While Nevada’s reputation is often dominated by the one and only Las Vegas, there’s much more to the state than just gambling, gluttonous buffets and express weddings.
From ghost towns and kangaroo rats to bizarre laws banning moustached men from kissing women, I’ve assembled some fascinating Nevada facts that will show you what a one-of-a-kind place this state is.
So, without further ado, here are some of the most bizarre and interesting facts about Nevada.
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1. Las Vegas, Nevada has more hotel rooms than any other city in America
For those planning an impromptu trip to Las Vegas, don’t worry. Chances are you’ll be able to find a place to stay.
And here’s why: According to USA Today, Las Vegas does, in fact, have more hotel rooms than any other city in America, with over 150,000 rooms total.
(Though be warned: quantity doesn’t always equate to quantity.)
2. Nevada is home to a majority of the United States’ wild horse population
In what seems on brand for a state that has made its bread and butter off of cigarette butts and chips that are practically petri dishes, this should come as no surprise.
In some ways, Nevada is a last frontier. And, as Wild Horse Education explains, Nevada “is home to more than half the population of all wild horses” in the country.
In fact, the modern American horse has adapted to these arid environments, with everything from their tooth structure to their thermoregulation evolving accordingly, to the point where these wild horses wouldn’t feel at home anywhere else in the world.
… Pretty wild!
3. Nevada has an Extraterrestrial Highway
Among the best weird facts about Nevada is this one. And trust when I say: it’s out of this world. Literally.
As Newsweek explains, Nevada is home to the Extraterrestrial Highway, known as State Route 375 by the earthbound.
This highway is approximately 98 miles long and runs from Tonpah to Alamo in the heart of the state.
Along this route is a wealth of extraterrestrial and UFO history. Most famously, Area 51 is among the attractions.
Over the years, this highway has been a hotbed for UFO activity. These days, there’s even an official sign designating it Extraterrestrial Highway, so you can say it’s preeeetty official!
4. In Eureka, Nevada, men with mustaches are prohibited from kissing women
It’s probably not a good idea to let government start legislating kissing. But, in Nevada, that’s precisely what they did.
According to the University of Hartford, in Nevada, it’s illegal for men with “moustaches” to kiss women.
More of a service to the women than it is to the men (seriously, those things are scratchy), it’s one of many bizarre laws in the annals of Nevada legislation.
For good measure, it’s also illegal to drive a camel on the highway. But, truthfully, that sound like good sense more than anything.
5. According to a popular myth, shrimp consumption in las Vegas exceeds 60,000 pounds a day
I love surprising city facts. Did you know for instance, that Seattle buys more sunglasses per capita than any other city in the US? (Read more in my Seattle Facts post)
On a similar note, it might surprise you to hear that Las Vegas consumes more shrimp daily than the rest of the country combined, according to Reader’s Digest.
I mean… You’d think a landlocked city—and, more importantly, a city in the middle of a desert with no real access to water—wouldn’t be so big on seafood. But here we are.
6. To drive from Los Angeles, California to Reno, Nevada, you have to go west
California, specifically Los Angeles, is synonymous with the west coast. In fact, it’s often treated as the edge of the country (along with many other things, as you’ll discover in this California fun facts post).
However, despite being on the westernmost coast, Los Angeles and all its scenic viewpoints is east to a Nevada city. Yup, to reach Reno from Los Angeles, you actually have to go west.
Not too shabby for the “Biggest Little City in the World”.
PS: Be sure to read my full list of fun Los Angeles facts if you’re curious to learn more.
7. 85% of Nevada is federally owned
For a state that has bucked some tradition and managed to work against the grain, Nevada has a unique relationship with the government.
In Nevada, according to the Review Journal, a whopping 85% of its land is federally owned. This is in stark contrast to the entire country, where only 28% of land is federally owned.
What does this come out to?
In a summary published in 2015, it was calculated that the government owned a staggering 58,226,015.6 acres of Nevada’s estimated 70,000,000 total acres.
Divided between the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, and more, it’s a miracle there was any leftover at all.
8. Nicknamed “The Silver State,” Nevada is the largest gold producing state in the US and fifth in the entire world
This is a two-parter, so bear with me!
