15 Best Things to Do in West Wendover, NV

West Wendover, NV
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A cozy northeastern city nestled against the Nevada-Utah border, West Wendover, Nevada, is a thriving tourist destination.

It sits on the Utah border, separating it from its sister city, Wendover, Utah, where they both complete a joint community west of Utah’s Great Salt Lake desert.

West Wendover has humble roots as a railroad town stopover for train travelers passing between Salt Lake City and San Francisco through the Great Basin.

The town is essentially connected with Wendover, Utah, but its location on the Nevada side became clear upon its development of casino hotels in the 1930s and 1940s when the state embraced legalized gambling.

Wendover played a significant role in ending World War II: the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were tested on the Wendover Range.

Meanwhile, the crew piloting those fateful 1945 missions trained at Wendover Air Force Base, now the Historic Wendover Air Field Museum.

Today, West Wendover’s main economic engine is recreation and tourism, attracting visitors to local casinos and events like the Annual Wendover Air Show and the Bonneville Speed Races.

Every night, it welcomes cross-country roadtrippers to top-bill entertainment, glitzy events, resort stays, and star-studded acts.

High-octane excitement, major event headliners, stunning natural escapes, and fantastic dining options await weekenders looking for a spot of fun in West Wendover.

For the best things to do in West Wendover, Nevada, dive into the comprehensive list below.

Take Pictures with Wendover Will

The statue of the colorful Wendover Will
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Welcoming you to the Silver State is a colossal 63-feet tall neon cowboy by the name of Wendover Will.

He is wearing a white hat, Levi’s, a red shirt with a Bill Durham tag, cowboy boots, a cigarette in his mouth, and a six-gun encircling his waist.

Wendover Will is West Wendover’s official landmark, straddling the Nevada-Utah state line in 1184 feet of neon tubing as he waves hello to travelers in the Silver State.

Wendover Will has been waving people into the city since 1952, illuminated every night around sunset and remaining lit until sunrise the next morning.

Neon lights of Wendover Will at night
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His name comes from the town of Wendover and the founder of Stateline Hotel and Casino, William “Bill” Smith, who began his business on the border in 1926.

Driving east, a caption under Wendover Will reads “This is the Place,” and driving west, the caption reads “Where the West Begins.”

Wendover Will has now become an icon representing the heritage of the community.

No matter what time of the day you pass him, his brightly colored figure and neon lit-up outline promise a wonderful time in the city.

The top half of Wendover Will
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Kick Back and Relax at Carmen’s Black and White Bar and Grill

Carmen’s Black and White Bar and Grill is a little beer and whiskey bar in West Wendover where good times and lots of excitement abound.

It may be considered West Wendover’s version of a speakeasy with its retro-style bar, cold beer, great service, and historical flavor.

It is a popular stop for tourists drawn to the famous Salt Flat Races and a gathering spot for the racers who take part.

The walls are papered with hundreds of photographs of racers and their cars and bikes and autographed prints of these famous personas.

If you’re a racer, make sure to sign Carmen’s wall, and if you’re a racing enthusiast, show appreciation for the history documented on the walls.

Drop by to enjoy the cool atmosphere, home décor, and delicious beer, and let Carmen play host and regale you with interesting stories of West Wendover.

Have a Glamorous Time at the Wendover Hotels and Casinos

Exterior of The Peppermill
Zul32, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lining West Wendover’s major thoroughfares are the glittering and luxuriant casinos by which the city is famous.

The Peppermill, Rainbow, and Montego Bay Casinos are all owned by one proprietor and provide different gaming options.

Peppermill has a wall of 24 big-screen televisions to watch horse racing with its Race and Sportsbook.

Exterior of Rainbow Hotel Casino at night
Andriy Blokhin / Shutterstock.com

At its hotel are over 350 guest rooms and suites, providing a perfect escape and pit stop to one’s adventures.

The Rainbow Hotel Casino is dazzling and stylish, with 24/7 gaming spectacles, including its innovative Sports book with 74 screens and its special poker tournaments.

Montego Bay Casino also has poker tournaments in special poker rooms, and in its hotel are 552 rooms, an outdoor pool, a jetted tub, and a workout facility.

Garter Casino has 500 shiny slot machines, and its pit features the classic blackjack, craps, and roulette.

