88 Fun & Interesting Facts About Nevada, USA

From Las Vegas and Hoover Dam to Area 51 and the Burning Man Festival, Nevada is an American state with a truly unique personality.

Find out the many quirky things that the Silver State is famous for with these 88 crazy, interesting, and fun facts about Nevada!

General Nevada Facts

  • Nevada is a state in the Western United States of America.
  • At 110,577 mi2 (286,382 km2), Nevada is the 7th largest state of the US, between Arizona and Colorado in terms of size.
  • Nevada is similar in size to Portugal, Greece, and Latvia combined.
  • The capital of Nevada is Carson City, located in the state’s west on Lake Tahoe, a lake that the state shares with California. There are 5 other cities in Nevada that are larger than Carson City.
  • Nevada is home to 3.2 million people, making it the 33rd most populous state, between Connecticut and Utah.
  • Several Native American groups traditionally inhabited Nevada, including the Washoe, Shoshone, and Paiute people. Today, indigenous people make up only 1.28% of the population.
View of the several resorts on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada
Las Vegas is Nevada’s economic powerhouse.
  • Arizona state is the driest state in the US, with the Great Basin Desert covering most of the state, as well as small part of the Mojave Desert (which is mostly in California) in the far south.
  • Half of Nevada’s population lives in the Las Vegas Valley in the state’s far south. Las Vegas is the 26th largest city in the US, but one of its most famous.
  • Nevada is one of only two American states where casino-style gambling is legal across the whole state (the other is Louisiana). Other states only allow it in certain areas, such as Atlantic City in New Jersey. Gambling was first legalized in Nevada in 1931.
  • Nevada isn’t pronounced “Nev-AH-dah”, but “Nev-ADD-ah.”
  • Nevada was named after the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which it shares with California. The word Nevada means or “snow-covered” in Spanish.
  • Nevada has several nicknames, including the Battle Born State, the Silver State, and the Sagebrush State.
The flag of Nevada
The Nevada state flag
  • The Nevada flag has an all-blue background with the state’s emblem in the upper left corner. The emblem says “Battle Born” (referring to the state’s birth in the Civil War) and “Nevada” above two sprays of green sagebrush, the state flower.
  • Nevada’s state animal is the desert bighorn sheep and state bird is the mountain bluebird.
  • Nevada’s motto is “All for Our Country”.

