Discover Nevada Trip (June,1999)
(Bing, Betty, Kim, "Good ol Boy" and the "Silver Bullet")
Day One (Sunday, June 6)
Left Pahrump late in the afternoon (6:00 pm) and drove North to Beatty, about 75 miles. It was after dark when we stopped at Rio Ranch RV park. We did not unhook the trailer. Had dinner at the Exchange Club (Casino). Bing and I had the NY Strip and Betty the Broasted Chicken. We all decided that the chicken was the better choice.
Day Two (Monday, June 7)
Broke camp at about 10:30 am and drove North up the Big Smokey Valley to Peavine Campground south of Round Mountain.
An unpaved road ascends Peavine Valley passing several old ranches in the lower valley. Evidence of old sod covered structures everywhere that had probably been earlier dwellings. We were paralleling Peavine Creek which was quite narrow in the lower valley. Road narrowed as we ascended to the point that Bing was concerned about being able to back out with the trailer if we had to. Ten minutes or so up this road and we had a pickup truck behind us wanting to pass. We found a spot in the road wide enough to let it, and as it passed, the driver advised us that there was a stream crossing ahead that would probably be very difficult for the trailer. We felt committed at this point. It was at least a mile or 2 backup to the closest turnaround not something we were anxious to do. Proceeding, we reached the stream and decided that we could make the ford. Switching to 4-wheel drive, we made the crossing with only minor scraping no damage done. After crossing, the road turned back on itself and goes south about ½ mile to the campsite. Peavine campground is a semi-primitive site maintained by the US Forest Service. Improvements included fire-ring, small grill, and table and pit toilet. This was to be the pattern for most of the campgrounds on this trip. No evidence of a ranger during our short stay. The camp was beautiful. Located along the creek under a massive grove of Cottonwoods. Spring is in full bloom here. Carpets of globe shaped, light purple flowers were everywhere grass and tree foliage a brilliant light green. However, the real feature of this camp was the birds the trees were "alive" with winged creatures. All day, a continuous symphony of songs surrounded us. It is a shame we forgot to bring a bird identification book as there was a larger variety here that I can recall anywhere and most unfamiliar to me. We were the only overnight campers although there were several picnickers that visited during our stay.
Peavine Creek at this point is wide enough to fish with conventional tackle, but difficult with the fly rod. Water color was clear and several pools were near the camp. It was loaded with "stocked" rainbow trout We had no problem catching as many 6-8 inch fish as we wanted. In fact, it was not unusual to have several other trout trying to snatch the fly away from a "hooked" fish. All in all, we found it a delightful area and worthy of a future visit.
Day 3 (Tuesday, June 8)
Packed-up and left Peavine Camp around 11:30 am. Our destination was to explore some of the valleys in the Round Mountain area. Round Mountain is a gold mining community. The town has recently been moved by the mining company to a new location so that the area under the old town can be mined. The mountain by that name no longer exists It has been completely mined away and nothing remains except for some very large tailing mounds We stopped overnight at a RV and Trailer park in Carvers just a place to park the trailer no ambiance. Had lunch at "the" small diner in Carvers where we were its only customers Above average hamburgers and fries. Waitress suggested several canyons we should look at; South Twin River, Ophir and Kingston. We decided to explore them all first without the trailer in search of a suitable camp site. The South Twin River had a good sized stream that was still in flood stage from snow melt-off. The water was off-color (milky). We saw several campers, but decided to look elsewhere. Ophir Canyon is the site of an old gold mine that closed down before the turn of the century. In its heyday, the community hosted around 500 people. Nothing but some old equipment and foundation ruins remain. The stream in this valley was smaller than that in South Twin River and also off-color. Fording this stream resulted in us ripping off the trailers power plug on the Suburban. This plug hangs below the rear bumper and has caused problems on previous trips We were, however, able to repair it back at camp. The third canyon was the charm. Kingston Canyon was the largest of the thee and has a small community, Kingston, at its entrance near the Big Smokey Valley highway. The valley also contained a nice sized creek with cleaner water than the other two. Eight to ten miles above the community we saw the entrance to a small Forest Service camp site but decided to continue up the canyon to see what else we could see. And what we saw A few miles above the campground, the canyon broadened into a lush, green meadow with a slow meandering creek. A mile or so of this snaking creek lead to a small lake. It was a beautiful sight The lake was reminiscent of a small Scottish Loch with sparsely timbered hills sloping right down to the shore line. We decided to go back down and check out the campground we had seen. Going higher up the Canyon appeared not to be a good choice as the road was very narrow above the lake. The campground only had about a dozen small sites but we decided that one or two would hold the trailer. By this time, it was getting dark so we returned to the trailer in Carvers where I cooked a large pot of spaghetti for supper.
