When Nevada comes to mind, many people think of the sparkling city of Las Vegas or even the smaller gambling-focused city of Reno, also known as “Little Vegas.” While it’s true that there is so much to do and see in these cities, there are equally fun and awe-inspiring things to enjoy outside of the cities, particularly in Northern Nevada. Just over twelve percent of the state’s population exists outside of the Las Vegas metro and Reno, and yet, there is so much beauty to be seen and such incredible places to visit and experience.
If you are visiting in an RV, there is no shortage of amazing places to camp, especially if you are not afraid to boondock. There are also some awesome private campgrounds and a few amazing Harvest Hosts locations to be found. Hop in, grab your Harvest Hosts membership, and buckle up while we tour Northern Nevada and explore all that this part of the state has to offer.
Places to Visit
Below you can find some of the most scenic and fun places to visit in Northern Nevada. These include some cities and towns and some more natural places. If you are road tripping through the area, each of these places deserves a visit, for just a few hours or even a few days.
Our Northern Nevada road trip begins in the beautiful Black Rock Desert of Humboldt County, Nevada. The Black Rock Desert Wilderness is made up of over 300,000 acres of a large desert lakebed that was once filled by Lake Lahontan. In total, the playa encompasses about 200 square miles, and it is considered to be one of the flattest and largest surfaces found on earth. The area has increased in popularity over the past few decades, with the most popular event here being the Burning Man Festival each year.
During the rest of the summer and fall seasons, visitors to the area tend to enjoy hiking, sightseeing, wildlife viewing, off-highway driving (OHV), hot springs, hunting, rockhounding, stargazing, camping, and more. Some folks do bring their RVs out to the playa, where you can find plenty of dispersed camping nearby. Keep in mind that this can be tricky due to the unpredictability of the desert and playa floor. Be sure to check local conditions before attempting the trip.
2. Reno, Nevada
About three hours south of the Black Rock Desert lies Reno, often referred to as “Little Vegas” or the “Biggest Little City in the World.” Built in 1926, the famous lighted arch is one of the most popular sights in Reno. Besides the arch, guests typically enjoy the breweries and distilleries, arts scene, local sports, casinos, and nearby outdoors activities. Between Reno and nearby Carson City, there are plenty of RV parks to choose from, as well. Be sure to check out nearby Virginia City, Carson City, and Lake Tahoe while you are in the area!
In 1859, businessmen, miners, and a whole slew of other interested parties followed the trail of prospective fortune to Virginia City during its famous silver strike. Here, they mined the “Comstock Lode,” a massive bank of ore containing both gold and silver, located beneath Mount Davidson, a peak in the Virginia Range. Here, the mining camp of Virginia City quickly became a bustling town, earning Nevada the nickname of “the Silver State.”
Today, about 1,000 people continue to reside in Virginia City, while many more visit each year. The entire city is designated as a National Historic Landmark, and it is filled with beautifully-preserved saloons, churches, businesses, and more. Virginia City’s tours and occasional events offer visitors a true and authentic taste of the Wild West not found elsewhere. These include historic tours, mine tours, and even ghost tours of the area. When you are not touring, be sure to check out the local dining and drinking scene, as both are unique to the area. Furthermore, be sure to read about our Virginia City Harvest Hosts location below.
The Gold Hill Hotel is a picturesque country inn located in Gold Hill, Nevada, one mile south of Virginia City in the Comstock Historic District. It is the oldest hotel in Nevada and offers guest facilities in the original 1861 stone structure, a 1987 addition, and several separate historic lodges. Each room features a private bath and is uniquely decorated in period style with antiques and reproductions, while some rooms are known for being haunted.
The Crown Point Restaurant offers fine dining. Likewise, the Gold Hill Saloon provides guests with a rustic environment to relax and unwind. Called “Mark Twain’s favorite bar,” this Harvest Hosts location is rather unique and offers two separate RV parking areas in close proximity to their restaurant and bar. Previous guests have mentioned that the road leading to the hotel has a steep grade, but it is doable if you take it slow. This location offers two pet-friendly spaces for RVs under twenty-nine feet in length.
About twenty-five minutes south of Virginia City lies Carson City. Named after Kit Carson, the mountain man, Carson City is actually the capital city of Nevada. With just over 50,000 residents, this small city has a big history. It began as a place for miners to settle during the silver strike of the 1850s, then became the state capital in 1864. Following the silver strike, it became a hub located along the Virginia and Truckee Railroad. Today, it continues to delight both residents and visitors alike, offering many activities to enjoy, such as hiking, biking, shopping, museums, gaming, and visiting many historical places. There are also several RV campgrounds to choose from, making this an excellent stop.
5. Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe lies along the northeastern Nevada-California border, with about half the lake lying in each respective state. While there are fantastic activities and places to enjoy and experience all around Lake Tahoe, many folks tend to focus on the California side. However, the Nevada side is equally scenic, peaceful, and even typically less populated. Popular Nevada destinations along the lake include Sand Harbor along the northern coast and Glenbrook and Zephyr Cove along the southern portions. When visiting Lake Tahoe, travelers tend to enjoy nearby hiking trails, swimming, water sports, biking, winter sports, fishing and activities such as gaming, shopping, and dining in the cities surrounding the lake. Lake Tahoe is a four-season destination. This means that guests enjoy it all throughout the year, making it a very versatile vacation site.
Nearby Harvest Hosts locations
Just about an hour east of the Reno/Carson City/Lake Tahoe region, there are two awesome Harvest Hosts locations in the small town of Fallon, Nevada. Each of these is an awesome choice for those traveling through the area. Be sure to let us know how you like them if you happen to stop by!
Sawdust Alpacas is a wonderful alpaca ranch located on about five acres in the high desert of Northern Nevada. This Harvest Hosts location is home to forty-six friendly alpacas in a quiet and scenic setting that has been open for over ten years. Ranch owners Glenn and Carolyn enjoy hoisting RVers and are happy to offer brief tours and general alpaca knowledge. They offer electricity for a fee and free WiFi, and they have an awesome shop full of alpaca fiber products. In addition to their gift shop, they have a picnic area and play area available for children. They offer two pet-friendly spaces for RVs under forty-four feet in length, and leashed dogs are permitted.
Just a few minutes from Sawdust Alpacas, Lattin Farms is another of our fantastic Harvest Hosts locations. This farm location has so much to offer. Their farm store sells a variety of in-season fresh produce, as well as jams, local honey, salad dressings, pickles, salsas, and other preserved items. In addition, they sell a variety of delicious baked goods and other farm fresh products. In certain seasons, they offer U-pick fruits and vegetables, which include herbs, grapes, raspberries, tomatoes, pumpkins, and flowers. They also have a petting zoo and a yearly fall festival. Currently, they offer four pet-friendly spaces for RVs of any size.
Leaving the Northwestern region of Nevada, we can continue about five hours northeast across I-80. This interstate itself is an attraction in the state, as many consider it a quintessential Western experience. Beginning in Reno, this highway continues through the towns of Fernley, Lovelock, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, Elko, Wells, and West Wendover. Often called the “Cowboy Corridor”, this highway is brimming with Western heritage in each of these small towns filled with attractions, history, art galleries, museums, breweries, and so much more.
These towns proudly display their Western roots and cowboy culture that is stills so apparent in this region. Between the Cowboy Arts & Gear Museum and the Western Folklife Center in Elko to the Buckaroo Hall of Fame in Winnemucca, you are sure to catch a true glimpse of Nevadan culture that you certainly can’t find in Las Vegas. Along the route, there are plenty of places to stop and spend the night, including RV parks and resorts, ghost town B&Bs, guest ranches, and standard Western hotels. Be sure to check out some true Western restaurants and saloons along your route to really round out your trip.
Along I-80, be sure to stop and see the stunning Ruby Mountains along the eastern half of the interstate. Located about thirty minutes from Elko, these mountains are known to locals as the Rubies, and they are filled with adventures waiting to be had. Between the stunning mountainous scenery, the abundant wildlife, the gorgeous waterways, and the vast valleys, this lightly-trafficked area is an outdoorsy person’s paradise.
In the warmer months, visitors enjoy hiking, biking, climbing, scenic driving, fishing, hunting, backpacking, and more in the area. In the winter, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing are also quite popular. While the mountains themselves are not too RV-friendly, there are plenty of campgrounds to choose from in Elko, as well as nearby dispersed camping options.
Last but not least, Great Basin National Park is another incredible Northern Nevada attraction. Located about four hours south of the Ruby Mountains area, getting here is a bit of a hike. However, this out-of-the-way park tends to stay pretty quiet in comparison to many other national parks out west. Great Basin National Park as a whole celebrates the diversity of the great basin region of Nevada and the southwestern regions of the US. Here, visitors can find gorgeous and extensive caves, the stunning 13,000-foot Wheeler Peak, ancient bristlecone pine forests, extremely dark skies, and beautiful rolling foothills. Between the tours, wildlife viewing opportunities, hiking, scenic driving, and more, there is so much to experience in Great Basin.
RV travelers will be excited to find four RV-friendly campgrounds located within park boundaries. Upper Lehman Creek Campground offers reservations, while the rest are available on a first come, first-served basis. None of the campgrounds offer hookups, but some offer potable water seasonally.
It’s true that Northern Nevada is less frequented than many other portions of the state. However, it remains equally scenic, historic, and interesting to visit and experience. Be sure to stop in any of these incredible locations on any future trips through this area of the country.
Have you visited Northern Nevada? Where was your favorite place? Is there anywhere you would add? Feel free to share in the comments below!
Cover Photo Credit: Visit Reno Tahoe
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