Nevada grew up in the mountains of the Sierras. She received her BA in speech and drama from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and her MFA in acting from the University of California, Irvine before heading to New York City to pursue her passion for the stage. For almost two decades Nevada made her living as an actress, but in the midst of her career, Nevada became more and more involved in the environmental movement. She began working summers in different National Parks. Her first stint as a full time ranger was in Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi, but Nevada has worked intermediately in many parks across the country – Isle Royale in Michigan, Guadalupe Mountains in Texas, and Mesa Verde in Colorado, to name a few. She was eventually interviewed by Ken Burns for his 2009 documentary on the National Parks and their history.
She published her first novel Bittersweet in 1983, but it was not until a decade later that Nevada would merge her love of writing with her experiences as a park ranger with the Anna Pigeon mystery series. Her first novel in the series, Track of the Cat, was critically acclaimed, winning both the Agatha and Anthony awards for best new mystery novel. Since then, Nevada has published seventeen books in the Anna Pigeon series with her latest mystery, Destroyer Angel, set to come out this spring. Nevada currently resides in New Orleans with her husband and many pets; she has since retired from the parks service, devoting herself full-time to her writing career.