The Most Scenic Drives in Nevada
Whether you are looking for a scenic drive through trees of green or a drive to see the sunset on Aztec sandstone, there are a number of amazing scenic drives in Nevada. Nevada is incredibly diverse when it comes to natural sights, and one of the best ways to explore the state is by going on a scenic drive in search of epic desert views.
Think driving up mountains to get a bird’s eye view of the seemingly endless terrain below, navigating through remote highways dotted by ghost towns, or driving around the desert in search of mesmerizing views to get a pretty good picture of what driving through Nevada is all about.
If you’re eager for some serious desert vistas, here’s the ultimate list of the most scenic roads to take in Nevada for all that desert goodness. Buckle up for an epic adventure and be sure to take the time to get out of the car every now and then, breathe the fresh country air and take it all in!
We are working on writing about each scenic drive and then tie it in to other attractions to see and things to do along the way.
Below are the scenic drives in Nevada that we know of. Did we miss your favorite? If so, drop us a comment to share with others.
- I-80 – Main cross-state highway, between Reno and Wendover
- US 50 – Lonely east-west route across the center of the Great Basin Desert
- US 93 – Long drive from Lake Mead north into Idaho, in part a National Scenic Byway
- US 95 – from Beatty to Tonopah – 95 miles of hypnotic desert scenery with wide plains and distant mountains, between Death Valley and the huge Nellis Air Force Base. After Tonopah highway 95 continues northwestwards, merging with I-80 for one long stretch, and later enters Oregon and Idaho.
- NV 156/157 – a short diversion near Las Vegas; this scenic loop road climbs into the Spring Mountains towards Mount Charleston, one of the highest peaks in the state at 11,918 feet. En route there is a quick transition in vegetation zones, from desert to Alpine.
- NV 305 – Austin to Battle Mountain; 88 miles with no significant settlements
- NV 375 – The ‘Extraterrestrial Highway’, close to Nellis Air Force Base and Area 51
- NV 376 – Tonopah to Austin, alongside the Toiyabe and Toquima mountains
- NV 447 – A less-travelled route starting from I-80 east of Reno that leads past Pyramid Lake, the largest body of water in Nevada, and on into the most remote part of the state – a wild land of salt flats, dry lakes, mountains and scattered volcanic features. The road becomes unpaved at the small settlement of Gerlach, circles the Black Rock Desert and continues through more empty wilderness into California.
- SSR 167 – a 40 mile drive through a colorful rocky landscape near to the northwest shoreline of Lake Mead.
Angel Lake Road State Scenic Byway
This short drive is full of panoramic views of the Humboldt Mountain. Pack a meal or snack and enjoy it at Angel Lake
- Points: Wells, Elko County, Nevada to Angel Lake, Elko County, Nevada
- Counties Visited:
- Length: 13 miles
- Road: SR 231
- Best Season to Drive: Spring, Summer, and Fall
- Map: See the route on a map
Big Smoky Valley Scenic Drive
This 100-mile drive takes you front Tonopah to Austin via Highway 376.
Bitter Springs Trail Back Country Byway
California Trail Back Country Byway
Christmas Tree Pass Scenic Drive
- Points: US 95 to NV-163 E
- Counties Visited: Clark County, Nevada
- Length: 12 miles
- Road: US 93
- Best Season to Drive: Spring and Fall
Clover Valley Scenic Drive
Desatoya Mountains Scenic Drive
Fort Churchill to Wellington Back Country Byway
Gold Butte Back Country Byway
Great Basin Scenic Byway
Hamilton Ghost Town Scenic Drive
Highway 95 from Beatty to Tonopah
If you’re yearning for some stunning desert vistas, take US 95 from Beatty to Tonopah to enjoy 95 miles of mesmerizing desert scenery combining wide plains with distant mountains, especially in the stretch from Death Valley and the huge Nellis Air Force Base.
The Death Valley area in itself is treasure-filled with jaw-dropping sights and desert life galore. Along the road, you’ll be able to witness the magical burst of wildflower blooms in spring, eerie ghost towns, historical mining stations which were abandoned decades ago, unbeatable wildlife sightings, and plain wild desert goodness you’ll fall head over heels in love with.
Lake Tahoe Scenic Drive
Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway
Located in Elko County, Nevada, Lamoille Canyon is a must-drive when passing through the area.
