Destination and travel stories covering Nevada’s rural areas, such as Lincoln County’s stunning state parks, the Black Rock Desert’s wide-open playa, and Lake Tahoe’s plethora of hiking trails.
Nevada State Parks: Part 6 – Washoe, Douglas, Carson Counties
One year and 26 state parks later, the journey through our state parks is complete. Not intentionally, but perhaps appropriately, we began with Clark County and we end with Washoe, Douglas, and Carson counties. From south to north, east to west, the exploration of our historical and recreational parks has, I hope, been interesting and enticing. I know I learned more about our state parks than I could have imagined, and despite being thwarted by one park (I’m looking at you, Beaver Dam), I would happily do this adventure every year.
Nevada State Parks: Part 5 – Lyon, Churchill, and Pershing
While it may not be a solely Nevada trait, the mercurial nature of our weather can truly shift our state parks year to year. Exquisite landscapes are abundant, but the viability of those landscapes is dependent, as we all are, upon water. Even the parks and sites that don’t include major water features can be tested in a drought year, as sand and brush become the dominant image, attempting to surpass the historical or geographical beauty of the park.
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The neighboring counties of White Pine and Elko each have spectacular scenery, extraordinary vacation spots, and a whole lot of space. They both have two state parks, also, and while water plays a huge part in the boundless recreation three of the parks have to offer, one has something a little different cooking for your state park adventures.
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Nevada State Parks: Part 3 – Lincoln County
Visiting every state park requires a bit of forethought and sometimes a bit of luck. There are 21 listed in the official State Park Passport, but technically there are 26 if you split out Elgin Schoolhouse and the individual parks that make up Lake Tahoe State Park. And then there are the two new parks Governor Sandoval announced during his 2017 State of the State address—Tule Springs State Park and Walker River State Recreation Area.
Along with the logistical efforts required to make it to all of our parks, that previously mentioned bit of luck would also come in handy. Good weather luck, to be specific. Traveling in January to the southeast edge of Nevada revealed some fun facts about our state parks, but it also thwarted our attempts to get to one.
Nevada State Parks Series: Part 2 – Berlin-Ichthyosaur
Established in 1957, the park is a hybrid; part ghost town, part ancient fossil grounds. There’s an old gold mine, too, just for good measure. Located some 30 minutes from the small town of Gabbs, against the base of the Shoshone Mountains, the park requires perhaps a bit more effort to get to, but its offerings are well worth it. The view of the Ione Valley from the park is majestic enough to make the drive, whatever your starting point.
Nevada State Parks Series: Part 1 – Clark County
Nevada’s first state park was established in 1935, and in little more than six decades, we’ve created 23 distinct parks—from a historic schoolhouse to prehistoric rock formations, glacial lakes to charcoal ovens. Whether the adventure is watersports, hiking, camping, or a history lesson, Nevada has it all.
The parks located in southern Nevada—Clark County to be exact—are a perfect place to start a yearlong excursion of what the state parks have to offer. The variety of experiences available is as diverse as it is engaging.
Odyssey of a Ghost Town Explorer: Part 6
5,724 miles. That is the driving distance from Los Angeles to New York City and back again, with about 150 miles to spare. It’s also the distance I have driven within the past year, entirely within the state of Nevada, searching for ghost towns.
The total seems tremendous when I look at it as a whole, but tiny when I aim the microscope at each mile. Each mile was special. Many miles greeted me as a friend, some shunned me. Some miles were plagued with deep muck, others were graced with sunshine. Some miles flirted passionately with steep cliffs, others hummed the blues across spacious plains. Miles laughed at me with their dead ends and disappointment. Miles led me home. Miles searched my soul.
Odyssey of a Ghost Town Explorer: Part 5
“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.” — Norman Maclean, “A River Runs Through It and Other Stories”
Though Norman Maclean’s depiction of the Blackfoot River in western Montana is exclusive to those waters, I like to think that some of those words exist also under the rocks of Jarbidge River. The words there tell of cool, alpine waters that give life to native trout and Rocky Mountain elk; they tell of its journey over polished basalt and through occasional deep pools; they tell of ancient times. The waters originate at Jarbidge Lake’s heavenly 9,357-foot location, before cascading more than 50 miles though some of the most pristine and pure country in the state: Jarbidge Canyon.
