Although we have always enjoyed visiting Las Vegas,
it seems that Nevada gets a bad rap because a lot of people only think of
the City that Never Sleeps as the only place to visit in this large state.
In fact, from a camping and boondocking perspective,
it is possible to live here traveling from one interesting location to another for an entire year.
Many of our favorite locations to camp out for weeks at a time are in Nevada; some of them not very far from Las Vegas.
This is a great area to hang your hat for a few days or a longer period. Visitors can camp for 15 days in one area and a total of 90 days can be spent in the park.
The days on Lake Mead are different from one day tot eh next. It will either be awesomely calm making the water shimmer in the sunlight, or there can be a wicked wind that will stay for days at a time. What we love is the ability to watch the brilliant moonrises and the fantastic sunsets, which, depending on the amount of cloud cover, are always impressive.
This little town is less than an hours drive north of Las Vegas, off the I15. In the winter months, there are regular snow-birds who travel directly south from their winter homes to spend undisturbed months in locations in and around Overton.
Snow-bird Mesa, also known as Poverty Flats is located between Lake Mead and the town of Overton., It is one of those places that, because of the endless days of scenic vistas and quiet contemplation, self-sufficient campers are drawn here every year.
Located atop a barren canyon, which once looked over the vast body of water known as Lake Mead, visitors can choose to set themselves up on one side of the plateau where they have more than enough space to call their own and it is expected that any new-comers will know to set up camp a good distance away from their fellow campers.
The other option is to go towards a corral of RVs, located on a lower plateau, where there appears to be a feeling of 'safety in numbers'. It must be said that this location is probably the safest for any long term visitors who want to stay away from the cold northerly winds that can whip up any time. It will be noted that the campers at the upper level are all facing a certain direction. ie. into the wind. We once parked our trailer in a position that would give us the best view. However, after experiencing a night of winds lashing up against the side of our trailer, we quickly re-positioned ourselves facing into the wind, making our need for a good view take second place.
On the short drive into Overton, there is a Wildlife Management Area that has eight campsites with a covered picnic table and fire ring for each camp. The sites are quite large and very private, so when you are tired of the conditions at the top of the hill, this is a nice respite for a few days. It must be noted that this is a designated hunting location, so be prepared to wake up to the sound of gunshots on most mornings. Also, camping is limited to eight nights here.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Of course, we would not do our fellow campers a good service if we did not mention the city of Las Vegas. Love it, or hate it, it is there for visitors to have fun and possibly escape the hardships of living in the great outdoors with no glitz or glamour to tease your senses with.
While we enjoyed non-camping trips to Las Vegas through our working years, we always ensured to have a hire car close to hand so that we could escape from the madness for a few hours to enjoy the scenic opportunities around the edges of the city.
We loved visiting the nearby Red Rock Canyon, just a fifteen minute drive from Las Vegas. But, even more spectacular, the Valley of Fire State Park is less than an hours drive from the city. There is a campground in the park with a choice of hookups or primitive camping, however, there are also BLM free camping options around the Valley of Fire. Lake Mead is also a great escape from the craziness of the Las Vegas vibe. Now that we are officially RVers, we can visit those areas for an extended visit while living in our self-contained trailer, so now we can enjoy the opportunity of booking into a convenient campground close to the action of Las Vegas.. The campground we always visit is attached to the Main Street Station Hotel, which is very close to Fremont Street and the old downtown casinos that were there before The Strip was ever imagined.
The campground is really an old parking lot that the Main Street casino wisely saw the potential for RVs that were traveling through to stop off and spend their money, just as if they were staying in the hotel. So, for between fifteen to twenty dollars, depending on the size of the allocated campsite, visitors get full hook-ups, shower facilities and a laundromat, all within easy walk from each campsite.
Once hooked up and cleaned up, we like to walk over to the Main Street Station to enjoy their renowned buffet which is located inside the casino area, but in a surprisingly beautiful, airy section that reflects the beauty of the old train station that travelers would have come through on arrival in the old city of Las Vegas. We always ensure that we partake of the weekend brunch, which is a very affordable price and it includes endless champagne. While in the casino, look out for the collection of train station memorabilia scattered around the entire casino. Even outside the casino, there are some original gas lamps and even an old railway carriage.
Being so close to the camping area, we like that we can take a leisurely stroll back to our campsite after an enjoyable champagne brunch, without the worry of having to drive anywhere.
When we feel up to it, we enjoy taking a short stroll from the campground to the hub of Fremont Street, where, after sunset, we can enjoy a fantastic light show that takes place every hour. Apart from the.light show, there is an endless show taking place from one corner of the street to the other. I mean, you can enjoy a quality Elvis impersonator on one of the stages and a minutes walk away, there might be a bawdy lounge act or a rock concert.... literally, anything can happen on Fremont Street. It might get loud though.
Sams Town Casino, located in Henderson on the outskirts of Las Vegas is also associated with the Main Street station and they have a shuttle bus that travels either to Fremont Street or to The Strip. This casino also has a campground next to the casino, making it a convenient stop to get to and from Fremont Street or The Strip without having to drive yourself there. The Sams Town Casino has a lot of acticvities to occupy visitors during their stay in the park, however, their rates can be quite a bit higher than the standard Main Street Station rate.
When you book into either of these campgrounds, be sure to register for the Bconnected Players Card because just having this card will qualify you for freebies when you first sign up, including two for one buffets, etc. but, if you gamble enough using your card, you can be offered free campground or hotel stays. The last time we were in Las Vegas, we had up to six free nights at the Main Street and then we drove the eight miles to Sams Town, where we managed to pull off another three nights for free at their campground, all with full hookups. Bearing in mind, we are not big gamblers, we were very grateful for the privileges on offer to us.
CARSON CITY, NEVADA
We stayed in the center of Carson City and took day drives out of town to enjoy the vast desert activities, however, the highlight of our stay in this area was a visit to the historic town of Virginia City. This town is a living museum, which conjures up scenes reminiscent of the good old, bad old days of the heyday of this old mining town. It is amazing to think of the history of this area which is now an old desert ghost town in the middle of nowhere. A lot of snow-birders stay either in the campgrounds located in Carson City, or they have their favorite primitive camping locations where they can stay for free or for a very low cost.
Be aware that Carson City is quite a bit further north than say, Las Vegas, so do not expect every day to be warm and sunny. They actually experience real winter temperatures here. It is a good spring or autumn stop for travelers migrating further south for the winter.