When people consider the intermountain west, a lot of folks mistakenly think of Nevada as a flyover state. But don’t let that fool you. This gem of a state stretches from the lush mountains of northern California to the colorful geological features of southern Utah, and it’s brimming with public land that you can explore. In fact, over 80 percent of the state is public land!
What Nevada doesn’t have a ton of is people, and its residents don’t seem to mind having fewer people to share with one bit. This means that it can be the perfect place for an intimate wedding or elopement with plenty of privacy and seclusion.
Interested in eloping here? We think you might be. Here are the best places to elope in Nevada that should top your list of considerations.
Best Places to Elope in Reno
Not everyone knows that Reno, Nevada, is nestled into the base of the mountains that surround Lake Tahoe. Reno is actually the easiest place to fly into to visit Tahoe. Known as “The Biggest Little City,” it rocks a hipster vibe with fading casinos among a growing tech scene and endless access to outdoor activities. It’s also the gateway to Burning Man, attracting several thousands of national and international travelers each year.
Often called one of the natural wonders of the world, Lake Tahoe is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the US and boasts clear blue waters ringed by snow-capped mountains. Though it’s split by the California-Nevada border, the eastern (Nevada) shore of Lake Tahoe is known by locals as the more beautiful side, where plenty of days out of the year you can find your own personal beach to enjoy.
If you don’t mind a hike, you can find a private beach nook even on the busiest of summer days. But some of the bigger beaches are popular for a reason — their views can’t be beat. Sand Harbor and Hidden Beach are two gorgeous mainstays, but with over 70 miles of shoreline, you won’t be at a loss for options. You might even want to rent a boat, kayak, canoe, or standup paddle board for an epic water experience for your big day!
Just keep in mind which state you’ll actually be in when you’re preparing official documents for your nuptials.
The tallest mountain in sight of Reno and one of the tallest around Lake Tahoe, Mt. Rose towers beautifully in the skyline and is an outdoor sports mecca. From skiing and snowboarding to hiking, backpacking and mountain biking, there’s plenty to do on this mountain.
The trail to the 10,778-foot summit passes by waterfalls and meadows that are filled with wildflowers every summer. Connecting trails will take you all around the mountains that make up the Tahoe Rim, where you can view the clear blue waters ringed by snow-capped mountains.
Black Rock Desert
Home to Burning Man, the internationally renowned art festival that promotes self-reliance and community for a brief nine days every year, Black Rock Desert is a harsh, barren, other-worldly landscape the rest of year. Featuring its iconic “playa,” a flat, cracked desert surface, it’s a great location for photography, off-roading, hiking, geysers and hot springs.
Best Places to Elope in Las Vegas
In spite of Vegas’ stigmatized “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” reputation, the flashy strip of casinos is surrounded by unique and stunning desert scenery. Here are our favorite scenic spots outside Sin City:
Red Rock Canyon
About 30 minutes away from Vegas, this National Conservation Area in the Mojave Desert has magnificent red sandstone peaks, seasonal waterfalls and petroglyphs among its 200,000 acres. Whether you’re hiking, biking, climbing or looking for a scenic drive, this place is a must-see.
Valley of Fire
An hour outside Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park features massive red sandstone formations that formed 150 million years ago from shifting sand dunes in the Mojave Desert. Arch Rock and Elephant Rock are two of Valley of Fire’s major scenic vistas, though the 2,000-year-old petroglyphs and other incredible sandstone formations aren’t shabby, either.
The largest mountain near Las Vegas, Mt. Charleston towers over the surrounding low desert scenery at 11,916 feet and promises a grueling hike to the summit without a ton of access to water. With most hikes starting around 7,000 feet elevation, we recommend early mornings or off-season hiking here, with all the right gear and plenty of water. Mary Jane Falls and Big Falls are our favorite spots that showcase water in the desert mountains.
About 35 minutes outside of Vegas, this sprawling lake on the Colorado River offers fishing, boating and water skiing in addition to its remarkable lake desert views.
Spring Valley State Park
Also 35 minutes outside Vegas, this state park sits on the edge of Eagle Valley Reservoir and has astonishing white, pale pink and gray volcanic rock formations made of tuff and other sediment. In addition to the excellent fishing, it is also home to a wide variety of both waterfowl and desert birds.
Other Places to Elope in Nevada
Cathedral Gorge State Park
A little farther off the beaten path, Cathedral Gorge State Park is 2.5 hours away from Vegas and a great choice for those looking for a Bryce National Park-esque beauty. Its soft bentonite clay eroded over time into gorgeous columns and spires.
Great Basin National Park
Great Basin is one of the least visited national parks in the country, for good reason — it’s literally in the middle of nowhere. But that comes with a lot of perks, including some of the best stargazing in the country. It also has marble and limestone caves and some of the oldest trees — Bristlecone Pines — on the planet. A great destination for backpacking, it’s at the southern end of the Snake Range and its tallest peak sits just over 13,000 feet high.
Looking for an Elopement Photo + Video Team in Nevada?
Skyewater Photo + Film is a photography and videography team that specializes in destination weddings and adventure elopements all over the US. We’re also super familiar with Nevada landscapes (our lead photographer Kaitlyn lived in Reno for a few years!) and know some other truly hidden gems not on this list.
Whether you’re looking for a meaningful wedding video or an adventurous elopement photographer, contact Skyewater Photo + Film for your big day!