy Cline purchased the historic but incredibly dilapidated Belvada Hotel, whose building was originally the Nevada State Bank building, for one whole dollar from the town of Tonopah. In 2017, they began the multi-million dollar renovation and completed it just three years later, at the end of 2020. Every part of this iconic five-story, Classical Revival style building has been restored thanks to the generosity and hard work of the Clines.

101 S Main St, Tonopah, NV 89049

Tonopah Historic Mining Park

During the Spring of 1900, Jim Butler was camping near what is today called Tonopah Mining Park when his burro wandered off. While chasing after it, Jim picked up a rock to launch at his burro, when he discovered some interesting-looking ore. Jim had a good eye: it turns out the ore he stumbled upon was valued at more than $200 per ton. Eventually, mines in that district produced more than five million tons of ore. In today’s currency, the precious metals found here would be valued at more than $1,200,000,000. Maybe Jim’s mule is the one to thank for it all!

110 Burro Ave, Tonopah, NV 89049

Goldfield, NV

Forests don’t usually exist inside desert towns… but Goldfield, NV is a rare exception! Goldfield is home to the International Car Forest of the Last Church, an open air art gallery filled with rusted, partially-buried junk cars. The installation was started by Goldfield resident Mark Rippie who sought to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest car forest. Goldfield is also home to the unique Goldfield Historic Cemetery where visitors can find epitaphs reading “Gunshot” or “Man Died Eating Library Paste.” Perfect for fans of morbid humor!

69 Columbia Ave, Goldfield, NV 89013

Beatty, NV

Beatty, NV, nicknamed the Gateway to Death Valley, is a great spot for just about any type of visitor! Area 51 afficionados will be interested in touring the Atomic Inn. History buffs will love the nearby ghosttown of Rhyolite. Art lovers will appreciate the Goldwell Open Air Museum, famous for a sculpture titled “The Last Supper” by Albert Szukalski, which depicts a ghost-like interpretation of Jesus Christ and his disciples. Outdoorsy types will find areas to mountain bike, bird watch, or geocache. And who wouldn’t want to look out the window and see a burro roaming about town?!

417 Main St, Beatty, NV 89003

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

The flora and fauna in the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in the Mojave Desert is the greatest concentration of life found only in one location, more than any other area in the US, and is the second greatest in all of North America. The refuge is home to at least 24 plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world, 5 of which are listed as endangered. The Nature Conservancy acquired Ash Meadows in 1983, protecting this unique safe haven for plants, animals, and even its pools of 10,000 year-old “fossil waters,” many of which cannot be found anywhere else on Earth!

8757 Spring Meadows Rd, Amargosa Valley, NV 89020

Alien Research Center

Many brave visitors travelling on Nevada’s Extraterrestrial Highway make the Alien Research Center their basecamp before voyaging onward. Despite its name, the center is best known for being the go-to place for out-of-this-world souvenirs and a great spot to chat with locals who have the inside scoop on everything from secrets of Area 51 to UFOlogy.

100 NV-375, Hiko, NV 89017

If the force is strong with any US national park… it’s going to be Death Valley, or as Star Wars fans would know it as, Tatooine! However, Death Valley National Park, the largest national park on the continental United States, is sure to impress anyone, not just Star Wars lovers. Its stats are nothing short of cinematic in and of themselves…

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Shortys Well Road, California

If a ballerina is performing for an audience of empty seats, would anyone ever observe her pointe?  For artist Marta Becket, the answer was yes. Finding an abandoned theater while changing a flat tire, Becket would work tirelessly for the next several decades to put a deserted mining town back on the map, eventually being “discovered” herself.

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608 Death Valley Jct, Death Valley, CA 92328

Hoover Dam

Construction of the Hoover Dam was an unbelievable feat: it is genuinely hard to believe the scale of the project! The Hoover Dam is as tall as a 60-story building. When it was completed in 1935, it was the highest dam in the world. Each of the dam’s spillways, which are designed to let floodwater pass through, can take on the same volume of water that flows over Niagara Falls. Given that the Hoover Dam was built to hold back what is then — and still is—the largest man-made lake in the US, it is no surprise that it had to be huge. The amount of concrete that was used to construct the dam is enough to pave a road from San Francisco to New York City. To this day, it protects California and Arizona from floods, provides water for farm irrigation, and supplies power and water to Los Angeles and other Southwestern cities. A million visitors stop by to take in this amazing feat every year… dam, that’s a lot!

81 Hoover Dam Access Rd, Boulder City, NV 89005

Boulder City, NV

The sole reason for Boulder City’s existence was the need to provide housing for workers constructing the Hoover Dam in 1931. The Hoover Dam project represented optimism for Americans who were in the midst of the Great Depression, and it’s said that the town itself was another display of that kind of optimism. There was from the beginning an emphasis on clean-living environments for workers of the dam, with a mission to “reclaim and ‘green’ the American West.” Boulder City is one of two places in the state where gambling is prohibited. Alcohol was also banned until 1969!

Boulder City, NV 89005

With no bureaucracy or pencil-pushing to be found (only pencil collections), this is no ordinary office. Located within a small storefront at New Orleans Square, cabinets of curios await any visitor ready to sift through their contents, all collected by one Vegas local. A love letter to the joy of grouping together various trinkets and tchotchkes, the Office of Collecting & Design has been in the works since Jessica Oreck’s childhood.

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900 Liberace Ave Suite B-105, Las Vegas, NV 89109

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