- Points: Lamoille, Elko County, Nevada to Elko, Elko County, Nevada
- Length: 20 miles
- Road: NV 227
- Best Season to Drive: Spring, Summer, and Fall
- Map: See the route on a map
Las Vegas Boulevard State Scenic Byway
Lovelock Cave Backcountry Byway
Lunar Crater Backcountry Byway
Monitor Valley Scenic Drive
Mount Rose Scenic Drive
Mt. Charleston Scenic Byway
Mt. Wilson Backcountry Byway Scenic Drive
This scenic loop near Las Vegas goes straight up into the Spring Mountains towards Mount Charleston, which is one of the highest peaks in the Silver State, standing high at 11,918 ft. The interesting thing about driving this scenic road in Nevada is being able to witness a quick transition in vegetation zones, going from desert terrain to alpine scenery in a short matter of time.
Have you ever road-tripped in Nevada in search of desert views? If so, we’d love to hear about your experience and your favorite road. Feel free to share them in the comment section down below!
Pyramid Lake National Scenic Byway
Rainbow Canyon Scenic Drive
Red Rock Canyon Backcountry Byway
Set just 15 miles away from Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon is a spectacular natural conservation area famous for its red rock faces. Red Rock Canyon is considered a natural wonder where strange formations from red rock emerge from the desert terrain, creating a seriously striking landscape that will make you feel as though you’re walking on Mars!
Even though Red Rock is a great place for hiking if you don’t mind the heat, another great way to experience its beauty is by driving down the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive. This 13-mile one way loop road crosses the entire canyon, providing some of the most stunning overlooks in the area (make sure to stop at High Point Overlook, Calico Hills, and Red Rock Overlook for some seriously ooh-aah moments!)
Reese River Valley Scenic Drive
Ruby Valley Scenic Drive
Secret Pass Scenic Drive
Spring Mountains Scenic Drive
Spring Valley Scenic Drive
Sprucemont Ghost Town Scenic Drive
SR 28 State Scenic Byway
Success Loop Scenic Drive
The Free-Range Art Highway
Free-Range Art Highway from Vegas to Tonopah (or Reno, depending on the direction you take), links two recently revitalized and newly artified downtown districts to many wild art outcroppings scattered in the desert.
By wild desert art, we mean things like a perfectly restored vintage neon in Vegas, a 20-foot fire-breathing mantis, a forest of abandoned cars, ghost towns that will transport you back in time, 1800s army fort ruins, one of the most finely curated galleries in the state, and even a Burning Man gig or two.
Whether it’s actual art you’re in search of or you’re simply looking for some wacky inspiration to propel your creativity, this route has you covered. Of course, desert vistas are included in this highway, but you can also appreciate what crafty Nevadans actually do in the desert.
The most famous artwork on the highway is the Seven Magic Mountains, a group of totems by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. They look extra amazing during the golden hour just before sunset, so try to make a late-afternoon stop here.
The Loneliest Highway
The Loneliest Road is the stretch of the famous Route 50 that crosses through Nevada. Dubbed the Loneliest Road in America due to the extremely remote areas it runs through, driving through Nevada’s portion of the country’s most epic highway is a truly unique experience.
Many parts en route have virtually no signs of civilization, and the highway crosses through vast desert-like plateaus that are separated by numerous mountain ranges towering over valley floors. As if that weren’t enough to convince you to brave the Loneliest Road, the route also crosses several ghost towns that were abandoned after the mining activity slowed down in the area!
The Success Loop Scenic Drive
Valley of Fire State Park Scenic Byway
A mere 30 miles from Las Vegas sits Nevada’s oldest and largest state park. Valley of Fire is a spectacular canvas of red sandstone outcrops that seems to transform with every movement the sun makes, making the entire landscape look as though it mimics the dance of flames as their colors change from red to orange and brown.
Valley of Fire State Park Scenic Byway provides some pretty stunning views of the park, as it encircles the whole place while taking travelers past geologic marvels such as Arch Rock, Piano Rock, and Rainbow Vista, a favorite spot with photographers thanks to the stunning panoramic views of multicolored sandstone it provides.
Virginia City Scenic Drive
Walker River Scenic Drive
Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive
Cruise along the remote East Walker River in west-central Nevada.