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Virginia City Nevada

Virginia City Nevada

Virginia City, NV

Virginia City Nevada Mines, Mining Camp, Ghost Town
Storey County, Nevada

South of Reno, NV
NE of Carson City @ US 395

Virginia City Historic District
established 1859 The Comstock Lode

elevation: 6200′
population: 1000

Historic mining district with restored downtown; several mining camps, which are now residential communities. The 1859 mining boom of the Comstock Lode turned Virginia City into the most important industrial city between Denver and San Francisco. At its peak, this location had approximately 25,000 residents.

snow snow is common in winter

Ghost towns, mining camps and remote, almost abandon locations – always intrigue. Old historic towns that have too much commercialized backing are a big turn off. Any popular tourist mecca, I typically avoid.

Over the decades traveling the West coast, I had heard numerous stories about the legendary Virginia City, in the high desert mining hills of Nevada. The real, authentic, boomtown of silver & gold mining; East of  Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada. One day, maybe. Sounds larger than life. Bet it is crowded. Twenty years go by.

road side 342

Then low and behold, I found myself in the Eastern Sierra – trying to kill time, avoiding the fire smoke in California. Wildfire season was raging and as the weeks progressed, I could no longer find a smoke-free spot to camp. I finally ended up at a small, cute lodge in a desert mining district – Virginia City.

lawn mower

Wild horses graze in the backyard, the main street scene was only a few blocks away, and I had a refrigerator and an air conditioner in my room. I was set! After a long shower and a change of clothes, I hit the trail. Or shall I say sidewalk.

Walking to town I immediately noticed that the entire townsite is built on a steep, dirt, mountain side. Terraced, high desert hills with minimal trees, and miles of mining tunnels located underneath the paved streets.

Numerous shops and restaurants line the main drag, which sit precipitously on a slope of Mount Davidson. Tourists stroll the sidewalks, eat frozen treats and kettle corn. Loud motorcycle engines reverb off the historic buildings and music can be heard on each passing block.

wooden sidewalks

Nevada Highway 341 is the main street, also known as “C” Street, and it runs the length of town and has most of the sidewalk businesses. Parallel side streets – either up hill (labeled A Street, B St) – or down hill (D St, E, F, G, H) span the arid mountain terrain. Residential homes (some historic) surround this historic village.

Nevada Highway 342 is the main (but steep) paved route thru the communities to the south of town. Occidental Grade is Hwy 341, which bypasses the mining camps (to the east side) and is the longer, official ‘truck route’ and preferred RV entrance to VC.

steep streets

Walk the whole town, twice, and get a work out hiking the steep hills.

Motorcycle rides, classic car shows, old west, cowboy tourists type of destination. Wooden sidewalks, historic buildings, great desert views. The town is home to Victorian buildings built during the 19th-century mining boom. Annual events and parades celebrate the history of this unique locale.

party town: this desert destination is well known for its drinking, local events and celebratory nature, as well as the historic interest

Several hotels and one RV campground cater to overnight travelers. But beware, there is no real grocery store or public laundromat in town. No big chain hotels, coffee shops, nor chain restaurants.

gasoline

Only one gas station – on the north end of town.

Amazing museums, plenty of saloons, antique stores, numerous curiosity shops, many restaurants, plus an authentic 1800’s cemetery. Historic, classic and not too busy for mid week, but weekends are typically crowded.

After the sun sets, the families go home and a different gang comes in for dinner and drinks. Live music – perhaps. Drinking establishments are usually open late here, so know that this small town can get rowdy at night. Sheriff Station is in the center of town!

check

MANY MUSEUMS IN TOWN –

firehouse museum

Virginia City was designated a Registered National Historic Landmark in 1965. National Trust for Historic Preservation presented the Distinctive Destinations Award to the Storey County in 2009.

cemetery view
Silver Terrace Cemetery, Virginia City, NV

Desert scrub, sage brush and juniper pines make up the vegetation. Trees are few and far between. Apple trees, cottonwoods and juniper evergreens dress up the edges of town.

businesses include:

antiques
art center
costume photography
curiosity shops
gift shops
ice cream shop
lodging
opera house
outdoor cafesfood
restaurants
RV park
saloons
train tours

recreation:

high desert terrain
historic parks
horseback rides
horseback trails
mine tours
museums
off roading
OHV trails
picnic grounds
RV camping
saloons & gamblingtrain rides
shopping
train rides

Virginia City Train Tours:
Virginia & Truckee Railroad Co

camp

RVCamping Virginia City

Campground in Town is limited to only one RV Park, with limited, poor tent camping options, but they have a near 5 star rating on Google, so it must be decent for the motorhomes.

