Much of Nevada looks just as it did when the pioneers traveled west more than a century ago. The only addition to the mostly unchanged landscape are the trails that crisscross the topography and offer countless opportunities to get out and explore the region. This is Nevada Silver Trails, and it draws upon the adventurous spirit common to all mankind.
The eastern side of the state along U.S. Highway 93 lays claim to the largest National Wildlife Range in the United States. Stop at Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, a lush, water-rich area teeming with waterfowl and wildlife only two hours northeast of Las Vegas. Search the hiking trails for ancient Indian writings and carvings on the rocks called petroglyphs.
Keep driving north to Caliente, a town that got its name from the bubbling hot springs nearby. Caliente is also the perfect headquarters for exploring the surrounding 14 wilderness areas and the Silver State OHV trail. Traveling farther north, you’ll find one of the deadliest towns in the Old West, Pioche. Rich gold mines in the 1860s put Pioche on the map, but the miners weren’t about to let any ol’ stranger come into town and threaten their gold claims, and they were willing to back up their claims with loaded six-shooters. Rumor has it that 75 men were buried in the cemetery before anyone died of natural causes. Today Pioche is a picturesque community with a hopping saloon, and wide-open terrain for hiking and ATVing.
For a truly “out of this world” experience, set out on State Route 375, also known as the “Extraterrestrial Highway.” This east-west route skirts the famous Area 51. Travelers tell stories of UFOs and strange happenings in the desert, which looks eerily like another planet. The hub of all things extraterrestrial is in Rachel, a small town with one restaurant, one motel, 98 residents and an unknown number of aliens. The restaurant and motel, aptly named the Little A’Le’Inn, serves up a tasty Alien Burger and their signature cocktail, the Cherry-a 51.
The pioneers who settled in Nevada made their fortunes in gold and silver, but those fortunes didn’t always last, and the ghost towns that dot the Nevada landscape are testaments to their fleeting wealth. One of the most photographed ghost towns is Rhyolite, near the southwestern border of the state. Nearby Goldfield was once one of the largest cities in the state with 30,000 residents, an opulent hotel, large courthouse and many affluent families. Now only a few hundred call this town home.
Nevada Silver Trails is a fascinating window to the past, but a few towns are also looking intently on the future. Pahrump is a thriving city just a short drive from Las Vegas, complete with large casinos and resorts and one of the state's first wineries.
Nevada Silver Trails consists of Alamo, Amargosa Valley, Beatty,Caliente, Gabbs, Goldfield, Hawthorne, Pahrump, Panaca, Pioche, Rachel, Round Mountain, Tonopah,and Yerington.
In the sleepy and tidy farming town of Panaca, population 900, lies one heck of a lodging option. Originally owned by Panaca residents Lester and Lorene Mathews, residents within the area all knew and referred to Lorene as 'Grandma.' This vibe is still very much alive when staying as a guest at the Pine Tree Inn & Bakery. Now ran by 'Grandma's' daughter-in-laws, Teresa and Jenny Mathews, you are very well tended to and sleep like the dead during your stay.
Once the Lincoln County seat, Hiko was originally settled as a silver camp in 1866. Initially holding a great deal of promise, the camp produced a sparse return and the seat moved to the nearby booming city of Pioche. The community almost collapsed completely in 1871.