When visiting Lincoln County, there’s no excuse for boredom

Scenic Lincoln County offers a variety of recreational opportunities within easy reach of Las Vegas. Blessed with many springs and creeks, the county boasts opportunities for boating, swimming and fishing on lakes and streams. Two of the six state parks in the county center on reservoirs, while a third invites anglers to try their skills along a pretty mountain stream. Park visitors also enjoy camping, picnicking, hiking and watching wildlife at Beaver Dam, Echo Canyon and Spring Valley state parks.

U.S. 93 cuts through the heart of Lincoln County. To reach it, head north on Interstate 15 to the U.S. 93 exit at Apex. The highway takes you past developing Coyote Springs and the beautiful Pahranagat Lakes to Caliente, 149 miles from Las Vegas.

Six miles north of Caliente, watch for the turnoff to the most primitive and remote of the parks in Lincoln County, Beaver Dam State Park. From the highway, the gravel park road runs 28 miles to the park in its mountain setting near the Utah/Nevada border. The road’s switchbacks make it difficult for vehicles or trailers more than 25 feet long. A $4 entrance fee applies here and at the other parks.

Because of flash flood damage a couple of years ago, officials breached the little dam and drained the reservoir that stored water from Beaver Dam Wash, but the stream still runs, stocked with trout. Fishermen need Nevada licenses with trout stamps to fish, available wherever gasoline or camping supplies are sold.

Open year-round, the park offers a 33-unit campground, a picnic area, group picnic and camping areas and four short scenic trails. Individual campsites are available on a first-come basis for $10 per night. Campgrounds at Beaver Dam have centralized water from May to October and vault toilets. Groups using the larger sites need reservations, made through a regional resource office by calling (775) 728-4460. For information on all area recreational opportunities, stop by the office, located near U.S. 93 between Caliente and Pioche, near the entrance to Cathedral Gorge State Park.

Echo Canyon and Spring Valley state parks both lie east of Pioche, reached by Highway 322. Watch for the Echo Canyon Park Road about four miles from U.S. 93. It runs eight miles to this year-round park, established in a canyon dammed to catch the water of several creeks. The 65-acre Echo Reservoir controls flooding, preserves water for agriculture and provides a spot for recreation. Drawn down by drought and agricultural demands at this time of year, the little lake still offers boating and fishing for trout, crappie and bass.

Echo Canyon’s 33 campsites are available without reservations for $10 per night. Campgrounds contain centralized water and flush toilets. Amenities include boat-launching areas and a fish-cleaning station. Many visitors explore the park and adjacent canyons while hiking along the 2.5-mile Ash Canyon Trail. Available in the park, a trail brochure keyed to numbered posts along the hiking route acquaints you with features in the area.

To reach Spring Valley State Park, continue on Highway 322 about 18 miles beyond the junction near Pioche. The road takes you past the remnants of tiny Ursine, a pioneer Mormon farming village dating from the 1860s established at the head of Eagle Valley. About five miles beyond Ursine the headquarters of Spring Valley State Park occupies the site of a historic ranch. This well-watered region supports several ranches dating from pioneer times. Remains of old ranch buildings and restored structures are protected features in the park today.

The park features 59-acre Eagle Valley Reservoir, where anglers take rainbow trout. A 12-unit picnic area sits handy to the boat launching and docking facilities. The park’s main campground near the dam boasts 36 campsites, centralized water and restrooms — one with a shower. Overnight fees are $14. Follow the park road two miles beyond the reservoir to park headquarters where a smaller, more primitive campground contains six units. Horseback riders make arrangements with the ranger for use of the ranch corrals. Popular Stone Cabin Trail and intriguing old roads form a network for trail riders and hikers.

Margo Bartlett Pesek’s column appears on Sundays.

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