What is Nevada Known For? (21 Famous Things, People & Places)
Nevada is known for Las Vegas, Reno, and Carson City. In addition to its cities, Nevada is known for Lake Tahoe, the Black Rock Desert, Hoover Dam, and Area 51. Nevada is famous for its entertainment industry, whether shows in Las Vegas or festivals such as Burning Man.
No one disputes the fact that Las Vegas is the most famous thing about Nevada. There’s much more to Nevada than that, though. There’s that certain, mysterious Nevada test site that you can’t visit. There are stunning national and state parks. There’s wildlife, wild west history, and much more to the Silver State, so let’s take a look!
- What is Nevada Known For?
- 1. Las Vegas
- 2. Las Vegas’ Nickname: “Sin City”
- 3. Reno
- 4. Carson City
- 5. The Silver State
- 6. Gold Mining
- 7. The Battle-Born State
- 8. Sparse Population
- 9. Hoover Dam
- 10. The Driest State
- 11. Mountain Ranges
- 12. The Sierra Nevada Mountains
- 13. Lake Tahoe
- 14. Area 51
- 15. No Individual Income Tax
- 16. The Black Rock Desert
- 17. The Mojave Desert
- 18. Great Basin National Park
- 19. Valley of Fire State Park
- 20. The Nevada State Bird
- 21. The Nevada State Fossil
- FAQs About Famous Nevada
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What is Nevada Known For?
1. Las Vegas
Nevada’s number one attraction, without a doubt, is the city of Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Strip in downtown Las Vegas is a popular tourist destination made famous by its many casinos and neon lights. The first club on what later became the Strip was the Pair-O-Dice Club, which opened in 1931. The club has since closed its doors.
A little-known, but fascinating fact about Las Vegas is that it has more hotel rooms than any other city in America. With a whopping 152,275 rooms, it’s not likely that any city will surpass Sin City any time soon.
2. Las Vegas’ Nickname: “Sin City”
Las Vegas began as a humble frontier town in the Las Vegas Valley in the 1800s. It experienced a boom, however, when it became a hub for workers building the nearby Hoover Dam in the 1930s. Like any place in the wild west, gambling and various other vices became entrenched here.
The rise of organized crime, especially earlier during Prohibition, also played a part. Since then, the city cleaned up its act–somewhat–but the title stuck. It now boasts the more benign moniker of “The Entertainment Capital of the World.” However, a city like Los Angeles, home of Hollywood, in California is known for challenging that claim
The next biggest city after Las Vegas sits on the western edge of the state, just over the border from California in Nevada’s Washoe County. Situated in the Truckee River Valley, Reno is surrounded by mountains and is a popular hub for skiing and other winter and mountain sports with several major resorts in the area.
Motor enthusiasts know Reno as the home of the National Automobile Museum. The museum boasts an extensive collection of over 200 cars from the early 1900s to today.
4. Carson City
Nevada’s capital city is located just south of Reno. Named for the famous frontiersman Kit Carson, the city has several museums that preserve its wild west heritage. Mark Twain lived for a time in Carson City while his brother served as secretary to the territorial governor.
The city began as a stop along the trail to California but boomed when silver was discovered in the nearby mountains.
❓ Trivia Time: What state is Mark Twain known for being from?
5. The Silver State
Nevada’s history is intimately linked to the mining industry. The discovery of the Comstock Lode in Nevada’s Virginia Mountains in 1859 triggered a “silver rush.” Silver mines sprang up (or down, as the case may be) in the mountains as miners sought to make their fortune.
Nevada saw a significant population boom as people flocked to the state to either work in the mines or provide services for the boomtowns. Today, the Nevada state colors are silver and blue, a nod to the important role silver played in the history of the state.
6. Gold Mining
Nevada is the top gold-producing state. NS Energy relates in an article that the Silver State has three of the largest gold mines in the world and seven of the nation’s largest. In 2017, 71% of the nation’s gold came from Nevada.
That same year’s figures made up 5.6% of all the gold mined in the entire world that year! As such, Nevada is, by far, the largest gold-producing state in America.
7. The Battle-Born State
The state motto has an interesting history. Nevada became a territory in March 1861, just one month before the beginning of the American Civil War. Nevada achieved statehood on October 31, 1864, while battles still raged. No battles were ever fought on Nevada soil, but the “birth” of the state occurred during the war.
8. Sparse Population
Nevada is not the least populous state, but it can feel that way outside the major urban areas. Major cities are few and far between. The greater Las Vegas area (Clark County) and the greater Reno area have the highest concentrations of population in the state.
Outside those most populated regions, populations drop from the hundred-thousands to under forty thousand. Pahrump, the largest settlement outside the Las Vegas and Reno areas, has a population of just 38,390 as of 2021. It’s not uncommon to see signs along the road warning that the next gas station is over 100 miles away, especially in eastern Nevada.
