Tour of Nevada
Ready to roll into Nevada with our Polaris RZR XP and Ford F-350 Superduty
My son is in 5th grade and has an
assignment to do a report on one of the United States. Well, he picked Nevada,
and we concocted a plan to do a tour of Nevada and bring along one of our
UTVs to help us explore all that the Silver State has to offer. We spent ten
days off-roading, visiting nationals and state parks, touring museums and
wandering around old ghost towns.
Our route took us through the state capitol, Carson
City, then east on US 50 "The Loneliest Highway". Along US 50, we stopped
at Sand Mountain Recreation Area, several Pony Express Stations and over
nine mountain passes before reaching Highway 93 just east of Ely. From
there we will swing into the Great Basin National Park before heading south
on Highway 93 which is also known as the Great Basin Highway. We visited
Cathedral George State Park and Delamar Ghost Town on our way south. After
an overnight in Mesquite, we visited Logandale, Valley of Fire State Park and Nellis
Dunes before stopping in Las Vegas. We made a trip over to the
Hoover Dam for a tour, then did some tourist stuff in Las Vegas for a few
Heading back north, we visited the Amargosa Sand
Dunes, Beatty, Rhyolite, Clayton Valley Dunes, Tonopah, Crescent Dunes, Hawthorne and Yerington. Near
Yerington we headed off-road to see the ghost town of Pine Grove
before looping back up towards Carson City.
We stopped at just about every Historic Marker along
the way and visited local museums and visitor bureaus as well to make sure
up all the rich history that the Silver State has to offer.
Our truck and UTV rack with Polaris RZR XP
We received a lot of comments on our
Facebook page, questions via
email and a ton of people asking questions every time we stop about our UTV
truck rack. I snapped a few pictures along the way that really illustrate
how the UTV sits as compared to a cab over camper. The top of the roll cage
is slightly higher that the camper, but it feels more stable.
The truck is a 2011 F350 Superduty crew cab shortbed. The rack was built by
Roggy Enterprises, and the truck features frame mounted camper tie-downs
up front, air bags and a 2.5"
ICON Vehicle Dynamics leveling kit. Air bags are a necessity and the
ICON shocks really made the ride super plush.
We thought quite a bit about what to take on this trip (motorhome+trailer,
truck+trailer or truck+rack) and this setup was absolutely the perfect
solution for this trip. We drove about 200 miles on dirt roads and in some
tight parking lots that would have been a challenge with a trailer and
impossible with a motorhome. The biggest downside is the cost of the motels
(I do like shower and a bed though....).
I feel that we were much more flexible to pull over quickly at Historic
markers and random things that interested us.
Polaris RZR XP
Our UTV of choice for this adventure was our
2011 Polaris RZR XP 900.
Our RZR XP features Pro Armor doors and harnesses, STI Tires & Wheels,
DragonFire Racing bumpers, spare tire carrier, flying v brace, a-arms and
high clearance radius links, Fox shocks, Beard seats, Lowrance GPS, PURE
Polaris rock skids and trailing arm guards, Unisteer power steering, Muzzys
exhaust and Rugged Radios. Our XP continues to exceed our expectations in a
wide variety of terrain and we even raced it at
King of the Hammers
in February. It also fits nicely on our truck rack!
Carson City to Sand Mountain
Carson City - Railroad Museum, State Capitol, State Museum, US Mint
Fallon and Grimes Point
Tour of Nevada - Day 1 - Photo gallery on Facebook
Sand Springs Pony Express Station - Covered by sand for over a
hundred years, Sand Springs Station lay undisturbed until 1976. It was
rediscovered by a team of Archaeologists, then excavated and stabilized
in 1977. The Pony Express holds a special place in the imagination
and folklore of America. The "Pony" lasted only 19 months, from April
1860 to November 1861, but it quickly became a legend. At a time before
there were airplanes, telephones, railroads or even a telegraph, the
Pony carried the mail 2,000 miles in just 12 days in the summer and 14
days in the winter. As the Civil War loomed, it provided the Union with
a vital link to its far-flung Western territories, including the silver
mines of the Comstock and the gold fields of California.
Racing against time, the Pony had to overcome vast distances, hostile
Indians and a harsh climate. But it could not overcome progress. When
the transcontinental telegraph was completed on October 24, 1861,
messages could be sent from coast to coast in just minutes. The Pony was
doomed and it died only twenty-seven days later.