Odyssey of a Ghost Town Explorer: Part 4
I am of the deeply held belief that Rocky Mountain elk are among the most majestic and genuine creatures to walk the earth. I am also of the belief that words like majestic and genuine can be used to describe the remains of a place that once quaked with life, but is now presumed to be devoid of it. Ghost towns and elk are each worthy of these words singularly, but when you combine the two, it’s permissible to be at a complete loss for words. I have come to realize that some situations are almost impervious to words, for fear of the word’s inadequacies to describe them.
Though difficult as it may be, I will do my best to describe coming around a bend to find three bull elk standing in the ghost town of
Eberhardt. More on that to come.
Odyssey of a Ghost Town Explorer: Part 3
Some trips into the Nevada desert begin on a warm spring morning, with birds chirping, dry roads, and an overwhelming feeling of serenity and comfort. Sometimes the planets seem to align; ghost towns are abundant, the wildflowers are in full bloom, and the perfect day is just so easy to grasp.
This is not one of those trips.
Painfully icy wind, subfreezing temperatures, and several inches of snow send insolent salutations as Editor Megg Mueller and I depart the Mizpah in Tonopah—a town that had enjoyed balmy spring weather merely two days prior. It’s an uneasy feeling traveling into the remote backcountry in the wake of an unexpected snowstorm, but sometimes you only get one shot at a trip like this, and we are taking it.
Odyssey of a Ghost Town Explorer: Part 2
Twain knew what he was talking about. Nevada’s varying climates make it a Rubik’s Cube of weather patterns. With modern technologies, you can walk in the deadly heat of Death Valley one minute and stand in a blizzard near Boundary Peak less than three hours later (a 10,000-foot change in elevation if you climb to the top). Yet even with these technologies, we have no way of controling what conditions will exist in a remote area before arrival.
Odyssey of a Ghost Town Explorer: Part 1
Ghost towns are skeletons of history. Though time has withered many away to the point of almost nothingness, even the most seemingly inconsequential heap of rocks and sticks tells a story: stories of hardship, stories of hope, stories that only the people who once called these establishments home will ever know.
But not all are withered away. Some leave clues behind in their architecture. Magnificent arches, stamp mills, even huts dug into the side of a mountain and reinforced with railroad ties all leave clues as to their purpose and inhabitants.
Kingston For a Day, or Three
There’s a funny conundrum travel writers often face. We’re tasked with discovering little-known gems and encouraging readers to feed their wanderlust and emulate our adventures. Except, we really don’t want any of you to go to Kingston.
OK, that’s not completely true, but the area is so special, so pristine, it elicits a protective vibe. Alas, it is our job to reveal the hidden splendor in this central Nevada region—Kingston is just one part, to be honest. Realizing it had been much too long since our last adventure, Eric and I head out for a slightly different roadtrip. This time, we swap our quest of major miles and myriad destinations for a slightly slower pace, a base of operations, and we savor a sliver of the Silver State.
Hunters and Conservation are a Natural Pair
Hunting is in the state’s veins; this ancient interaction between man and wildlife can be seen in clues left behind by early Nevadans. The Anasazi Pueblo people carved petroglyphs of native wildlife into sandstone walls in southern Nevada. The Tule duck decoy—Nevada’s state artifact—was discovered in Lovelock Cave in 1911, and is evidence that game hunters inhabited the area some 2,000 years ago. Evidence such as this shows man’s important relationship with the wildlife in Nevada, something that remains today. And although techniques, regulations, and equipment have changed dramatically since the days of our state’s early ancestors, man’s need to hunt has not.
