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Nevada Road Trip: My 2-Week Itinerary from Las Vegas

Last Updated on June 8, 2021 by Nellie Huang

For a power-packed Nevada road trip, check out this 2-week itinerary from Nevada expert, Michelle from Silvas Travel Tribe.

Welcome to Nevada! Bring a sense of adventure as we travel Nevada, from the flamboyant city of Las Vegas to the state’s adventure-packed northwest, along the loneliest highway in the US to the Great Basin. Nevada is as quirky as it is rugged, and its landscape and culture are tailor-made for cowboys, visionaries, dreamers and doers. 

We’ve been coming to Nevada for decades, and have explored almost every inch of the Silver State. I’ve designed this Nevada Road Trip itinerary to show you the best of the state, and I’ve also included a Nevada road map to guide you along the way. A Nevada Road Trip explores the unexpected, the eclectic, and the beauty of the great outdoors. 

nevada road trip - 2 week road trip from las vegas

Nevada Road Trip Itinerary & Guide

A 2-Week Road Trip from Las Vegas

This Nevada road trip starts and ends in Las Vegas. Keep in mind this Nevada itinerary is organized to help you see the state at a quick pace. If you have more time, you can use the same itinerary but stretch it out over 3 or 4 weeks. Click on the links to skip to different parts of this itinerary.

  • 4 Days in Las Vegas
  • 3 Days in Carson City/Carson Valley
  • 2 Days in Lake Tahoe
  • 3 Days in Reno
  • 2 Days in Great Basin National Park

Nevada Road Trip Map


Current Nevada Travel Restrictions

As of 26 January 2021, all air passengers entering the U.S. have to present a negative COVID-19 test, taken within three days of international departure. For those traveling to Nevada from other states, there are no current travel restrictions or quarantine mandates. Check the Nevada tourist board website for up-to-date info.

It’s important to have travel insurance for travel during the pandemic. Safety Wing is the most popular travel insurance company for COVID19-coverage. I use their Nomad Insurance plan, which covers COVID-19 as any other illness as long as it was not contracted before your coverage start date. Refer to my travel insurance guide for more details.

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Nevada Road Trip: My 2-Week Itinerary from Las Vegas


 How to Get to Nevada

The main gateway to Nevada is the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport. You could also start this Nevada road trip by flying into Reno and reversing the itinerary. 

It’s cheap to fly to Las Vegas from most parts of the US. You can fly into Las Vegas from New York for around $150 round trip. Miami to Las Vegas can be as cheap as just under $200 for a round trip ticket. 

If you are flying in from Europe, you can find round trip tickets from London to Las Vegas for less than $650 if you book in advance.

road trips from las vegas - nevada highway


How to Get Around Nevada

To do this Nevada road trip, you need to rent a car. A 2-week car rental in Nevada costs around US$350 with unlimited mileage. I always book my car rental on Discover Cars as they’ve consistently given me the best rates and customer service.

McCarran International Airport has an easy-to-use shuttle system that will get you to your rental quickly. Shuttles run every 10 – 15 minutes. Just follow the signs from baggage claim.

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las vegas to reno road trip - driving in nevada


Best Time to Visit Nevada

Nevada is a year-round destination. I have traveled Nevada in all four seasons, and can safely say spring is the best time to travel Nevada. You can still see snow in the mountains and the heat hasn’t built up its strength in the dessert areas. The shoulder months found is spring can make your trip more affordable as well. 

The Valley of Fire and Red Rock hiking trails are open. The average daytime temperature in Las Vegas in spring is a comfortable 81°F (27°C), while in Reno it’s around 73°F (or 23°C).

travel nevada - best time to visit nevada


Nevada Itinerary Days 1 – 2: Explore Las Vegas

Start your Nevada road trip in Las Vegas, as it is the biggest city and home to the international airport. Yes the city is kitsch and touristy, but there’s actually quite a lot to do in Las Vegas, and even more cool natural attractions around the city. Whether you prefer to get out into nature or bask in the evening glow of neon, you will never get bored. 

