4 stops that will spice up the drive from Las Vegas to Reno

4 stops that will spice up the drive from Las Vegas to Reno

Photo courtesy of Theclownmotelofficial via Facebook.

By Aleza Freeman

May 16, 2024

It’s a common misconception among non-Nevadans that Las Vegas and Reno are neighbors. In reality, these two cities are separated by about 440 miles, and a road trip from one to the other takes about 8 hours.

Personally, I enjoy the drive from Las Vegas to Reno on US-95, which takes you through Nevada’s wide-open desert. Some people, on the other hand, think scenic skies, open roads, and Joshua trees as far as the eye can see are redundant and boring.

If counting cacti and finding shapes in clouds isn’t your idea of excitement, that’s ok. Today I’ll share some of the exciting attractions and hidden gems to be found on the road between these two cities.

From open-air galleries and funky shops to historic spots and haunted hotels, these eclectic stops will add excitement and photo opportunities to your Las Vegas-Reno (or vice versa) journey.

A place to go nuts and see ruins

Once you’ve driven your first 116 miles on U.S. 95, you’ll hit Beatty — Nevada’s gateway to Death Valley National Park. As you drive through town, don’t be surprised if you have to wait for a wild burro or two to cross the road.

This town is tiny but it has some cool restaurants and one of the biggest candy stores in the country, Death Valley Nut & Candy Co.

4 stops that will spice up the drive from Las Vegas to Reno

Photo courtesy of Death Valley Nut & Candy Co. via Facebook.

Stock up on snacks like saltwater taffy, dried fruit, and jerky before heading back on the road for a 10-minute detour on State Route 374 to Rhyolite.

A 1905 gold-mining town turned ghost town, Rhyolite’s ruins include a fully intact railroad depot and a well-preserved house built from 500,000 bottles of beer. You are welcome to get out of your car and explore the ruins. Don’t forget to take pictures!

At the town’s southern entrance is an open-air art gallery, the Goldwell Open Air Museum. Walk around and explore the growing collection of eclectic outdoor sculptures that seamlessly decorate the desert.

4 stops that will spice up the drive from Las Vegas to Reno

Photo courtesy of Goldwell Open Air Museum via Facebook.

Crazy cars and a gem of a deal

The living ghost town of Goldfield is located nearly 60 miles north of Beatty. Once Nevada’s wealthiest boomtown, Goldfield is now home to tourable old buildings, authentic saloons, and possibly even a ghost or two.

4 stops that will spice up the drive from Las Vegas to Reno

Photo courtesy of Rick Cooper/CC 2.0.

A quick detour off the highway at the southern tip of the town will lead you to the International Car Forest of the Last Church, a bizarre yet beautiful roadside attraction with more than 40 uniquely painted, junked vehicles. The cars, trucks, and even a bus, colorfully decorate the desert in unconventional ways. Some are standing vertical in rows like dominoes while others are stacked to the sky. You can drive around the attraction or park and explore it by foot.

There’s even more Instagram-worthy cars parked outside Rocket Bob’s Art Cars in Goldfield. Crazily decorated with items like air horns, Barbie dolls, and boats, these funky vehicles are quite a sight. They also have a history since they previously paid a visit to Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert.

Four miles beyond Goldfield is Gemfield, a pay-to-dig spot to go rockhounding for agates, jasper, turquoise, obsidian, crystals, gold, silver, and six different types of chalcedony. For only $1 per pound, you can take home whatever you find. Just don’t forget to bring your rockhounding tools like a bucket, gloves, pick, spray bottle, and trowel (una pala).

Clown around in a mining town

In another 30 miles you’ll hit Tonopah, which is located about halfway to your final destination. Not only is this a good place to fill up on gas but it’s also a great place to grab food and have fun.

First there’s the creepy, colorful, and supposedly haunted Clown Motel, which is home to an extensive collection of clown figurines, all on display in the lobby for free.

Next, take a walk through the Old Tonopah Cemetery next door for a glimpse at the graves of the town’s earliest silver mine workers.

For a little more Tonopah history, take a self-guided tour of the Tonopah Historic Mining Park. This 20th-century silver mine features more than 100 acres of preserved and restored buildings, artifacts, and exhibits.

Patriotism and outdoor enthusiasm

After another 103 miles of driving, you may start noticing the artillery storage bunkers in the hills and land around you (2,427 of them to be precise). Sounds like you’ve made it to the patriotic town of Hawthorne.

If you’re a military enthusiast, be sure to check out the town’s one-of-a-kind Hawthorne Ordnance Museum, featuring demilitarized ammunition and other military equipment from the United States Navy and Army.

4 stops that will spice up the drive from Las Vegas to Reno

Photo courtesy of Hawthorne Ordnance Museum via Facebook.

From here, you’ll drive past the 11-mile long and 5-mile wide natural Walker Lake. If you’re feeling feisty, you can park and throw marshmallows into the lake to appease the mythical lake-dwelling serpent, Ceci (he apparently has a sweet tooth).

Walker Lake Recreation Area, meanwhile, is located in Yerington. It’s a newer outdoor playground that is home to plenty of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts including hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing.

From here, it’s only about 70 more miles to Reno. Congrats, you made it!

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.4 stops that will spice up the drive from Las Vegas to Reno4 stops that will spice up the drive from Las Vegas to Reno

  • Aleza Freeman

    Aleza Freeman is a Las Vegas native and award-winning journalist with two decades of experience writing and editing lifestyle, travel, entertainment, and human interest stories in Nevada. Her work has appeared in AARP magazine, Haute Living and Nevada Magazine.

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