Day 4 (Wednesday, June 9)
We got a fairly early start hooking up the trailer and headed for Kingston Canyon a distance of about 30 miles. Had a minor problem setting up the trailer in our chosen site. It was not very level and while trying to level the trailer, it slipped, rolled and damaged the power cord. If not for the power cord and safety chains, we would have been chasing the trailer down the hill. We also stripped out a gear in the trailer jack during this setup. Once again, nothing that could not be repaired. After recovering, we donned our waders and headed for the meadow.
On the second or third cast, I had a 10 inch trout. At first, I thought it was a Brook Trout but now think it was probable a young German Brown. As the day progressed, many more similar trout were landed and released. It was a delightful days fishing. Even saw a deer feeding in the meadow. Returned to camp before dark deciding not to try the lake as the wind had kicked up. Gathered wood for a fire and had hotdogs and smores for supper.
Day 5 (Thursday, June 10)
After a leisurely breakfast, we broke camp and hooked up for travel. Our destination this time was the Ruby Mountains near Elko. Bing had intelligence that suggested that there were several places in and around the Rubys that not only offered good fishing, but scenic vistas as well. The Lamoille Canyon was to be our first stop. On the way, we passed the Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area which contains many ancient Indian petroglyphs (Picture Writings) that have been dated to some 11,000 years ago. We decided to stop and take a small hike and to some of them. We spent about an hour here before continuing on our way. The Ruby Mountains stretch from north to south in the north eastern part of the state. As we approached from the west, they provided a grand sight. A jagged line with snow more than halfway down their sides. They were the highest mountains we had yet seen on this trip. We passed through Elko stopping to gas-up and service the trailer. Depending on what we found, it could be several days before we returned to a town the size of Elko.
Lamoille Canyon, according to the intelligence Bing had gathered, was glacier formed and uncommonly beautiful. As we started up the canyon, it was beautiful, but not uncommon. However, as we rounded the first hill and got a full view of the canyon and the angular beauty of its slopes and majestic crags our opinion changed. This place had been lifted out of the Canadian Rockies and placed in Nevada. Snow, Aspen, fast moving "white-water" streams, beavers and beaver dams, lush green meadows with wild flowers It was all there. We were really delighted It was more than was expected. We saw a sign pointing to a campground low in the canyon and decided to give it a try.
A narrow, rut road lead to a group of A-frame buildings which turned out to be a Boy Scout Camp not a public campground. One of the scouts approached the car to see what we wanted. When we told him that we were looking for a campground he told us that Thomas Canyon Campground was a little farther up the canyon road It was tight, but we found a place to turn around and headed back to the Lamoille Canyon Road and continued climbing up the canyon. Each turn opened new and exciting vistas. Thomas Canyon Campground is located at the junction of the Lamoille and Thomas Canyons. Once again, this campground was completely empty we had our pick of sites. The one we chose was located right on the Lamoille Creek. Views from this campsite can only be described as spectacular In any direction one looked, there were towering crags, waterfalls, immense stands of quaking aspen still in their light green spring attire, and majestic snow covered peaks in the distance.
By this time we unhooked the trailer, it was mid afternoon. We decided to take the car and see how far we could get up the canyon. About seven miles up from our camp, there was an avalanche of snow crossing the road. Several sets of car tracks could be seen crossing it, but a pickup was pulling someone out that hadnt been able to make it across. However, we decided to brave it since we had 4-wheel drive and, after several attempts, made it across. At about this point, the creek which we had been following turned from rapid filled and fast flowing to a meandering stream with many channels and ponds the effect of several beaver dams that had be constructed in the widening of the canyon. Snow was becoming more prevalent too. We decided it was definitely a place we would have to try our luck with the trout. We were able to continue on for only a few more miles before coming to a second avalanche over the road. This one too we were able to cross although beyond it about ½ mile we reached a point where the road was completely covered with snow as far ahead as we could see. We did some picture taking and turned back to return to camp. There were very long shadows on the crags by the time we reached it so decided to fix supper and wait for the next day before fishing. We had London Broil with baked potatoes for supper and settled back in the trailer to watch a movie. (camp life is hard )
Day 6 (Friday, June 11)
It was quite chilly when we got up this morning Clear night and we were very near the snow line. After breakfast, Bing and I grabbed our fishing gear and headed for the grassy meadows we had seen above the first avalanche. When we got there, the sun was just starting to shine over the mountains and down into the canyon. As it had been the previous evening, nothing seemed to be feeding. An absolutely beautiful trout stream and several hours fishing produced nothing larger than a minnow. It was still winter in this valley Spring was just budding and there was no food to excite the fish. Those we talked to said the fishing would pick up and be great around the middle of July. None-the-less, we had a great morning wading around and getting cold enjoying the beauty of it all. We spent the remainder of the day back in camp relaxing. I fixed a large pot of meat spaghetti for supper. Everyone to bed early.
