You spend hours upon hours planning your perfect road trip, but no matter how hard your try there is always that one stretch that’s just plain boring. You’re just trying to get from Point A to Point B and you have to drive for miles and miles of nothingness.
Nevada is notorious for being part of the awful leg of many road trips. The highway is straight and typically flat and can make any driver drowsy if they aren’t careful. If you know where to look, however, the small towns and Nevadan landscapes offer up something for everyone from foodies to nature lovers. I’m here to share some of my favorite Nevada hidden gems that are close to I-80 and will make your time in the high desert well worth the gas money!
If you’re ready to take the trip of a lifetime through Nevada, you need to get your hands this guide that is full of ideas for your road trip through this beautiful state!
1. Angel Lake – Wells, Nevada
Just a short 22 minute drive off of exit 352 on I-80 awaits an alpine paradise! Angel Lake is nested high up in the East Humboldt mountain range and is the perfect spot to get out and stretch your legs. As you wind up the road to the parking lot you’ll get a great view of the sprawling ranches below. Just be careful on the switchbacks, there aren’t any guard rails! Once you reach the top you’ll be able to take a walk, hike up to a waterfall, go fishing, and even cliff jump off the rocks at the end of the path!
2. Lamoille Canyon – Spring Creek, Nevada
Did you know Nevada is the most mountainous state by land area? One look at Lamoille Canyon will show you why! The canyon is in Spring Creek, which is about 20 minutes outside of Elko (exits 298 – 303). It’s well worth the extra time though, the road up to the canyon has lookouts and small hikes every mile or so. It’s a beautiful drive, especially in the fall when the aspen leaves are changing! Depending on your time frame you can drive to the parking lot at the end of the road and hike up to one of the lakes up in the mountains as well.
3. Try Traditional Basque Food – Elko, Nevada
Chances are you’ll already be stopping in Elko for food or gas. So take it a step further and get a chance to experience the heart of Basque culture! Basque are a people that migrated to northern Nevada and southern Idaho from the mountainous region between Spain and France. Traditionally they were sheep herders and there still remains a very strong Basque subculture in the area; there’s even a Basque festival every summer with traditional food, games, and dancing!
My favorite Basque restaurant in Elko is The Star Hotel. Food is served family style with cabbage soup, salads, spaghetti, beans, french fries, and bread accompanying every meal. Their specialty is their steak sandwiches (I get mine with garlic!). The Star also has a bar that serves their famous Picon drink – a cocktail made with Amer Picon liqueur, grenadine, and brandy. For a cheaper but equally tasty option try Toki Ona’s.
4. Winnemucca Sand Dunes – Winnemucca, NV
Just north of I-80 along highway 95 there’s a great little park that’s perfect for getting out some of that pent up road trip energy. If you’re traveling with a toy hauler, the sand dunes are a popular place for ATVing. Regardless, everyone loves running up and down sand dunes after a long day on the road!
For the rest of the hidden gems of the high desert and a few bonus pit stops to make any road trip memorable, check out this guide!