Nevada has much more to offer to visitors than just Las Vegas. Landscape and nature photographers can find mountains, lakes, canyons, rock formations, and amazing desert landscapes. This page showcases some of the most noteworthy locations in Nevada for photographers, and hopefully it can help with planning your own trips. The interactive map below shows the location of each spot mentioned on this page.
This page will continue to be a work in progress, so please feel free to leave a comment with your own suggestions of great places to photograph.
Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire State Park is in southeastern Nevada, about 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas. This 40,000+ acre park features beautiful red rocks that almost look as if they are on fire when reflecting the sun’s rays. Valley of Fire Highway runs through the park and provides plenty of great views with easy access. Hiking trails are also available for even more views. The park also is home to many petroglyphs, most noteably at Mouse’s Tank and Atlatl Rock.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is located just about 15 miles west of Las Vegas. Its close proximity to Las Vegas makes it very easy and convenient to visit, which is why more than 2 million people visit each year. The red rock formations and sandstone peaks are perfect for photography, as well as for hiking and climbing. There is a one-way 13-mile loop that makes it easy to get plenty of great views, plus other smaller roads lead to trail heads.
Black Rock Desert and High Rock Canyon
The Black Rock Desert of northwestern Nevada is a semi-arid region of lava beds and playa that covers more than 300,000 acres and includes more than 100 miles of trails. The Bureau of Land Management manages Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails Network, which includes area used as wagon trails by pioneers of the west. High Rock Canyon is a narrow gorge that was important for those traveling through the area. Not only is this a historic area, but it also provides a beautiful landscape for photographers.
The area is difficult to navigate with mostly unmaintained access roads and dirt roads that require a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. The most popular area here is Black Rock Desert Playa (shown below), a flat and dry lake bed. Black Rock City, at the southern end, is also home to Burning Man.
Fly Geyser is located in the Black Rock Desert, just to the southwest of Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails Network. It is on private property but can be seen from State Route 34. It is a man-made geyser that was accidentally created as a result of well drilling. The travertine mound of the geyser continues to grow as a result of accumulating minerals.
Great Basin National Park
Great Basin National Park is located in east-central Nevada, near the Utah border. The park is home to beautiful, ancient bristlecone pines, 13,000-foot Mount Wheeler, and Lehman Caves. There are 12 different trails in the park, ranging from short, easy trails to the longer and more strenuous Wheeler Summit Trail. The area is also known for having a very dark sky, which makes it ideal for night sky photography. The easiest access to the park is from the town of Baker, on the east side of the park. Lehman Caves is at the end of the park, and Mount Wheeler Scenic Drive (open summer and fall) provides some great views.
Lake Tahoe is located on the border of Nevada and California and a very popular destination for photographers and vacationers. On the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe one of the more popular locations is Sand Harbor, where the beaches and rocky coasts are ideal for photography. Just a short distance south of Sand Harbor is Bonsai Rock, another popular location for photographers. Bonsai Rock is a small boulder close to the shore that has a few trees growing on it.
The Jarbidge Wilderness is a large (100,000+ acres) area in northeastern Nevada. Despite its beauty it is relatively unknown, mostly because of its remote location. The high elevation means that much of the park is covered by snow, even into June at some places. Access is limited to mostly dirt roads, with some requiring a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. For those who venture into the area, 170 miles of trails provide stunning views and a great opportunity for unique photos.
The Copper Basin is located between the Copper Mountains and Fox Creek Range in northeastern Nevada, near the Jarbidge Wilderness. It can be accessed by Jarbidge-Charleston County Road. In early summer the basin fills with beautiful wildflowers.
Lamoille Canyon is also located in northeastern Nevada. The 12-mile canyon and the scenic Lamoille Canyon Road (a paved road that is easily accessible) are great opportunities for photographers. The road is also a good starting point for hikes that can provide views of lakes and peaks in the area.
Cathedral Gorge State Park
Cathedral Gorge State Park is located in eastern Nevada, north of Valley of Fire State Park and south of Great Basin National Park. This 1,600-acre park provides plenty of photographic opportunities with its beautiful gorge and canyons. There are several trails in the park, including a few short, easy hikes. The 3-mile Juniper Draw Loop leads you around the base of the formations. The 2-mile Miller Point Trail leads you through a canyon and up some stairs to Miller Point. The 1.5-mile Eagle View Trail provides a great bird’s-eye view of the park. A map of the trails is available on the park website.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
The Lake Mead National Recreation Area is home to Lake Mead and Hoover Dam. It is located in southeastern Nevada, and Valley of Fire State Park lies just to the north. The recreation area also extends into western Arizona. The lakes, Colorado River, and desert landscape can be great subjects for photos. Hiking information is available on the website. Winter is the best season for hikers due to high temperatures at other times of the year.
Pyramid Lake is in western Nevada, northeast of Reno and south of the Black Rock Desert. The lake is named for the striking pyramid-shaped tufa formations and it is located on the Paiute Indian reservation.
Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge is in northeastern Nevada, about 150 miles northwest of Great Basin National Park. This area of the Ruby Valley includes the lake, ponds, and a series of marshes that are home to many animals, including migratory birds. This remote location requires traveling on gravel roads regardless of what direction you are coming from. Many of the roads are impassable at times in the winter. The mountains and wildlife provide plenty of photo opportunities for visitors. Within the refuge you can drive the auto tour and view wildlife and scenery from your car. They also have a few photo blinds available that can be used for photographing waterfowl (reservations recommended). See the photography information at the refuge website.
Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge
The Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge covers more than 500,000 acres in northwestern Nevada. It was known for a population of wild horses, but the horses, which were not native to the area, have been relocated. Wildlife includes pronghorn, mule deer, and migratory birds. The refuge is located in a remote location, but is accessible by Route 140, which runs through parts of the refuge. This is the only paved road in the refuge.
The ghost town of Rhyolite is located in southwestern Nevada, just off the eastern edge of Death Valley National Park. The gold-mining town lasted only a few years in the early 1900s but reached a peak population of around 4,000 – 5,000. Parts of the town and some structures remain, making it a destination for tourists and photographers.
Want to learn more about neighboring states? Please see:
- The Best Places to Photograph in Idaho
- The Best Places to Photograph in Oregon
- The Best Places to Photograph in California
- The Best Places to Photograph in Arizona
- The Best Places to Photograph in Utah
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