Day 7 (Saturday, June 12)
Although the fishing had been less than spectacular, we decided to spend at least one more night in Lamoille Canyon. The scenery really was out of the ordinary. Mid morning, we decided to take a side trip sans trailer to the Ruby Meadows located about 60 miles from the camp on the east side of the mountains. There was an unpaved road through a pass that we would use to get there. Going around the mountain range would have added another 50 miles to the trip plus many of these roads would have also been unpaved. The pass was easy enough for the Suburban, but would have been a blast if we had been pulling the trailer.
Ruby Meadows is a large marshy area stretching a distance of some thirty miles along the foot of the eastern slopes of the Ruby Mountains. It is a wildlife sanctuary and a flythrough stop-over for migrating birds. Lush green reeds and other grasses are interwoven around a network of ponds and connecting rivulets. The water texture is slightly tannic but otherwise very clear. Since this was to be a sightseeing trip, we did little fishing. Bing did try several casts at a particularly large trout we saw in one of the canals. I suspect that trout has seen and rejected thousands of artificial flies. It paid not one bit of attention to Bings presentations. This place did have plenty of fish and I am sure we will visit it again one day. It is perfect for float tube fishing.
However, it was the birds and wild flowers that caught our attention on this day. There were several causeways that had been constructed within the marsh so we were able to drive for miles, with birds and flowers all around. One didnt even need to leave the car to get great photos (although we did ). We spent several hours just enjoying the scenery and taking many photos. Leaving the marsh, we decided to test the roads that went around the mountain range thereby allow ing us to visit Angel Lake a small alpine lake located on the northern end of the range. We had been told by the local ranger that the Angel Lake campground was still snowed in, but that the lake was open. Since this was a trip of discovery, we decided it needed to be looked at.
Angel Lake is but a short distance from Wells, NV. A narrow, winding, but paved road (with no shoulders), snaked high up the mountain going above the snow line and dead-ended at the lake. There were more cars and people here than we had seen elsewhere on the entire trip. Probably 15-20 men, women & children were fishing from a sidewalk that spanned a small dam near the parking lot. Everyone was catching fish. Both Rainbow and Brook trout, averaging 10-12 inches in length, were being taken in great numbers. Many of these fishermen had heavy strings of fish. With a 5 fish per person limit, several must have been adding to a common stringer (or ignoring the law). These were "meat" fishermen probably from Wells. Most seemed to be using some sort of a concocted bait known as "Power Bait" and while definitely not doing it for pure sport, were certainly having a good time. I have nothing against taking a few fish home to cook, but this was more like fishing for the freezer. The lake was beautiful. It was crystal clear and still mostly frozen over. There were several ice free areas around the shore line and it was at these places people were fishing. Bing did rig-up his fly rod and tried a few casts, but the day went to the "Power Baiters". We left in about an hour. The shadows were getting long and we still over 50 miles from our camp.
This was a night of "leftovers" for supper followed by the movie, "True Grit", before retiring for the evening.
Day 8 (Sunday, June 13)
This was to be a moving day We slept late, had a quick breakfast, packed our junk away and hooked up. We were heading for Wild Horse Reservoir about 60 miles north of Elko. We had heard stories about big fish being caught there and we wanted to check it out. Wild Horse Reservoir is located near another smaller mountain range but this one still had snow too. However, it was snow free in the area we were heading We arrived shortly after noon and saw that this lake was fairly large I would guess it to be about 4 to 5 miles long and as much as ½ mile across in some places. Its shoreline is completely treeless and in a high desert setting. There were several campgrounds located around the lake each containing many RVs of all sizes and condition. As this was Sunday, many campers were packing for the trip home. It was not exactly what we had envisioned. The afternoon was the hottest we had had so far. Temperature was probably well above 90 and parking the trailer amongst a bunch of others in the hot sun did not appeal to us. Our map showed another campground at Wild Horse Crossing a few miles below the dam on the Owyhee River so we decided to check it out. Leaving the lake and dam, one enters a narrow canyon with a winding road. We noted that the Owyhee River was good sized and had plenty of water in it. It actually looked more interesting than did the lake. The Forest Service campground at Wild Horse Crossing had some trees and was nestled between the river and sloping canyon walls. We picked a site next to a small babbling brook that emptied into the Owyhee near there. It was a nice camp and we were its only occupants. There was still plenty of time left for some fishing.