Name sign of Montego Bay Casino
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Play Golf at Toana Vista Golf Course

The lovely Toana Vista Golf Course is considered among the best values in the United States and will challenge any player.

Homer Flint designed it in 1987 and pretty black-top-covered mountains surround the place.

He carved the course out of native desert terrain, giving tantalizing peeks of the natural scenery.

It is a magnificent course that was once voted among the Best Places To Play by Golf Digest.

It is an 18-hole regulation course featuring 6820 yards of golf for a par of 72, overlooking the barren desert.

Toana Vista is a very enjoyable golf course for any skill level and provides a refreshing breather from the casinos.

The course is in great shape, the fairways are pleasant, and the greens are nice, smooth, and fast.

Every golfer finds a challenge on the layout that features a combination of a desert style and links-style golf course.

Trek the Leppy Hills Trails

The Leppy Hills Trails system is the only trail system in the West Wendover/Wendover area.

The system includes 5 miles of hard-packed trail comprising three main loops, Loops A, B, and C, located north of Interstate 80 in the Leppy Hills overlooking West Wendover.

Residents and tourists traverse Leppy Hills Trails almost every day, all looking to get exercise, clear their minds, and put a spring in their steps.

The trail is wide and hardpacked gravel and mostly flat, with uphill and downhill sections and a total elevation gain of 515 feet.

Here you can view interesting rock formations, with the steep ridges on its eastern side being formed out of 300-million-year-old limestone and sandstone.

While on the upper portions of Loop C, you can see the horizontal shoreline of the ancient lake traced along the mountains’ upper portions.

These were remnants from over 15,000 years ago when Ancient Lake Bonneville existed and the Leppy Hills was an island.

Spring in Leppy Hills brings flowering desert plants such as spinny hopsage, prickly pear cactus, purple larkspur, Easter daisy, and small-leaf globemallow.

Animals that wander here are chipmunks, desert-horned lizards, blacktail jackrabbits, pronghorn antelopes, and redtail hawks.

Watch a Show at Peppermill Concert Hall

Exterior of Peppermill Concert Hall
Thatotherperson, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the country’s best concert venues nestles right in the heart of West Wendover: the Peppermill Concert Hall.

The Academy of Country Music repeatedly nominated it as “Casino Venue of the Year.”

The concert hall is a perfect setting for musical and comedic headliners with its incredible acoustics and deluxe seating.

The stage inside Peppermill Concert Hall
Scott Catron from Sandy, Utah, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It is an unexpectedly intimate venue, with hundreds of mezzanines, balconies, and floor seating all within 88 feet of the stage.

The concert hall draws many crowds for top-tier stellar entertainment.

It has featured stars such as Jay Leno, Pat Benatar, Willie Nelson, Vince Gill, Foreigner, Ronnie Dunn, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and 3 Dog Night.

It has hosted artists across different genres of music, including country, rock, R&B, Latin, and jazz.

A singer performing at Peppermill Concert Hall
Scott Catron from Sandy, Utah, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dive into Blue Lake Wildlife Management Area

Have you ever thought of going scuba diving, swimming, or fishing in the desert?

Located 15 miles south of West Wendover, Blue Lake Wildlife Management area comprises clear deep natural spring-fed lakes and ponds and a vast wetland complex surrounding them.

Blue Lake is the largest of these lakes and has a depth of 58 feet with a winter surface temperature of 76 degrees.

Blue Lake makes for a perfect summer escape with its hot springs, swimming, dirt road driving, and uncommon scuba diving.

This unlikely desert oasis is special for divers, swimmers, and wildlife watchers with its warm wetlands and year-long geothermal heated spring.

It is a popular venue for Salt Lake City folks and Eastern Nevadans who want to learn how to dive.

Scuba training schools set up shop from Blue Lake with platforms, boats, a 12-foot metal hammerhead shark, and other items to locate while underwater.

The best time to dive at Blue Lake is during fall when the algae blooms have died off, resulting in profound optimum visibility.

Other popular activities at Blue Lake include hunting, hot spring soaking, and fishing for largemouth bass, tilapia, bluegill, and sunfish.

