Spring Valley State Park
Spring Valley State Park
18 miles East of Pioche, on State Route 322 (which turns to gravel at the park)
Spring Valley State Park encompasses Eagle Valley Reservoir, and is 18 miles east of Pioche, Nevada. Most of its visitors arrive to camp and fish at this scenic mountain park, but some explore the old pioneer cabins in the valley north and east of the lake. Eagle Valley Dam was built in 1965, a century after the original settlement of the area. Isolated by their geography, most of the LDS (Mormon) pioneers thought themselves to be located in Utah, and they were until the County line was expanded in 1866, to add a narrow strip of land to Nevada. When the town of Pioche was formally created in 1869, many of the Spring Valley and Eagle Valley ranchers found a ready market for their home-grown produce, meat, dairy products, and hay. After the mines started shutting down, and times got harder, some of the Spring Valley families moved away, until by 1900, less than a handful of families remained. Today, only two of the pioneer cabins, built of locally-quarried tuff rock, still stand. Both of these have been acquired by State Parks and one is open to the public as the Stone Cabin Living History Museum. The other is undergoing renovation, having been purchased in 2002.
The Lincoln County government financed the building of Eagle Valley Dam, in 1965, at the tail end of the last 20th Century mining booms. The dam was built to store water from Meadow Valley Wash, for ranchers downstream in Eagle Valley and Rose Valley. It provided a side benefit of recreation, and a small campground was built in Horsethief Gulch, within walking distance of the dam. In 1969, Lincoln County donated this developed park to the State of Nevada, which renamed it as Spring Valley State Park. Over the years, additional acreage has been added to the park, to include the lush meadows above the lake and some of the historic ranches (most of which were falling into ruin). It has become one of the most popular state parks in eastern Nevada, with over 100,000 visitors each year. In the winter, Eagle Valley Reservoir freezes to a depth of 12-15 inches of ice, providing one of the best spots for ice-fishing in Nevada. In the fall, deer and elk hunters make Horse thief Gulch their base-camp for the annual hunt; summer weekends find the park packed to capacity by Las Vegas residents, seeking to escape the heat of southern Nevada. Summer temperatures here seldom exceed 95 during the day, and may drop into the low 40ís at night, even in July.
Wildlife may be seen or heard in this mountain park; along the lakeshore, many birds, ducks and shorebirds reside from spring through fall. Great Blue Herons and several varieties of egrets feed along the pastures and shallow portions of the lake. Deer and elk wander through the mountains above the lake and valley, and elk may be heard bugling during the early fall. Coyotes, bobcat and mountain lion are shy, but may be glimpsed occasionally; jackrabbits, cotton-tail rabbits, squirrels, lizards, and a few snakes are more readily seen. Pinyon-pine and juniper trees provide shade, and deciduous trees including cottonwood, ash and willows grow along the creek downstream of the dam (which is a great place for fly-fishing). A 2-1/2 mile developed trail leads through the back-country, from the Stone Cabin Living History Museum to the Ranch Campground, a primitive, six-unit campground about 3 miles from the lake.
The graded gravel road leading north from Spring Valley is also known as the Mount Wilson Back-Country By-way. This sixty-six-mile loop starts in Pioche, winds over the Wilson Creek Range, and returns to Highway 93 about 30 miles north of Pioche. It is suitable for high-clearance vehicles from late spring until late fall. This road has many side excursions leading to old ranches, and to the White Rock Wilderness area.
Pictures and information were provided by Barbara Rohde of the Nevada State Parks
Copyright A View of America 1998 all rights reserved any and all content on this site is protected by law. Any use with out written permission is strictly prohibited.