RENO — Carson City eighth-grader Nadia Hill has one place in Nevada she wants to fully experience more than anywhere else. It’s not Reno, it’s not Tahoe, and it’s not Vegas.
It’s the Clown Motel in Tonopah.
The student at Eagle Valley Middle School in Carson City will soon get that opportunity after winning the second annual 2018 Discover Your Nevada essay contest, organized by the Nevada Division of Tourism (TravelNevada) and Nevada Department of Education.
More than 100 eighth graders across the state submitted an essay, which could focus on either a Nevada place they’ve been to or one that they want to visit.
Hill, who wrote about the Clown Motel in Tonopah, was recognized for her winning essay on Wednesday at the Nevada Historical Society in Reno. As a prize, Hill and a few family and friends will take an all-expenses-paid field trip through the state this summer.
Hill was adamant about where her first stop will be.
“I cannot wait to stay at the Clown Motel,” Hill said with a beaming smile.
For her essay, Hill said she was inspired to write about the Clown Motel and the ghost town of Tonopah because it “encapsulates all that I love about Nevada.”
“The mix of uniqueness, but at the forefront its community values, and history, are all packed into one,” she said. “It hits all of my interests and gets you in the zone to create.”
Steve Canavero, superintendent of public instruction at the Nevada DOE, said Hill’s use of vivid scene-setting throughout her essay jumped off of the page.
“It was like you were in the car, coming to a halt, have the dust catch up, and then right in front of you is the Clown Motel,” Canavero said. “It’s remarkable Nadia is able to capture that haven only driven through Tonopah, not actually experienced it.”
Hill said she also plans to visit the Neon Boneyard Park, which houses historic signs from old casinos and other businesses, located outside of Las Vegas.
As for Vegas, Hill said she doesn’t plan to visit the City of Lights during her trip.
“I’ve already been there, and there’s so much more to Nevada than Vegas,” Hill said. “We need to give the other places some love.”
The Discover Your Nevada Contest is part of TravelNevada’s efforts to encourage Nevadans to travel within the state.
Across the country, most states show 50 percent of its residents take trips in-state, said Bethany Drysdale, chief communications officer at TravelNevada.
“In Nevada, it’s about seven percent,” Drysdale said. “We’re trying to get people to travel within the state, to explore the state, to become excited about the state.”