Summer Special Events & The Road Trips to Get You There

The post Summer Special Events & The Road Trips to Get You There appeared first on Travel Nevada.

Grab the snacks and queue the playlist—nothing says summer like a good ol’ fashioned road trip. But the sunniest season isn’t just for hitting the highway. Here in the Silver State, it’s also prime time for special events.

Combine the quest for freedom the open road fulfills with a stop at one of Nevada’s extra-special summer events.

Double your fun this summer by pairing a road trip on some iconic routes with the anything-but-ordinary fairs, festivals, and races happening in cities and communities along the way. We call that feeding two birds with one scone…or one tank of gas, as it were.

See the summer special events awaiting you on these four Nevada road trips

Lake Tahoe Loop

The Lake Tahoe Loop gets its name from the summertime paradise that is Lake Tahoe. Enjoy crystal-clear alpine waters and sandy beaches before coming down the mountain into your choice of cities loaded with art, cuisine, and boutique shopping. From the Wild West history of Virginia City to the idyllic charm of Carson Valley, this route brims with hidden gems that’ll have you coming back in every season.

In the Biggest Little City, summer begins with the Reno River Festival (June 7-9, 2024). Take a guided rafting tour down the Truckee River straight into the heart of downtown Reno or bring your bike—and costumes—along for the River Roll, a “moving concert” that traverses streets lined with murals and iconic sights. Two dozen bands will perform while attendees savor sips from the beverage garden (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options) and street eats from local food trucks and vendors.

Immerse yourself in American Indian tradition and culture at the Stewart Father’s Day Powwow (June 14-16, 2024). Held on the historic Stewart Indian School Cultural Center & Museum campus, hundreds of dancers, drummers, and artists come to Carson City to celebrate tribal heritage and honor ancestors. Peruse dozens of food and arts and crafts vendors between performances.

Back at Big Blue, the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival (June 28-August 25, 2024) is a theater experience unlike any other. Take the scenic drive to Sand Harbor State Park in North Lake Tahoe and sink your toes into the sand while thespians take the lakeside stage and wow with their craft. This year features “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and “Always…Patsy Cline,” along with a live entertainment lineup full of ballet, jazz, rock cover bands, and more.

Loneliest Road in America

Life magazine once described Nevada’s Highway 50 as the “Loneliest Road in America,” claiming travelers needed “survival skills” to take on a roadway with “no points of interest.” But Nevadans knew better then and now. Experience this famed journey for yourself and discover diverse state parks, a plethora of Sagebrush Saloons, and the natural wonders within Great Basin National Park.

More than 30 alternative and indie bands will flock to McGill (only a few minutes outside of Ely) for Schellraiser (May 30-June 1, 2024). This three-day music festival describes itself as being “about as far away from mainstream tastemakers and trendsetters as you can get—geographically, philosophically, and sonically.” Take in sweeping mountain vistas and nearby natural warm springs while rocking out to Ladytron, Mercury Rev, The Raveonettes, Man Man, We Are Scientists, and others.

If you’ve ever wanted to ride a mountain bike through a casino, put Fears, Tears & Beers (June 8, 2024) at the top of your summer to-do list. During the oldest enduro mountain bike race in the country, riders will pedal past slot machines and table games before hitting the spectacular high desert terrain surrounding Ely. 

Relive the gunslinging days of the Old West at the Fastest Gun Alive World Championship (July 25-28). More than 275 men, women, and children come to Fallon to compete in cowboy fast draw, all using wax bullets or blank cartridges. Between duels, shop western crafts or nosh on goods from the grill.

At the Fallon Cantaloupe Festival & Country Fair (August 23-25, 2024), you can get a taste of the award-winning Hearts of Gold melon, grown practically around the corner from this annual event in “The Oasis of Nevada.” Try all kinds of cantaloupe-flavored fare while partaking in carnival rides, concerts, livestock exhibits, pageants, and fair games.

Cowboy Corridor

Cruising I-80 this summer? The Silver State stretch of this nationwide interstate is called the Cowboy Corridor, and it spans Reno to West Wendover. From Basques and buckaroos to Ruby Mountain views, this drive is chock-full of Western heritage, family-style feasts, and exhilarating outdoor adventure.

In Elko, get a glimpse of the pioneer experience during California Trail Days (June 1-2, 2024). Between 1841 and 1869, more than 250,000 people packed their lives into covered wagons and attempted the 2,000-mile journey out west. See reenactments, hear Chautauqua-style stories, play pioneer trail games, and watch skills demonstrations over the course of two days at the California Trail Interpretive Center.

You’ll have two opportunities to party like the Basques do. At both the Winnemucca Basque Festival (June 7-9, 2024) and Elko’s National Basque Festival (July 6-7, 2024), days are full of mouthwatering meals, street dances, music performances, and rural sport competitions like wood chopping and weight lifting. Picon Punches—the unofficial state drink of Nevada—will of course be flowing.

While the Bonneville Salt Flats are outside Silver State borders, West Wendover is the perfect basecamp for checking out this otherworldly landscape. During Bonneville Speed Week (August 3-9, 2024), drivers in all kinds of racing classes will attempt to break land speed records on the salty terrain. Watch whirlwind heats by day and let Wendover Will wave you back into Nevada by night.

Free-Range Art Highway

You might be tempted to drive from Las Vegas to Reno (or vice versa) without stopping, but trust us—getting there is all the fun. Home to one-of-a-kind art installations, still-standing ghost towns, and legendary lodging like The Clown Motel and the haunted Mizpah Hotel, every opportunity to pull over on the Free-Range Art Highway is WELL worth it.

Rockhounders, jewelers, and antique enthusiasts should beeline it to the Tonopah Rock & Bottle Show (July 19-21, 2024). Shop all sorts of goods, including raw and polished gems and minerals, vintage glass bottles and insulators, coins, and jewelry. You can also go hands-on with a variety of lapidary and silversmith workshops.

Partake in citywide revelry during the Goldfield Days Celebration & Land Auction (August 2-4, 2024). The entire community embraces its Wild West roots with period costume contests, historical (and haunted) tours, a liars contest, stargazing parties, a dunk tank, and tons more. Can’t bear to leave? Stake your claim at the live land auction!

In Sparks, jaws drop over (and for) the 250,000 pounds of ribs that are cooked up for eager masses at the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off (August 28-September 2, 2024). Local, national, and even international pitmasters grill up every kind of rib and barbecue style imaginable in fierce competition for prize money and bragging rights. In addition to hundreds of vendors and an action-packed kids’ zone, musicians like Uncle Kracker, Foghat, and the Ying Yang Twins will play their hits live.

Take a drive. Find your vibe. Feel alive. Discover 10 of the best road trips in Nevada and all the events happening throughout the Silver State.

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