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Fun and Interesting Places to Visit in Nevada

1. Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Located in southwestern Nevada at the lower end of the Amargosa Valley, adjacent to Death Valley National Park, about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, this 23,000-acre refuge was established to protect a rare desert oasis (the largest remaining in the Mohave Desert), and is part of the larger Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex (which also includes Desert national Wildlife Refuge, Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge, and Pahranagat national Wildlife Refuge). It is a major discharge point for a vast underground aquifer, with clear, bluish (fossil) water coming to the surface in more than 30 seeps and springs, as well as marshes and wetlands, and is home to at least 26 endemic plants and animals, not found anywhere else in the world. The refuge includes Devil's Hole (officially part of Death Valley National Park), a flooded cave entrance that provides the only remaining habitat for the endangered pupfish. Check out Crystal Springs, as well as Point of Rock Springs, Rodgers Springs, and Longstreet Springs. The refuge was named after the galleries of ash trees described in expedition notes from 1893. Great place for viewing nature and snapping pictures. Make sure to stop at the visitor center during your trip. Managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Learn more: Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.

2. Grimes Point and Hidden Cave. Located just outside of Fallon, in western Nevada, about 62 miles east of Reno, this is the place to see ancient (8,000+ years ago) Native American rock carvings called petroglyphs on large basalt boulders. At Grimes Point, a self-guided interpretative trail takes visitors through the site, which scientists agree are a series of pictures rather than a form of writing, done perhaps while waiting for a hunt. After visiting Grimes Point, head down the road one mile and hike to a series of caves, once believed to have been inhabited by these prehistoric people, but now is considered more of a long-ago used storage facility at a time when the now-desert was a vast marshland. Thousands of artifacts have been discovered at Hidden Cave, formed around 21,000 years ago by the waves of ancient Lake Lahontan. Hidden Cave, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). On the second and fourth Saturdays of every month, the BLM give free public tours of the cave. History buffs should also check out the Churchill County Museum (the "Best Little Museum on the Loneliest Road in America") on South Maine Street in Fallon, which is also where the cave tours begin. Nearby: Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Lahontan State Recreation Area, and Sand Mountain Recreation Area. Learn more: Grimes Point and Hidden Cave.

3. Lake Tahoe. Located on the western edge of Nevada (and eastern border of California), just west of Carson City, and about 30 miles south of Reno, this largest alpine lake in North America, with a surface area of more than 122,000 acres (trailing just behind the Great Lakes in volume), is a must-visit, and appears on several of our Visit Nevada lists, including scenic drives and state parks. This beautiful cobalt blue lake, which is 1,645-feet deep (second deepest in the U.S. after Crater lake in Oregon) sits atop the Sierra Nevada mountain range at an elevation of 6,225 feet, surrounded by gently sloping beaches, interesting rock formations, and giant cedars and Jeffrey pine trees. Approximately one-third of the shoreline is in Nevada (with the remaining in California). The lake was formed about 2 million years ago from a combination of major upheavals and the steady grind of ice and rock. Its name is derived from the Washo word Da'ow, which means water in a high place or possibly lake in the sky -- though it has had several other names in its history. For a full picture of the lake and surrounding area in the summers, take the 2.4 mile ride up the Heavenly Mountain (Ski Resort) Gondola; and for a true adventure, ride the 3,300-foot long Heavenly Blue Streak Zip Line -- both fee-based. You can also find plenty of hiking and mountain biking trail in and around the lake, including the Tahoe Rim Trail, a 165-mile loop that circumnavigates the lake. In the winter, the parts of the lake freeze over and the entire area becomes ski and snowboard central, with 12 ski areas. The Truckee River is the lake's only outlet, flowing through Reno and into Pyramid Lake (which also has its own scenic byway). Learn more: Visiting Lake Tahoe.

4. Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge. Located in southeastern Nevada near Alamo, along the Great basin Highway (US 93), about 85 miles north of Las Vegas, this 5,380-acre refuge is part of the larger Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex, and administered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. As one of the few wetland habitats (fed by Crystal and Ash Springs) in southern Nevada, the refuge plays a critical part of the Pacific Migration Flyway -- a major north-south migratory route along the western coast of the U.S. -- offering wetland and riparian habitats for thousands of migratory birds, numerous birds of prey, deer, reptiles, small mammals, and rare fish. Thus, if you like birds, especially waterfowl, this is the place for birdwatching. Visitors will find 9.2 miles of hiking trails -- that cross five different habitat types, giving you the chance to see meadows, marshes, lakes, streams, and desert in one visit! Hunting and fishing are allowed in season only. While the refuge is open 24/7 every day, the visitor center is open Thursday to Monday, offering exhibits, brochures, and souvenirs in a small gift shop. Learn more: Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge.

5. Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Located just outside of Fallon, in western Nevada in the Lahontan Valley, about 62 miles east of Reno, the Stillwater Complex is comprised of three refuges (Stillwater, Fallon, and Anaho Island) encompassing 79,570 acres that include great diversity, including: freshwater and brackish marshes, river corridors, alkali playas, desert shrublands, sand dunes, and an island at a desert lake -- all part of deep lakebed of the ancient Lake Lahontan, which evaporated 9,000+ years ago. (Check out the surrounding mountains to see evidence of the original shorelines of the lake.) Visitors will find a wide range of natural resources and an array of recreational and educational opportunities, including camping, boating, hunting, and hiking. Besides being a vital area for many species of bird and waterfowl, other animals at the refuge include: beaver, coyote, mountain lion, bobcat, antelope, deer, rabbits, coyotes, mink, and fox. Administered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, with a main office on New River Parkway in Fallon (open M-F). Learn more: Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

EmpoweringSites.com CEO Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is an educator, author, and blogger, as well as founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com. Dr. Hansen has been helping empower people to achieving success his entire adult life. He is also founder of EnhanceMyVocabulary.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EmpoweringRetreat.com. He is a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. Dr. Hansen is also an educator, teaching business and marketing at the college level for more than 25 years. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Hansen on Google+, as well as Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.


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