We had come over to the reservoir in hopes of finding some place to try out our float tubes. Wild Horse Reservoir seemed a little big for the tubes and we were a little disappointed. So, we got the map out to see if there was anything else in the area and found a smaller reservoir about 25 miles from our camp. Our Delorme Atlas said it had fish in it so we decided to go search it out. The road getting there turned out to be unpaved and rough enough that we had to take our time in the Suburban. This 25 miles was going to be longer than it sounded. The road snaked through some beautiful ranch meadows, over a ridge and into and out of several dense groves of aspen. As we ascended, we once again found spring. The aspen wore light green foliage and wild flowers abounded. These were the densest stands of aspen we had yet seen on the trip. Unfortunately, after over an hour into the trip, fences with posted signs appeared "Posted. Property of IL Ranch. No Trespassing". By this time though, we were committed. Not all areas were fenced but it kept coming and going. We passed through eminence fields of tall, sky blue flowers of some unknown variety. At first we thought them to be "blue flag" iris but they werent. We finally caught sight of the reservoir in the distance (the fence had returned) We continued on. The map showed a smaller road leading to the lake but when we got to it, there was an ever larger sign. This one said that fishing the reservoir was permissible, but access was by foot only. No vehicles or horses allowed. From the look of it, the lake was probably over a mile from our road. It would take us over an hour to carry in our gear. That would have left us maybe an hours fishing and a return trip to the can in the dark. We were tempted, but Turning the car around, we took another hour to return to the paved road. Near here, we saw a small dam on the river one designed to allow a small pond to feed an irrigation ditch to another joining valley. This dam was only about 5-6 feet high and had water spilling over the top continuing down the river. We stopped to see if we could see any feeding fish. There were a few, but not many and these were small.
While we watched though, Bing said he though he saw a fish trying to jump the falls. Sure enough, after several more minutes, we both saw a large, 18-20 inch fish try to jump over the falls. He missed by inches. In the next 10 minutes, we saw several more fish of various size attempt the same jump. None made it while we watched, but one fish had the height and would have had he not crashed into a concrete separator dividing the falls. Our fishing blood was running high now, but it was almost dark and the spot would have been nearly impossible to fish due to heavy bushes overhanging the river there. Since it was not yet completely dark, we decided to check out Wild Horse Reservoir again to see if we could find a fisherman to talk to. By this time, most wind had subsided, and the lake was quite calm. Calm enough for us to see several feeding trout. We saw some guys fishing and stopped to talk. They had a nice string of rainbow trout with several fish in the 15-17 inch class. Perhaps we had been a little hasty in not trying the larger lake. These were bait fisherman, but said that one of their friends with them had done some fly fishing that morning in the river and had caught 15 inch rainbows. By this time it was dark so we returned to camp leaving the fishing for the following day. Betty had stayed behind to catch up on her painting and, by the time we arrived, had started supper. We had vegetable spaghetti and watched another movie. I believe it was "Bullets Over Broadway" a Woody Allen film. It was late when we finally got to sleep.
Day 9 (Monday, June 14)
Woke to a pleasant morning. Cool, but warmer than it had been for several days. Bing and I decided to try fishing the river first. For the first time on this trip, it was warm enough to wear shorts. We even decided against waders intending to fish from the river bank as that seemed pretty clear from what we could see. An access road descended to the river about a half mile below the dam. This was a sizable dam with a good deal of water flowing over the top. It was about 10:00 am and there were three other fly fishermen just coming off the river. They indicated that the fishing had been good earlier but also that they had had no strikes for at least an hour. We decide to go on anyway.
