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Nevada is an interesting state beyond the gambling allure of Las Vegas. Different Native American tribes inhabited the area and many of their reservations are still within the State. The first settlers in Nevada were Mormons trying to secure the borders of a future religious empire. In 1859 the number of settlers interested in moving into Nevada grew because silver was found near Virginia City. This led to a population explosion and in 1861 the Nevada territory was separated from the Utah territory.
It's statehood was hurried in 1864 to insure that President Abraham Lincoln would be reelected. This is where the state motto comes from of being the "Battle Born State." Although unofficial gambling has always been part of Western culture it was actually outlawed in Nevada in 1909. By the 1930s the economy of Nevada had been hit hard. The double blow of the Great Depression and a decline in mining output made Nevada face finically hard times. On March 19, 1931 gambling was legalized in order to boost the economy, other economy boosting measures were legalizing prostitution, quick divorce and quick marriage. These were viewed as a temporary measures but no one has every talked about changing it. The mafia quickly moved in order to launder their money in the new casinos. The mob was a big part of Las Vegas until Howard Hughes bought most of Vegas in the 1960s. Even then the mafia still has a presence in the state to this day.
Nevada was also the sight of several atomic bomb tests after World War II. More bombs were tested in Nevada then in any other place in the United States. The last underground bomb was detonated in 1992. Part of the reason why so many atomic bombs were donated in Nevada was because 80% of the state is on federal land. From the majesty of Hoover Dam to the beauty of the desert and the chances to win in the casinos, Nevada has a lot to offer.
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Nevada shares domestic borders with California, Oregon, Utah and Arizona. Nevada mainly resides with a large basin desert called the Basin and Range Province which covers several states and Mexico. Most of the state is also within the Great Basin Desert that experiences hot summers and very cold winters. There are several mountain ranges with the highest having peaks reaching over 4,000 metres. These mountains are the homes to some lush and green forests. Nevada and California have by far the longest diagonal line (in respect to the cardinal directions) as a state boundary at just over 640 kilometres. This line begins in Lake Tahoe about 6 kilometres offshore (in the direction of the boundary), and continues to the Colorado River where the Nevada, California, and Arizona boundaries merge about 20 kilometres southwest of the Laughlin Bridge. The largest mountain range in the southern portion of the state is the Spring Mountain Range, just west of Las Vegas. The state's lowest point is along the Colorado River, south of Laughlin. The southern third of the state is in the Mojave Desert, which can be very hot. The Humboldt River crosses from east to west across the northern part of the state, draining into the Humboldt Sink near Lovelock. Several rivers drain from the Sierra Nevada eastward, including the Walker, Truckee and Carson rivers.
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Great Basin National Park is a United States National Park located in White Pine County in east-central Nevada, near the Utah border. The park was established in 1986 and derives its name from the Great Basin, the dry and mountainous region between the Sierra Nevada and the Wasatch Mountains. Topographically, this area is known as the Basin and Range Province. The park is located approximately 470 kilometres north of Las Vegas and protects 31,230 ha. The park is notable for its groves of ancient bristlecone pines, the oldest known non-clonal organisms; and for the Lehman Caves at the base of 3,982-metre Wheeler Peak.
Skiing is an option in the state known for gambling and the desert. And on top of that it is actually very good skiing. For more information read the article: Ski Areas around Lake Tahoe.
Nevada is known for having very mild winters and hot summers. The areas in the mountains can get a fair amount of snow which can make for good skiing. Nevada is the driest state in the United States. It is made up of mostly desert and semiarid climate regions, daytime summer temperatures are high and lows in winter very low. While winters in northern Nevada are long and fairly cold, the winter season in the southern part of the state tends to be of short duration and mild. Most parts of Nevada receive scarce precipitation during the year. Most rain falls on the lee side (east and northeast slopes) of the Sierra Nevada. The average annual rainfall per year is about 180 mm; the wettest parts get around 1000 mm. Nevada's highest recorded temperature is 52 °C at Laughlin on June 29, 1994 and the lowest recorded temperature is -46 °C at San Jacinto on January 8, 1937. Nevada's 52 °C reading is the third highest temperature recorded in the U.S. just behind Arizona's 53 °C reading and California's 57 °C reading. Much of the northern part of the state is within the Great Basin, a mild desert that experiences hot temperatures in the summer and cold temperatures in the winter. Occasionally, moisture from the Arizona Monsoon will cause summer thunderstorms; Pacific storms may blanket the area with snow.