Sand Mountain Recreation Area, Nevada - Located in Churchill
County, just north of U.S. Highway 50, "The Loneliest Road in
America," Sand Mountain is 25 miles east of Fallon, Nevada. Managed
by the U. S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM),
the sand dunes of the 4,795 acre recreation fee area provide challenge
and excitement for off-highway vehicle riders, hikers & sandboarders.
Project Shoal, Atomic Bomb Test Site - 12.5 Kiloton nuclear
device – equivalent to the energy released by the detonation of 12,500
tons of TNT high explosive or about 80% of the energy of the bomb that
was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. The explosion occurred in a tunnel
carved into the solid granite of the Sand Springs Mountain Range. It
produced a cylindrical shaped cavity, called a nuclear rubble chimney,
which is approximately 166 feet in diameter and 446 feet in height. At
the bottom of the cavity lies over 10,000 metric tons of porous,
fractured radioactive rock slag.
Mines around Sand Mountain area
Nevada Tour Day 2 - Photo gallery on Facebook
Sand Mountain to Ely - One of the best ways to
experience Nevada is to travel Highway 50 -- the so-called "Loneliest
Road in America." Highway 50 roughly parallels the Pony Express Trail,
which goes from Silver Springs through Fallon and along the towns across
Highway 50. Remnants of the Pony Express Route are visible for much of
the way. Stretching the width of Nevada, Highway 50 is a fascinating
scenic and historic corridor through a land seemingly untouched by man.
Traveling Highway 50 is also a great way to see how
Nevada is the most mountainous state. The Basin and Range region (of the
Great Basin in the State of Nevada) is the product of geological forces
stretching the earth's crust, creating many north-south trending
mountain ranges. These ranges are separated by flat valleys or basins.
These hundreds of ranges make Nevada the most mountainous state in the
country. We crossed over nine summits from Sand Mountain to Ely.
Fairview Peak Earthquake Faults -
On December 16, 1954, a
magnitude 7.1 earthquake created a fault rupture 80 kilometers
long with up to 5 meters of displacement.
Middlegate Station - Pony Express and Overland Stage Coach Station
Pony Express Stations along US 50
Stokes Castle - Austin, Nevada - Stokes Castle is a three-story stone tower located just outside of Austin, Nevada. It was built by Anson Phelps Stokes, a mine developer, railroad magnate, and banker. Intending the building as a summer home, Stokes began building the castle in 1896, completing it in 1897.
Nevada Tour Day 3 - Photo gallery on Facebook
Lehman Caves, Great Basin National Park - In 1922 President Warren
G. Harding issued presidential proclamation establishing Lehman Caves
National Monument. On October 27, 1986 President Ronald Regan signed the
Great Basin National Park Act creating a 76,000-acre park that included
what was the Lehman Caves National Monument.
Cathedral Gorge State Park is
located in a long, narrow valley where erosion has carved
dramatic and unique patterns in the soft bentonite clay. Trails abound
for exploring the cave-like formations and cathedral-like spires.
Delamar, Nevada - We heard about a cool ghost town called Delamar
which was south of Caliente on Hwy 93. Down a dirt road about 15 miles
was all the directions we received....
So off we went. At about mile 20 we had no signs of any ghost town. We
stopped and I dug out a Nevada topo map that had Delamar on it. We
determined we had gone too far and missed a turn somewhere. Back we went
and stopped 10 miles later at a turnoff that looked promising, but no
sign. My son and I decided to go for it anyways because it looked about
right based on the topo map. Well the road got ugly and we stopped and
decided o unload our Polaris RZR XP and see if we could find the
illusive Delmar. It was a good decision because I would not have been
happy driving my truck up this billy goat trail. The ghost town and
mining area was quite an expansive settlement that boasted more than
1,500 residents, a hospital, an opera house, churches, a school, several
businesses and saloons. Most buildings were made of native rock. The
Delamar mill handled up to 260 tons of ore daily.
In 1889, prospectors John Ferguson and Joseph Sharp
discovered gold around Monkeywrench Wash. A mining camp was then born
west of the Monkeywrench Mine. It was called
In April 1894, Captain Joseph Raphael De Lamar
bought most of the important mines in the area and renamed the Ferguson
camp as Delamar. In the same year, a newspaper called the
Delamar Lode began publication and a post
office was opened.
