Description - Nevada means "snowcapped" in Spanish. Thanks to its unique geographic history, Nevada has more mountain ranges than any other state in the nation. Nevada has 26 mountain ranges with peaks over 10,000 feet, the highest peak is Boundary Peak (13,140 feet) located in Esmeralda County. Nevada geography consists of the Great Basin and Mojave Desert. The Great Basin encompasses 75 percent of the land in the northern portion of the state. It was named the Great Basin in the mid-nineteenth century because of it's size and the absence of water leaving the area.
Copyright: National Park Service
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Although famed for its deserts and hot dry desert, the Humboldt - Toiyabe National Forest, the largest national Forest outside the State of Alaska, sprawls from eastern California and western Nevada to the northeastern boundary of the state and on down to southern Nevada and takes in the higher elevations of some of Nevada's most spectacular mountain ranges.
In addition, the Humboldt - Toiyabe National Forest contains some of the most unique biological diversity in the nation. Many endemic plant and animal species (that is species found nowhere else in the world) are located here.
Great variations in climate, geology and topography, plants and wildlife, scenery and recreation blend together to provide nature lovers and outdoor recreationists a treasure trove of adventure and discovery.
- Nevada geography consists of the Great Basin and Mojave Desert. The Great Basin encompasses 75 percent of the land in the northern portion of the state. It was named the Great Basin in the mid-nineteenth century because of it's size and the absence of water leaving the area.
The basin lies at an elevation of 4,000 feet and contains mountains that reach heights of 10,000 feet. Sage thrives throughout the region as does pinyon pine, juniper, aspen, fir and spruce (at higher elevations). Great Basin National Park lies within this region, near the eastern border. The site highlights limestone caves and provides numerous recreation facilities. Also within this basin are Toiyabe and Humboldt National Forests.
The Mojave Desert claims the southern quarter of the state. It lies at a lower elevation and contains the majority of Nevada's population. The Mojave's most prominent plant life is the creosote bush. Yucca and Joshua trees also complete the landscape. Las Vegas and Lake Mead lie within the Mojave Desert as well as a small portion of the Toiyabe National Forest.
Recreation - With the geographic and climatic variety in Nevada, from high alpine peaks and forests to low deserts and massive reservoirs, there are numerous and varied recreation opportunities in this state. Water-related activities are very popular year-round in the hot, desert portions of the state. Lake Mead National Recreation Area attracts more visitors than any other site. The low deserts of southern Nevada also offer excellent winter hiking, camping and sightseeing. The Reno-Tahoe Region as well as the other mountainous portions of the state offer excellent winter recreation opportunities in addition to fantastic summer hiking, backpacking, camping, fishing and more.
Climate - Nevada is characterized by the high desert Great Basin in the northern portion of the state, the low desert in the southern portion of the state and mountain ranges which bisect these desert areas. These elevational differences can create wide ranging climatic differences. In the low deserts of southern Nevada, including the area around Las Vegas, temperatures during the summer months often reach 115 degrees F. Winters are mild with cool nights. Winter, spring and fall are a pleasant time to visit this region.
Because the Great Basin lies at a higher elevation, the area receives cold winter weather with snow that can remain for months. Seven inches of rain falls in the region annually, although run off from the surrounding mountains contributes to the water availability. The mountains receive significantly colder temperatures and precipitation year round. They can be great areas for winter recreation or an escape from the summer heat of the lower elevations.
Nevada is located in the western United States, between California and Utah. We have divided Nevada into five travel regions.