1. McCarran International Airport (LAS) is the main gateway to Nevada and Southwest Airlines offers most flights to/from here. Destinations include Albuquerque, Baltimore, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Los Angeles, Houston, Oakland, New Orleans, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, Salt Lake City, Washington, D.C. and San Diego, among many more.
US Airways offers a lot of flights as well, including most of the above places and Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Toronto and Vancouver. Westjet has flights to quite a few Canadian cities as well.
New York is served by Continental and Delta and international connections include Mexico City, Frankfurt, Guadalajara, London, Manila, Belfast, Glasgow, Manchester and Monterrey.
The airport is located about 5 miles (8 kilometres) from the business district of Las Vegas, and just a mile or so from the Strip.
To/from the airport
The California Zephyr, operated by Amtrak, travels between Chicago and Emeryville (San Francisco), stopping en route in Sparks, Reno and Winnemuca in the state of Nevada.
Two interstates serve both the north & south part of the state. Interstate 15 runs through Las Vegas and has connections to Los Angeles in California and Salt Lake City in Utah. Interstate 80 traverses through Reno and has connections to San Francisco, and eventually Salt Lake City, Omaha, Chicago, Cleveland, and New York.
Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.
For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.
Nevada has a number of National Scenic Byways which offer a great way to explore the state crossing beautiful landscapes. Mostly, there are lots of national parks, state parks or monuments along the way and it's generally a better alternative than the faster but boring Interstate Highways.
Restaurants in and around casinos in Reno, Las Vegas and Tahoe especially cater to the dietary whims of urban California. Notable chefs have opened restaurants worth a detour from the usual tourist activities. Buffets in casinos are often heavily subsidized in hopes that those who come to eat will stay to gamble. The more upscale examples offer surprisingly good food and plenty of it.
Outside of these tourist meccas, food takes on a western character. This is certainly the rule in small town cafes, but also in casinos along borders with Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Arizona drawing a western clientele with different dietary preferences than Californians.
Nevada and other parts of the larger intermountain region export beef and lamb, but are no cornucopia when it comes to fruit and vegetables. These are produced in very finite quantities because water is scarce and elevations usually high enough to induce late and early frosts. Accordingly cafes and restaurants with local clienteles serve 'meat and potatoes' fare. Coffee can be a weak disappointment. Nevertheless the food can be interesting in a regional way, often making inventive use of a limited range of ingredients.
Chinese immigration drawn by railroad-building and mining opportunities established Chinese-American cuisine even in remote towns. Urban sophisticates may find it quaintly amusing -- chow mein, sweet-and-sour, egg drop soup, fortune cookies and all. Basque sheepherders went everywhere green grass could be found. Their cuisine may not actually be very distinctive, but it is served in multiple courses - perhaps three different entrees - at long communal tables.
Nevada may very well have the most relaxed liquor laws in the entire country. Although anti-drunk driving measures and the drinking age of 21 are as strongly enforced as anywhere else, that's pretty much where it ends. Most bars are open 24-7. Privately-owned liquor stores tend to have an extremely comprehensive selection of liquor, beer and wine, especially in Las Vegas. They may even sell via a drive-through window. While some bars may close they do so by choice, not by legal necessity. Indeed many Nevada bars have been continuously open every single second for well over 40 years, including holidays.
Most bars feature some sort of casino gaming. Video poker machines are often built right into the bar itself. Indeed it's unusual to not see something like that in a Nevada bar. Bartenders may even offer you free drinks if you're actively playing.
As with the casinos, Nevada bars tend to take a decidedly cavalier attitude towards smoking; ask first, but chances are its perfectly OK to light up if you so choose. If that bothers you, well, California isn't too far away.
There are dozens of hotel and motel chains, ranging from budget to top end. Allthough they are not the most charming accommodations, they usually have a very decent midrange service with good rooms and are generally good value. At least you know what to expect and in some cases they are either the only or the best option in the area. Some of them include:
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