Welcome to the Courier’s Guide to the Mojave Wasteland
Ready to plan your own trip? I can help.
Hello! My name is Kate Darrow and I am living my best life in the wastes after being banned from all the casinos. I appreciate your interest in my project. I am beyond excited to share my work with everyone. I moved here in January 2017 and have spent the last few years traveling around the Mojave, researching, and writing this guide. My main goal is to provide a comprehensive list of all Fallout: New Vegas locations, to encourage all Couriers to embark upon their own journey into the wastes.
If you are interested in the Fallout: New Vegas game location information, please click here. The following is more geared towards tips and tricks for planning your own trip to the Mojave.
And don’t worry, I am not making a single cap from the places recommended below, I pay for my own way and website gladly. I am just sharing all the places to stay or things to do that I have enjoyed most. You don’t have to worry about bias or any of that nonsense, please use this information and my experiences to help have the most fun in the safest way possible.
Safety in the Mojave
First and foremost, I want to impress upon everyone to use good judgement, prepare, plan, and stay safe. The desert can provide a feeling of absolute freedom, the most carefree you will likely ever feel – but can also be a dangerous place with many potentially fatal hazards for the under-prepared. There is no reloading a save out here. I used the integral guides by Dr. Jim Boone (probably related) on Bird and Hike, including:
Please make sure to respect this beautiful wasteland we all hold dear, heed all signs, do not push yourself too hard, and leave no trace.
Most of the information below regarding travel is referring to time outside of the city of Las Vegas, simply because that is where I live and where I spend the most time. The city is fine and there are many game locations there, but I don’t get into town as often. I will include info on both below, just a heads up in case I end up talking more about the desert.
Planning your Mojave Wasteland Itinerary
This part can be overwhelming but also super exciting at the same time. There is so much to see and never enough time to see it all. But by making a flexible and reasonable itinerary, you can maximize your time here.
Time of year and picking dates
The first thing is to decide when you can escape your own wasteland to visit this one. That will determine dates for most, but keep in mind the weather of the desert really impacts how you have to create your itinerary. Most of the things to see, from the game anyway, will be outside and will need daylight to see them.
Fall and Spring – This is the most optimal time to visit here. April to mid- May have beautiful temperatures ranging from highs of 70 to lows of 50, and the same approximate temperatures for October and November. Naturally, there will be more people around as well, so you have to think about your priorities as far as having a more immersive or comfortable wasteland experience. But we are talking maybe seeing a few more people, Vegas excluded.
Winter – If you decide to come over the holidays, I can say you will have a ton of fun. I have seen Christmas Tree Pass is full glory and enjoyed a bonfire for New Years Eve in Nipton (eek). Do not make a mistake and assume it is like other destination spots which cater to the winter crowd, though. The desert gets incredibly cold in the winter, most notably at night and morning. Temperatures can drop to the teens to low 20s overnight and rarely reach 60 in the daytime. If you like to stay outside, it is not so cold that a solid sleeping bag and wool socks won’t solve the overnight chill, but just something to keep in mind.
Another thing to keep in mind for patrolling the Mojave during a nuclear winter is the daylight hours. You won’t have much time for outdoor shenanigans during the winter. Despite crisscrossing across time zones, the sun doesn’t come up until after 7 AM and sets really early – starting to get dark at 3:30 PM and too dark for pictures by 4:30 PM. This cuts a huge swath of time out of any itinerary, as most mornings are spent driving to the next place with not much time to see it.
Summer – This goes without saying, but summer in the Mojave is brutal. The heat is searing and unforgiving. Make sure to read above about how to stay safe in the desert – it is no joke! The temperatures exceed 100 degrees easily. The hottest I have seen it was 122 degrees near HELIOS One in mid-July – super hot!
As opposed to the winter, you will have much more daylight, with the sun setting around 9 PM and a good 14 hours of daylight in the middle of summer. However, a portion of daylight is “bad” daylight. Bad daylight is what I call the time that it is too hot to visit anywhere or too dangerous to drive too far off the beaten path. This is usually from 11 AM to 3 PM. The best time to do anything is literally the crack of dawn – around 6 AM. It will be a beautiful 80 or so degrees, and if you are sleeping outside it will quickly be too hot to sleep any more in whatever domicile you are inhabiting. And as the temperature rises, you will be able to naturally acclimate to it.
