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Almost everything about life in mid-1800s Nevada seems difficult to fathom and even more difficult to have endured. We no longer worry about hostile natives, high infant mortality, and taking weeks to cross the desert on horse-drawn wagons, but at one time such ordeals were commonplace.
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.
Luckily for me, scuba diving doesn’t reckon on the list of activities a Nevada-based travel writer might find himself engaging in…right? Wrong. During a media-familiarization trip to the eastern Nevada border town of West Wendover last summer, I met my fear of scuba diving in the unlikeliest of locations.
The joy of road biking comes from finding a relatively lightly traveled, but well-maintained strip of asphalt that keeps you spinning through an array of beautiful scenery. In Nevada, the best rides are found where the mountains meet the desert or gentle rangelands abut snow-capped peaks.
If you’ve ever traveled east from Reno, Fernley, or Lovelock to Winnemucca, you’ve driven by it. You might not have thought twice to look, and if you didn’t, you could easily have missed it even though it abuts Interstate 80. “It” is Thunder Mountain Indian Monument, nominally a monument but also an enigmatic roadside curiosity.
Nevada has many claims to fame, and you can add one more to the list: land sailing. In fact, I was interested to learn recently that the Silver State is arguably the premier land-sailing destination in the United States.
News anchor Tom Brokaw once said, “If fishing is a religion, fly-fishing is high church.” If that’s the case, then ice fishermen—the most devoted and patient of all anglers—are surely monks. Luckily for those monastic men and women, Nevada is home to a hallowed few frozen temples of the tackle box.
On a weekend in mid-July, a group of volunteers troop to northwestern Nevada to work in the landscape they love, despite temperatures approaching 100 degrees. They are closing in on a years-long dream of dismantling the last of 175 miles of barbed-wire fence that once stretched across Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge.
Thanks to an industrious Las Vegas widow and her band of tireless and devoted employees, a formerly nondescript stretch of U.S. Highway 93 boasts two uniquely Nevadan places to stay—the sumptuous A Cowboy’s Dream Bed & Breakfast and the bucolic Windmill Ridge Restaurant & Lodging.
Hobgoblins, gnomes, and goblin gunships. A raptor, a roaring beast, and a dinosaur. Monsters, dragons, Pokémon creatures, and Jaws. A cougar, a stalking lion, a teapot, an alligator, Little Dumbo, and giant mushrooms. There’s even an arch shaped like a heart and a miniature version of Utah’s Landscape Arch.
To begin the process of changing the actual markers, the State Historic Preservation Office is asking for donations. Refurbishing the markers will open a new chapter in a program that has done such great work in promoting the state’s heritage while welcoming its visitors.
Every year thousands of outdoor enthusiasts are drawn to Nevada by the rugged beauty of its high mountains, sweeping valleys, and remote backcountry. Others passing through arrive by happenstance. Regardless of reason or circumstance, those who accept Nevada’s hospitality must be prepared to reckon with myriad contingencies that could place them in harm’s way.
Located in the middle of nowhere, according to our visitors, is a place like no other in the world. Literally. In an area smaller than Disney World exist at least 26 species of plants and animals found nowhere else on earth.
Reno-Tahoe Territory is brimming with places to escape the urban grind. From day trips on the trails and beaches of awe-inspiring Lake Tahoe and camping, boating, and fishing at Pyramid Lake to shady afternoon picnics at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park and alpine hiking just minutes from Reno at Galena Creek Regional Park, there’s an outing in Reno-Tahoe to suit any taste.
The playa is just the beginning of the Black Rock Desert experience. For prepared hunters, hikers, wildlife enthusiasts, and other explorers with four-wheel drive, high-clearance vehicles, survival equipment, and common sense, a lifetime of rugged, remote, and beautiful escapades await in Black Rock-High Rock.
Nevada’s largest territory, the vast south-central swath of land known as Silver Trails, is a symphony in isolated grandeur—from the flood-carved walls of Cathedral Gorge State Park and the daunting expanses of parched Death Valley National Park to picturesque wetlands in Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge and the ruins of a once-mighty silver industry at Belmont Courthouse State Historic Park.
Five of Nevada’s finest state parks—Beaver Dam State Park, Cathedral Gorge State Park, Echo Canyon State Park, Kershaw-Ryan State Park, and Spring Valley State Park—make Lincoln County a must-visit destination.
Nevada Silver Trails has long been an arena for inspiring travels. Though staking a mining claim of your own might be a little difficult these days, many treasures await prepared modern adventurers in Nevada’s largest and most geographically diverse territory.
Two such grottos—Hidden Cave above the Carson Sink near Fallon and Lovelock Cave above the Humboldt Sink near Lovelock—offer glimpses into the lives of the people who used them for thousands of years.
Whether it’s rattling down Winnemucca’s Bloody Shins (mountain bike) Trail, casting a line into trout-filled South Fork Reservoir, or hiking and scaling peaks in the Jarbidge Wilderness, Cowboy Country provides destinations to suit any outdoor enthusiast.