Downtown street in Boulder City, Nevada. Image credit Laurens Hoddenbagh via Shutterstock

10 Must-Visit Small Towns in Nevada

The "Silver State" offers over 300 individual mountain ranges and claims over 40 named summits spanning more than 11,000 feet. Boundary Peak is the state's highest summit, towering 13,147 feet.

While Nevada's nickname is the Silver State, it is the largest gold-producing region in the US. Rockhounds will be delighted to know that garnet, turquoise, and fire opal can be found here. Nevada is the second-largest producer of turquoise, falling a notch behind Arizona, which holds the number one position. Nevada is the quietest and darkest state in the US, making it an excellent location for stargazing. Tonopah Star Park, Massacre Rim, and Great Basin National Park are amazing places to view the night sky. Needless to say, there is much to discover in these ten must-visit small towns in Nevada.


A 70 ton tortoise made of boulders in Fernley, Nevada.
A 70-ton tortoise made of boulders in Fernley, Nevada. Image credit EWY Media via

According to the Smithsonian Magazine, the Virginia Range in Nevada is one of the best places to catch a glimpse of the wild horses that roam the area. North of Fernley, Pyramid Lake is a popular destination that offers incredible fishing opportunities. The lake spans over 100,000 acres, and depending on the color of the skies, the lake can transform from shades of blue to gray.

The Black Rock Desert is another famous site north of Fernley. The landscape and setting uniquely combine mountains, canyons, and desert playa. Over 5.5 miles of the desert are transformed yearly for the annual Burning Man Gathering. From the great outdoors to dirt track racing and gambling, Fernley offers various attractions and activities year-round. The Fernley & Lassen Railway Depot is an excellent historic site to explore.


Entrance to Genoa, Nevada sign.
Entrance to Genoa sign. Image credit Albert Campbell via Shutterstock

About 20 miles east of Lake Tahoe and along the base of the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada Range, you will find Genoa. The small town's local wildlife, abounding nature, and historic charm make it hard to believe you are not that far from the big city of Reno. Genoa is Nevada's first and oldest permanent settlement. Mormon Station State Historical Park memorializes the first settlement of Nevada (1851). Many years ago, the area served as the original trading post, and the park is a beautifully reconstructed version of the post today.


Street view near city hall, Mesquite, Nevada
Street view near city hall, Mesquite, Nevada, By Stan Shebs, CC BY-SA 3.0, File:Mesquite Nevada 2.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

About 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas and adjacent to the Arizona state line is the small town of Mesquite. In the Virgin Valley, Mesquite offers stunning mountainous backdrops, lovely sunsets, and the beautiful Virgin River. The Gold Butte National Monument covers nearly 300,000 acres of remote and rugged desert landscape. Historic mining, pioneer-era artifacts, and thousands of petroglyphs can be viewed at the monument. It is also an ideal area for outdoor enthusiasts to go camping and hiking. In addition, the Virgin Valley Heritage Museum is a popular destination to explore and learn about the days of the pioneers and the area's local history.


Green Valley Near Austin, Nevada.
Green Valley Near Austin, Nevada.

The attractive mountain town of Austin, Nevada, boasts many amenities and activities for tourists and travelers. The small town is a part of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, a nature enthusiast's delight. This National Forest is a massive 6.3 million acres, making it the largest in the lower 48 states. Not only is Austin surrounded by an incredible forest, this vibrant small town is close to several natural attractions and ghost towns.

Enjoy a nice relaxing soak in the warm waters of Spencer Hot Springs, one of the top hot springs in the US. Austin, Nevada, was founded in 1862 as a silver mining town. The silver boom only lasted for several years before fizzling out, but the town's foundation was built on the mining industry, and with it came the Nevada Central Railroad. You can also check out the nearby ghost towns of Berlin and Belmont for more of this history. Stoke's Castle is another interesting attraction that lures visitors in, and it is one of the town's most popular sites to this day. While the Castle is more of a tower, it is an iconic site.


Old historic hotel, casino and bar Mizpah in the old mining town Tonopah.
Old historic hotel, casino and bar Mizpah in the old mining town of Tonopah, Nevada. Image credit travelview via Shutterstock

Halfway between Las Vegas and Reno is the town of Tonopah. It is referred to as "The Queen of The Silver Camps." The Tonopah Historic Mining Park is over 100 acres and is an incredible area to learn about the history of mining.

Tonopah is one of the cutest small towns in Nevada and features unique attractions, like the Clown Motel. This motel has become a landmark dubbed "America's Scariest Motel" because of the clown theme and the proximity to the Old Tonopah Cemetary. The Clair Blackburn Memorial Stargazing Park or Tonopah Stargazing Park is the perfect place to view the night sky. You can see thousands of stars and the Milky Way without a telescope on a clear night.

Boulder City

Exterior view of a Thrift store Boulder City, Nevada.
House of Antiques in Boulder City, Nevada. Image credit Kit Leong via

Located in Clark County, Nevada, Boulder City is only 26 miles southeast of Las Vegas. The Hoover Dam, Colorado River, and Lake Mead Recreation Area allow visitors to experience small-town vibes loaded with nature and a wealth of exploration.