Travel Logistics for the Mojave Wasteland
If you live far enough away that an airplane is required, you can fly into McCarran (LAS) – which is a game location in and of itself. McCarran has a shuttle outside of baggage claim to the rental car place. MAKE SURE YOU RENT A CAR THAT IS LOCATED HERE. Click here to check, please god do not rent from any other company. There is another off-site place that is super far away and sketchy, which requires another shuttle after the first – companies Ace, Economy, and Fox are here. I have had a lot of friends visit me and tell me over and over again about the rental car situation, so I want to give everyone a heads up – only rent from a company in the McCarran rental car center!
That being said, you can get to most major game based locations with any car, with the exceptions of a few that you will have to park and walk a little bit if you do not have 4-wheel drive or high clearance vehicle. I personally drive a cherry red Jeep Wrangler, but it is not required to see the main places of interest.
Once you have your car, rental or otherwise, stop by a grocery store or equivalent and pick up gatorade, bottled water, trail mix, cheap sleeping bags – whatever you need for the journey ahead. Then you are good to go!
When returning, I always recommend to my friends to stay your last night on or around the Strip so that it is easy and less expensive to return your rental car. You can return it the day before your flight and use the last day to walk the Strip or cruise around on the monorail. Most Strip hotels have shuttles back to them and to the airport. then the next day to your flight. Or you can take ride share which is not expensive. Unlike the game, the monorail does not reach the airport for whatever reason.
For travel on the Strip, walking is confusing and exhausting – especially for new visitors and during the summer. I recommend taking the monorail to get between places. You can buy tickets online ahead of time and they go in your apple wallet or screenshot them on your phone. That way you can conveniently scan them at the turnstiles. You can by one time passes, 24 hour passes, week long, all sorts of choices. They can be bought on site as well. I have been to the Strip countless times and I still take the monorail each time. In any case, it is also cool to ride at night or in the day for a full view of the Strip and surrounding areas.
If you drove or still have your rental, I recommend parking at the Sahara parking ramp, which is completely free for everyone, 24 hours a day. It is connected to the first monorail stop. If you park in the ramp, take the elevator down to the ground floor and follow the skybridge via an escalator by the Sahara front entrance. It leads right to the monorail and the parking ramp has a really good view of the Strat and the north side of the Strip, too.
I always ask my friends to do this, kind of as a personal favor for me. I have worked a lot with the homeless population in Las Vegas and these strong and resilient people need as much help as they can get. If you purchased any extra clothes, sleeping bags, equipment, or have any left over bottled water or food you can’t take on the airplane with you, please consider donating it to someone in need around the Strip area. You will see a lot of homeless encampments around outside of the main thoroughfare, and if you don’t feed comfortable speaking with strangers, just leave it by a bus stop or under an overpass with a note that says “free” or something along those lines. No one is going to consider it littering, and it can make a huge difference for someone to happens upon it.
National Park Pass
I recommend that anyone who heads out on a Mojave journey should purchase an annual pass from the National Park Service. You can do it in person at the fee stations or ahead of time online (but allow time for them to ship it to you). It costs $80 and allows you to visit many wasteland locations that otherwise would not be accessible for free – such as Cottonwood Cove, Red Rock Canyon, Lake Las Vegas, Lake Mead, and Hidden Valley areas. It is free for members of the NCR (US Military), permanently disabled couriers (my head wound did not qualify), and fourth grade wastelanders (oddly specific but wholesome). It is also 75% less expensive for senior adventurers. You can find more information here. There are also a bunch of them on eBay, where I bought my first one and now split the yearly cost with the same person every year, a snowbird who sends it to me each spring when they go back home. Entry to the mentioned places cost $15 for a day pass, so depending on how many you plan to visit, you can determine if it is cost effective or not for you.
Choosing destinations in the Mojave
So you’ve chosen your travel dates and booked your plane tickets to Camp McCarran (LAS) or chosen your driving route to the Mojave. You can use google maps – my google map is here if you want to use it as a starting point – to plot out all the places you want to visit.
Since, game-wise, the majority of the locations are south of Las Vegas, it is easiest to have Las Vegas be the starting and ending point for trips. Then you can do a big loop clockwise or counter-clockwise. For first timers, I recommend counter clockwise because you will go to Goodsprings first and then experience the Hoover Dam and the city of Las Vegas last.
The difference between planning most stereotypical trips and this one is the assumption that there will be a place to stay wherever you end up at the end of the day. For this trip, it is a better idea to find all the possible accommodations first, and plan where you will drive from place to place, how long it will take you, based on where you will start and end each day.
Note – While you are doing this step, also game out where you will need to buy gasoline based on the car you have / rent. Many places have gas that is $2+ more per gallon than in Las Vegas. Sometimes google maps can tell you the current price, make sure to pay attention. Don’t risk running out of gas, but do not assume gas is available everywhere and for the same price.
