When most people think about Las Vegas, one of the first things that come to mind are all of the countless attractions on the well known Las Vegas Strip. Las Vegas is famous for their elaborate casinos and world renown restaurants and The Las Vegas Strip at night can look like an endless stream of brightly colored, flashing neon signs, beckoning tourists to spend their time and money.
Although the Las Vegas Strip is known worldwide as a city to indulge in on vacation, it is only one of the many interesting places to visit in the state of Nevada. For visitors who are looking for a more low-key and relaxing getaway to the state, there are plenty of options that don’t require someone to be 21 years of age or to spend a lot of money trying their luck. Below are three options that offer a different taste of Nevada.
Goldwell Open Air Museum
Organized in 2000 as a nonprofit, the Goldwell Open Air Museum began in 1984 when Belgian artist, Albert Szukalski created the site’s first sculptures. The open air concept takes a regular museum trip to a different level for those who like to be outdoors but still appreciate artwork. Located about 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas and spread out over 7.8 acres near the ghost town of Rhyolite, the unique outdoor museum consists of seven sculptures that come in a variety of different styles. Some of the installations are life sized made from plaster while others are as tall as 25 feet high and made from cinder blocks, and still others are made from recycled car parts.
Budget conscious tourists will appreciate the fact that the museum is a free admission facility with on site parking open 24 hours, 7 days a week. Visitors can take their time roaming across the desert to take pictures of the distinct artworks or visit the on-site visitor center which is open during normal business hours. The visitor center also has additional exhibits and sells original artwork to remember the trip.
In addition to the striking sculptures and visitor’s center, the site is also home to the Red Barn Center which is still used to this day as an exhibition space to artists in residence.
For people who want to see a completely different side of Nevada in a family friendly activity, underground exploration is a good way to go! The Lehman Caves have been a protected national monument since 1922 and are a part of the larger Great Basin National Park which is located near the Utah border. Although the caves can only be entered with a guided tour, tours are offered daily, year round except for major holidays. Tours are led by knowledgeable park rangers who explain the history and ecology of the caves and can range from 60 to 90 minutes. The shorter tours are ideal for families with young children while the longer tour is ideal for families with children over the age of 5.
Visitors not only get to learn about how the caves were formed, but they might also catch a glimpse of the many creatures that make these caves their homes including several species of bats and chipmunks.
Once the guided tours are over, visitors can also enjoy 12 trails that range from short nature trails to more strenuous summit trails at higher altitudes. Campgrounds are also available for true nature lovers who want to take their time exploring their natural surroundings.
Fly Ranch is located about two hours north of Reno and is home to Fly Geyser, also known as Fly Ranch Geyser, which is the second of two geysers that formed over the span of five decades due to nature reacting to two different sets of human activity.
In 1916, a well was drilled for the purposes of seeking irrigation water, however it was abandoned when near boiling geothermal water was found instead and a cone was formed instead. The site was left alone until 1964 when a geothermic energy company drilled a second well nearby. When they found that the water was not suitable for energy purposes they capped the well; but much to the delight of many tourists, the seal failed and has given the world Fly Geyser, which consistently releases spouts of water up to five feet in the air that contain a unique composition of minerals.
Because of the unusual composition of the water and the high amounts algae found in it, the rocks have been colored a unique and almost otherworldly combination of bright red and green. Although the Geyser is not open to the public like many other natural attractions because it is located on private property, there are three hour guided tours that are offered in a partnership. One major caveat is that pictures are highly discouraged during the tour so that visitors can really appreciate and get in touch with nature, although pictures are allowed at the end of the tour for those who want photo evidence of their trip.