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The Dirt: Lyon County

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From the community of Fernley, in the North, to Bald Mountain and the East Walker River in the South, Lyon County offers unlimited opportunities for Off-Highway Vehicle recreation.

The community of Dayton is a great staging spot for OHV rides. Staging and public lands access is available at the Dayton Rodeo Grounds, Going north, the rider travels into the Comstock Mining District and Virginia City. Heading south from Dayton takes you up into the Pine Nut Mountains, and the historic ghost towns of Como and Pine Grove.  Follow the Pony Express route across the county; from Carson City through Fort Churchill, and east towards Sand Mountain and Middlegate.

Lyon County is home to five state parks, Buckland Station, Dayton State Park, Fort Churchill, Lahontan State Park, and the new Walker River State Recreation Area.  The Walker River State Recreation Area is comprised of four historic ranches along the East Walker River. Currently, the Pitchfork Ranch is open to the public for camping and gives OHV riders access to nearby BLM and US Forest Service trails.  Another great camping spot is the Bighorn Campground, at the southern end of the county, on the Walker River.  This campground is OHV-friendly and visitors can use this as a base camp for great day trips up into the Aurora and Masonic mining districts, along with access to the Bodie State Historic Park.

The Wilson Canyon OHV Area is a designated BLM Off-highway area off of State Route 208. This area provides easy trails and challenging hill climbs for all experience levels. Desert Creek is another popular camping and staging spot, and is accessed from SR 208, south of Smith Valley. Access to this area is generally closed in the winter months. 

Directions

There are many points of access to the public lands in Lyon County.  A few are listed below:

From Dayton: From Hwy 50 in Dayton, turn east onto Dayton Valley Road.  Either turn right onto Ricci Rd to use the Dayton Rodeo Grounds, or continue on and turn right onto Old Como Road for the BLM trailhead.

Ft. Churchill: The Scout Camp campground is accessed from Highway 95, about 10 miles south of the intersection of Hwy 50 and Alt 95 in Silver Springs. Going south, cross the Carson River and turn left onto Simpson Road (a dirt road, which is part of the Pony Express Route). Campground is about a mile to the east, and down by the river.

Wilson Canyon OHV Area: Head East on State Route 208, from intersection of US 395 and SR 208, for about 22 miles.  OHV Area is on the north side of the Carson River.

Walker River State Recreation Area: The Pitchfork Ranch is about 7 miles south of Yerington, on State Route 208.  Turn left onto E. Walker Road and go about 4 miles to the park entrance.  To get to the Bighorn Campground, travel about 24 miles south of Smith Valley on State Route 338. Turn left onto Hawthorn unpaved road. Campground is about 5.5 miles east, along the Walker River.

Rules of the Road

Land Manager: Bureau of Land Management

Motor vehicles are permitted on designated trails only. For local regulations regarding OHV use on county roads, check with the local authorities or land managers.

Always plan ahead and prepare for uncertainty. Travel with warm clothing, first aid, food, water and appropriate tools to fix a problem.

Traveling in groups is always a good idea, as well as informing someone of where you will be going.

  • Register Your Vehicle
  • Make sure your vehicle is equipped with a spark arrestor
  • Plan Ahead and Prepare
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Leave What You Find
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Considerate of Other Trail Users
  • OHV use limited to ingress and egress only

Leave No Trace

Tread Lightly

Historic Preservation


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