The Southern Railway Museum provides visitors with a glimpse into the extensive history of train travel. With permanent exhibits like Ellsmere, Hoover Dam Construction, and Jackass & Western Railroad, there is much to see and learn. The open-air platform is open seven days a week, and aside from the permanent exhibits, some are ever-changing, including the stagecoach replica, antique cars, and locomotives.

Goat Feathers Emporium, Bella Marketplace, and Sherman's House of Antiques are a handful of inviting antique shops Boulder City has to offer. Dining experiences do not fall short, with everything from brewing companies to diner-style joints and mom-and-pop restaurants. Grab yourself a coffee at The Coffee Cup Cafe, featured on the famous TV show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

Just a few miles outside of Boulder City is the historical Techatticup Mine. Located in Nelson, Nevada, the Techatticup Mine was founded in 1775 by Spanish settlers searching for gold. The mine is currently one of America's famous ghost towns. Opening in the 1860s, the Techatticup Mine was the primary mine in Eldorado Canyon.

Incline Village

View of Lake Tahoe in Incline Village
Lake Tahoe in Incline Village.

Located along the shore of Lake Tahoe, you will find Incline Village. Sand Harbor is ten minutes from Incline Village and is a beautiful way to spend time on the water paddleboarding, kayaking, boating, water skiing, and swimming. The harbor offers beautiful picnic spots for a peaceful afternoon. Mount Rose and Diamond Peak offer exceptional snowboarding and skiing opportunities. When the snow clears, the trails are ideal for mountain biking and hiking.

Aside from the array of outdoor activities, Incline Village hosts several cultural attractions and events, including the annual Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. The Incline Flume Trail features historic artifacts, like the Great Incline Bull Wheel and Incline Tramway. Mofo's Pizza and Pasta, Lone Eagle Grille, and Bite will please the palate and insatiable hunger. Rent a house or condominium for the weekend, or book a room at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort.


Historic downtown buildings in rural Ely Nevada.
Historic downtown buildings in rural Ely, Nevada. Image credit trekandshoot via

Ely, Nevada, offers incredible year-round recreation and exciting history. This small town hosts fantastic artistic and cultural events, races, and train rides. The Bristlecone Arts in the Park lures hundreds of participants each year during the first week of August. You'll find countless artists sharing their handcrafted wares, gift items, and homemade foods. The Ely Film, Art, and Music Festival (FAM Festival) is a massive three-tiered cultural arts festival in March. Visitors can enjoy live music, the showing of independent and feature films, and see all of the artwork in the art contest.

Established in 1959, the White Pine Public Museum houses various exhibits. One of the museum's most famous exhibits is the Pony Express, with the runner-up being a cave bear exhibit. Cherry Creek Depot allows visitors to experience the area's unique history. Ely has a lovely selection of restaurants, including the Corndog Company, typical fast food joints, cocktail bars, and more.


View of the Chilton Centennial Tower in Elko.
Chilton Centennial Tower in Elko, Nevada. Image credit E Fehrenbacher via

Elko is the largest town in northeastern Nevada. Imagine a place where the arts and cowboy country collide. Elko is an excellent place to experience folk art, unique Western and Native handcrafted items, and cultural events. The Western Folklife Center hosts an annual National Cowboy Poetry gathering.

In addition, the Northeastern Nevada Museum and California Trail Interpretive Center are interesting historic sites to explore. The Northeastern Nevada Museum is full of art, history exhibits, and a stunning wildlife habitat diorama. Also in town, the Cowboy Arts and Gear Museum showcases the lives, traditions, and cultures of all things cowboy-related.

Moapa Valley

Looking out over the Moapa Valley in Nevada.
Moapa Valley in Nevada.

Moapa Valley, Nevada, is near the Valley of Fire State Park and Lake Mead Recreation Area. The Valley is rich in Pueblo-like Culture. Over 1,000 years ago, the Pueblo people migrated to the area where their native culture developed and flourished. The Lost City Museum displays incredible exhibits surrounding the history and people of the Lost City. Outdoor and nature enthusiasts might enjoy visiting the Muddy River and Reserve Unit. It is an essential part of the Valley.

Established in the 1970s, the Moapa Valley Wildlife Refuge comprises 106 acres of land that was designed to help the Moapa Dace species remain safe from extinction. Not too far from the refuge is the Warm Springs Natural Area; this oasis is home to over 24 warm bubbling springs, wetlands, and flowing streams. The Moapa Valley Corn Maze is a seasonal attraction for the entire family. Families can enjoy a haunted maze, pumpkin patch, zombie paintball, and various sweet treats. Pirates Landing and Cablp (Chris Angel's Breakfast, Lunch, and Pizza) are a couple of popular restaurants serving up delicious meals.

While many people's minds wander to Nevada's largest cities, like Reno, Las Vegas, Henderson, and Enterprise, these ten small cities deserve some love, too. These towns might be small, but they offer so much in terms of exploration, adventure, sports, relaxation, and exciting history lessons.

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