Random Interesting Facts About Nevada

  • The Burning Man Festival has been held annually in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert since 1991. It is one of the world’s most famous festivals. Participants erect a city called Black Rock City for one week in the desert, and no money is exchanged there.
  • The land speed record of 760.343 mph (1223.657 km/hr) was set in the Black Rock Desert in 1997, and was the first to beat the speed of sound.
A vehicle track through a white desert at Black Rock Desert in Nevada
Black Rock Desert, site of Burning Man Festival
  • Every year, thousands of tourists visit Area 51, a United States Air Force Facility in the Mojave Desert, in hopes of spotting UFOs or aliens. The hype started after a man who used to work there claimed that the area had been used to study alien spacecraft.
  • Around 150 couples getting married in Las Vegas every day.
  • Nevada is the only state in the US which allows people to gamble on slot machines at the airport, convenience stores, local grocery stores, and more. 
  • Nevada is one of only 5 US states that DON’T have a state lottery.
Casinos and lights on North Virginia Street, Reno
Like Vegas, Reno is known for its casino strip, called North Virginia Street.
  • Nevada has a statewide law that allows the sale of alcohol from liquor stores, clubs, bars, and restaurants 24/7. Drinking and/or being visibly intoxicated in public is legal, too.
  • The sphinx at the Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas is bigger (110 ft / 33.5 m) than the original in Egypt. However, the casino’s pyramid is smaller than the Great Pyramid of Giza to avoid interrupting flights to the nearby Las Vegan International Airport.
Mountains and trees in Great Basin National Park, Nevada
Great Basin National Park
  • Great Basin National Park is an official Dark Sky Park; on a clear and moonless night, thousands of stars and the Milky Way can be seen with the naked eye.
  • There are 300+ named mountain ranges running through Nevada, more than any other state. These include the Carson Range of the Sierra Nevada, a mountain chain that is mostly in California.
  • Boundary Peak is the highest point in Nevada, at 13,147 ft (4007 m). It is in the White Mountains, which are also shared with California.
  • There are over 44,000 acres of human-made reservoirs in Nevada.
A rocky shore on Lake Tahoe, Nevada
The Nevada side of Lake Tahoe
  • The largest reservoir in Nevada (and all of the US when it is full) is Lake Mead, which is 24 mi (39 km) east of the Vegas Strip. It is created by Hoover Dam, the most visited dam in the United States, on the Colorado River on the Nevada–Arizona border.
  • When Lake Mead was first created in the 1930s, the Mormon town of St. Thomas was drowned. Now the ghost town is exposed due to lowered lake levels.  
  • The Colorado River, which demarcates more than half of Nevada’s border with Arizona, is also Nevada’s lowest point, 479 ft (146 m) above sea level.
  • There are more hot springs in Nevada than in any other state in the US, with over 300 naturally occurring ones.
  • The federal government owns 87% of Nevada’s land.
An aerial view of Lake Mead in Nevada
Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the US by capacity
  • The highest temperature ever recorded in Nevada was 125°F (52°C) in 1994, while the lowest was −50°F (−46°C) in 1937.
  • Nevada is one of 18 states that have an official state grass. Both Nevada and Utah share the same one, Indian Ricegrass, which is eaten by jackrabbits and bison.
  • The Kangaroo Rat, found in Nevada’s Death Valley, can live its entire life without drinking a single drop of water. 
  • Nevada is home to over 50% of the wild horse population in the US.
A wild horse eating a plant in the desert of Nevada
A wild horse in Nevada
  • The main economic success of Nevada is Las Vegas–most importantly, the tourism and gambling sectors. Reno (also known for its casinos) and Lake Tahoe are also big earners.
  • Las Vegas earns over $2 billion from the gambling industry per year.
  • Besides tourism and gambling, the main industries in Nevada include mining, manufacturing, and agriculture.
  • Nevada is the largest gold-producing state in the US, producing over 170 tonnes of gold per year, second in the world only to South Africa.
  • Nevada is one of the 7 states with no individual income tax. Nevada also doesn’t collect corporate income tax.
Some slot machines and people gambling inside a Las Vegas casino
Gambling is a huge industry in Nevada.
  • Most of Nevada is in the Pacific Time Zone, but West Wendover is in the Mountain Time Zone due to its strong economic ties with neighboring Utah.
  • Famous people born in Nevada include actresses Dawn Wells, Rutina Wesley, and Jena Malone, race car driver Kyle Busch, and former first lady Pat Nixon.
  • Celebrities who have houses in Nevada include eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, model Holly Madison, actor Nicolas Cage, former boxers Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather, musicians Britney Spears, Celine Dion, Coolio and Carlos Santana, and performer Wayne Newton.
  • Jacob Davis of Reno, Nevada invented Levis blue jeans.
  • The Bradley Timepiece watch was built for use by blind people. The watch was named after the Reno-born Paralympic swimmer Brad Snyder. 
  • The first “all-you-can-eat” buffet was introduced in Las Vegas in 1946. It cost $1 per person.
A pilot in the cockpit of a small airplane at Top Gun Flight School in Nevada
The “Top Gun” flight school
  • Over 60,000 pounds of shrimp is eaten daily in Nevada, more than the rest of the US combined.
  • Fallon, Nevada is home to the Naval Air Station, popularly known as the Top Gun Flight School, made famous by the 1986 Tom Cruise film Top Gun.
  • The world’s largest margarita was made in Nevada, taking 60 people over 300 hours to make. Fittingly, the 8,500-gallon behemoth was made at the Margaritaville Casino in Las Vegas. Named “Lucky Rita”, the cocktail stood two-stories tall.
  • According to an old Nevada law, you can’t kiss women in Eureka if you’re a man wearing a mustache. 
An old silver mine in Virginia City, Nevada
Abandoned (haunted?) silver mine in Virginia City
  • It’s technically illegal to hang a person for shooting your dog on your property in Nevada.
  • It’s also against the law to have sex without a condom in Nevada.
  • Prostitution is legal in 10 of Nevada’s 16 counties.
  • Sex toys are technically illegal in Reno, Nevada, so they are sold as “adult novelty items.”
  • You can be arrested in Reno, Nevada for placing a bench in the middle of the street.
  • Even before Covid-19, it was mandatory to wear masks while walking the streets of Elko, Nevada.
  • It’s illegal to ride a camel on any highway in Nevada (so don’t even consider it!)