As KNPR explains, Nevada is nicknamed “The Silver State.”
This is because during the gold rush, as people scoured the Sierra Nevada slopes for gold, what they actually found in abundance was silver.
Most notably, in 1859, two miners discovered a big silver lode, eventually called the Comstock Lode that they originally thought was just mineral junk.
Soon after this major silver discovery, 20,000 people descended on Nevada hoping to get rich off gold… a pretty solid plan because today, because according to The Las Vegas Review Journal, the state actually produces over 80% of gold mined in the US. In the world, it’s the fifth-largest producer, and, even crazier, they keep finding deposits.
So yes, if you need me, I’ll be digging my way around Nevada.
9. The Hoover Dam in Nevada has enough concrete to pave a two-lane highway from San Francisco to New York
The Hoover Dam was a major public works project widely considered to be the biggest in the country’s history. And, while that is impressive in and of itself, there’s more.
The United States Bureau of Reclamation details the specifications of this sizable structure. At 726.4 feet tall and weighing 6,600,000 tons, it’s truly awing.
And, if you weren’t convinced, that’s just scratching the surface.
The dam contains three and one-quarter million cubic yards of concrete. But how much is that really (numbers stop making sense at some point)?
Well, to put things in perspective, that’s enough concrete to ‘pave a standard highway, 16 feet wide from San Francisco to New York City.’ If that doesn’t impress you, we don’t know what will.
10. The longest Morse Code telegram sent in history was the Nevada state constitution
If you think emailing is old school and inefficient, just wait until you hear about telegrams.
Nevada boasts a pretty interesting record related to telegrams actually – the longest morse code telegram sent in history.
As the Nevada Ham Radio details, back in October 1864, with the Civil War nearing its end, Abraham Lincoln was approaching re-election, and so was scrambling to secure votes from new states to secure his position.
Since at the time, modern-day Nevada was already experiencing rapid maturation and development because of the large gold and silver deposits discovered in the territory, Lincoln got the idea to make Nevada is own state… which, being largely Republican at the time, would ensure his re-election.
But since it took too long to arrive by mail, Nevada resorted to sending their constitution to Washington via Morse Code (a must before they could be adopted as a state). This feat took 7 hours total for the entire 175 page document.
In total, it cost approximately $60,000 in today’s currency. To this day, this is the longest Morse Code message ever sent.
11. Nevada is home to the Loneliest Highway in America
Possibly a little dramatic, this is still worth including.
The National Geographic explains the history of Route 50, otherwise known as The Loneliest Road in America.
Route 50 is the most direct route across the state, traversing multiple communities and mountain ranges, a national park, and even a reservoir.
Formerly a popular road during the gold rush, it was once considered the “backbone of America.” Though, eventually, it would be mostly unused.
The route actually got its name in 1986, when Life magazine published a photo of an empty, measureless highway alongside the ominous tip advising people to drive on this road “unless they’re confident of their survival skills.”
And hey, while not exactly a glowing profile, it’s a profile nonetheless.
12. The ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada is a testament to early pioneers
The National Park Service reveals that Rhyolite, Nevada is a true time capsule.
Built during the gold rush after the precious mineral was discovered nearby in 1904, Rhyolite became a bustling hot spot.
With over 2000 claims covering everything in a 30-mile radius, a host of industries, a school for 250 children, an ice plant, electrical plants, and more were erected. Things were looking up.
However, by 1911, following the financial panic of 1907, it was reduced to a ghost town… albeit one you can explore, as many of the buildings have been well preserved.
13. The Kangaroo Rat in Nevada’s Death Valley can live its whole life not consuming a single drop of liquid
To live in a place called Death Valley, it makes sense you’d have to, well, evolve in strange ways. And, as the National Park Service details, that’s what one creature did.
Strangely, the Kangaroo Rat is neither rat nor kangaroo. Tiny (and admittedly adorable) they burrow in the soil to survive the environment.
Fascinatingly, they feed on seeds and consume their water that way. Adapted to the harsh conditions, a Kangaroo Rat can go its entire life without drinking water.
