Lists for the “Seven Wonders of the World” feature majestic structures from ancient or modern times spanning across the globe. Now Nevada’s tourism board has released a “wonders” list, but their roster involves the weirdest ones within the state.
Released in mid-January 2022, Travel Nevada’s spinoff was made to showcase what’s wonderfully obscure in the “Mining State.” This list consists of historic, man-made and natural places.
Travel Nevada’s release of the state’s “Seven Weirdest Wonders” is also held in timing with January 25th being “National Plan for Vacation Day.” The themed day promotes encouragement to people to go ahead and plan to take time off from work.
This list of Nevada’s “Seven Weirdest Wonders” features the following locations.
While this destination is within Nevada, you’ll feel like you’ve set foot in another country. A few minutes east of Nevada’s capital of Carson City, Molossia has been an official independent and sovereign country inside of Nevada for more than 40 years. With 6.3 acres, Molossia has its own bizarre laws, as well as currency that’s tied to the value of cookie dough (yes, really). Visitors can even have their passport stamped, as it’s recognized as a micronation.
Located in Goldfield, Nev., this forest is actually an open-air gallery that showcases more than 40 graffitied cars. Each partially buried junk car is a masterpiece; visitors can get a close look at this collection of rusted out vehicles. The “forest” was founded by longtime Goldfield resident Mark Rippie, who set out to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s biggest car forest. He worked with artists Chad Sort and Zak Sargent, with the three of them setting up this display together. The International Car Forest of the Last Church is within Nevada’s Esmeralda County, which is about 180 miles north of Las Vegas on U.S. Highway 95.
In Tonopah, which is found midway between Las Vegas and Reno, this type of lodging might give a visitor a fear of clowns or even so heighten it. Opened in April 2019, this motel goes all out on the clown experience with each of its themed rooms being “attended” by one-dimensional versions of these scary jesters. Their interior decor draws from the clownish characters in “IT,” “The Exorcist” and other horror films. The hotel also has a clown museum that holds a vast collection of these makeup-faced and colorfully costumed figures. Also, the hotel is situated right next to a historic (allegedly haunted) cemetery.
Another open-air attraction, the Goldwell Open Air Museum holds distinctive pieces of experiential art where visitors are encouraged to step right up to them. More of an “experience” than a “museum,” the location was created by a group of well-known Belgian artists, led by the late Albert Szukalski; they were drawn to the remote upper portion of the vast Mojave Desert to pursue artistic vision free from convention. Their collaboration has resulted in seven colossal structures, including a ghostly, life-size version of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of “The Last Supper”; a 25-foot pink woman constructed of cinder blocks; and a gleaming tangle of chrome car accessories. The museum is near the ghost town of Rhyolite and the mining town of Beatty.
This public recreation area in Ely is a gem spot for collectors. It is full of dark red gemstones that were scattered abut after a volcano erupted between 32 to 40 million years ago. Granted, the garnets at Garnet Hill might not be at the same status level, as you would find at jewelry store. However, it’s fun to do some treasure hunting by having the chance to hand-pick gems scattered atop high-desert dirt — and get free souvenirs!
Most likely you’ve heard of Area 51. While this secret Nevada military base is off limits to the general public, it’s been long rumored to hold the remains of an alien spacecraft from a 1947 crash in Roswell, N.M. At the Alien Research Center in Central Nevada, you can instead get a similar feeling for what supposedly happened to these presumably green creatures from outer space. Their gift shop has various alien-related knick-knacks as keepsakes to bring home. The center is also along the gateway to the Extraterrestrial Highway, which is Nevada State Route 375. It passes along Area 51 and the communities of Alamo, Rachel and Tonopah.
Based in North Nevada, about half an hour north of Gerlach on the edge of the Black Rock Desert, this manmade geyser is surrounded by multi-colored sedimentary formations and spews up 12 feet. Its origin came about by accident, too. In 1916, residents were seeking irrigation water and drilled a well that was abandoned upon its scalding heat. The geyser would be created by accident in 1964 after a geothermal power company drilled a test well at the site. Newspaper reports cited that the well was left uncapped or improperly plugged; thus leading to this very hot water continuing to shoot up from the well hole. The Fly Geyser can be seen via guided walking tours from Fly Ranch, a 3,800-acre parcel of land owned by the Burning Man Project.
For more information about Nevada’s “Seven Weirdest Wonders,” visit TravelNevada.com/Weird-Nevada.