Not Stonehenge and Beautiful Wilson Canyon
Updated: May 23, 2021
In the "adventure" department, this outing was pretty minor, but it allowed us to get out of the house and do a little exploring in parts unknown while we continue to wait for the high elevation snow to melt and our hiking season can commence.
We jumped in the Jeep and headed out toward Dayton, NV. We turned onto Fort Churchill Road, which quickly turned to dirt and rocks and is what we stayed on for miles. It is deserty, rocky, bumpy, and a bit remote and desolate in areas, but the road is not as rough as some we've been on. It meanders alongside the Carson River where we saw a few adventurers camping (perhaps living) along the banks.
A few miles in, we start noticing an abundance of "No Trespassing" signs appear along the fence on either side of the road. Then, at about the 10-mile mark, we came across an expansive fenced-in area where we could see all kinds of retired military vehicles parked. Everything from legit Humvees to literal military tanks and armored Toyota Land Cruisers.
I looked at my husband with bewilderment and disbelief and told him this whole thing had a very "Area 51" vibe to it, and I felt like we weren't supposed be there. (When we got back home he tried to look up more information on just what the heck that was all about, and he discovered it was an environmental testing laboratory called Nevada Automotive Test Center. I didn't take any photos because honestly I felt like that was prohibited. I don't know. Blame the five-hundred "No Trespassing" signs.)
At any rate, we continued east on Fort Churchill Road, and off in the distance I could see silhouettes of large stone structures jutting up from the flat desert horizon. I told my husband, "Oh, look. There's Stonehenge." He chuckled. Shortly after, we reached the Fort Churchill Historic State Park. And then I realized what I had been seeing in the distance.
We parked and got out of the Jeep. It felt great to walk around and get some fresh air after riding for a while. The sky was bright blue, the sun was out, but it was breezy and a little cool, and we could see rain clouds in the vicinity.
Originally a United States Army fort built in 1861 to provide protection for early settlers and guard Pony Express mail runs, all that remains of Fort Churchill today are a few adobe structures.
No actual photos of the original fort exist, so this lithograph was created based on written accounts of the layout and structure details.
The self-directed interpretive tour around the Fort Churchill ruins follows a trail lined with small rocks designed to keep all tourists from entering or disturbing the preserved ruins.
Each section of structure remains had a placard that explained what it was and how it was used and by whom. This one made me laugh. Sounds like our kind of crowd.
A few minutes later, we crossed paths with another couple walking the trail and the guy was drinking a can of Coors Light. So there you go.
More rain clouds above.
Officers' Quarters, a rare story-and-a-half structure in the fort.
From the placard: "The office served as a stop for the Pony Express and housed a telegraph to help spread news of major events across the country, including President Lincoln's election, the start of the Civil War, and Nevada's statehood."
Once we finished our little walking tour of the ruins, we jumped back in the Jeep and went south toward Yerington, NV, and then headed straight into beautiful Wilson Canyon.
What a cool area this was. Set right along the Walker River. Massively towering, reddish canyon walls and bluffs.
We parked the Jeep alongside the road a couple of times in order to get out and explore a little and take some photos of the landscape.
At this stop, we walked across the highway and climbed up the side of one of the bluffs to get this view (with looming rain clouds over the canyon).
Sometimes, when we go out on adventures, I have no idea where my husband is taking me, but I am often pleasantly surprised at where we end up. This was one of those times.
(You can learn more and view additional photos from this adventure on his blog.)