Tonopah is located in Nye County, of which it is the county seat, northwest of Las Vegas between Warm Springs and Basalt along US Highway 6.
Tonopah is part of the Las Vegas, Nevada-Arizona metro area.
Its name derives from Indian term translated as "brush springs" or "greasewood water". Silver was found here in 1900. One story says prospector Jim Butler made the discovery when he picked up a rock to throw at a stubborn mule.