Practically everyone is familiar with such Nevada state parks as Valley of Fire, Cathedral Gorge, Lake Mead, Red Rock Canyon, and Lake Tahoe; however, this great state boasts several other, largely unknown state parks and state recreation areas. Whether they are under-appreciated, unknown, or simply off the beaten path, any or all of these gorgeous and fun state parks are, truly, worth visiting.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park, Las Vegas
The fort was built by Mormon missionaries in 1855, and a remnant of it stands today. The park also boasts a visitor center that contains many historic artifacts. Of particular note is that this is the only state park in a U.S. city that houses the first building ever constructed in that city.
2. Berlin–Ichthyosaur State Park, Berlin
This 1,540-acre state park sits at 7,000 feet above sea level in Nye County. It is known for its undisturbed ichthyosaur fossils and the included ghost town of Berlin. In fact, in 1973, the numerous fossils were designated as a National Natural Landmark. Camping, picnicking, and guided tours of the fossil beds and ghost town, including a guided tour partly into the old Berlin mine, are among the various activities in this state park.
3. Echo Canyon State Park, Pioche
Echo Canyon State Park sits adjacent to a 35-acre reservoir that is stocked twice a year with trout, and, in addition to fishing, is wonderful for boating, tubing, and swimming. The park also has two campgrounds and beautiful hiking trails.
4. Wild Horse State Recreation Area, Elko
This 120-acre state park contains a 2,830-acre reservoir that was originally constructed in 1937 and later enlarged in 1969. Traditional summer park activities such as fishing, camping, hiking, and picnicking are popular, and in the winter visitors enjoy ice skating on the frozen reservoir, ice fishing, snowmobiling, skiing, and sledding.
5. Washoe Lake State Park, Carson City
Located between Reno and Carson City, Washoe Lake State Park sits on over 8,000 acres amid the Sierra Nevada, Virginia, and Carson mountain ranges. The park boasts such activities as
camping, boating, swimming, hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, picnicking, water and windsurfing, animal and bird watching, and nature study. In addition to the over 100 bird species seen in the park, a variety of other animals like coyotes and deer are frequently seen.
6. Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, Blue Diamond
Located in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area just 25 minutes from Las Vegas, Spring Mountain Ranch State Park preserves the historic Sandstone Ranch, a working cattle ranch founded in 1876. Today, the park boasts several historical sites such as the main ranch house, cabin, bunkhouse, barn, blacksmith's shop, corral, outhouse, chinchilla shed, and family cemetery. A number of hiking trails such as the Ash Grove and Overlook Interpretive Trails provide breathtaking views. Picnicking, hiking, photography, and nature study are also popular activities at this beautiful park.
7. Rye Patch State Recreation Area, Lovelock
Rye Patch State Recreation Area is located on a 22-mile long reservoir with 72 miles of shoreline and 11,000 acres of water surface. Among the popular activities are picnicking, camping, swimming, boating, hiking, and water-skiing; however, this park is an angler's dream with ample catfish, white and black bass, and walleye. There is also abundant wildlife: hawks, eagles, owls, egrets, antelope, deer, and fox are plentiful.
8. Kershaw-Ryan State Park, Caliente
Kershaw-Ryan State Park provides a stark contrast to the surrounding desert. 700-foot high walls surround a lush valley with natural springs which help nourish wild grapevines, white oaks, numerous fruit trees, and willows. There is also a pond on site that serves as a children's wading pool. Park activities include hiking, picnicking, camping, bird and animal watching, and nature study.
9. Lahontan State Recreation Area, Fallon
Surrounding Lahontan Reservoir (created in 1902 when Lahontan Dam was constructed courtesy of the Newlands Reclamation Act) and approximately 18 miles west of Fallon, this state park is a wonderful place for boating, water skiing, fishing, and camping. There are also numerous trails, two fully developed picnic areas, and one developed campground for those who don't want to "rough" it with "primitive" camping.
Nevada is chock full of state parks, many off the beaten path, yet as beautiful and enjoyable as those more familiar. With the warmer spring weather, now is the time to visit. How many of these awesome state parks have you been to? Please comment below.