Nowhere Nevada and Why You Should Visit

This summer, my family and I traveled to Northern Nevada to take a break from the heat. We visited my grandma, some of my aunts and uncles, and a few cousins before taking a detour from the beaten path of the highway. Most of this detour wasn’t paved. We bumbled through what seemed like an endless desert for hours until coming across some of the coolest sights I have ever seen. You can find some really neat things in the middle of nowhere, and in Nevada, there’s a lot of nowhere to be explored.

sunset Photo by Jordan Wozniak from Unsplash

            Let’s start with the ghost towns…there are a lot of them. Here in Nevada, we have “authentic” gun shows outside of renovated saloons and shoppes. Beatty, Tonopah, Virginia City, Goldfield, Goodsprings. I could keep going, but you get the picture. Some people in these ghost towns dress up for added effect, but others just make old-timey candy (like saltwater taffy-yum) in plain clothes. You can see a donkey or two, get a nice cold sarsaparilla, and maybe even catch a ghost on camera. Any ghost hunting enthusiast would fall in love with Nevada.

            Want to see a castle? That isn’t a joke-- there is a three-story castle located in the middle of Nevada, and though it’s empty today, it was well facilitated in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Stoke’s Castle, built by a wealthy silver investor, looks out over a once-prosperous valley in the heart of the Silver State. You’ll find this rare sight in Austin, and if you travel just a bit further, you’ll also find Ichthyosaur State Park.

            There are three things you’ll want to see here: the townsite, the fossil house, and the stars. Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park is home to the long-gone mining town of Berlin, which still stands (in various states of decay) just near the park entrance. The processing factory where rock was crushed and sorted is still standing, and the giant pistons that once ran hours a day for years on end look like they could start at any time. There’s also a neat little assay office where a chemist could test for precious minerals recovered from Diana mine that’s only a five-minute walk away. You can peer down into the start of the mine or turn around and look at the miles and miles of desert that was once the route for the Pony Express.

            The fossil house is a short hike away from the camping grounds, and though there is some cool nature in the area, it just doesn’t compare to what’s inside the house. Preserved Ichthyosaur bones, recovered from the surrounding mountains, are proudly displayed inside of the original rock and as an anatomical model, which, if I remember correctly, is about 30-40 feet wide.

            Since you’re in the middle of nowhere, there isn’t any light or smog, you can see almost every star in the sky. I get a pretty good view from my house, but it doesn’t come close to stargazing in the Sierras. I’m no astronomer, but I could have listed every constellation while we were there. It was incredible.

Stars behind tall trees Photo by Josh Frenette from Unsplash

            I won’t lie-- I was a little nervous to go without cell service for a week, but I promise, it’s totally worth it. For the short time I was there, I felt like I was a part of history, like I was actually following the pony express through the vast desert of Nevada. There are a lot of great tourist destinations here in Nevada, but some of the most fascinating things you’ll see are right smack in the middle of nowhere…so go check them out!