As home to the nation’s party capital, Las Vegas, Nevada may not be the most obvious choice for student travel. However, the Silver State is so much more than slot machines and blackjack tables. With a rich historical past and stunning landscapes, Nevada serves as the perfect destination for visiting student groups.
3 Hands-on Historical Experiences
Cottonwood Guest Ranch
Cottonwood Guest Ranch, a family-run horse and cattle ranch is located in the remote northeastern corner of Nevada. A far cry from the lights of Las Vegas, the ranch experience allows visitors to step out of their everyday lives and into the Old West. Guests will get an authentic cowboy (or cowgirl!) experience with horseback riding, roping, arrowhead hunting, fishing, cattle herding and more. For overnight visits, students can decide between staying in the ranch lodge or roughing it outdoors in Cottonwood’s Western-style teepees.
Lost City Museum
On the very site the Puebloan Indians once lived, the Lost City Museum was built to showcase Pueblo Grande de Nevada archaeological artifacts and educate visitors on the ancestral Puebloans. Located in Overton, the museum houses three different galleries. The front room, which includes the original sun-dried adobe structure, contains artifacts on the Puebloans’ daily lives. The Fay Perkins wing features an archeological site unearthed from an earlier dig and the museum’s other gallery offers a look at “Southern Nevada Landscapes of Change.” Guided tours are also available for an interesting and educational look at this piece of Nevada heritage.
Gold Point Ghost Town
The Gold Rush sent booming success through the West, but many of the mining towns were abandoned just as quickly as they flourished. Nevada is home to countless of these historic ghost towns, including former mining camp Gold Point Ghost Town in Esmeralda County. Originally built in 1868 and later restored, the town’s 30 residents welcome visitors to explore the history of their home. With old miners’ cabins available for bunking and the original buildings still on site, the town replicates an authentic 1860s experience. Some even say Gold Point’s original occupants can still be spotted haunting the camp grounds.
3 Scenic Spots Everyone Must See in Nevada
Offering countless opportunities for outdoor adventure, North America’s largest alpine lake, Lake Tahoe has become a popular Nevada destination. Located along the east shore of the lake is Sand Harbor, a 55-acre stretch of white sandy beach. It was originally used by the Washo tribe for fishing, hunting and gathering but has since become a tourist hotspot. Students can hike along Sand Point trail for scenic views of Lake Tahoe, snorkel in its crystal clear waters or cruise on top of them with a Lake Tahoe boat ride.
Between 1931 and 1936, the controversial Hoover Dam was built on the border of Arizona and Nevada, requiring the labor of thousands of workers and taking over a hundred lives in the process. Nonetheless, this large concrete arch-gravity dam was dedicated by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 and has since become a popular tourist attraction for Nevada visitors. The Hoover Dam tour includes a one-hour guided tour of the power plant and passageways and admission to the visitor center, giving students a unique look at the history and significance of this landmark.
Valley of Fire
As both the largest and oldest state park in Nevada, Valley of Fire has become a popular destination for hiking and camping. Characterized by its red sandstone formations, areas of petrified wood and 3,000-year-old Indian petroglyphs, there’s plenty for students to explore. Inside the visitors’ center, there are also exhibits on the geology, ecology and history of the park.
3 Normal Tourist Attractions with a Twist
Located in the heart of Las Vegas, the Neon Museum houses many of the city’s iconic signs. The non-profit organization collects, preserves, studies and showcases these retired pieces, offering visitors a unique look at Las Vegas culture. The museum campus features both outdoor and indoor exhibits, including the Neon Boneyard, Neon Boneyard North Gallery and Urban Gallery. Tour guides will take students through this bright museum experience while educating them on the trends of sign design and technology.
The High Roller is a standout Las Vegas feature, literally. At 550 feet tall, the city’s famous Ferris wheel tours above the Vegas Strip and has earned its title as the world’s largest observation wheel. Opening in March 2014, the High Roller instantly became one of the city’s prime attractions. Students can ride in the glass-enclosed cabins for a 30-minute spin and catch unforgettable views of the city.
Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary
Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary isn’t your typical town zoo. Located in Imlay, it welcomes animals in need and provides permanent placement. Many of Safe Haven’s residents were former exotic “pets” and a part of illegal pet trading, an issue the non-profit has been working to fight. Safe Haven offers guided tours and educational programs for students to explore the grounds, see the animals and learn about the wildlife sanctuary’s mission.
By Megan Schaltegger