Desolate NEVADA consists largely of endless tracts of bleak, empty desert, its flat sagebrush plains cut intermittently by angular mountain ranges. Apart from the huge acreages given over to mining and grazing, much of Nevada is used by the military to test aircraft and weapons systems.

By far the most compelling reason to visit Nevada is to see the surreal oasis of Las Vegas. While its eye-popping architecture, lavish restaurants, decadent nightclubs and amazing shows offer an unforgettable sensory overload, the experience remains rooted in gambling. Even the smaller and more down-to-earth settlements of Reno and state capital Carson City revolve around the casino trade.

In the Great Basin, where the rivers and streams have no outlet to the ocean, Nevada has an eerie beauty. The main cross-state route, I-80, shoots from Salt Lake City to Reno, skirting bizarrely named little towns scattered with casinos, bars, brothels and motels. The other significant road, US-50, has a reputation as the loneliest highway in America. Older and slower, it follows much the same route as the Pony Express of the 1860s, but many towns have faded away altogether.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

USA features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The best aerial views in the world

The best aerial views in the world

Got a head for heights? If you're craving a new perspective on your travels, the best thing to do is get up high. From mountain-top panoramas to cityscapes, her…

17 Oct 2017 • Olivia Rawes camera_alt Gallery
American beauty: the southwest USA in pictures

American beauty: the southwest USA in pictures

After two months road tripping through the southwest USA, Rough Guides photographer Tim Draper captured the region's stunning natural beauty through his lens. H…

16 Oct 2017 • Tim Draper insert_drive_file Article
Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

That ever-growing travel wish list might be putting some pressure on your pocket – but there are plenty of destinations where you'll get more bang for your b…

11 Oct 2017 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook