Is Carson City Worth Visiting?

If you’re planning a road trip through Nevada you may have wondered if Carson City is worth visiting. The short answer is absolutely.

Despite being 430 miles apart at opposite ends of the state, a place like Carson City can easily be overlooked by the bright lights of Las Vegas. That’s a shame because this was one of my favorite stops on a month-long road trip that took me through twelve different states. Though I was only in town for a couple of a days, it certainly felt like a close knit community and the scenery was stunning in all directions.

So what is there to do in Carson City that makes it worthy of a coveted spot on your next western road trip? Turns out there’s quite a bit to see and experience. The Nevada State Capitol is a gorgeous Neoclassical building that was completed in 1871. The Governor’s office is located here while the legislators meet in other buildings on the street. The grounds are open to the public.

You can walk along the Kit Carson Trail which features historic homes and local landmarks. One notable stop is the former home of George Ferris who invented the Ferris Wheel. It’s said that the idea stems from the time he spent watching the big wheel turn near the Mexican mill on the Carson River during his youth. The entire route includes nearly 50 stops and the Carson City Visitors Center provides maps.

If you’re still in the walking mood be sure to enjoy a nice little hike up to see the Kings Canyon Waterfall. There’s a trailhead to park your car and embark on a short but uphill climb to the 25 foot high cascading falls.

Perhaps the best way to get in some cardio while taking in the scenery around Carson City is exploring with a railbike. You and a guest, or a party of four, can pedal your way into the Carson River Canyon for a truly unique experience traveling along actual railroad tracks. This was so much fun! You can read all about my experience and watch an actual video from my ride.

Enjoying some live music during lunch at Comma Coffee in downtown Carson City, Nevada

Carson City is home to several museums including the Nevada State Railroad Museum, Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada, and the Stewart Indian School Cultural Center. Another popular attraction for tourists and locals alike is the Nevada State Prison which was in operation from 1862 to 2012.

I had the pleasure of taking a tour with Mike Budge, a former prison Warden who knew the property like the back of his hand. Any doubt of his experience vanished after he casually uttered the phrase: “My first stabbing took place right here.” (Apparently two inmates got into an altercation after one of the men was caught cheating during a game of chess.)

For a complete list of things to see and do as well as a summary of local food options and lodging you can check out Visit Carson City’s tourism website.

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