Founded in 1864, Nye County is the largest county by area in Nevada, the third largest in the U.S. and larger than the four smallest states. Only 7% of this vast area is privately owned, but the sights from north to south range from long stretches such as the Big Smokey Valley, with its hot springs and snowy mountaintops, to the dry Amargosa Valley as a true desert. Some stretches of Nye land are comparable to the notoriously dry Death Valley, which borders in California, but often in Nye, rangeland makes its appearance among the sand and rock. Between the open spaces of land along the roads and highways, each town in Nye County is an historical oasis.
Nye’s two main towns are Tonopah in the north and Pahrump in the south. The former is the county seat, and the latter has the highest population in the county, at more than 36,000 people. Up north, Tonopah averages a very warm 92 F in the summer, with highs in the hundreds, and chilly 10 F to 15 F lows in the winter months. Located here are several tourist destinations, including the Tonopah Historic Mining Park with its drops, views and mineshafts, and the famously haunted Mizpah Hotel. At the center of town, Tonopah’s Historic Downtown is a great place to take a stroll and take in the small-town nightlife, or to stop to grab a bite to eat. Tonopah was also rated among the top stargazing destinations in the U.S. by USA Today, since its distance from any nearby town prevents light from fogging the night sky.
At Nye County’s southern tip lies Pahrump. Here, the winters are a little warmer but still chilly, with an average high of 26 F in December and lows just below zero. The summers on the other hand are very hot, averaging 102 F in July and reaching as high as 117 F. Located an hour away from Las Vegas, Pahrump is home to exciting daily adventures including Balloons Over Pahrump, Motorsports, Lake Spring Mountain, Wineries and Coffee, Adventure Tours, and fireworks, retailers and shows.
Each town has its own story. Beatty, bright and sunny, with its long history of mining, is also home to tourism as the gateway to Death Valley. Manhattan, known for its special vegetation and shrub growth, has also always had a history of geology, and now gold is being mined on a small scale. Hadley too has a history of mining and outdoor recreation. Nye County’s larger cities remain as hubs that support the more spread out communities.
For a more in-depth look at what makes Nye County a community, read the full Nye County Cultural Overview.