Soon, the new settlement boasted more than 1,500
residents, a hospital, an opera house, churches, a school, several
businesses and saloons. Most buildings were made of native rock.
By 1896, the Delamar mill was handling up to 260
tons of ore daily. Water for the camp was pumped from a well in Meadow
Valley Wash, some twelve miles away. Supplies and materials traveled
even further, by mule team over mountainous terrain from the railroad
head at Milford, Utah, which was 150 miles from Delamar.
Nevada Tour Day 4 - Photo gallery on Facebook
Logandale Trail System - Located about 65 miles northeast of Las
Vegas, the Logandale Trails System covers 45,000 acres of desert, washes
and vivid sandstone cliffs west of Logandale and north of Valley of Fire
State Park. The Logandale Trails System (LTS) contains over 200
miles of trails, suitable for a variety of OHVs. Sand, rocks and desert
trails make this a great place to explore in a UTV. We will
definitely be back!
Valley of Fire State Park
- The Valley of Fire derives its name from red sandstone formations,
formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of dinosaurs, 150
million years ago. Complex uplifting and faulting of the region,
followed by extensive erosion, have created the present landscape.
Nellis Dunes - The dunes are
just north of Nellis Air Force
Base and only 15 miles northeast of Las Vegas. This area has been
proposed as a Clark County OHV Park, but is currently controlled by BLM
and is mostly day-use.
Nevada Tour Day 5 - Photo gallery on Facebook
Las Vegas - Hoover Dam tour
Nevada Tour Day 6 - Photo gallery on Facebook
Las Vegas to Tonopah along Highway 95
Amargosa Sand Dunes
- Amargosa or Big Dune is a playground that covers about five square
miles of dunes, and its centerpiece is a peak that tops out at 500 feet.
Expect to find steep hill climbs and sharp ridges at the dune which is
located about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
Clayton Valley Dunes - Clayton Valley dune field is located in the southern part of
Clayton Valley, 7 miles south of
Nevada, and is accessible via dirt/gravel road. This is a very remote dune with very little use.
If you like to dune all by yourself, this is the dune to visit.
Nevada Tour Day 8
- Photo gallery on Facebook
Dunes - This small dune complex near Tonopah is often deserted. Mostly used
by local riders. There are no signs, and the area feels very remote.
These dunes form under winds that blow consistently from one direction
and form crescent shaped dunes.
Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park -
Berlin, a turn-of-the-century mining town, is preserved in a
state of arrested decay. A trail through the town site tells the story
of Berlin and its mine. Ichthyosaurs (pronounced “ick-thee-o-sores”)
were ancient marine reptiles that swam in a warm ocean covering central
Nevada 225 million years ago. Remains of these giant marine vertebrates
are on display at the park’s Fossil House.
Nevada Tour Day Nine - Photo gallery on Facebook
Pine Grove - An Indian showed William Wilson the gold bearing
rocks in June of 1866 and prospectors stampeded the area through the
summer. At first called Wilsonville, the camp was renamed Pine Grove,
with a post office, the weekly news, and a population of 200. Two steam
powered stamp mills and three arrastras treated both gold and silver
ores, while stages and freight lines brought in supplies and hauled out
In the early 1870s, the population reached it's peak of
600. The tri-sectioned camp straggled for a mile of the canyon and
contained five saloons, three hotels, a variety store, a hardware store,
a Wells Fargo agent, a dance hall, blacksmith shops, general
merchandise, barbershops, a shoeshine shop, a school, oxen yards, livery
stables, and two doctor's offices.
Towards the end of the decade, the mines began to
decline and by 1893, the mines were worked only intermittently. Today,
only a few individuals work the mines from time to time.
Most of the buildings in Pine Grove were destroyed some
years ago when a severe storm sent a mudslide down the canyon destroying
almost everything in its path. Today, only a few buildings still remain.
Most notably the old boarding house which has about two feet of dirt
covering the first floor.
Pine Grove also served as a regional supply center for
local ranchers until the later part of the decade, when the mines began
Pine Grove is reachable by OHV from a few directions on
Forest Service roads. It is best to have a GPS with topo.
Nevada Tour Day 10 - Photo gallery on Facebook