Admire Beautiful Creatures at Hawkwatch International

Hawkwatch International allows everyone the magical experience of studying and releasing wild raptors from the Nevada mountains.

The Goshute Mountains are close to the migratory path where 10000 to 25000 migrant birds of 18 species make their way through the region every spring and fall.

Hawkwatch International founder Steve Hoffman began tracking hawks, eagles, and falcons in 1986, gathering data on the millions of birds headed south for the winter.

Over several years, the scientific data on these birds have helped inform scientists, public and private land managers, and the public about the raptors’ needs to survive a fast-changing climate.

The migratory path and health of raptors are important peek into the bigger environmental landscape.

Since they are apex predators, adapted to live and nest in all habitats, studying their health and the paths they follow helps us understand the larger environmental issues.

Any visitor can follow in the footsteps of wildlife biologists as they help capture data and then release the raptors back into the wild.

During the largest migration of the year in early October, a team of wildlife biologists keeps a population tally, capture data, and band birds before releasing them.

Hawkwatch International takes pride not just in helping to understand raptor ecology but in bringing the public close to these beautiful wild birds.

Discover War History at the Historic Wendover Airfield Museum

Exterior of the Historic Wendover Airfield Museum
Thatotherperson, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The remote desert landscape near West Wendover was once the specialized training base for B-17 and B-24 bomber crews in World War II.

This included the 509th Composite Group and the B29 Enola Gay unit that carried the bombs dropped over Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Today, military buffs will find a historic Wendover Air Force Base, now the Historic Wendover Airfield Museum, displaying the active base training site operating here from 1940 to 1969.

Here, see some of the most notable military histories in Nevada and tour excellently restored World War II buildings.

Discover atomic bomb loading pits and the Enola Gay B29 Hangar, and spot medals, uniforms, propellers, and more.

Spot the Bomb Prototype Component Exhibit, with over 70 non-nuclear test shapes of the Little Boy and Fat Man bombs.

Examine the Wendover Homefront Exhibit, also known as the “sweetheart” items, which contains items that soldiers bought to send back to their loved ones.

View the WWII Uniforms Exhibit, which displays uniforms that tell the story of duties, rank, and season.

And spot the restoration projects of Historic Wendover Airfield, including the Control Tower, the dining hall, the bombsight storage vault, the barracks, the navigational aid building, and more.

Tour the Jukebox and Danger Caves

Found near Wendover, the Jukebox and Danger Caves are extremely significant archeological finds displaying 11000 years of the history of the Great Basin.

In the 1940s, airmen stationed at Wendover Airfield during World War II strung up electrical lights in a cave’s ceiling and poured a concrete dance floor.

To add a finishing touch, they hauled a jukebox up the cave entrance, creating the ultimate secret party spot where they could socialize and dance well into the desert night.

Another cave nearby was also rediscovered with thousands of American Indian artifacts that archeologists immediately protected.

Along with the concrete dance floor, Jukebox Cave still contains rock artwork depicting hunters on horses with spears and bows.

Meanwhile, Danger Cave is an important landmark of archeological research in the Great Basin.

The caves contained evidence of human occupation from the past 11000 years, including tools, basketry, fossilized fecal matter, leather, and wood.

Researchers also found pine nuts, salt brush, pickleweed seeds, antelope hair, and rock and ash from the hearths of humans who likely used the caves as winter camps.

Jukebox Cave contains an important environmental record, while Danger Cave has a significant archaeological record.

Visitors can tour the caves twice each year, in the spring and the fall.

Other Things to Do Nearby

See the Sights at the Bonneville Salt Flats

Car tire marks on Bonneville Salt Flats
Kristi Blokhin / Shutterstock.com

Located 16 minutes southeast of West Wendover, sand gives way to powdery salt in the form of the Bonneville Salt Flats.

The Bonneville Salt Flats is a 12 by 5 mile stretch across 300,000 acres of Utah’s serene desert.

As far as the eye can see is a salt crust that ranges from several inches to 5 feet thick, forming a thick salt coat on the ground.

The clean and white Bonneville Salt Flats
Alena Mozhjer / Shutterstock.com

Tourists from around the world come far to behold this otherworldly landscape and unique geological phenomenon.

The salt flats formed when Ancient Lake Bonneville dried up, leaving smaller lakes with high salt concentrations, appearing very much like a snow-covered body of water.