The river is a little deep at this point to cross by wading, but there was a foot bridge. Bing took off ahead of me and after a few minutes called back and said that we probably should have worn our waders after all. There was a deep stream entering the river and it would have to be crossed before we could approach the dam. We decided not to go back to the car but to go ahead and get our shoes wet. Once done, it really wasnt bad. We knew the temperature would be warming as the day progressed anyway. We started fishing our way upstream before reaching the dam. Each of us had several nice hits, but no fish. Bing reached the pool below the dam first and had another good hit but no fish. Shortly he called me to come up and try my luck saying he wanted to try again farther down the river. By this time, I had already jumped 2 fish that were bigger than anything I had seen on this trip so far. I guessed that they were in each in the 14-15 inch range. Shortly after Bing left, I tossed a nymph into the pool below the dam, letting the eddy currents carry my fly back under the falling water. On the second cast I set the hook on a fish. It exploded out of the water. A bright silver slash that would have looked more in place on one of the steelhead streams of the Pacific Northwest. A dash to the other side of the river crossing the falls, and another jump. This was a big fish. Several jumps later and after scrambling to a better landing site (we had no nets with us), I gently coaxed this beautiful fish over a shallow rock bar and onto the shore. This bright fish was destined for the dinner table. Seeing all the commotion, Bing came running up with his camera and took some shots of the fish. When we got back to camp, we would measure and find the fish to be 20 inches long. Bing made a fish stringer from a cut willow branch so that we could keep the fish fresh in the water and away from the hot sun. He returned to his fishing and I spent several more minutes fishing below the falls with no other discernable strikes. I did manage to loose my fly on a bad back-cast though. Moving down river some 50 yards to the next run, I choose a new fly, another nymph, and continued to probe for another fish. The line pauses, I set, and another explosion. A dash down river and another jump. Things are tighter here Overhanging willow and sage branches and jagged rocks. Lots of ways to lose this fish. By this time I am in the water. The fish makes a dash past me heading upstream. He stops and I slowly turn him around Another dash this time downstream. My choices of landing spots are not as good this time as the last. I maneuver the fish behind some rocks and finally up onto a narrow lip of dirt at the edge of a two foot high bank Another fish to add to the stringer. It will measure 15 inches when we return to camp. I was lucky. We were not rigged for this size fish and I succeeded in landing two. We were both using light tipped leaders in the 3 pound class riggings for much smaller fish.
We returned to camp around 1:00 pm and got a snack. Since we had not yet tried our float tubes, we decided that this would be a good time to give them a try. However, it was very hot out so we waited for the sun to get a little lower in the sky. It was late afternoon when we headed for the reservoir with our float tubes and chest waders which were a necessity for float tubing in these cold waters. We found a likely spot near where we had talked to the fishermen earlier. We donned the waders, grabbed our tackle and tubes (which we had inflated back in camp), and headed to the water as fast as we could. Chest waders out of water and in the desert can be very hot and we wanted to get them wet as fast as possible. Once we were in the water, the temperature was just right. Using a float tubes is akin to taking your favorite easy chair fishing with you. One just sits back and slowly kicks flippered feet to move from one place to another. You dont move fast, and you wouldnt want it to be too windy, but on a calm day like we had, it can really be relaxing. As we started fishing, there was not much visible feeding action. Occasionally, we would see a swirl or two, but usually they were out of casting range. While floating around, one could not help but marvel at the beauty of this place. In the cove we were fishing, there was no evidence of the numerous RVs that are parked all around Wild Horse Reservoir they were hidden from view by rolling hills. Looking south, We could see the spring green, sage covered desert sloping up to meet the snow capped Independence Mountains in the distance. These are the same plains we had visited earlier trying to access the smaller reservoir. There were enough clouds in the sky that we knew we would have a beautiful sunset. We fished until the sun disappeared behind the hills. Fishing was not good. I suspect we just didnt offer them what they were feeding on. I did catch several small yellow perch on a dry fly, but no trout. This place was really relaxing. Excepting the very occasional car on the highway, the only sound we could hear was some distant cattle bellowing for their supper. It was nearly black dark when we finally paddled back to shore and to the car. Supper was leftovers. This was to be the last fishing day on this trip. We would head back south towards Pahrump in the morning. It was time for restocking and some R & R.
Days 10-11 (Tuesday Wednesday, June 15-16)
We had a rather uneventful return trip to Pahrump. We did decide to take a different route back so that we could see the eastern part of the state. We traveled through Ely and spent the night at a RV park in Pioche. Pioche is an old mining and cowboy town. In its days, it was known as a rough and dangerous place. Today it is a recovering ghost town with hopes of becoming a tourist mecca. We walked around town and took some pictures before dark. We got to bed early as we wanted to get an early start the next day. Shortly after dawn, we hooked-up and completed our trip back to Pahrump. We arriving at Bing and Bettys house around noon. It will be good to kick-back "at home" before venturing forth again
"Discover Nevada" Trip Map.
(Revised - 8/8/01)