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las vegas sign - las vegas itinerary

Explore the Strip

Give yourself a day to walk the strip and stop at each hotel that catches your eye. Enjoy the fountains at the Bellagio Las Vegas, ride a gondola at the Venetian, and don’t miss the roaring rollercoaster at the New York, New York Hotel.  Snap a photo at the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign” on 5100 Las Vegas Boulevard South. Get a bird’s eye view of Fremont Street by taking a ride on the SlotZilla zip line!

las vegas strip by night - road trip from las vegas

Explore Off Strip

Head to the Bone Yard, AKA the Neon Museum, where history is told in neon. Come at twilight to see the signs in their glory. Be sure to take a volunteer-led tour as the amazing stories the volunteers share make the experience. 

Not done with your craving of all things retro? Head out on East Tropicana Avenue to the Pinball Hall of Fame. Here you’ll enjoy a curated collection of meticulously restored pinball machines from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Slide your bills into the change machine and indulge knowing all profits go to charity. 

neon museum las vegas - best things to do in nevada

Where to Stay in Las Vegas [On the Strip]

I recommend staying just off the strip as you are still near enough to the action but can benefit from slightly lower prices than the major hotels that dominate the skyline. If you prefer to be in the heart of it all, I have included the best hotels in Las Vegas Strip below.

Budget: Excalibur 

Check for sweet deals on Booking.com and enjoy this budget opportunity with multiple pools, its own entertainment and on the strip access. Check rates here.

Midrange: Paris 

Upscale rooms at a midrange price, the Paris gives you a prime location and a European vibe. Plus the hotel itself is an iconic landmark of Las Vegas (pictured). There is a wide selection of restaurants on site as well as a pool. Check rates here.

Luxury: Waldorf Astoria 

This previous Mandarin Oriental hotel has been rebranded as the Waldorf and maintained the beautiful views from large rooms. Pools, restaurants, and amenities all fit the expectations set by the brand. Check rates here.

Where to Stay in Las Vegas [Off the Strip]

El Cortez Hotel (East Fremont)

This hotel has classic status. While there is no hotel pool, the Tower Premium rooms are affordable, plus they’re stylish and well designed. Great location on the historic Fremont Street! Check rates here.

Midrange: South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa

This midrange hotel has bowling lanes, a movie theater, restaurants, casino, spa, entertainment venues and an equestrian center all within the property you’ll never know you are off strip. This city unto itself will also provide you a free shuttle to the airport and downtown spots. Check rates here.

Luxury: Wynn Las Vegas

At the northern end of the strip you are a bit more removed from the action but you’ll get beautiful views and luxurious rooms. Upgrade to the Tower Suites for exclusive perks. Check rates here.


Nevada Itinerary Days 3 – 4: Get Out of Town and Into Nature

Hike in Red Rock Canyon

Using Las Vegas as your home base, you’ll travel less than 30 minutes from downtown to the Red Rock Canyon, the highlight of any Nevada road trip. Undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Nevada, the conservation area lies in the Mojave Desert, and is best known for geological features such as towering red sandstone peaks and Native American petroglyphs. Panoramic viewing spots dot the 13-mile Scenic Drive. 

red rock canyon - things to do in nevada

Visit the Valley of Fire

Get up early and drive an hour outside of Vegas to visit the Valley Fire State Park. World-renowned for its 40,000 acres of bright red Aztec sandstone outcrops nestled in gray limestone, Valley of Fire contains ancient, petrified trees and petroglyphs dating back more than 2,000 years. Check out my detailed guide to Valley Fire.

valley of fire nevada - best day trip from las vegas

Admire the Seven Magic Mountains

A relatively new art installation worth visiting, the Seven Magic Mountains is just 20-minute drive south of Las Vegas. Designed by internationally renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, the large-scale public art installation is made up of seven towers of colorful, stacked boulders. A creative expression of human presence in the desert, this art piece punctuates the Mojave with a poetic burst of form and color.

