Welcome to the Courier’s Guide to the Mojave Wasteland
Ready to plan your own trip? I can help.
I appreciate your interest in my project. I am beyond excited to share my work with everyone. I started the project in January 2017 and have spent the last few years on location, 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.
Please note – Don’t worry, I am not making a single cap from the places recommended below, I am just sharing all the places to stay or things to do that I enjoyed most on my journeys. So do not worry about any bias, and 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 I spend most of my time out here. The city is fine and there are many game locations there, but I prefer the desolate quiet of the Mojave. 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 and 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, a handful, a smidgen more people. I can guarantee there will not ever be a crowd of people, Vegas proper 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. Most of the places I stay or that are available to stay are outside – eco cabins, tipis, trailers – so it gets chilly. 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 do not 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.
I usually get around this by making a weird Mojave sleep schedule where I would wake up way before dawn to get to the places I wanted to see as the sun rises. Since the sun goes down so early, it was easy to snuggle up and crash for the night after dinner, around 6 or 7 PM.
Summer – This goes without saying, but summer Mojave trips are 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 and usually hang out around 110 for middle of the summer trips. The hottest I have seen it was 122 degrees, but to be fair that was in the middle of HELIOS One / Nevada Solar One in mid-July, so certainly not a regular occurrence. But not impossible, either!
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, as I say. Bad daylight is the time that it is too hot to visit places 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 (I started calling tipis “heat cones” for this reason). And as the temperature rises, you will naturally acclimate to it.
The sleep schedule I have for summer trips is also weird. I wake up and drive the same way – before dawn – to see things in the morning. But I stop around noon and take a nap for the entire afternoon. Even the morning heat will exhaust you, so this nap will feel nice. Most airbnbs will let you arrive early, or you can find shade, park, open the windows in a breezy area and snooze. I wake up around 4 or 5 and continue to explore until 9 PM. Usually I sit around the fire for a little bit or eat dinner before going to sleep at 11 or midnight. That way, no matter what the temps are, you can see as much as you can.
Travel Logistics for the Mojave Wasteland
I live far enough away that I fly into McCarran (LAS), so my logistics may be different than if one would choose to drive. 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. Avoid like cazadors.
That being said, you can get to all 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 always rent a Jeep Wrangler, but it does cost more and can be super pricey if you are spending many days in the wasteland. My goal was to find all the places, so I did a lot of scary off-roading, hopefully so you do not have to!
Once you have your car, stop by a Walmart 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 recommend staying your last night on the Strip so that it is easy and less expensive to return your rental car. I always return mine the day before my flight, since everywhere along the Strip is walkable or monorail-able. Most Strip hotels have shuttles back to them and then the next day to your flight. Or you can take Lyft or equivalent, which runs around $15.
Before returning my car, I always pack up my gently used cosplay clothes, sleeping bags, blankets, and any bottled water or food that I didn’t use and take it to a homeless individual on or around the Strip. Or you could leave it in an area with homeless encampments, where it will easily be found. Obviously you do not have to do this, but it always makes me feel good.
For travel on the Strip, walking is confusing and exhausting – especially during the summer. I recommend taking the monorail (yes, that 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 scan them at the turnstyles and it is convenient. I usually buy the 24 pass which is $12 or so (I think). They can be bought on site as well. The monorail does not go to the airport like in the game (but it really should?). 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.
National Park Pass
I recommend that anyone who is on this 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 mine for $45. 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 (for me at least, flying into LAS) to have Las Vegas be the starting and ending point for trips. Then 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.
For the less brave – or those who logistically can not bring camping supplies on a flight – there are a few places I stay 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.
Sandy Valley – This place is a ranch south of Goodsprings and is a must when traveling in the area. There is really nothing else out here and a good place to set up shop for your Goodsprings – area exploring. You could stay in the iconic hotels in Primm, but I did that once and I just can not get the smoke smell out of all of my stuff afterwards. (Addendum: Recently when booking on airbnb, I noticed a few new options around Goodsprings, a ranch house and another trailer – good news for us)
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.
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.
But where I like to stay more is the Nipton Hotel, or Hotel California as it is called now. It is a small, 5 room hotel that has inside shower and toilet, and is AC’d and heated as seasons dictate. The train goes by 2 or 3 times a day, which may annoy some people, but I thought it was awesome and always ran to watch it.
There is the general store for Nipton merch and Whistle Stop, which has the most incredible craft beer and food. I do not even 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 relatively close proximity.
Mt. Charleston – Staying on Mt. Charleston is fun, but for me was only 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 on my last trip, 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 – With the exception of your last night as stated earlier, I always get airbnb 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 their little restaurant, and that’s it.
Boulder City – I always stay in Boulder City to give me a jump start on the day I go to 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 (especially after a month in the desert in July / August) or in other seasons I stay on the main downtown street in The Sands Motel – super cute mid century modern vibe, newly remodeled. 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, Dolan Springs, Willow Beach, and more that I have probably forgotten at the moment. You can see all the Mojave Wasteland Home Sweet Homes I have stayed in by clicking here.
Work in Progress
I will add more to this page, and all pages, as I complete more trips. 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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