Nevada A-Z

"As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface, I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords. The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine. Bracing and delicious. And why shouldn't it be? It is the same the angels breathe."

Mark Twain

All ABOUT NEVADA IN 26 Letters

“A” is for Area 51, the mysterious military base on the edge of the Nevada Nuclear Test Site that has been a source of countless conspiracies. While the base has become synonymous with aliens and unidentified flying objects, experts say the base’s purpose is much more mundane, but still mysterious.

“B” is for the Burning Man Festival, an annual event in the Black Rock Desert of Northwest Nevada, about 100 miles north of Reno that draws up to 70,000 “burners,” including movie stars and moguls. Its name comes from the ritual burning of a large wooden effigy on the last night of the event.

“C” is for Camp Galilee, the Episcopal Church Camp on the shores of Lake Tahoe. 

“D” is for Desert and Driest. Nevada, mostly desert and semi-arid regions, is the driest state in the United States. As such, we have about 360 sunny days every year. 

Area 51 Road Sign

“E” is for the annual Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Started in 1985 and now named the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering by Act of Congress, this six-day event showcases poetry, music, dancing, workshops, exhibits, conversations, food and fellowship. Boots and hat are optional. 

“F” is for Fallon Hearts O’ Gold Cantaloupes, an especially delicious variety of that melon that grows best in the unique climate and soil near Fallon, Nevada. 

“G” is for the Great Basin National Park, located in northeastern Nevada. It contains Lehman Caves and Wheeler Peak, the tallest mountain completely in Nevada. It also has the Wheeler Peak Glacier, the only glacier in Nevada. 

“H” is for Highway 50, “The Loneliest Road in America.” There are seven Episcopal Churches along Highway 50 as it crosses Nevada from Utah to California making it much less lonely. 

National Cowboy Poetry Gathering
Great Basin National Park


“I” is for Ichthyosaur. Some 225 million years ago, Ichthyosaurs, an ancient marine reptile, swam in a warm ocean that covered central Nevada. There is a State Park featuring their remains near the ghost town of Berlin, Nevada. 

“J” is for The National Judicial College at the University of Nevada, Reno. It is one of two universities in the country offering a master’s program, and the only one offering a doctorate in Judicial Studies. 

“K” is for KNPR, KUNR, KCNV, KUNV, KLKR, KLNR, KTPH, KVNV and KWPR. Nevada Public Radio is available throughout the State. This is especially helpful; the Bishop of Nevada spends a lot of time driving around the state. 

“L” is for Las Vegas’ three professional sports teams — the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, and the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. Go teams go! 

Ichthyosaur Fossil
Las Vegas Aces, Raiders and Golden Knights

“M” is for mountains. There are more mountain ranges in Nevada than in any other state. In addition to its 314 named ranges, Nevada has at least 100 more that cut through the desert anonymously, with a total of 40 peaks that exceed 10,000 feet in elevation, the highest of which is Boundary Peak at 13,147. 

N” is for NASCAR. The Las Vegas Motor Speedway hosts a number of NASCAR events every year. 

“O” is for the Eureka Opera House. Built in 1880, it has been used as an opera house, movie theater, and convention center ever since.

Sierra Nevada Mountains

“P” is for Pipe organs; two of the three largest pipe organs in Nevada are in Episcopal Churches, the third is at UNLV.

“Q” is for Quartzite, one of the main rock types in Nevada. Nevada rocks! 

“R” is for Reno, named “America’s Best Small City” in the 2020 ranking of America’s best small cities based on natural environment, airport connectivity, sports teams, nightlife, educational attainment and online reviews. The Biggest Little City in the World draws high tech companies and highly educated young workers who come for the jobs and stay for the enviable environment and year-round outdoor lifestyle.

Christs Church Episcopal Church Pipe Organ

“S” is for The Smith Center in Las Vegas. The centerpiece of Symphony Park, it is the home to many cultural offerings, including plays, musicals, symphony, pop, dance, comedy, jazz and a resident ballet company. 

“T” is for Lake Tahoe and for TOPGUN and Thunderbirds. The United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor Program, TOPGUN, is located at the Naval Air Station in Fallon. The United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, is assigned to Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas. 

“U” is for Universities. The University of Nevada, Reno, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, are the state’s research universities. Nevada State College, Truckee Meadows Community College, Great Basin College, the College of Southern Nevada and Western Nevada College make up the rest of the Nevada System of Higher Education. There are at least three private colleges in Nevada.

Smith Center

“V” is for the Valley of Fire State Park and the Virginia City Camel Races. The park is located about 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas and it abuts the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The original inhabitants of this area were the Anasazi, who left behind petroglyphs for us to ponder. The International Camel Races have been held annually since 1954. At times, camels had been used in the Comstock Lode instead of mules. It became “International” in 1991 when a team from Alice Springs, Australia won. 

“W” is for Women. Former Nevada Bishop and former Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States Katharine Jefferts Schori was the first woman elected as a primate in the Anglican Communion. Nevada also has the distinction of having female majorities in our Congressional delegation, State Legislature and State Supreme Court. Nevada’s three largest cities – Las Vegas, Henderson and Reno – are led by women mayors. Nevada also elected the first Latina, Catherine Cortez Masto, to the U.S. Senate. 

“X” is for Xeriscape, which refers to landscaping or gardening that eliminates the need for supplemental irrigation. This is appropriate for most of Nevada because we live in the desert. 

“Y” is for Yerington, a city in Lyon County and the home of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church. During World War II, a Japanese fire balloon landed on the Wilson Ranch near Yerington. The ranchers, not knowing what it was, notified the United States Government by mail. In the meantime, they cut it up and used it as a hay tarp. 

“Z” is for Amtrak’s California Zephyr, which uses the Union Pacific’s original transcontinental rail line for daily service from Chicago to Emeryville, California with stops in Elko, Winnemucca, and Reno in Nevada.

Nevada Sentors Catherine Cortez-Masto and Jacky Rosen
Camel Races
Valley of Fire