seven magic mountains - nevada road trip 2 weeks

Day Trip to Hoover Dam

If you’ve got some extra time, I recommend doing a day trip to Hoover Dam. Hoover Dam is a testimony to a country’s ability to construct monolithic projects during the Depression. It took less than five years, in a harsh and barren land, to build the largest dam of its time. This architectural icon is only 40 miles away and Get Your Guide has great package options for this trip. Check out this affordable walk-on-the-top tour with lunch included.

hoover dam - road trip from las vegas


Nevada Itinerary Day 5: Drive to Carson City

Now it’s time to leave the big city behind to kick start your Nevada road trip for real! Today you’ll be experiencing some of Nevada’s complex history, visiting a quirky museum and admiring eccentric outdoor art installations via Highway 95. This is just over six hours of driving, but expect a day of driving with fun, quirky pitstops.

Explore the Artistic Wild Side

Drive to Beatty, Nevada and visit Goldwell Open Air Museum to experience this unique outdoor sculpture park. Then stop a little further up the road just beyond Goldfield, to see the International Car Forest of the Last Church. This distinctive display of over 40 cars, trucks and busses are artistically planted just off Hwy 95 south of Tonopah.

See the Hawthorn Museum

Just 90 minutes from Tonopah, take another break to enjoy the Hawthorn area. Stop by the picturesque Walker Lake for a stroll or picnic lunch.  You can explore the Hawthorn Ordnance Museum, one of the most interesting small military history museums in the country. From here you are less than 2 hours away from Carson City. 

nevada tourist attractions - international car forest

Where to Stay in Carson City

Budget: Hardman House

This old-school hotel is walking distance to many downtown attractions and restaurants nearby. Rooms might be outdated, but it’s got everything you’ll need for a comfy stay. Check rates here.

Midrange: Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites

With nicely appointed rooms with proximity to the museums, this particular Holiday Inn is a good option in the midrange level. They have good customer service, a free breakfast, pool, and comfortable rooms. Check rates here.

Luxury: Staybridge Suites

Currently the most luxurious hotel in Carson City, this all-suite accommodation is brand new and has beautiful outdoor lounging space (pictured). Every suite has a kitchen and spacious living space. Check rates here.

carson city hotel - travel nevada by car


Nevada Itinerary Day 6: Explore Carson City and Carson Valley

While in Nevada’s state capital, Carson City, don’t miss the opportunity to gain a stronger understanding of Nevada’s complex relationship with Native Americans by visiting the Stewart Indian School Cultural Center and Museum. 

Itching to get back into nature, you can hike the Kings Canyon trail, a short quarter-mile trail which starts just west of downtown at the end of King Street. If you are traveling in the spring, you’re likely to have prime views of the beautiful Kings Canyon waterfall. 

Indulge in an experience that can only be had here in Carson Valley by driving to Genoa Bar and Saloon, a “thirst parlor” marking Nevada’s first settlement. After drinks, head over to the JT Basque Bar and Dining Room in Gardnerville for dinner. If you didn’t get your fill at the saloon don’t worry because JT has a Picon Punch waiting just for you.  

backcountry of nevada carson city - visit nevada


Nevada Itinerary Day 7 – 9: Get Active in Lake Tahoe

One of the best places to visit in Nevada, Lake Tahoe is an outdoor lover’s paradise, with plenty of opportunities to hike, mountain bike, ski and swim. Straddling the border of California and Nevada and it’s a popular stop on any California road trip. It’s an easy day trip from Carson City (just 30 minutes away) so there’s no need to change hotels.

Drive the loop around Lake Tahoe, stop at Emerald Bay viewpoint, and take in the best views at Inspiration Point. If you’re visiting Nevada in summer, there are lots of beaches and coves to swim in, with Kings Beach the most popular spot. And for those traveling in winter, Heavenly Resort and Squaw Valley are the most popular ski resorts in Lake Tahoe.

