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NEVADA: The wild west at its weirdest

When Canadians think Nevada, it’s understandable that lavish Las Vegas tends to command attention. And while tourism folk from the state would never try to dissuade visitors from this country from rolling the dice on a holiday in the city, they are quick to point out there is much more to the state than Sin City’s well-known gambling and entertainment escapades.

That was the primary message from nearly a dozen tourism delegates from the state who visited Toronto for a trade networking reception and creative charcuterie-making workshop (weird!) last week at the atmospheric Roundhouse venue.

And while plenty of cheeses and deli meats were on the menu, so were tourism offerings from a state that boasts 314 mountain ranges; 36 lakes – including Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America; canyons and desert vistas; 10 curated “road trips”; and 600 ghost towns, among its many attributes.

It’s an impressive scope of diversity that has Nevada – which uses the tourism tagline “The Weirdest Wildest West,” – eager to attract Canadian visitors (who number close to two million a year) to explore the state beyond Las Vegas, market development manager Yennifer Diaz told Travel Industry Today.

Activities range from birdwatching to biking/hiking, and ziplining to off-roading, and camping to kayaking/rafting.

Not to mention world class skiing, centred around Reno/Lake Tahoe and the California border, including top-rated Heavenly and the hidden gem Diamond Peak.

And the best way to explore the state is by car, not least on one of 10 thematic touring routes that inspire the state to call itself the “Road Trip Capital of the World.”

One of them, “The Loneliest Road in America” – a term coined by LIFE magazine in 1986 – runs through what Jane Moon of Visit Fallon calls “pony express country.” Stretching for close to 500 km. along Hwy 50, from Carson City on Lake Tahoe across the entire state to Ely, the route “epitomizes Nevada’s spirit of discovery – with rugged character, born of an authenticity you can still see, hear, and feel.”

Traversing valleys and mountain passes, and through small towns like Eureka, and “ghost towns,” and past caves, mining camps and state and national parks, the route is full of hidden treasures and rates as the “real deal” for road warriors.

Other road trips routes include the Lake Tahoe Loop, Death Valley Rally, Extraterrestrial Highway, and Cowboy Corridor.

Of course, there is always Vegas – but even the bright lights of the Strip give way to nearby attractions like Lake Mead, Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire, and the monumental Hoover Dam.

As for its “weird west” motif, Travel Nevada recently produced its second annual ‘Seven Weirdest Wonders of Nevada’ list, focussing this year on the unusual accommodations travellers can find in the Silver State.

The ‘Uncommon Overnighters’ edition includes historic, haunted, and luxurious hotels, yurts, castles, and places that “must be visited to be believed.” They include:

Ike’s Canyon Ranch

Ike’s Canyon Ranch – Perched in the foothills of the Alta-Toquima Mountains, just south of the Loneliest Road in America, sits Ike’s Canyon Ranch. The wide-open Monitor Valley, near the geographic center of Nevada where the ranch is located, features a taste of wildlife like bighorn sheep, grouse, and chukar paired with dark skies, outdoor adventures, mining ghost towns, and American West tradition all at the fingertips.

Ruby Yurts – Found in an idyllic alpine landscape of northeastern Nevada’s Ruby Mountains, the Ruby High Yurt is located roughly 3,000 m. on top of the Conrad Creek Ridge with sweeping views of the valley below and pure seclusion from the rest of the world. Not only is the location unexpected but getting there is also unusual. Guests can hike in solo, with a half-day or full-day guide, or via helicopter assist.

Mizpah Hotel – The Mizpah Hotel has served as a beacon for the town of Tonopah for 110-plus years with painstakingly preserved hotels rooms, authentic adornments, and décor, and, oh… just a few spirits from the past who like to call the place home. While it’s true that paranormal activity has been observed throughout the property, if you really want to test fate, book a stay in the Lady in Red room.

Paradise Ranch Castle – Picture it, you’re driving through the heart of Nevada when you stumble upon a real-life castle. Located in the Reese River Valley on 65 hectares, Paradise Ranch Castle features a quiet setting that allows weary travellers to escape from the noise of the world. With ornate rooms, full access to the castle, sweeping views of the Toiyabe Mountains, and star-studded night skies, this is a must-see uncommon overnighter.

Stone Church Lodge – Channelling the past, about 150 years or so, guests at the Stone Church Lodge can learn the rich mining history of Eureka by staying at an original location from the gold and silver mining boom. The lodge, originally built as a church in 1881 during the mining heyday, features master wood craftsmanship, the original 1880s stonework, and vaulted ceilings.

Tarantula Ranch – For access to some of Nevada’s tallest peaks, all the way down to the lowest, hottest, and driest place in North America, the Tarantula Ranch is the perfect adventure basecamp to Nevada’s outdoor recreation opportunities. Offering amazing dark sky viewing, an outdoor kitchen, and strong Wi-Fi, this personality-packed place was an easy pick for this list. From RV camping to a stay in a glamped-out trailer, or spending the night in the Tarantula Vineyard’s bottling room, this ranch brings many of the state’s best offerings into one location.

Old Yella Dog Ranch – A place to leave the stressors behind and unwind, Old Yella Dog Ranch is a fully furnished cabin located next to Massacre Rim, a Dark Sky Sanctuary. This uncommon overnighter in the ghost town of Vya sits along the historic Applegate Lassen Emigrant Trail. Travellers can find themselves in another world away from it all where at night the stars appear so close you feel like you could reach out and grab them. Nearby, guests can check out one of Nevada’s mines (Royal Peacock, Bonanza, and Rainbow Ridge) and bring home an opal of their own.

The workshop event was also attended by Canada Jetlines, which began service to Las Vegas from Toronto on Feb. 16. Airline director of sales Sanjay Kopalkar noted that flights are commissionable (10%) and dedicated services are available for travel agent partners. He also said the launch of Jetlines Vacations is expected to be launched this summer/fall. And agents wanting to try the new flight service can do so for $400 p.p. (applies to companions as well) by March 31.

Travel Nevada is represented in Canada by Reach Global Marketing.

First published at Travel Industry Today

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