Five Ways to Go Wild (West) in Nevada

The seventh largest state is also one of the wildest. Nevada is home to sagebrush and coyotes, cowboys and native tribes, blue skies and over 300 mountain ranges. There are a thousand ways to go wild in this western state, but here are just a few that actually don't include the Las Vegas Strip.

Get hot and no-so-bothered

Did I mention the Strip? I meant stripping down and taking a dip in one of the dozens of hot springs in this geothermally-active state. Several of these hot springs are located in resorts with nice amenities, but some are wild and in the middle of nowhere. If you are near Reno, visit Steamboat Hot Springs Healing Center and Spa or David Walley's Hot Springs Resort. If you like to explore, check out Spencer Hot Springs near Austin or Arizona Hot Spring near Las Vegas.

Play with the cowboys

When cowboys come out to play, it can get a little wild and crazy. Check out the annual A Night in the Country country music festival in Yerington. In July, crowds of country lovers camp out in small villages to enjoy a weekend of music, libations, mud puddle volleyball and other Wild West antics. Another cowboy festival is the annual Rocky Mountain Oyster Fry in the old mining town of Virginia City.

Power up at a powwow

Nevada is home to several native tribes including the Shoshone, the Washo and the Northern and Southern Paiute. Attending a powwow (like the Numaga Indian Days Pow Wow near Reno, or the Snow Mountain Pow Wow near Las Vegas) is a great way to see Nevada tribes in their traditional clothing and enjoy drumming, dancing and some decadent, deep-fried Indian Tacos.

Basque in Nevada history

Texas and the Carolinas can't be beat for barbecue ribs, but Nevada is tops when it comes to Basque food and drink. The Basque people of the western Pyrenees came to Nevada in the 1840s to mine for gold and raise sheep and brought their family-style cuisine with them. Chow down on sweetbreads in red wine sauce and the famous Picon Punch at Louis' Basque Corner in Reno, solomo and garlic at The Martin Hotel in Winnemucca or fresh mountain trout at The Star Hotel and Restaurant in Elko.

Wild and wonderful animals

Nevada is home to a variety of wild animals like mountain lions, elk, antelope, bear, rattlesnakes and even wild horses. To get up close and personal with some of these wild creatures, Sonny Boys Tours gives tours of the bands of wild horses near Pyramid Lake, the Animal Ark near Reno is a wildlife sanctuary that features wolf howl night and cheetah runs and the Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary in Imlay cares for exotic animals that were former pets.

Christina Nellemann is a native Nevadan and world traveler who writes and gardens in a wild and windy desert valley.

Photo courtesy of TravelNevada

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