Nevada welcomes stargazers, thespians, kayakers, exotic car enthusiasts and pool partygoers with a summer of events and Nevada adventure. With star parties in Ely, drag races in Fallon, and world-class performances throughout Reno-Tahoe, summer in Nevada combines desert heat with a splash of entertainment. Here’s how to get outside and explore the state this season.
Stargazing and Stripes
Not only does Nevada have some of the most impressive Fourth of July fireworks shows in the nation — including the acclaimed Lights on the Lake in Lake Tahoe and various rooftop displays throughout Las Vegas — it also has some of the darkest skies in the U.S. Jump aboard the Ely Star Train with the Dark Rangers of Great Basin National Park for a guided astronomy tour. Tours are available at 7:30 p.m. July 12, Aug. 2 and Sept. 6. Named an International Dark Sky Park in 2016, Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada boasts weekly Dark Ranger programs, telescope viewing sessions and full-moon hikes. Don’t miss the 10th annual Astronomy Festival Sept. 26-28. On your way out, take a trip through the Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park, just 10 miles south of Ely, for even darker skies and clearer views. The six beehive-shaped charcoal ovens were used in the late 1800s to help process silver and provide shelter for travelers.
Art and Cantaloupes
Reno’s 23rd annual Artown festival, July 1-31, showcases artists and musicians with more than 500 events and 100 workshops around the community. Events range from music, dance and theater, to film, history, literary events and workshops. Headliners at the Hawkins Amphitheater at Bartley Ranch include Pink Martini, July 9 — an international, 12-piece orchestra fusing classical, jazz and old-fashioned pop music; Sheléa, July 18 — a traditional pop, jazz, R&B and soul vocalist; The SteelDrivers July 25 — a Nashville-based bluegrass band; and the Koresh Dance Company, July 26.
For a perfect midsummer night’s eve, gather lakeside at Sand Harbor State Park for the annual Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, Aug. 5 to July 25, featuring “The Taming of the Shrew” and Million Dollar Quartet. Catch the natural alpenglow, a reddish luminescence across the high Sierra, as the sun sets behind the outdoor amphitheater.
One of Nevada’s longest-running agricultural festivals, the Fallon Cantaloupe Festival, celebrates the area’s special Hearts O’ Gold cantaloupe and other farm-fresh delights, Aug. 25. Enjoy cantaloupe-flavored everything, live music, family events (including a cornhole tournament), and Cantaloupe 5k and Fun Run.
Full Throttle Summer
Rev your engines— it’s octane season. With classic car shows and record-breaking speeds, Nevada’s raceways come alive this summer. Don’t miss Bonneville Speed Week on the Bonneville Salt Flats, (just a 15-minute drive from West Wendover), where racers attempt to break land-speed records in hot rods, roadsters, motorcycles, streamliners, diesel trucks and more.
In Fallon, you can cheer on experienced and junior drag racers at the Top Gun Speedway through September. Ever want to get your hands on a Lamborghini? For exotic car lovers, head to Speed Vegas where guests can race Ferraris, Porches and other luxury vehicles around a 1.5-mile banked track. For classic car connoisseurs, Hot August Nights returns to Reno, Sparks and Virginia City in August. Poodle skirts and cuffed jeans are back in fashion at this weeklong celebration of rock’n’roll and yesteryear as thousands of classic cars parade the streets.
America’s Best Pool Parties
For a sizzling summer experience, head to the neon oasis of Las Vegas for its iconic daytime pool parties. Featuring chart-topping DJs, private VIP cabanas and bikini contests, Las Vegas’ pools provide an adult summer playground that ensures the party doesn’t have to end when the sun comes up. Sip handcrafted piña coladas and float on a giant inflatable flamingo at the new NoMad Las Vegas rooftop pool. Shower in champagne and listen to beats by Calvin Harris at Wet Republic, the longest running day club in Las Vegas.
Indulge in over-the-top entertainment and beach chic attire at Encore Beach Club at the Wynn, with live entertainment including David Guetta and The Chainsmokers. Take a dip in the Marquee Dayclub, one of three pools at The Cosmopolitan; or dig your toes in Mandalay Bay’s 2,700 tons of sand surrounding a quarter-mile-long lazy river.
New Walker River State Recreation Area
Despite being known for its expansive desert terrain and rugged mountain ranges, Nevada is also home to lesser known alpine lakes, meandering rivers and cool blue desert oases. Among them, the 62-mile Walker River weaves throughout the Great Basin Area in western Nevada. The new Walker River State Recreation Area is the result of several land acquisitions, which now contains four recreation units: the Pitchfork Ranch, Rafter 7 Ranch, Flying M Ranch and the Nine Mile Ranch. Among them, the Elbow section of the Nine Mile Ranch and the Pitchfork Ranch are the first to open to the public. Visitors can camp, hunt, fish, go off-roading or enjoy a family float along the East Fork’s Class I and Class II rapids.