Nevadas most glittering experiences – Lonely Planet – Lonely Planet


One of many greatest misconceptions about Nevada is that it’s a dusty place devoid of any sparkle, however the Silver State is filled with shine if you understand the place to look. Nevada’s glittering experiences are subterranean and celestial. Right here’s our information to the state’s shimmering treasures.

Turquoise requires a little bit of effort to extract © Bailey Freeman / Lonely Planet

Dig into rockhounding

Geologically talking, Nevada is a marvel. It’s the third most seismically energetic state within the nation (behind Alaska and California), and it owes its geological range to a sequence of processes spanning hundreds of thousands of years: the formation of an historic seabed, the motion of tectonic plates alongside fault strains, volcanic intrusions, glaciers and extra.

The outcome? A wealth of minerals and ore tucked away beneath its mountains and basins. Whereas silver and gold often is the most useful (and well-known), the Silver State’s earth harbors loads of different goodies accessible to at present’s rockhounds and crystal lovers – quartz, chalcedony, black fireplace opal, serpentine, jasper, and garnet, simply to call just a few. Take a look at a few of our favourite websites:

Gemfield options dig websites for a rainbow of distinctive stones © Bailey Freeman / Lonely Planet


Positioned 5 miles exterior of historic Goldfield, Gemfield’s treasures require minimal looking out – merely look down. This privately owned rockhounding haven options dig websites for a rainbow of distinctive stones. Gemstone-quality chalcedony options Saturn-esque rings of vermillion, orange and white, whereas serpentine shows intoxicating shades of inexperienced streaked with shimmer. Gently comb by means of the bounty to seek out your favorites, and ensure to depart $1 per pound within the cost field on the entrance. Solely hand instruments are permitted (although you’ll barely want them!).

The Otteson Brothers invite guests to return seek for Nevada geological historical past at their rockhounding web site © Bailey Freeman / Lonely Planet

Otteson Brothers Turquoise

Hidden deep within the Nevada hills about an hour exterior of Tonopah is the Otteson Brothers Turquoise Mine, the place the intense blue-green stone appears to leap out of the bedrock. This family-owned rockhounding web site invitations guests to return seek for slightly piece of Nevada geological historical past. The mine yields a number of types of turquoise in a variety of colours and textures, so diggers can be spoiled by the variety of decisions. However be warned: turquoise requires a little bit of effort to extract, so convey good instruments – like a rock hammer, bucket and gloves – and ask the Ottesons for his or her approach ideas. Half-day excursions run $150 per individual (or $250 per couple) and the value covers the stones you are taking house with you. Children dig without spending a dime!

Garnet Hill yields a spectacular variety of gems which are good for jewellery making © Bailey Freeman / Lonely Planet

Garnet Hill

When prospectors discovered garnet in Nevada within the 1870s, they had been fast to assert the crimson gems had been rubies. They weren’t, however the glittering finds made their method into the state’s historical past anyway. The garnets of Garnet Hill (positioned simply 20 minutes exterior of Ely) had been fashioned by an historic volcano, cooling inside hunks of rhyolite and later changing into one of many area’s most trendy stones. As we speak, this free dig web site yields a spectacular variety of gems which are good for jewellery making – or just displaying off to buddies.

Attempting to find garnets requires a eager eye and slightly little bit of persistence, however not an excessive amount of muscle; these spherical stones are generally discovered inside different rocks, however they’re typically scattered on the bottom by themselves, little glimmers of deep crimson peeking out of the filth. If you happen to’re headed to Garnet Hill, attempt to time your go to after a rain – the operating water washes away superb sediment, leaving garnets uncovered within the gullies.

Rockhounding responsibly

There are just a few home guidelines with regards to Nevada rockhounding. It ought to solely be achieved in designated websites – not in protected lands or on personal property. You can not rockhound in state or nationwide parks, and if you happen to’re on BLM (Bureau of Land Administration) land, test to see if rockhounding there requires a allow.

Once you dig, be conscious of your bodily impression on the house. Whereas it’s tempting to go wild after your first finds, rockhound sparsely. Different guests will thanks. Lastly, if you happen to discover any Indigenous artifacts, go away them undisturbed – it’s unlawful (to not point out culturally insensitive) to take them.

The motto of Nice Basin Nationwide Park is “Half the park is after darkish” © Getty Pictures / EyeEm

Eyes to the skies

Prepared to change up the view? Nevada is house to a few of the darkest skies in your complete nation. Not solely are they wonderful to take a look at, however they’re additionally extraordinarily essential to wildlife, as darkish skies replicate the true surroundings for nocturnal animals. The next two areas provide spectacular stargazing that reveals corners of the cosmos you’ve solely dreamed of:

Nice Basin Nationwide Park

The motto of Nice Basin Nationwide Park is “Half the park is after darkish,” and for good purpose. Because of its distant location, low humidity, and excessive altitude, it’s a really perfect place to show your gaze skyward for unequalled views of the Milky Method, the Andromeda Galaxy and the Triangulum Galaxy. The park options nice spots for stargazing solo (Mather’s Overlook and the Nice Basin Astronomy Amphitheater are two good bets), and hosts a sturdy astronomy program from Memorial to Labor Day.

Die-hard star fans, mark your calendars – the Nice Basin Astronomy Competition takes place each September. Astronomers arrange telescopes to be used by the general public, visitor audio system give talks about know-how and celestial phenomena, and attendees can take astrophotography workshops, tour the Nice Basin Observatory, or take part in family-oriented astronomy occasions.

Lehman Caves is a community of spectacular limestone tunnels © Bailey Freeman / Lonely Planet

And we all know we’re speaking about skies, however we merely should observe that Nice Basin can also be house to Lehman Caves, spectacular limestone tunnels that includes greater than 500 uncommon cave shields – distinctive spherical formations dripping with stalactites. Bizarre reality: old-time spelunkers used to scrape microscopic crystals from the cave ceiling and blend them with water to create “moon milk” that they might drink in hopes of enhancing their well being. (Spoiler alert: it didn’t.) The caves can be celebrating their centennial anniversary as a nationwide monument in 2022 and the nationwide park can be internet hosting particular occasions all yr – make sure to cease by to expertise this underground surprise.

Basin and Vary Nationwide Monument options nice spots for stargazing solo © Bailey Freeman / Lonely Planet

Basin and Vary Nationwide Monument

Only a few hours down the street from Nice Basin Nationwide Park sits Basin and Vary Nationwide Monument, 704,000 acres of distant protected desert and the proper stargazing locale for individuals who favor absolute solitude. With simply 40 vehicles visiting per yr on common, this newly christened nationwide monument (added to the BLM in 2015) is devoid of sunshine air pollution and human interruption. Guests can hike and camp anyplace within the monument, so discover a cozy place to arrange your tent and sit again and revel in Mom Nature’s gentle present.

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