Kershaw-Ryan State Park
Kershaw-Ryan State Park
2 miles South of Caliente, on State Route 317, (turn a the sign)
Kershaw-Ryan State Park is located in a narrow canyon two miles south of Caliente, Nevada, which was settled by the Samuel Kershaw family in 1873. The Kershaws planted an orchard and raised garden crops watered by natural springs that emerged from the base of the igneous rock cliffs. In 1904, the Kershaws sold their property to James Ryan, who ran one of the largest cattle ranches in the area. Knowing that Nevada wanted to develop a state park system, the Ryans donated Kershaw Gardens to the state in 1926. It became one of Nevadaís first State Parks in 1935. Lush lawns, rose and flower gardens and a wading pond built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935 create an oasis in the floor of this otherwise-dry canyon. Picnic areas, hiking trails, a horse-shoes pitching court and a sand volleyball court have been developed for park users; a campground will be developed during the next couple of years, to replace the one that washed away in flash floods the summer of 1984. (The park was closed for 13 years, trying to obtain funding to rebuild park facilities.)
A variety of birds nest in this shady canyon, feeding on Gambelís oak acorns, and seeds and fruits from many shrubs along with those of the wild grapes whose vines twine up the canyon walls. Towhees, warblers, hummingbirds and flycatchers are the ones most commonly seen or heard; pinyon jays and ravens call from the cliffs overhead. The pergola on the rose garden lawn makes a beautiful backdrop for weddings and family reunions, and the happy shouts of children can be heard from the wading pond on hot summer days. Almost hourly, you can hear the chugging of the Union Pacific trains that wend their way through Rainbow Canyon, into which Kershaw Canyon empties. Wild horses are sometimes glimpsed in the upper canyon, along the Horse Springs Trail. A rugged, though short, hike leads to an overlook of the entire canyon. The new sixty-mile Clover Crest Trail will also have its start in Kershaw Canyon, and will end in Beaver Dam State Park, at the east end of the Clover Mountains (while Kershaw-Ryan is at the west side of the mountain range). This trail is just being laid out by members of the Lincoln County Trails Coalition, and construction work will start in 2005 with volunteer labor from community groups.
Rainbow Canyon separates the Clover Mountains from the Delamar Mountains, and is the drainage for Meadow Valley Wash (which started 50 miles north, in Spring Valley). Union Pacific Railroad tracks follow the entire length of the canyon, which has many scenic and historic sites along its twenty-miles of paved road. At the southern end, by the end of the pavement, is the Elgin Schoolhouse Museum. This one-room schoolhouse was built by local resident and rancher, Rueben Bradshaw in 1922, for the railroad and ranching families in the vicinity of Elgin, a small railroad siding. It was restored and reopened in the year 2000 by the Bradshaw family members, who still own an apple orchard across the tracks from the schoolhouse. Ask for a copy of the Rainbow Canyon self-guiding tour brochure at Kershaw-Ryan, to locate these and other attractions on the scenic drive.
Pictures and information were provided by Barbara Rohde of the Nevada State Parks
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