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Kershaw-Ryan State Park offers cooler temps, lush vegetation

Where: Kershaw-Ryan State Park in Lincoln County, three miles south of Caliente

Main attraction: The park is like visiting a private estate with its lush vegetation, manicured lawns, rose gardens, deciduous trees and wading pool all well-watered from natural springs. In the main area, the canyon is flanked by volcanic cliffs and lined by mature deciduous trees such as cottonwood, willow and Gambel oak and a wide variety of fruit trees, including apple, pear and plum.

Because of the vegetation and the natural springs, wildlife thrives here. The park is home to foxes, bobcats, deer, wild horses and a variety of birds.

A network of hiking trails runs from easy to moderately difficult. Best bets are the 1-mile Canyon Overlook Trail and the Horsespring and Rattlesnake Canyon trails, both a half-mile long. Watch out for rattlesnakes.

Elevations in the park range from 4,312 to 5,080 feet, offering temperatures 10 to 15 degrees cooler than Las Vegas. There is a $5 entrance fee.

What to pack: Trail shoes or sneakers with good tread for hiking, and a bathing suit and towel for the wading pool. Picnic supplies.

How long to stay: This can be a day trip, or an overnight stay at the park’s campground. The 15 RV/tent sites ($15 nightly) each have a shade ramada, picnic table, fire pit and grill. The campground has a restroom and showers. 775-726-3564 or parks.nv.gov

History: The land was donated as a public park in 1926 by cattle rancher James Ryan, who bought Kershaw Gardens from the Kershaw family in 1904. It was updated by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934-35 with picnic benches, toilets, a cabin and the spring-fed pool. Kershaw-Ryan became one of Nevada’s first state parks in 1935 along with Valley of Fire, Beaver Dam and Cathedral Gorge.

Don’t overlook: Nearby Cathedral Gorge State Park and the historic town of Pioche are both worth stopping and taking a stroll.

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