Night in the Country Music Festival: First-Timer’s Guide
If you love country music and you live in Nevada, you’ve probably already heard about northern Nevada’s Night in the Country Music Festival (NITC). For those not yet in the know, hang on to your hats, because we’re here to fill you in.
The three-day music festival started in 2002 with just 900 attendees and has grown every year since. With an expected crowd of more than 30,000 fans this year, NITC is once again slated to be Nevada’s second largest rural event behind Burning Man; it’s also the longest-running country music festival in Nevada, attracting visitors from more than 36 states. This year’s event is July 23-25 and will again be held at the Lyon County Fairgrounds in Yerington. The festival is produced by the Boys & Girls Club of Mason Valley and is the organization’s largest fundraiser.
Art from the Earth
When she was a schoolgirl, Las Vegas pottery maker Donna Potter persisted in choosing a purple crayon to color mountains despite the urging of adults who tried to convince her that mountains are brown.
A native Nevadan, Donna knew better.
The ever-changing purple of Nevada’s mountains, the spare desert environment, and the dramatic colors of the state’s sunrises and sunsets profoundly influence the work of pottery-makers like Donna across the state.
National Cowboy Poetry Gathering: First-Timer’s Guide
For 31 years, the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (NCPG) in Elko has drawn cowpokes and urban cowboys alike to its lyrical blend of the Wild West, the spoken word, music, and more. Evolved from the earliest storytelling of the buckaroos who ranched and rode the western U.S., the art form has earned an international audience.
Into The Wild
These somber words were our last warning as we left the pavement, released into the vast and unforgiving expanses of Nevada’s northwest corner. Armed with extra fuel, supplies, and what seemed like enough water to rehydrate the Black Rock Desert, we set off into one of the state’s most remote areas. Our odyssey destined us for grandeur and a little gleam, giving us pride in the fact that very few people since the pioneers have laid eyes on this majestic, yet desolate, forgotten corner of Nevada.
A Haunting on The Comstock
Do you believe in ghosts? The spiritual; the spectral; the supernatural? There’s no denying that Nevada is a choice locale for those seeking paranormal pastimes, exemplified by the repeat visits of popular television shows such as “Ghost Adventures” and “Ghost Hunters.” If your inquisitiveness into the spiritual world is piqued, or you’re simply looking to explore a new area during the witching hour, there are many tours and stays in the Silver State that are set to accommodate. So as the autumn leaves begin to fall and Halloween draws near, consider a different approach to the ordinary haunted house or ghost town experience. Who knows; you just may be one of the lucky ones who have the pleasure of a poltergeist’s presence.
Heavenly Hot Springs
There’s nothing quite like immersing yourself in a hot bath after a long day hiking or skiing in the Silver State. Though Nevada certainly has its share of luxurious spas offering soothing mineral baths, visiting one of the approximately 300 natural hot springs that essentially exist in our back yards allows for a comparable experience. With each spring a comes a different temperature, size, and location, allowing natural hot spring enthusiasts to seek out their ideal spot to soak. Besides being a great way to explore some lesser-known areas of the state, visiting natural hot springs is certainly a relaxing way to enjoy Mother Nature’s wonders in Nevada.
Journey to Jarbidge
Many Nevada towns owe their origins to a prospector, a pickaxe, and the discovery of gold. Though these elements are certainly entwined in its roots, the story of Jarbidge begins a bit more eccentrically; it begins with a legend. Shoshone Indian lore told of a man-eating giant that frequented the area that would become Jarbidge Canyon, ensuring a grisly demise to anyone who dared to brave the region.
At first glance, Eldorado Canyon visitors may not be aware they’re standing on ground that at one time epitomized the Wild West. A region deluged in riches and plagued by lawlessness, greed, and murder, the history of this Southern Nevada treasure was crafted in blood and gold.
Glorified Ghost Towns
Ghost towns. They practically hide in plain sight in our state’s unbounded wilderness. The phrase ghost town intrigues the mind with its mysterious, timeworn essence. And, with Nevada claiming more than 600 of them, many of these historic landmarks beg to be explored.