Culture vultures, be sure to check out the historic town of Truckee and hike the Rubicon Trail to the highest elevation lighthouse in the United States. There are so many things to do in Lake Tahoe, you can easily spend an entire week here.

lake tahoe emerald bay - road trip in nevada

lake tahoe scenic drive - nevada itinerary

Where to Stay in Lake Tahoe

In case you prefer to stay in Lake Tahoe to Carson City, here are our recommendations for places to stay in Tahoe. The best area to stay is South Lake Tahoe, where you’ll find many good restaurants, hotels and attractions.

Budget: Hard Rock Hotel and Casino

This three-star hotel with great deals offers a pool, fitness center and 5 restaurants on property. It’s a little outdated, but still has all the perks of a big chain hotel without the hefty price tag. Check rates here.

Midrange: Secrets Inn Lake Tahoe

With a central location in South Lake Tahoe, this low-key lodge has reasonably priced, romantic alpine-style rooms perfect for couples. The jacuzzi and fireplace are a hot favorite. Check rates here.

Luxury: The Hyatt Residence Club High Sierra Lodge

An all-suite accommodation in Incline Village (pictured), this beautiful ski lodge is close to pistes, has a kitchen in each room, private beach access and overlooks Lake Tahoe. Check rates here.

lake tahoe ski resort - best places to visit in nevada


Nevada Itinerary Days 10 – 11: Enjoy Artsy Reno

Just an hour away from Lake Tahoe, Reno is not just neon and casinos. Take a Truckee Riverwalk tour to enjoy the pieces of Burning Man art donated to the city. Pick your patio for some outdoor dining, enjoying any one of the multitudes of delicious places to eat and drink. Alternatively, do a hike to a hidden waterfall on Hunter Creek Trail. 

Check out the Greater Nevada Field, home to the Triple A Reno Aces baseball team. If you’re traveling Nevada between November and February, take a spin around the ice-skating rink the city sets up in front of the park. 

reno truckee riverwalk - things to do in nevada

Visit World Class Museums

Visit the Nevada Museum of Art, the only accredited art museum in all of Nevada. This status puts it on the same level as the Met in New York. Explore the four themed areas on your own or sign up for a tour at the museum. 

Housing more than 200 exceptional vehicles, the National Automobile Museum is another must see site. You can attend curator led talks or just explore the exhibits. 

Note: If you’re doing this Nevada road trip at the end of summer, check out the Burning Man schedule. You’ll have to reserve tickets far in advance, but if you can get them it is definitely a week long experience you will never forget. 

reno nevada - nevada road trip 2 weeks

Where to Stay in Reno

Reno is an easy drive from Carson City at just over 30 miles (48km), or 45 minutes north from Incline Village. But since you will be leaving from Reno to head over to Great Basin National Park, you may want to find a hotel here. Many of the casinos just blocks from Riverwalk District will host great deals for under $100 a night. 

Budget: Boutique Motel in the Heart of Midtown

This fun kitschy boutique motel gives a new spin on motels and provides a fun experience (pictured). Rooms are small, but have design finishes, are newly renovated and hip! Check the rates here.

Midrange: Courtyard by Marriott Reno 

A more affordable option also along the riverfront and within walking distance to the Riverwalk District, this Marriott hotel has plush beds, spacious rooms, and a covered pool area. Check the rates here.

Luxury: The Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel & Spa

If location is important to you, then this is the best option. This upscale hotel is located on the Truckee River and within walking distance to all the attractions mentioned in this Nevada itinerary. Check the rates here.

las vegas to reno road trip - hotel in reno


 Nevada Itinerary Day 12: Driving Day

Prepare for a long day of driving from Reno to the Great Basin National Park (just over 6 hours)! You’ll be traversing Highway 50, also known as the loneliest road in America. This portion of the highway crosses large desert valleys with few signs of civilization except for a few ghost towns. Enjoy the silence, the expansive blue sky, and the distant mountain views.

Visit Petroglyphs

Get out of the car just outside of Fallon to stretch your legs at Grimes Point Archeological Site. Here you can see petroglyphs on many of the area’s boulders and gain a better sense of the area’s ancient past. 