A true testament to life itself, this tiny creature has some big you-know-whats to be able to endure these conditions. And we can’t help but giving it props.
14. By the 1950s, the Nevada Test Site, home to Area 51, attracted tourists by advertising that they could watch atomic mushroom blasts while lounging poolside
Today, there’s nothing appealing about a nuclear test site to most. However, as PBS documents, in the 1950s, nuclear test sites were a major attraction.
In fact, 200 reporters converged to witness the detonation of a nuclear bomb.
People in Las Vegas were only given a two-week notice. At first, many were concerned, but mere days after the first detonation, they changed their tune.
A whole industry of tourism emerged surrounding this nuclear test site after the Chamber of Commerce began marketing it as a must see attraction.
From “atomic lunch boxes” to calendars to Atomic Hairdos and Miss Atomic Bomb beauty contests, there were unending ways to capitalize on this testing site.
An average of one bomb every three weeks was detonated. And I can’t help but think that this explains some things about that city.
15. Nevada’s first, permanent non-native settlement belonged to Mormons
A state that proudly touts Sin City had unlikely early settlers.
In fact, according to the Official Nevada State Park site, the original settlers of this state were actually Mormons. Go figure.
Following the discovery of gold in 1848, people flocked west in droves, with Mormon pioneers settling in Nevada in 1857.
A true threshold to the West, the town would be named Genoa (though bearing no resemblance at all to Genoa, Italy).
16. Nevada gets less than 10 inches of rain per year
Remember the sheer amount of shrimp consumed in Las Vegas? Well, the National Center for Environmental Information, offers some more bemusing context to that funny Nevada fact.
Because yes, the city that consumes more shrimp than everywhere else in the country combined is actually in the driest state in the US, only getting approximately 10 inches of rain per year on average.
17. Nevada was the first state to ratify the 15th amendment
An unlikely bastion of civil rights, Nevada proved to be a pivotal pioneer, changing the course of history and abolishing abhorrently accepted atrocities.
As Nevada Today explains, Nevada was, in fact, the first state to ratify the 15th amendment which gave African American males the right to vote, and made it illegal to forbid voting based on a person’s race.
However, there was a reason.
As mentioned before, Lincoln loaded Nevada’s statehood into the pipeline himself for this express purpose.
18. The oldest human mummy in North America was found in Nevada
When you think mummies, you probably don’t think about Nevada.
However, Science Daily offers a surprising historical feat Nevada has a claim to. In 1940, the Spirit Cave was discovered.
Inside, they found the mummified remains of a man in his forties, believed to be a member of the local Fallon-Paiute Shoshone Tribe. In the 1990s, it was discovered that the skeleton was 10,600 years old, even older than the Kennewick Man, who you can read about in my Washington fun facts post.
This, in some ways, paints that giant pyramid in Las Vegas (the Luxor) in a whole new light.
19. Blue jeans were invented in Reno, Nevada
Over the years, blue jeans have cemented themselves as an unshakeably reliable outfit choice beloved by millions around the world.
And, as News 4 explains, we have Nevada to thank for this impeccable article of clothing!
The story goes back to 1868, when an Russian immigrant tailor named Jacob Davis found himself in Reno.
Eventually opening his own business, he bought large volumes of blue denim and duck cloth, an incredibly durable material.
In 1870, a woman requested a pair of pants to protect her husband while working on the railways. His answer? Blue Jeans.
Soon after, orders came flying in and he would eventually partner with Levi Strauss. And hey, we’ve been shaking our butts in classic blue denim fits ever since.
20. Nevada is one of six states without a lottery
Nevada is renowned for its gambling and debauchery. Saying it has developed a reputation for this would be nothing short of an understatement.
However, as the Las Vegas Review-Journal reveals, the biggest jackpot of all is actually unavailable in the gambling capital of the world.
The reason is honestly a little boring – the gaming industry simply doesn’t want the competition. Moreover, the potential detriment to commercial gaming could devastate the state… so that’s why you won’t find a state lottery in Nevada.
Did I miss any of your favorite Nevada facts?
Let me know in the comments! I’d love to add more to this list.