The longer you live in the Silver State, the more likely you are to be fascinated by its quirks and history—and know more than a few fun facts about Nevada to bring up over a Picon punch or two (or three).

For example, we throw the biggest admission day party in the country and are one of only three states that still celebrate its admission day. (It’s officially Oct. 31, but observed the last Friday of October).

You’re unlikely to find another state in the union where locals know the state song by heart or what the heck silvery rills are. For these reasons, it’s a running joke that you’re not considered a “native” Nevadan unless you’re in at least the third generation of a family.

While all this Battle Born pride can be a little intimidating at first, Nevadans are a friendly bunch who love to share their state’s history and local culture. So, if you’re new to the area knowing a few fun facts about Nevada will help you fit right in at any Wolfpack game, Basque restaurant, or concert by the river.

Day trips from Reno - Carson Valley
Sydney Martinez – Travel Nevada

Fun Facts About Nevada To Impress the Locals

1. Levi’s Jeans Are Part of the State’s Genes

Let’s get this one out of the way first: if you’ve worn a pair of jeans before, you already have a connection to the Biggest Little City. The story goes that in 1870, a woman asked Reno tailor Jacob Davis to develop a pair of pants for her husband while he worked on the rail lines around the state. Davis sourced sturdy, good-quality denim cloth from Levi Strauss in San Francisco. The pair eventually patented the Davis and Strauss & Company copper-riveted pants—a precursor to the iconic blue jeans.

2. Here Be Water Dragons (In the Desert)

Northern Nevada shares the shoreline of Lake Tahoe with California, and proximity to the world-famous “Lake of the sky” is a point of great pride for locals. Within Tahoe’s 1,644 feet of nearly freezing water is said to live a relative of the famous monster of Scotland’s Loch Ness—but around these parts, we call her Tahoe Tessie. Keep an eye out for her long neck and reptilian head next time you spend a summer’s day on the shore.

Fun facts about Nevada - Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park, Nevada History

While Tahoe Tessie may be mythical, Nevada is the only state with a complete skeleton of an Ichthyosaur. This extinct predatory marine reptile lived 200 million years ago when an ancient ocean mostly covered Nevada. The 55-foot-long fossil of the “fish lizard” was found in Berlin, Nevada, which has North America’s most abundant concentration of the largest known ichthyosaur fossils.

To check out these bones, you could take a road trip to Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park, or for a shorter journey, check out the life-size replica of Nevada’s state fossil hanging in the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum.

3. Striking It Rich—Dead or Alive

While we’re about the strange and fantastic, vast swaths of Nevada are—allegedly—chock-full of ghosts. A short drive to the southeast of Reno lies Virginia City, an almost perfectly preserved 19th-century mining boom town. The rough-and-tumble days of the Comstock Lode led to more than a few tragedies and untimely deaths in this mining outpost. Some of these unfortunate souls are still said to live in the original buildings still standing around the town, and ghost hunting has long been a kind of cottage industry there.

Genoa Nevada History Road Trips
Sydney Martinez/Travel Nevada

The richness of Virginia City’s legacy goes beyond the still-standing Victorian homes. As the site of one of the most important mining discoveries in American History, Virginia City is the place that virtually ended the California Gold Rush. More than $400 million in gold and silver were extracted from the mines between 1860 and 1910, equivalent to nearly $20 billion in today’s currency.

Those riches made overnight millionaires out of people like George Hearst and John Mackay, financed the United States government during the Civil War, and built San Francisco.

4. Our Balloon Claims Aren’t Full of Hot Air

fun facts about nevada Great Reno Balloon RacesEvery September, more than 100,000 people head to Rancho San Rafael Park in Northwest Reno to watch the country’s largest free admission hot air ballooning event. The Great Reno Balloon Race fills the sky every morning with more than 100 balloons and waking up early for the 5 a.m. “Dawn patrol” is a beloved, family-friendly tradition.


5. Bascos, Bull Riders, and Burners, Together at Last

Since its founding, Reno has welcomed diverse cultures, lifestyles, and traditions. Reno hosts one of the largest populations of Basque people in the world outside of their traditional homeland on the borders of France and Spain.

The culture is so ingrained in Northern Nevada that the University of Nevada, Reno, includes the Center for Basque Studies, which houses one of the world’s largest collections of Basque-related materials. Basque boarding houses and restaurants are also common fares for Northern Nevadans, including the signature drink: Picon Punch.

fun facts about nevada - Desert festivalIn the summer, Reno’s cultural diversity is never more apparent. Both the 100-year-old Reno Rodeo in June and Burning Man, the mother of all events that celebrate artistic self-expression, are huge economic boons for the area. It’s not uncommon to see an overlap between Stetsons and Space boots at some point in your time here.

6. Fun Facts About Nevada—Reno 911 Was Filmed in L.A.

You might find a difference of opinion on this one, but the consensus among most Reno locals is that the Comedy Central show Reno 911 is a treasure and the hardworking men and women of the “Reno Sheriff’s Department” are local heroes. However, if you’re coming to town with this show as your only point of reference, please be aware that most of it was filmed in L.A. (except for some of the establishing shots), and you won’t see many palm trees around Northern Nevada.

7. Say It Right (Seriously.)

Perhaps the single biggest pet peeve of Nevadans—and an instant giveaway for someone either new to town or uncaring of local customs—is mispronouncing the state’s name. If we can leave you with one fact about Nevada to instantly help you feel more welcome, it’s “Neh-VA-duh,” not “Ne-vah-da.” Countless celebrities, presidential hopefuls, and athletes have been met with a loud chorus of “boos” for voicing the second one. While speculation abounds as to how the original Spanish word took on its local pronunciation, there’s no going back at this point.

There you have a few fun facts about Nevada that make it a unique place to call home. Now you can don your jeans, grab a Picon, and feel just a bit smugger when you tell people the correct way to pronounce the state’s name.

With a few fun facts about Nevada on hand, you’ll be a Battle Born local in no time. And if you have any questions about buying, living, or just being in Nevada, contact one of our neighborhood experts today.