Getting Away from It All
Rural Nevada offers unlimited solitude and scenery at off-the-grid campgrounds.
BY ERIC CACHINERO
Traffic jams, smog, lines, crowds, the DMV, cellphones, deadlines, alarm clocks…when will it all stop?
It stops when you say it stops.
Through the chaos of everyday life that many of us experience, serenity never ceases to whisper in our ear. In fact, when dealing with life’s sometimes-less-than-ideal aspects mentioned above, nature’s constant calling may increase in volume to a violent roar, signaling the time to retreat to the state’s rural recesses for some rest, relaxation, recreation, and recuperation. When you need to really get away from it all, Nevada offers a host of rural campgrounds that invite the adventurous traveler to press pause on normal life for a couple days and nights and answer the call of the wild.
There’s no better place to get away from it all than the rural campgrounds surrounding the remote town of Jarbidge, located on Nevada’s northeastern border. The majestic and mysterious Jarbidge River runs through a canyon of the same name, and in many places along the water’s edge lie a handful of designated campgrounds.
Pine Creek Campground, not to be confused with the other campground by the same name in central Nevada, lies a couple miles south of Jarbidge, and provides several first-come, first-served sites; a vault toilet; fire rings; and picnic tables. Dense trees provide shady comfort, and the river runs right alongside some sites. The area is renowned for its fishing and off-road offerings, as well as miles and miles of the majestic Jarbidge Wilderness.
Other nearby campgrounds located within Jarbidge Canyon include Lower and Upper Bluster Campgrounds, Pavlak Campground, and Sawmill Campground.
VIRGIN VALLEY CAMPGROUND
Located just south of State Route 140 in northwestern Nevada near Denio, Virgin Valley Campground provides a great basecamp for the myriad outdoor offering in the area. The campground is located within the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge and offers 12 designated sites, several fishing ponds, and a soaking pond. The soaking pond—located in the middle of the campground—is a warm-spring-fed pool that maintains a temperature of around 85 degrees. There is also a rustic shower house on the edge of the pond that allows campers to take a rinse in the spring water. The nearby Dufurrena Ponds offer opportunities for birdwatching and fishing, and there is even a fishing pond for children younger than 12, adults older than 65, and people with disabilities.
The campground is popular with hunters, as well as those testing their luck mining opals at any one of the nearby opal mines. The Virgin Valley Black Fire Opal—Nevada’s official state precious gemstone—is unique to the hills surrounding the campground.
Nestled along the western flank of the Toiyabe Range in central Nevada at about 8,500 feet lies Columbine Campground. The locale offers five first-come, first-served sites that include fire rings, picnic tables, and a vault toilet. The journey to this scenic hideout provides campers with spectacular views of the Toiyabe Range, as well as the surrounding aspen groves. The babbling Stewart Creek winds its way alongside the campground and provides water year-round.
Columbine lies right at the border of Arc Dome Wilderness, and campers can enjoy short hiking trails right from the campground. For those seeking more adventure, the campground provides access to the nearby Toiyabe Crest Trail—an approximately 70-mile hiking trail meant for advanced desert hikers. The trail provides some of the most scenic views offered in central Nevada.
PINE CREEK CAMPGROUND
Located in central Nevada along the eastern edge of the Toquima Range lies the remote Pine Creek Campground. The 10-site location provides three pit toilets as well as fire rings, tables, and barbecues. Typically open from May to November (weather permitting), Pine Creek is a popular destination for setting up hunting camp, and even offers fishing opportunities in the nearby creeks. Views of Monitor Valley, Mt. Jefferson, and Table Mountain are plentiful.
Campers are within off-roading distance of several nearby must-sees, including Diana’s Punchbowl—a scenic geothermal cauldron—as well as the historic town of Belmont.
While Stevens Camp isn’t technically a campground, it does provide first-come, first-served camping opportunities with unmatched solitude. Located in Nevada’s northwestern corner—just on the border of the Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area—Stevens Camp is a recreational cabin open year-round to public use, providing a modern oasis in the desert. The cabin is special in that it offers bunks, chairs, picnic tables, and other amenities to those willing to drive the dirt-road distances to reach it.
Just south of Stevens Camp lies the historical High Rock Canyon, an area marked by its unmatched beauty. The canyon is a popular destination for off-road vehicles seeking a true remote desert-driving experience.