Perched against the eastern foothills of the Virginia Range, Fernley NV is your full-service gateway to exploring Pyramid Lake, the Black Rock Desert, and beyond. Located just 30 minutes east of bustling Reno, at the crossroads of four classic Nevada road trips, Fernley also draws motorheads with its celebrated dirt racetrack and welcomes visitors with comfortable hotels and some satisfying mom-and-pop restaurants.
Get Your Motor Runnin’
Fernley has grown way up from its days as just a farming town near the picturesque Truckee River. Today’s Fernley NV is the fastest-growing small town in Nevada—thanks in part to its new tech giant neighbors—and offers plenty of services for road trippers, especially those venturing north to fish and camp at Pyramid Lake, head “home” to Burning Man, or get wild in the majestic Black Rock Desert beyond. Back in town, thousands of thrill-seekers flock to the Fernley 95A Speedway for some of the most raucous dirt track racing in the state at numerous packed events throughout the year.
So, Where is Fernley, NV?
A half hour east of the Biggest Little City in the World, just past the dazzling Truckee River Canyon (where a keen eye may spot dozens of wild horses), Fernley NV holds down the crossroads of coast-to-coast Interstate 80 and border-to-border US-95. Adventure-wise, Fernley is a go-to stop on four popular Nevada road trips: the Black Rock Desert-bound Burner Byway, the always iconic Loneliest Road in America, the rootin’-tootin’ Cowboy Corridor, and the funky and spunky Free-Range Art Highway. It’s a solid combination of options that promises adventure in every direction.
City of Fernley History
Just as it is today, Fernley Nevada has been an important crossroads for millennia. Long before the sounds of revving engines, the area where the city of Fernley Nevada now sits was frequented by the people who would later form the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. In the 1840s, it also became the welcome end of “the most dreaded section of the California Emigrant Trail,” the Forty Mile Desert, a “barren stretch of waterless alkali wasteland” where “starvation for men and animals stalked every mile.”
Eventually, Fernley Nevada became a stop along the first transcontinental railroad and, by the 1900s, the same water sources that greeted sun-baked pioneers gave way to a ranching and agriculture community that still remains. Recently, Fernley hit a tech-fueled growth spurt that hasn’t shown any signs of slowing, starting with the creation of one of Amazon’s first fulfillment centers and continuing with its close proximity to the Tesla Gigafactory, Panasonic, an Apple datacenter, and more.
Things to Do in Fernley, Nevada
Tryin’ to catch anyone ridin’ dirty? Look no further than the Fernley 95A Speedway. Northern Nevada’s gold (brown?) standard dirt track cranks up the fun factor with rubber-burning races, from American Sprint Car Series (ASCS) and International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) pro-status events to rowdy, local show-up-and-race-it acceleration fests between midgets, hobby stocks, karts, UTVs, and more—plus plenty of two-wheeled action on the brand-new motocross track. Rollin’ in a home on wheels? Dry camping in certain spots around the Fernley 95A Speedway is free.
Here’s an angle for you. Maybe you’ve fished for trout. And maybe you’ve also fished for salmon. But have you ever fished for salmon-sized trout? Probably not, unless you’ve been to Pyramid Lake, the Tahoe-sized sapphire gem (minus the Tahoe-sized crowds) just a half hour northwest of Fernley Nevada, where the average Lahontan cutthroat trout weighs in in the mid-teens (the record: 41 pounds). Get a permit from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, charter a guide with a boat, or experience a Nevada rite of passage and cast flys from a ladder rising from the shoreline breaks.
Burner Byway Bound? Stop here first. Each August, thousands of east-of-Nevada-based burners cruise through Fernley Nevada on their way “home” to Black Rock City. However, any time of year, you can treat yourself to a teensy taste of the magic with a couple of “post-playa” sculptures at the Main Street Art Park: the Bottlecap Gazebo, made from thousands of recycled bottle caps, and Desert Tortoise, a 25-foot-long by 17-foot-tall reptile painted by students from every school in Fernley.
Restaurants in Fernley NV
Even if you’re just pit-stopping on a Nevada road trip adventure, skip the T-Bell and the J-Box, do yourself a favor and eat something tasty from one of the tasty little mom-and-pop and chain-free restaurants in Fernley NV. Some of our faves? Yvonne’s Hot Dogs for drive-in-style classics like loaded-to-the-brim chili dogs, juicy burgers, garlic fries, and milkshakes from an unmissable hot pink shack. Deli at the 76 for Mediterranean-flaired falafel, gyros, tandoori chicken burritos, deli-style sandwiches, and specialty pizzas. Punjabi Dhaba for northwestern Indian delights to-go. Steve’s Homemade Ice Cream for hefty helpings of exactly what it sounds like on those hot travel days, as well as Mary and Mo’s Wigwam Casino for butterscotch milkshakes. And the Ranch House at the Silverado Casino for steaks, prime rib, and all-you-can-eat casino café goodness.
Fernley NV Hotels
Whether you’re zeroing in on an HQ for your Pyramid Lake fishing trip (of a lifetime), recharging for the next leg of your Nevada road trip, or simply looking for a comfortable place to crash for the night, plenty of Fernley NV hotels have exactly what you need. The pet-friendly Comfort Suites Fernley rests you up with an indoor pool and a hot breakfast. Check or pull your rig into the Best Western Fernley Inn & RV Park and hit the on-site hot tub before bed. Or channel your inner Frances McDormand and park your home on wheels at the Desert Rose RV Park, the location for multiple scenes from 2021’s Nomadland, which claimed a whopping five Oscars. Other hotels in Fernley you can always count on for a good night’s sleep also include the Super 8.
Cheering on motor mayhem? Casting for monster trout? Simply refueling with unbeatable grub on an only-in-Nevada road trip? Tag your Fernley photos with #TravelNevada. If we dig ’em, you may just see them here or in next year’s Official Nevada Visitors Guide.