60 Mind-Blowing Facts About Nevada You Won't Believe
Want to brush up on your state history or learn a fun fact to tell all your friends? Then you’ve come to the right place. Get ready to learn 60 mind-blowing facts about Nevada you won’t believe. Some of these facts are sure to stick with you long after you’ve finished reading.
Facts About Nevada – History
1. The United States didn’t control Nevada until the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848. Originally, Spain claimed Nevada in 1519. But Mexico briefly controlled the land in 1821 after gaining Independence from Spain.
2. The first permanent American settlement belonged to Mormons. About 30 Mormon missionaries came from Salt Lake City, Utah in 1855. They mined lead from the Potosi Mountain but abandoned the mission by 1858.
3. Nevada declared statehood on October 31, 1864. It became the 36th state in the United States amid the Civil War.
4. The largest and most expensive telegram ever sent was the Constitution of Nevada, sent to Congress preceding the November 8, 1864 presidential election to confirm its statehood.
5. On March 1, 1869, Nevada became the first state to ratify the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
6. Gambling was banned from October 1910 until March 19, 1931. It was legal again during the Great Depression.
7. The state anthem, “Home Means Nevada,” was written by Bertha Raffetto in 1932. In 1933, the Nevada State Legislature adopted Bertha’s song as the official state song.
8. Nevada has many nicknames, including the Battle-Born State, Sagebrush State, and the Silver State.
9. The oldest mummy in North America – 10,600 years old – was discovered in Spirit Cave in 1940.
10. Between 1951 and 1992, 928 nuclear tests were conducted at the Nevada Test Site as part of The Nuclear Age. Eight hundred twenty-eight of them were performed underground.
11. Area 51 is the secret U.S. Air Force installation in Groom Lake. The area is a confirmed flight testing facility, but it’s the focus of conspiracy theories involving extraterrestrial life.
Facts About Nevada – Geography
12. Nevada is the seventh largest state with 110,577 square miles, just behind Arizona at 113,990 square miles.
13. Nevada is the driest state in the United States – the state receives only 10.2 inches of rain every year and has only 26 days of precipitation.
14. The Mojave Desert, partially located in the southeast, is the smallest and driest desert in the United States. Nevada shares the Mojave Desert with California, Arizona, and Utah.
15. Nevada is the fourth most seismically active state. In fact, the western portion of the state has the highest risk of earthquakes and the largest seismic faults by area size.
16. Nevada’s name comes from the Spanish word for “snowy” or “snow-capped,” referring to the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
17. Nevada is the most mountainous state in the U.S., with over 300 named ranges as part of the Great Basin and over 100 unnamed ranges scattered throughout the desert.
18. Boundary Peak is the state’s highest peak at 13,147 feet above sea level. It’s situated within Inyo National Forest at the northern end of the White Mountains.
19. Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America and the largest freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada.
20. Nevada is nicknamed the Silver State because of the major silver deposits in the Comstock Lode. These deposits drove the economy by attracting American settlers. It’s also a leading gold producer.
21. The section of U.S. Route 50 through Nevada is called the “Loneliest Road in America.” The remote roadway travels through the Great Basin.
22. From space at night, Las Vegas is the brightest spot on Earth.
Facts About Nevada – Wildlife
23. Nevada has the second largest area of remaining sagebrush in the United States. The desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, pronghorn, and the greater sage-grouse live in it.
24. Desert bighorn sheep are the official state animal in Nevada.
25. The Lahontan cutthroat trout is the Nevada state fish and is the largest subspecies of cutthroat trout. The largest Lahontan cutthroat trout on record weighed a whopping 41 pounds.
26. Gila monsters are the largest and only venomous lizards in the United States. They live in the southern tip of the state.
27. A sad but true fact about Nevada is that the Great Basin desert contains the second-highest number of species at risk of extinction in the United States.
28. Kangaroo rats live in the lower-elevation desert areas and are abundant in Las Vegas.
29. Most of America’s wild horse population calls the state home.
30. Nevada has 309 endemic species and subspecies, including the Devil’s Hole pupfish and the Dixie Valley toad.
31. Nevada has over 200 butterfly species, including the endemic bleached sandhill skipper.
32. The most venomous scorpion in Las Vegas is the bark scorpion. They are a common pest, but fatalities are rare.
Life in Nevada
33. Nevada Day is a legal holiday commemorating the state’s admission to the Union on October 31, 1864. The state legislature established the holiday in 1933.
34. Nevada is the third-fastest growing state.
35. Nevada has no income tax – a popular reason people move there. The state also doesn’t collect corporate income tax; as of 2023, the sales tax rate is only 4.6%.
36. Over 80% of the state is federal land.
37. Black Rock City hosts the Burning Man Festival. Black Rock City is the largest temporary city in the world. Over 70,000 people attend the nine-day festival that takes place in August.
38. Nevada has more ghost towns than populated towns. In fact, there are over 600 abandoned mining and boomtowns.
39. Las Vegas is nicknamed the “Entertainment Capital of the World.” The city has over 150,000 rooms, making it one of the top cities with the most hotel rooms worldwide. Many mind-blowing facts about Nevada come from Las Vegas.
40. Las Vegas is affectionately called the “ninth island” because many native Hawaiians moved there in the 1970s. The city is full of Hawaiian food, music, and culture.
41. Over one-third of Nevada’s state income comes from gambling.
42. There are slot machines in airports, gas stations, and grocery stores such as Albertsons throughout the state.
43. Nevada is one of five states that doesn’t participate in the lottery. Due to its casinos, this fact may be shocking. However, the state’s constitution outlawed the sale of lottery tickets.
44. This one sounds like a rumor, but it’s true. People in Las Vegas consume nearly 22 million pounds of shrimp annually. That’s more shrimp consumed per capita than any city worldwide.
