Welcome to Nevada
For the millions passing through on their way to California,
their image of Nevada is of long, empty roads and dusty ghost
towns, often little more than a gas station and 24-hour store with
a few slot machines in the corner. Lacking any natural assets, it
is fortunate that 'Lady Luck' descended on this state to give
hundreds of thousands of people a man-made reason for visiting.
This is casino country, centred on the capital of kitsch, Las
Vegas, and the other smaller towns where the main income earner is
Carson, the sleepy state capital, has tree-lined streets and
some handsome old buildings and hosts the Nevada State Museum,
which covers the geology and natural history of the Great Basin
desert: enough distraction for a few hours - but not much more.
Reno is a smaller and less glitzy version of Las Vegas, packed with
casinos and pawnshops, and has easy access to Lake Tahoe, over the
border in California.
Situated east of California, Nevada is split up into territories
such as Cowboy Country, Pioneer Territory and Pony Express
Territory. This is the great American marketing machine putting a
gloss on the fact that the majority of the state is a fairly
desolate desert only capable of supporting snakes, lizards and
cacti. The better land is used for grazing hardy cattle, while the
least forgiving is used by the military for testing nefarious
weapons like stealth fighter bombers and atomic bombs.
The state does have a few scenic attractions of interest to
visitors. Around Las Vegas, Lake Mead is popular with fishermen and
water sports enthusiasts, while both the Red Rock Canyon and the
Valley of Fire State Park have magnificent desert scenery, which
has been used as the backdrop for many famous movies including
Star Trek - The Next Generation. The sandstone has been
eroded into wonderful shapes over millions of years and at sunset
these great natural monuments turn every shade of red.
Information & Facts
The summers in Las Vegas get hot and the winters cool, making
spring and autumn the best, and most popular times to visit.
Between June and September the temperatures can climb up to 100°F
(38°C), and from December to January they drop to around 55°F
(13°C). The weather is fairly dry most of the year, but
thunderstorms are frequent in the summer.
English is the most common language but Spanish is often
spoken in south-western states.
The US Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency and is divided into
100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are
widespread and credit cards and travellers cheques are widely
accepted. Travellers cheques should be taken in US Dollars to avoid
hassles. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.
GMT -8 (GMT -7 from March to November).