The Toiyabe (toy-ya-be) National Forest (of the Humboldt-Toiyabe
National Forest) is divided into several sections which are
located in central, western and southern Nevada and east central
California. The Forest is comprised of 2,572,463 acres and has
about 54 developed campgrounds of which 25 meet the selection
People come to Nevada for a variety of reasons but discovering the delights found in the Toiyabe National Forest is not often one of them. This is unfortunate because the Toiyabe National Forest, with its wide variation of terrain and environments, has many delightful surprises. From its towering mountain ranges to rolling sagebrush plains, visitors to the Toiyabe find there is far more to this Forest than first meets the eye.
Nevada has 314 separate mountain ranges. Most of the highways in Nevada go around, not over or through, these ranges keeping Toiyabe's delightful wonders hidden. It takes an adventurous spirit to turn off a well-paved surface onto a rough native soil roadway to explore a seemingly inhospitable area. But therein lies one of its secrets - the Toiyabe National Forest can be most welcoming.
Just north of Las Vegas, NV is the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area (SMNRA), a haven for car, tent, recreational vehicle (RV) and motorhome camping enthusiasts. West of US Rt. 95, the massive Spring Mountains Range seems to fill the horizon. From the highway there is little to suggest the amazing geological and biological diversity found on those rugged heights. This isolated range has numerous species of plants and animals found nowhere else. Nor, can one guess, at this distance, what a relaxing haven will be found at the SMNRA's campgrounds or on the outstanding hiking trails so near the fast-paced life of this glittering city.
There are basically two clusters of campgrounds in the SMNRA - one in Lee Canyon and the other in Kyle Canyon. Although in the same mountain range, these canyons are very different and their campgrounds reflect that difference. Kyle Canyon, with shear rock walls ending at Cathedral Rock, has Fletcher
View campground and many trails meandering around the area. On the banks of a dry wash, campgrounds are level with nicely shaded and spacious camp sites. Fletcher View has the added feature of electric hook-ups at each site.
McWilliams and Lee Canyon's campgrounds snuggle against the SMNRA's ski area. Jeffery pine and steep slopes give these campgrounds a very different feel and attest to this Canyon's cooler temperatures. McWilliams offers good privacy and views of Mummy Mountain (it really does look like a white, reclining mummy). The hiking in this area is limited to the spectacular 6.1-mile Bristlecone Trail. Along this trail, hikers find ancient bristlecone trees, battered by cold temperatures and fierce wind. Some of these trees might be as old as 5,000 years!
About halfway between these canyons, on Forest Route 158, is Hilltop Campground. On the steep mountainside, covered by Pinon pine, camp sites in this campground have the most panoramic views in the SMNRA. From Las Vegas in the south to Mercury and the Nuclear Test Site in the north, many sites share the incredible vista. The nearby Desert View Trail leads to the spot where many people witnessed the nuclear explosions. Besides the view, Hilltop offers the only hot shower facilities in the SMNRA.
Much further north, and tucked into a portion of California, the Toiyabe National Forest has a couple of other pleasant surprises. For shear breathtaking beauty it would be hard to beat the Bridgeport Ranger District. And best of all, there are some delightful campgrounds right in the middle of it. The view of Sawtooth Ridge and Hoover Wilderness on the way to Twin Lakes, but particularly from Honeymoon Flat campground, is awesome. Fishing in either Upper or Lower Twin is pretty good and convenient to the immediate area's three other campgrounds.
Beside US Rt. 395, a major route for tourists, is RV and motorhome-friendly camp location called Bootleg campground. For solitude and quiet, this is the place. The fishing in Walker River, just across the road from the campground, can be outstanding too.
The only place one might be able to find sights more awe-inspiring than the Sawtooth Ridge is farther to the north. Leavitt Meadow campground, along the scenic and challenging State Rt. 108, is adjacent to a "proposed addition" to the Hoover Wilderness and has two trails to explore the Wilderness. There is Hope Valley campground, next to the tranquil beauty of Hope Valley. And, just north of Lake Tahoe, Mt. Rose campground located atop a mountain by that name, has magnificent views. Each is worth a visit.
It may sound as though Toiyabe National Forest hugs Nevada's western border with California but it stretches eastward to the central part of the state. Here, mountain ranges named Monitor, Toquima, Shoshone, Toiyabe, and Paradise, form what looks a little like a bear's paw, reach out to grab Idaho. Within this bear's paw of mountains are some of the most remote and, perhaps, most attractive surprises found in the Forest.
US Rt. 50 (called the "Loneliest Road in the Country") stretches across Nevada following the Pony Express's route. At one point, it crosses the northern part of Toiyabe Mountain, passing Toiyabe's Bob Scott campground. Just east of Austin, NV, this campground has easy-on/easy-off access for campers, making it an excellent overnight stop. For a longer stay, south of Bob Scott is Kingston campground. This campground, tucked back in a canyon, has a willow-lined stream running through it - always a delight in this land of little moisture and rich mining history.
At the southern end of the bear's paw, in the Toquima Mountain Range and adjacent to Alta Toquima Wilderness, is Pine Creek campground. It is a long drive over the dry and desolate Ralston and Monitor valleys to this sweet little campground, which is located at the end of a rough dirt road on the eastern side to Alta Toquima Wilderness. With sites located on both sides of a babbling creek among Aspen, juniper, and pine trees, the tranquil, green nature of this campground is a delightful surprise to visitors. But then, the Toiyabe National Forest is a place full of surprises just waiting to be discovered. Come and discover a few for yourself.
1200 Franklin Way
Sparks, Nevada 89431
RANGER DISTRICT OFFICES
100 Midas Canyon Rd.
Austin, Nevada 89310
HCR 1 Box 1000
Bridgeport, CA 93517
1536 South Carson St.
Carson City, Nevada 89701
Spring Mountains National Recreation Area
4701 North Torrey Pines Dr.
Las Vegas, Nevada 89130
1400 So. Erie Main
Tonopah, Nevada 89049