There are a few places I have stayed and can vouch for. Feel free to do a search on Airbnb as well, the map option is super helpful. The two places that are integral are Sandy Valley and Nipton. Full disclosure, the Nipton owners are friends of mine and they give me delicious beers.
Sandy Valley – This place is a ranch south of Goodsprings and is a must when traveling in the area. It is where I live, so I am biased. And a good place to set up shop for exploring Goodsprings. You can also stay in the iconic hotels of Primm, but they kinda smell like cigarettes.
Sandy Valley is awesome and a good mix between immersion and comfort. It is remote, but has flushing toilets and wifi and is comfy. There area a bunch of different and unique places there to stay – trailers, an old timey wagon, an eco modern cabin, a vintage trailer, a tipi. My favorite was the vintage trailer so far, but they are all fun.
They also offer activities like the BB-gun lesson I took from someone who looks suspiciously like Sunny Smiles, named Dana. You can not skip the breakfast, served in the ranch house. It is incredible, make sure to order ahead and Yuri will hook you up. The wood stove and coffee is especially satisfying in the dead of winter. A pack of dogs will attack you … with love. And the sunset and sunrises are incredible. Bring cash for the breakfast and tip.
Nipton – In better shape than we all have experienced, Nipton is a cool and quirky cannabis-themed town directly where one would expect it to be on the south side of the map, along Nevada State Route 164. It has similar fun choices for staying, like eco-cabins, tipi, and refurbished trailer and semi containers. You can’t smoke anything inside the buildings, but the grounds are 420 friendly. If you don’t smoke, don’t like it, have kids etc, it is never overwhelming or bothersome since all the campsites are so far away from one another. I don’t personally partake but it is fun to have weed themed coffee mugs and t-shirts to send to my profligate family members around the holidays.
I like to stay in the Nipton Hotel, or Hotel California as it is called now. It is a small, five room hotel that has inside shower and toilet, and is AC’d and heated as seasons dictate. The SUPER LOUD AWESOME train goes by a few times a day and night, which may annoy some people, but I think it is an amazing rush and always run to watch it. The hotel provides ear plugs, and the sound is more pronounced in the outdoor sites (which also have ear plugs provided).
There is the general store for Nipton merch and Whistle Stop, which has the most incredible craft beer and food. I do not even usually like beer and I liked the beer here, if that tells you anything. The place is small but important for us New Vegas folk, and it is free to open and explore all the nooks and crannies. Plus its central location is important for planning. You could potentially stay here every night and drive out each day to the locations, due to its central location.
Mt. Charleston – Staying on Mt. Charleston is fun, but for me has only been feasible in fall and spring. In summer, it is packed because of the temperature – upwards of 40 degrees less than down in the valley. In winter, it is super expensive due to the ski resort and last winter, super treacherous due to a snow storm. Driving restrictions were in place, requiring 4-wheel drive vehicle and snow chains on your tires to even attempt to drive up there! So maybe just go to see the sites instead of staying. Also the resort just changed ownership and I do not know if they are going to change the New Vegas aspects or not – fingers crossed everything stays the same.
Las Vegas – I always suggest to my friends to look for Airbnbs in the “Freeside” or North Vegas areas. They are quiet, not too far away, and super affordable – not to mention close to awesome game-related locations like Old Mormon Fort!
The Strip – I have stayed at all the game related casino hotels and would highly recommend the Sahara over everything else. For me, I loved the Art Deco meets Deus Ex decor, plus free parking ramp on an end monorail stop. The others – Venetian, Bellagio, Caesars Palace – are all ok. The only one I would not recommend is the Strat. Go there for the trip to the observation deck at the top, get some ice cream at the little restaurant, and that’s it.
Boulder City – You can stay in Boulder City to get a jump start on visiting the Hoover Dam. Also Boulder City is in much better repair than one would expect, and is a large enough city to have less expensive gas and modern amenities such as restaurants. I always stay at either the airbnb called The Place at Boulder City because it has a private infinity pool (omg) and is seriously so nice or in other seasons I stay on the main downtown street in The Sands Motel – super cute mid century modern vibe, newly remodeled, nice owner. Go to the Southwest Diner to the west for delicious foods – plus they open at 6 AM so you can get some food before heading to the dam.
I have been way farther off the beaten trail around the Mojave area – including Joshua Tree, Laughlin, Pahrump, Death Valley, Baker, Barstow, Willow Beach, and more that I have probably forgotten at the moment. You can see all the Mojave Wasteland player homes I have stayed in by clicking here.
Work in Progress
I will add more to this page, and all pages, as I go to more places or find new places to stay. Please contact me with any questions and I will be happy to answer and give any information I have that may be helpful.
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