Have lunch in Austin or grab snacks for a picnic at the Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area. Just beyond Austin is this amazing opportunity to see a glimpse into the early Native American life. 

Look for Hidden Gems

Just outside of Ely, Garnet Hill is worth a stop if you’re interested in digging for ruby colored semi-precious gems. Ely District is an internationally known site for gem collectors, and Garnet Hill is the only designated rock hounding area. Garnet Hill is also an excellent location to view the excavations of the massive open pit copper mines near Ruth, Nevada.

loneliest highway in america - road trip from las vegas

Where to Stay in Ely or Baker

Take your pick of places in Ely or drive a bit further to Baker. Both are just outside the entrance to Great Basin National Park. 

Budget: Stargazer Inn Nevada

This is a Baker roadside retreat with a seasonal restaurant. It’s basic but comfortable enough for easy access to the national park. It’s open late May to mid-October. Check rates here.

Midrange: Holiday Inn Express & Suites

This Holiday Inn in Ely is pretty standard, with good-sized rooms. It has a pool, free parking and wi-fi. Breakfast is also included. Check rates here.

Luxury: Hidden Canyon Retreat Bed & Breakfast

This cosy B&B is 30 minutes from the park entrance and has three types of rooms available – standard, deluxe or two room suites (pictured). The ranch’s interiors are outdated, but rooms are massive and very comfortable. Check rates here.

hidden canyon ranch - travel nevada


Nevada Itinerary Day 13: Hike in the Great Basin National Park

Those traveling Nevada in search of adventure in the great outdoors will love the Great Basin. This is one of the few national parks that lets you experience a diverse landscape without the crowds. Here you’ll find opportunities for star gazing, caving and hiking. This is also one of the national parks with no entrance fee. 

Lehman Caves

Guided tours through these amazing caves take you to the Lodge Room or the Grand Palace Room. A cave tour fee applies with discounts for seniors and youth. Since this is not an entrance fee the America the Beautiful pass will not apply to this cost. 

lehman caves - nevada road trip

Hiking at Great Basin

A range of trails from paved accessible pathways to full day backcountry adventures are available. Take the 4.6 mile Bristlecone – Glacier trail from the Wheeler Peak Campground to see breathtaking landscape on one of the park’s most popular trails. 

great basin national park - nevada road trip


 Nevada Itinerary Day 14: Drive Back to Las Vegas

It’s a 4.5 hour drive back to Las Vegas from Great Basin so give yourself the time to drive back without rushing. You should have plenty of time if you have a late afternoon flight. If you have an early morning departure, you’ll want to spend the night at a hotel near the airport the evening before.

I recommend staying at Homewood Suites by Hilton as it’s the closest hotel to the airport and it has pretty high standards. A little further out is the more affordable Best Western McCarran Inn, which has equally comfortable rooms and a free shuttle to the airport.


Enjoy Your Nevada Road Trip!

There are so many cool places to visit in Nevada that it can be tough to put together an itinerary with everything you want to see. I’ve designed this Nevada itinerary to pack in a mixture of experiences: from hiking in national parks to visiting quirky museums and going on archaeological discoveries. Have a great time traveling Nevada!

If you’re interested in exploring more of the US, check out other articles I’ve written:

  • Arizona Road Trip Itinerary
  • California Road Trip Itinerary
  • Florida Road Trip Itinerary
  • Weekend in Seattle
  • Weekend in Los Angeles
  • Weekend in San Francisco
  • Weekend in Miami
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links i.e. I make a small commission when you purchase something through my links, at NO extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

About the Author: Michelle Munch-Silva

Michelle Muncy-Silva is the founder of Silvas Travel Tribe. She and her husband are committed to raising their boys to become travelers who bring all the layers of their identity with them as they venture out into the world. They have a special interest in unpacking how travel can benefit local indigenous groups. Michelle’s work has appeared in numerous blogs around the world.


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