Did you know, there is a lot more to Nevada than the glitter of the Las Vegas strip?
Hands down, the most beautiful place in Nevada is Lincoln county, on the eastern border with Utah. The landscape varies from wetlands and exotic deserts to pinyon pine and cedar forests. Within Lincoln county, you will find many outdoor adventures; hiking, hunting and off-roading opportunities are abundant. In fact, there is an extensive off-road trail system, Nevada Silver Trails, which also offers free camping opportunities.
State Parks in Lincoln County
Lincoln county also is home to five of the most beautiful Nevada state parks. Kershaw-Ryan, very close to the old railroad town of Caliente, is a natural hot spring oasis. Echo Canyon and Spring Valley state parks are centered around reservoirs, and offer fishing and boating opportunities. Beaver Dam state park, is on the Utah border. Beaver Dam is a remote landscape of deep valleys, flowing streams, waterfalls, and fragrant pine forests. Finally, Cathedral Gorge state park sits directly across from the small town of Panaca. Cathedral Gorge is a wonderland of exotic, pink rock formations, called hoodoos, and narrow, maze-like slot canyons.
Kershaw-Ryan State Park
This beautiful canyon was first settled in 1873, by Samuel and Hannah Kershaw as the Meadow Valley Wash Ranch. Subsequently, the property in 1904 went to rancher James Ryan. Ryan donated the land in 1926 as a public park. Finally, in 1934, the Civilian Conservation Corps developed it, and Kershaw–Ryan State Park became one of Nevada’s first state parks.
Kershaw-Ryan has a 15 back-in RV sites, each with a ramada, picnic table, fire ring and grill. The campsite also has with coin-operated showers, a restroom, and a dump station. There is a camping limit of seven days in a 30-day period. It is on the southern edge of the town of Caliente, with a grocery store and laundromat.
Echo Canyon State Park
Echo Canyon offers a variety of year round outdoor activities. The 65 acre reservoir is perfect for boating, fishing and swimming. The lake is home to a variety of waterfowl, including coots, mallard ducks, teals and herons. Crappie, rainbow trout, largemouth bass, and German brown trout fil the lake. Campers can also enjoy seeing hawks, eagles, owls and vultures, that soar throughout the valleys and canyons. Commonly seen wildlife includes rabbits, coyotes, deer and an occasional bobcat.
Camping: The RV campground has 20 full hook-up sites, on a hill overlooking Dry Valley. The facilities include flush toilets and an RV dump station. A camping limit of 14 days in a 30-day period is enforced. The north campground also has 33 campsites open on a first-come, first-served basis. Drinking water is available near each site.
Spring Valley State Park
Volcanic rock and sediment grace Spring Valley with a beautiful light gray, pink and white backdrop. It’s a popular place for fishing, boating, swimming and camping. The 59 acre Eagle Valley Reservoir offers the opportunity to catch tiger, rainbow, and German brown trout. The lake also attracts an variety of waterfowl, including coots, mallard ducks, herons, avocets and the occassional trumpeter swan. The park also features the opportunity to tour amazing, historic ranches built in the late 1800s. These gorgeous ranches are nestled in beautiful Eagle Valley. Campers share the canyons and valleys with soaring hawks, vultures, eagles and songbirds.
Camping: Horsethief Gulch is the main campground. It’s located west of Eagle Valley Reservoir. It has 37 campsites, each with table, grill and shade ramada. There are also three restrooms, two with showers. Water is also available. The Ranch Campground is located two miles north of the main campground. It has seven campsites, with tables and grills. Water and primitive restrooms are available. The camping limit is seven days in a 30-day period.
Beaver Dam State Park
Beaver Dam State Park has a rustic and primitive natural beauty, offering a peaceful and remote environment. Crossed by streams and featuring waterfalls, juniper, pinyon, and ponderosa forests, the park also features dramatic outcrops of volcanic and sedimentary rocks. The park is as a designated Watchable Wildlife Area, and visitors can see turkeys, rabbits and porcupines during their visit. Beaver Dam is also home to mule deer, coyotes, fox, bobcats, great blue herons and an occasional mountain lion, as well as many different lizards and snakes.
Camping: The park has two developed campgrounds, with individual campsites offering a firepit, picnic table and parking for one vehicle and a small trailer. Camping is first-come, sites may not be reserved. Drinking water is available from April through November, and vault toilets are available year-round. There is no trailer dump station at the park. Camping is limited to 14 days in a 30-day period.
Catheral Gorge State Park
Cathedral Gorge is located in a long, narrow valley, directly across from the small town of Panaca. Erosion has carved the soft, bentonite clay into dramatic and unique patterns. The Gorge’s unique beauty began with a volcanic activity that deposited layers of ash, hundreds of feet thick. The park has great walking trails, for exploring the slot caves and hoodoos. A photographer’s dream, the park offers stunning views of the scenic canyon, especially at sunset and sunrise. Visitors can enjoy hiking, picnicking, camping and nature.
Camping: The campground has 22 sites, each with a table, grill and shade ramada, with electric hookups. The park also has WiFi available, for a small fee. Sites cannot be reserved. Water and flush restrooms with showers are open year-around. Camping is limited to 14 days in a 30-day period.
Lincoln county is also home to the “living ghost town” of Pioche. Pioche was once a rough and tumble silver mining town. You can still see the remains of the old mine, as well as many historic buildings, such as the Million Dollar Court House. Today, Pioche is a good jumping off point to explore the rest of Lincoln county. Stay at the historic Overland hotel, built in the early 1900’s. The Overland is reputed to be haunted, and in fact, the show Ghost Adventures filmed an episode there in 2014.
If you crave fresh air, natural beauty and solitude, put Lincoln county Nevada on your list!