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Just Some of Our Nevada Back Country Travel

4x4 travel overland travel adventure travel backcountry four-wheeling single-track two-track camping outdoor adventure Jeep

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#1 Moses Ludel

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 07:32 AM

Want solitude without lakes and forests?  We have the Black Rock Desert just 70 miles from home.  Just don't plan a trip here during the Burning Man, as the quietude turns to a temporary swell of 50,000 people!  The BLM and Burning Man have an agreement that after this event each year, the desert playa must be completely restored.  The revenue from this annual event is more than sufficient to do so...At the week's end, thick alkaline dust of the Playa tracks its way down the asphalt from Gerlach to Fernley, Nevada, our town, then onto I-80 in each direction!  The local Walmart, Starbucks and restaurants do a thriving business during the event week, catering to the ghostly looking participants!

 

In addition to the Black Rock Desert, there's High Rock Canyon, where Oregon Trail wagons left their mark on the canyon walls at Fly Canyon—where they were lowered from the cliffs by ropes!  This is the "oasis" after the treacherous desert crossing, and Mud Meadows' artesian springs spew cool water from the earth, feeding people, livestock and local wildlife!

 

Moses



#2 biggman100

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 07:38 AM

I would love to be able to plan a trip to some of the places i hear about out west, but, right now isn't in the cards, plus my wife is always saying if i ever made it to places like Moab, or some of the other places in the desert areas out west that i see and hear about all the time, that i would never come home. I was born in southern California, but i was too young when we moved to the east coast to remember much of it.

 

I am also a big history buff, and places that the wagon trains traveled through, or the ghost towns from the gold rush days, sound like they would be the ultimate vacation for me. I have 10 things on my to do list, and all but one is out west. I want to visit some of the western ghost towns in California, New Mexico, and Texas, visit death valley, Moab, Bonneville, mainly all the tourist places and attractions out west. The only one i want to do on the east coast is visit the McLean house in New Jersey, except now i hear they are tearing it down. The only thing my wife wants to see out west is the Winchester House, she said after that she can come home, and stay on this side of the country.



#3 Moses Ludel

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 07:48 AM

When I start covering Nevada's ghost towns and remote reaches, you'll likely add Nevada to your bucket list, biggman100.  We're an hour from Silver City and Virginia City, but I'm actually talking about Central Nevada and the NE part of the state.  Imagine a state where 87% of the land is pubic.  Even allowing for wasteland and the inaccessible Nevada Test Site, this state has a massive amount of open country.  Nevada is the fifth largest state in the U.S.

 

Like you say with NYC versus your home Upstate, most have no sense for Nevada's geography.  The Reno/Tahoe Area is actually further west than Los Angeles or San Diego—and we're 417 miles from Las Vegas (the place most think of as "Nevada").  Las Vegas and the Nevada Test Site are much closer to Los Angeles than Reno!

 

Nevada is rich in mining history, there are First People artifacts and petroglyphs throughout the Great Basin (11,000 years of "pre-history"), much to talk about and share.  Expect an overview as time passes!  I'll even put out this teaser: Given time and enough interest, I would consider conducting a ghost town tour of Northern Nevada...How does driving 120 miles without crossing a paved highway sound?

 

Moses



#4 biggman100

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 07:53 AM

I would love to drive even 50 miles without going near civilization. My father in law goes to Alaska, as i stated in one of my other posts, as much as he can, and he says he can go 100's of miles with no roads on a dog sled. i have only been to Alaska once, many years ago when i was a teen, but im trying to set it up so one of these times i can at least go with him to Arctic Man.

 

As for a ghost town tour, count me in, ill find a way to be there somehow. I have seen online a few of the professionally packaged ghost town tours, but i would prefer to go with someone who knows the out of the way, and off the beaten path places, rather than pay 100's of dollars to someone who is only interested in making a buck. And, Nevada is actually on my list, because my sister was born in Reno, and by the time she was born, i was old enough to actually remember some of the things i saw on the way to Texas when we left Nevada. Surprisingly though, unlike most people, i really have no interest in going to Las Vegas, except to see the hoover dam, which, if i remember right, is on the same road as Las Vegas. I would much rather go to the out of the way, less popular areas, than to be in the middle of a tourist trap, as i call places like Vegas, and Los Angeles, and Miami.



#5 Moses Ludel

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 08:03 AM

Ghost towns are very "alive" for me, more than history, a part of the culture at Nevada... 

 

I grew up at Carson Valley when there were 1,200 people in the valley, and the crest of Kingsbury Grade to Lake Tahoe was still a dirt road.  My graduating high school class at Gardnerville consisted of 49 students.  Into the early 'sixties, silver dollars were still in circulation, handed out as change at the grocery store. The two mercantile stores had pot bellied stoves and plank floors, we had the rodeo grounds and our fishing path to the Carson River, where pheasants burst from the hedgerows lining a sea of alfalfa fields in this cattle country.  We hunted ducks, geese, quail and pheasants, deer in fall, both before school and after football practice.