The drained basin of the lake left a sparkling white concentration with pressure ridges shaped like hexagons in parts of the ground.

The otherworldly aesthetic of the flats leaves them very popular for photography, especially around sunrise and sunset or in the nighttime when millions of stars are visible.

Sunset over Bonneville Salt Flats
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Be Part of the Action During Bonneville Speed Week

A vehicle with its parachute during Bonneville Speed Week
Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com

Aside from being a beautiful site to visit, the Bonneville Salt Flats are also the site for the Bonneville Speedway.

All kinds of speed-shattering records are set at myriad racing events taking place on the Speedway.

This is where many world automobile, motorcycle speed, and endurance records have been broken since 1935.

Gary Gabelich set the fastest speed ever recorded at Bonneville with his rocket car, Blue Flame, at 622 miles per hour in 1970.

A vehicle on the salt flats during Bonneville Speed Week
Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com

Bonneville Speedway hosts plenty of events, but the most popular is Bonneville Speed Week for racers and spectators.

Whether or not you’re a racer, you can walk through the pits, examine the variety of racing classes, and socialize with the crews and drivers in between racing heats.

The racing heats happen on two different tracks: an oval track for distance runs and a 10-mile straightaway for speed trials.

Bonneville Speed Week is a good way to get oriented with the Speedway’s events because of its size, competing classes, and daily ongoing races.

One of the vehicles during Bonneville Speed Week
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Aim for Speed at Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials

A person preparing for the Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials
John Blanton / Shutterstock.com

Bonneville Salt Flats is a converging point for motor aficionados and speed junkies seeking the fastest race on Earth.

If you seek the fastest race on two wheels, head to the salt flats for the Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials.

The Trials have been held in the last week of August for the past 20 years.

The American Motorcyclist (AMA) and the Federation Internationale de Motorcyclisme (FIM) sanction the event.

Here, two-wheelers from all corners push for victory across the Bonneville Salt Flats, aiming for the title of the fastest motorcycle on Earth.

The Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials has contenders in many classes from 50 cc to 3000 cc, streamliners, and electric classes gunning for the world record title.

You can try for the record books, join in the spectating, or engage in street bike races such as the Run Whatcha Brung.

You can also aim for an AMA National Record at the AMA Land Speed Grand Championship or try to be number 1 at the FIM Land Speed World Records.

Set Records at the World of Speed

Rear of a race car during World of Speed
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One of the coolest speed-driven events in the US takes place at the Bonneville Salt Flats: the World of Speed.

This event happens over four days in September and features some of the fastest racing on just about any vehicle on terra firma.

The Bonneville Salt Flats is the perfect setting providing the best conditions for setting land speed records.

A vehicle during World of Speed
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The rules to become a participant are straightforward: any participant must have a vehicle proven to reach and maintain a certain minimum speed.

At this event, you can watch motorcycle races, car races, and even the fastest barstool race!

If you want to watch the races, be prepared for harsh conditions with salt underfoot and the sun above.

Bring a wide-brimmed hat and sunshade and items like lawn chairs, a beach umbrella, and drinking water.

Grind Gravel at the Salty Lizard 100

Reintroduce yourself to adventure mountain biking and test your endurance in one of the most challenging landscapes in the world at the Salty Lizard 100.

This gravel grinding mountain bike challenge features three races over two days and 300 miles of gravel roads.

The Salty Lizard was founded by desert roads mountain bike enthusiast John Hernandez.

Its mission is to spread world-class adventuresome desert gravel grinding to bikers of all abilities and levels.

There is a 42-miler, a 62-miler, and a 106-miler event and a racecourse with long, endless dirt roads and wide-open vistas through the beautiful desert landscape.

Dive into some of the most spectacular and unusual countrysides in the world and reward yourself with West Wendover’s striking geology and unusual history at the Salty Lizard 100.

Final Thoughts

The sparkle of glitzy showcases and the high-octane excitement of races await eager visitors at West Wendover.

The wild call of natural escapes and the scholarly depth of historical avenues are ready for every Nevada road tripper.

West Wendover is a much-visited haven on the edge of a desert, and it awaits many wanderers who welcome entertainment and adventure.