Nevada: A Land of Harsh Beauty and Adventure

Why Is Nevada Important?

The state’s harsh but rich environment shaped Nevada’s history and culture. Today, spooky legends, Pony Express waystations, silver-mining boom towns, and National Historic Landmarks dot the landscape.

The most gold in the country (and some of the world) comes from the Silver State. But did you know? Nevada is also home to: a 40-foot state fossil, gourmet chocolate, and gnarly old state trees.

The Desert

Nevada’s wildly diverse landscapes, from vibrant low desert to sky-scraping mountain peaks, attract adventurous travelers. It’s also a place where the pioneer spirit still thrives. This is evident in the state’s lenient laws on gambling and marriage, and its absence of income taxes.

The state’s arid climate is shaped by its location within the Basin and Range Province. The mountains along the west coast often cause clouds of Pacific origin to drop their moisture before reaching Nevada, resulting in semi-arid conditions. Lower-desert areas are covered in mesquite, creosote and greasewood, with yucca and sagebrush found at higher elevations. In the mountain regions, pine, fir and spruce predominate, while juniper and rare bristlecone pine are found in the high country. Desert wildlife includes bighorn sheep and black-tailed jackrabbits.

The Mountains

Nevada’s mountains are what give the state its unique character. The mountains form a natural barrier to Pacific storms, keeping much of the state dry and semi-arid. The mountain ranges and their dry valley basins also create habitats that are highly diverse, from sagebrush steppe to aspen woodlands.

During the Pleistocene Ice Age, what is now Nevada was home to many large mammals, including mammoths, camels, horses, ground squirrels, saber-tooth cats, and dire wolves. Today, the southwestern part of the state is a land of canyons and gorges, with a number of spectacular geological formations such as the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Cathedral Gorge and the Lehman Caves.

This region is also a rich source of Native American culture and heritage, as it was once the ancestral homelands of the Northern Shoshone, Western Paiute and Fremont peoples. Despite its dry, arid landscape, Nevada is one of the most beautiful states in the United States.

The Chocolate

Known around the world for bright lights, easy entertainment and the allure of casino cashouts, Nevada is also home to vast desert landscapes, beautiful mountains and an Old West cowboy culture. And while the state may not have a robust food history like other states in this series, it is definitely a destination for a range of delicious foods.

One of the most famous foods in Nevada is shrimp cocktail. The dish originated in Las Vegas and is served throughout the state. The dish is also popular at buffets and all-you-can-eat restaurants, which make it a great option for people who want to try a variety of dishes without breaking the bank.

Another notable dish is grilled steak and eggs. This dish is a staple of many breakfast menus in the state. It is a simple meal that has big flavor. The state’s large Hispanic population also contributes to its diverse cuisine. This is reflected in the popularity of dishes such as sushi burritos and tostadas.

Land Sailing

Land sailing is a bit more controlled than air sports like skydiving and gliding, but the rush is still there. Hundreds of sailors from around the world flock to Nevada’s hard, flat lake beds (playas) every year to race dirt boats that can hit 60 miles per hour. America’s Land Sailing Cup and the Land Sailing World Championship call Nevada home because of its ideal combination of flat ground and wind galore.

Racers gathered this week for the event on Smith Creek Dry Lake in Lander County. Some stayed in spartan trailers; others built sleek aluminum craft with what’s essentially an airplane wing raised vertically as a sail.

The sport’s challenging build and racing pushes competitors to their limits, including safety. One of the yachts crashed this year, leaving its pilot in a coma. It was the only serious accident at this year’s World Championships, which are normally held in European countries.

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