 

We learned respectful land use from ranchers, Native Americans and public land managers—how to appreciate every bit of Nevada's sparse, often fragile high desert country...The mean elevation of Nevada is 5,500 feet, with 125 mountain ranges running primarily north to south.  The tallest peaks range above 13,000 feet.

 

When I drive across Highway 50 ("Loneliest Highway in America") toward Moab each year, it's not a theme ride or reality TV segment.  For me, it's a reunion.  During early high school years, I attended Nevada Range Camp south of Austin, sponsored by the U.S.D.A. Extension Service.  We traveled to the Native American ranches, forty miles down a washboard gravel road to the bottom end of the Reese River Valley.  Surrounded by pungent sage and majestic mountain peaks, the area provided sustenance for cattle and people.  Our nights were a camp at Big Creek, its headwater a tiny pool of snow melt that you could jump across.  I landed a native 14-inch trout from under the grassy bank, a thrill rivaling steelhead I would later catch at Oregon's big rivers. 

 

The town of Austin holds a special lure, once a thriving mining district during the heyday of Virginia City.  My Nevada...Tonopah, where the Mizpah Hotel has the oldest elevator in the state—and several ghosts according to staff and certain television programs...Goldfield produced enormous wealth and hosted the famous Gans-Nelson boxing match in 1906...Ely, once flourishing with copper mines and currently host to a large elk population...Elko County with its Basque sheepherder heritage, vast cattle country, the majestic Ruby Mountains and today's richest producing gold mines in the United States...Winnemucca, also in a mineral boom, where I ran heavy equipment on the swing-graveyard shift in the fall of 1975, and our crew moved 1.6M yards of earth fill on the I-80 bypass of the town...Much more to Nevada! 

 

For me, Las Vegas is the SEMA Show annually and my drive down Highway 95 through Mina, Tonopah and Goldfield on the way there...Wild burros, cactus and history, don't miss the courthouse stop at Goldfield.  You'll find displays of early Nevada cattle brands, barbed wire, motor vehicle and other legal titles, plus artifacts from a living ghost town that once hosted 20,000 people and thrived at this high, harsh desert country.  Watch out for blizzards on this section of highway in late fall, winter and early spring, you're approaching 6,000 feet elevation!

 

That's just a glimpse, there's much more!  Tom Willis shares his own vantage in his columns at the magazine: http://www.4wdmechanix.com/Tom-Willis-OHV-Trails.html.  Click to this lead page, there are also a number of subpages that follow.  Mina, a back country travel theme for one of Tom's books, is still an active mining district!

 

Moses



#6 RareCJ8

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 08:11 AM

Once the emigrants cleared the NV deserts and hit the Warner Mountains, near present day Ft. Bidwell, they crossed over Fandango Pass, so named because they 'thought' they were home free and the early arrivals held a fandango, or party.  West of there near Goose Lake is a split, north to Oregon or west and south to the Sacramento Valley.  In any event they had a much more dangerous crossing yet to come-- The Miwok and Pit River native american tribes were very hostile.  Some journals reveal more were killed between Warner mountains and Upper Feather River (aka Red Bluff)  by hostile natives than all of the crossing of the plains.  Between Alturas and Hat Creek was particularly dangerous.  

 

Headed north into Oregon was not less dangerous.  the Kalamath bands were equally fierce.  

 

In the spirit of adventure, we're headed off to the black rock desert today for the w/e and enjoy the Persied meteor sky show-- dark skies = good viewing.

Where the pavement ends, adventure begins!

 

mark


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#7 Moses Ludel

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 08:56 AM

Lots of history, RareCJ8!  I would like to retrace and either four-wheel or dirt bike the route from Goose Lake to the Rogue River Valley...Are there maps and remaining accesses that could make this possible?  This would be a great HD video for the magazine!

 

Enjoy the meteor showers on the Black Rock!

 

Moses



#8 biggman100

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 09:09 AM

Even if i hadn't read what you wrote, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico are high on my list of places to visit, and what you wrote just made me want to visit more. My wife has talked for years about moving to Texas when she retires, and since i work pretty much for myself, and can just pack up and move my shop almost anywhere, it might be easier just to wait for that though. I don't like to fly, and my wife is terrified of getting in a plane for any reason, so we drive everywhere we go, which also helps because then i can take back roads and find interesting out of the way places, but, not flying means i would have to drive to Nevada, and all the other places i want to see out west, and it isn't always easy to have the time to do that.

 

I'm still not sure how serious my wife is though about moving to Texas, since she was born and raised in NY's snow belt, so moving to that kind of climate might be a shock for her.





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