Historical Facts About Nevada

  • For most of the Earth’s history, Nevada was covered in a shallow sea, until the time of the dinosaurs. The Berlin-Icthyosaur State Park contains extinct marine reptiles from the period, including the largest known Shonisaurus fossil. 
  • During the Pleistocene era (2.5 mya to 12,000 years ago), Nevada was home to mastodons and giant sloths.
A shonisaurus swimming in the ocean
The Shonisaurus is Nevada’s official state fossil.
  • The Spirit Cave Mummy, found near Fallon, Nevada, is the oldest mummy ever found in North America, dating to around 10,600 years ago. It has since been returned to a local tribe.
  • Prior to European contact, tens of thousands of Native Americans lived in the Great Basin area.
  • The area of Nevada was initially claimed by Spain in 1519.
  • At the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848, the US took over the area, and Nevada became a part of the Utah Territory.
A black and white drawing of the original silver mine under the street of Comstock Lode in Nevada
Silver mine at Comstock Lode
  • In 1859, major silver deposits were discovered at Comstock Lode, hence the state’s nickname “The Silver State.”
  • The word “bonanza”, meaning a situation when one suddenly makes it rich, is often associated with the silver rush in Nevada. There was also a hit American West TV series called Bonanza set in the area. The word is also associated with the Klondike Gold Rush in Yukon, Canada.
  • The subsequent population boom led to the separation of the Nevada Territory from Utah in 1861.
  • Nevada officially became the 36th state of the US in 1864.
  • After becoming a state, Carson City sent the Nevada State Constitution by telegram to Washington D.C. The transmission is considered the longest morse code telegram ever, taking several hours to send.
  • On March 1, 1869, Nevada became the first state to give African-American men the right to vote. They did this by ratifying the 15th Amendment of the US Constitution.
A sign that says "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada"
An old “welcome to Vegas” sign
  • Nevada became known as “The Fight Capital of the World” in 1910, when it became the only US state to allow professional boxing events.
  • In March 1931, the first bill was passed to legalize gambling in Nevada. 
  • The first casino to open on Highway 91, the future Las Vegas Strip, was the Pair-O-Dice Club in 1931.
  • In 1951, the first nuclear tests were conducted at Frenchman Flat in Nevada. Over 1000 bombs would be tested there over the next 11 years, with the most recent underground bomb test in 1992.
View of a highway running through the desert in Nevada
The I-15 connecting Los Angeles to Las Vegas
  • In 1977, a huge Ichthyosaurs Shonisaurus Popularis fossil that had been found in the Shoshone mountains became the official state fossil of Nevada.
  • Great Basin National Park, the first and only national park entirely in Nevada, was established in 1987.
  • In 1999, the Venetian Resort opened in Las Vegas, becoming the largest hotel in the world.
  • In 2007, OJ Simpson was arrested for kidnapping and armed robbery in Las Vegas, Nevada.
A canal at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas
The Venetian Las Vegas
  • In 2017, a Nevada man killed 60 and injured 400+ by shooting over 1000 rounds of bullets at the crowd of a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip.
  • In December 2020, the Supreme Court of Nevada rejected an appeal from Donald Trump to overturn the election results in the state, leading a win for Biden.