9. Hoover Dam
America’s most famous dam, large as it may be, is not the largest dam in the world, or even the country for that matter. Built to generate hydroelectric power by harnessing the Colorado River Hoover Dam, formerly known as Boulder Dam, spans the border between Nevada and Arizona. Lake Mead, the reservoir formed behind the dam, is a popular tourist destination offering aquatic recreation and a refreshing break from the otherwise extremely dry climate.
❓ Trivia Time: What states does the Colorado River run through?
10. The Driest State
Nevada beats neighboring Arizona for the lowest average annual rainfall in the United States. On average, Nevada only receives about 10.2” of rain per year! Arizona’s summer monsoon season often makes up for lost time, even leading to minor flooding in the most intense rainfalls.
❓ Trivia Time: What else is Arizona known for besides the Hoover Dam and dry weather?
11. Mountain Ranges
Anyone traveling across Nevada will notice the large number of mountain chains running (generally) north to south. Nevada has the most mountain ranges of any state, with 314 of them throughout the state! Not every mountain range is as lofty as, say, the next entry on our list, but the already high elevation of much of the state puts all of these peaks at several thousand feet high.
12. The Sierra Nevada Mountains
The most famous of Nevada’s series of mountains is the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. This perpetually snow-covered mountain range stands along the border with California, with Nevada falling on the “rain shadow.” This means that mountains block the warmer, wetter air from the Pacific Ocean, leaving the Nevada side drier and colder.
❓ Trivia Time: What states do the Rockies run through?
13. Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America and one of the main attractions in the Sierra Nevadas. At 1,645’ deep, it is the second deepest in the United States. This large freshwater lake spans the border with California and is the next most visited attraction in Nevada after Las Vegas.
❗ Fun Fact: America’s deepest lake is Crater Lake in Oregon, with a depth of 1,949’! Read more things that make Oregon special.
14. Area 51
One of the most popular parts of Nevada which is notoriously unavailable for visits is Area 51. Area 51 started as an airforce base and the US government began testing new and experimental aircraft here. That may have contributed to the popular rumor that the federal government houses alien aircraft, artifacts, and all manner of secrets on this site. The truth is out there.
15. No Individual Income Tax
On the more mundane side of things, Nevada has no income tax. It does, however, have a rather high state sales tax. According to an article on Forbes.com, Nevada ranks 7th in the nation for the highest state sales tax. While you may save some money with Nevada’s tax break, other aspects of life may make up for it. The ever-present casinos don’t help much either when it comes to saving money….
16. The Black Rock Desert
This desert in northern Nevada is best known for the Burning Man art and music festival that occurs at the end of summer. Besides that, there are unique rock formations and desert landscapes. The broad flat plains in the desert have served as a site for setting land speed records. One of the most fascinating attractions is the colorful Fly Geyser.
17. The Mojave Desert
Although more frequently associated with California, this desert extends into southern Nevada. Las Vegas is considered to be within the bounds of the Mojave. The town of Beatty, Nevada serves as a hub for visiting Death Valley, just across the border in California. One can also find the unique Joshua tree growing throughout Nevada’s portion of the Mojave.
18. Great Basin National Park
This park in the Great Basin Desert offers an alpine alternative to the low, flat deserts elsewhere in the state. Here one finds alpine lakes and forests, as well as stone arches and deep caves. The park spans an impressive 77,180 acres.
19. Valley of Fire State Park
Nevada also has impressive state parks. This park, located less than an hour’s drive northeast of Las Vegas, got its name from the red sandstone rock formations found throughout its boundaries. It is Nevada’s oldest state park, designated as such in 1968. One can also find petroglyphs carved by the Anasazi tribe who first lived here centuries ago.
20. The Nevada State Bird
The mountain bluebird offers a little burst of color amidst the red and earth tones of much of the state. The males are predominantly blue, whereas the females have only a little blue on their wings.
The birds inhabit the state year-round, and Nevada residents found the birds to be a fitting symbol of steadfastness. Nevada’s climate, especially before the invention of many modern comforts, was not always the most accommodating.
👉 Read Next: What is Each State in the USA Known For?
21. The Nevada State Fossil
Nevada proved to have more buried treasure than precious metals. Beneath the ghost town of Berlin, a trove of ichthyosaur fossils was found, including an entire intact skeleton! Sea creatures don’t often come to mind at the mention of Nevada, but, at one time, they thrived here in abundance.
👉 Read Next: What is Utah Known For?
FAQs About Famous Nevada
What is special about Nevada?
Nevada has America’s largest silver deposit, the Comstock Lode. It is also the 7th largest state, although its landscape and sparse population may feel larger than it actually is.
Who are some famous people from Nevada?
Tennis star Andre Agassi, former first lady Pat Nixon, and actress Jena Malone are from Nevada.
Now you don’t have to wonder “what is Nevada known for” anymore!
That concludes our look into some of the things that make Nevada famous. Don’t let those neon lights in Las Vegas outshine the rest of the state. The rest of Nevada is just as exciting!