State Attractions and Landmarks
45. Hoover Dam
Standing 726 feet tall, the Hoover Dam is the second tallest dam in the United States. It’s also one of the most famous. The Hoover Dam spans the Arizona-Nevada state line in the Black Canyon over the Colorado River. The incredible concrete arch-gravity dam is only 35 miles southeast of Las Vegas.
46. Las Vegas Strip
Officially known as Las Vegas Boulevard, the famous stretch has a high concentration of famous resorts, hotels, and casinos. The flashing lights and neon signs make the Las Vegas Strip the most recognizable street in the city. It stretches just over 4 miles, attracting nearly 40 million visitors annually.
47. Stratosphere Tower
Want more mind-blowing facts about Nevada that come from Las Vegas? Named after the stratosphere in Earth’s atmosphere, the STRAT is one of the most popular Las Vegas attractions. The tower is 1,149 feet tall, making it the tallest freestanding observation tower in the country. It’s also a hotel and casino featuring a skypod, showroom, and a shopping mall.
48. Virginia City Historic District
Located between Reno and Carson City are the 19th-century mining towns, including Virginia City. In the late 1800s, these towns were the blueprint for the mining boom towns in the American West. The Comstock Lode stretched from Virginia City to Silver Hill. Virginia City was an urbanized settlement that attracted miners from all over the world. However, the town had one of the largest concentrations of Chinese immigrants in the West.
49. The National Automobile Museum
Located in Reno is the National Automobile Museum. Open since 1989 and recognized as one of the top automobile museums in America. Most vehicles on display are from renowned collector William Fisk “Bill” Harrah. His collection reached 1,400 vehicles before his death, prompting the public desire to preserve his accomplishment.
50. Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park
The Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park contains the largest known ichthyosaur fossil, specifically the Shonisaurus popularis. Check out the extinct marine reptile fossils in the park’s Fossil Home. The State Park also includes the preserved Berlin ghost town from the 1890s, with some of the original buildings still roughly intact. Visitors can go on self-guided tours along the trails and camp in designated areas.
51. Toquima Cave
Located in Pete’s Summit in the Toquima Mountain Range is Toquima Cave. Near Austin, visitors marvel at the spectacular pictographs in Toquima Cave. The cave is formed from volcanic rock and was used by the Western Shoshone. The sacred shelter had few artifacts, but the motifs along the walls painted in red, white, yellow, and black give us a glimpse into the hidden facts about Nevada.
52. Fort Churchill
An integral part of the state’s history lies in Fort Churchill. The historic park is located in Silver Springs, where the ruins of the American West are preserved. Fort Churchill was built in 1860 to protect travelers and guard the Pony Express. The area also includes Buckland Station and areas for bird watching, hiking, camping, and canoeing along the Carson River.
53. Valley of Fire
The world-renowned Valley of Fire in Moapa Valley is a public recreation and nature preserve spanning 40,000 acres. The unmistakable red sandstone outcroppings are nestled in the earth-toned limestone, preserving 2,000-year-old Aztec petroglyphs. Visitors can hike, camp, and learn about the region’s history.
54. Seven Magic Mountains
The Seven Magic Mountains comprises seven colorful stacked boulders, each standing 30 feet high. Renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone created the public work in the desert that you can find outside Las Vegas. In fact, the dayglow totems are visible along Interstate 15. The beautiful mountain landscape is a backdrop to the city on the other side of the art installation.
Famous Athletes and Celebrities
55. Andre Agassi
Former number 1 world tennis player, eight-time Grand Slam winner, and Olympic gold medalist from Las Vegas. He is nicknamed “The Punisher” and is the only man with a “Career Super Slam.” Agassi is also the founder of the Andre Agassi Foundation, which advocates for underserved youth and helps connect them with educational resources.
56. Brad Snyder
Brad Snyder is a Reno-born swimmer on the United States Paralympic team. He is also a retired US Navy EOD Officer. His Olympic debut was in the 2000 Summer Paralympics in Sydney, but he went on to compete in London, Rio, and Tokyo. In fact, he is a five-time gold medalist who set the record as the first man in both the Olympics and Paralympics to win a gold medal in the triathlon. The watch, “The Bradley Timepiece,” is named for him and was designed for those who are blind.
57. Bryce Harper
Born in Las Vegas, Bryce Harper is a professional baseball right fielder and first baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies. He is one of the most drafted players and is called a “five-tool player.” Harper made his MLB debut at only 19 years old, going on to play with the Nationals. In 2012, he was the youngest to play in an All-Star Game, and in 2015, he was the youngest to win the NL Most Valuable Player Award.
58. Matthew Gray Gubler
Also from Las Vegas is actor, model, illustrator, and director Matthew Gray Gubler. He is best known for his recurring role as Dr. Spencer Reid in the CBS television show Criminal Minds. Before Gubler was cast in his star role, he interned for Wes Anderson. Anderson encouraged him to audition for his first role, which ultimately led him to be cast in Criminal Minds.
59. Jenna Malone
Golden Globe Award and two-time Screen Actors Guild Award winner Jena Malone was born in Sparks. Her career started as a child, but she grew up to star in blockbuster movies including Stepmom, Donnie Darko, and The Hunger Games. Malone also had her musical debut as Jena Malone and the Blood Stains in 2007. The following year, she performed street shows as part of a musical project called The Shoe.
60. Mark Twain
Literature lovers aren’t left out of these mind-blowing facts about Nevada. Although not originally from Nevada, Samuel Clemens first used the famous pen name while in the Nevada territory. He lived in the state from 1861 to 1864 and only visited the area twice more after leaving. According to historians, Twain’s time in Nevada is one of three formative periods in his career.