additional camping nearby –

Dayton State Park has day use areas, picnic tables and offers camping, down the hill @ US Hwy 50

Washoe Lake State Park Campground
N of Carson City, Nevada. Only 5 mi west of VC, but a 30 mi drive by paved road, via US Highway 50 & I-580

Ft Churchill State Historic Park, located 30 mi east (near Yerrington, NV) Fort Churchill Camping

picnic

neighboring communities:

  • Gold Hill
  • Devils Gate
  • Silver City
  • VC Highlands

nearby towns, down the hill:

  • Carson City, NV
  • Dayton, NV
  • Reno, NV

exterior

Virginia City Tourism Commission
86 South C Street
Virginia City, NV 89440
775-847-7500

Comstock Historic District Commission
20 North E Street
Virginia City, NV 89440
775-847-0281

star

Virginia City is NOT to be confused with –

Virginia Creek Settlement
Virginia Lakes California 
both locations along US 395 south of Bridgeport, CA

Virginiatown (1851) Placer County
West of Auburn, CA in West Sierra Nevada, Gold Country

Oatman Arizona

Oatman Ghost Town, AZ

established 1902

hotelsign_i If you are ever in Laughlin, Nevada and find yourself in a blank stare, mesmorized at a slot machine in front of your face, wondering ‘why the hell am I here?’ – RUN for the doors & take in the warm desert sun & scenery. There is plenty to do around here for sightseeing & Route 66. Oatman, Arizona is just one favorite option.

A lively, rustic town in the Arizona desert, with a silly commercial twist. Tourist trap to some, but entertaining to others. A meeting spot for travelers, an ideal lunch stop, and conveniently located on paved roads near major highways and close to Interstate 40.

OATMAN town began as a small mining camp and grew into a large town. Many residents that live here today are shop keepers or retirees. Located near the Colorado River, with Laughlin and local indian casinos nearby.

wagon_i

burro
Not-so-wild Burros walk the streets, but are not as tame as you may think. Local vendors sell carrots for feed. Always watch your fingers when feeding animals!

The amount of visitors or tourists can vary depending on time of day, there can be a motorcycle club rolling through, or a meeting of hot rods. Both classic cars and bikes are popular in this desert region. Tour buses and guides also bring their guest here as a good stopping point along their desert whirlwind travels. Holiday weekends & festival weekends can get crowded as well. Centrally located, Oatman sees lots of traffic, so don’t expect a desolate ghost town atmosphere. RV

The town streets have very limited parking & bringing that huge RV up the hill via the narrow road is not recommended. It may be possible to take a shuttle bus from a nearby hotel.

storefront

Souvenir shops, diner, saloon, western town walkways. OATMAN ghost town is super easy to get to. Only 12 miles off the main drag (AZ 95) Mojave Hwy. South of Bullhead City, AZ. Situated up on the Black Mesa above Mojave Valley, Oatman is a modern, developed, touristy ghost town (as ghost town standards go).

sign_iBUT, NO GASOLINE IN OATMAN

elevation: 2710′
population: 128

 Desert mountains, canyons.

SouthEast of Laughlin, NV
Mojave Valley – in Arizona
@ Nevada / California borders
Off Interstate 40, Route 66

diner

When traveling in the deserts, consider more stretch breaks (mini hikes). Short hikes and viewpoints offer time for relaxing, snacking and exercise.

town oatman
Parking is tight on main street, so you might need to walk in from the outskirts of town.


Remember that finding a great camp site before dark is of utmost importance, if you are not hoteling it; but bottoming out your rig, or getting stuck is another kinda adventure. No fun. Have topographic maps of the region you plan to explore, on foot, or off-road.

trainride

area activities:

  • Back Roads
  • Camping
  • Casinos
  • Colorado River
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Museums
  • Jet Ski Rentals
  • Sightseeing
  • Shopping

lodging laughlin vacations

plaque

camptruck

Primitive camping on dirt backroads is plentiful and FREE. SUV back road exploring just north of town. Silver Canyon Wash, a graded, dirt road continues back down to Bulhead City. A decent little loop drive (for those needing to get dusty to have fun). Since we’ve been writing about this road, a huge residential neighborhood has sprouted back here, so watch for private property signs. Don’t camp within eye-sight of a home, or you could have the local Sheriff out to move you (at 11pm)

Camper Trailers & RV campers should be very cautious about venturing too far down any dirt road. Wash outs can change the road annually, so it is best to get out & walk it first. The California Mojave is filled with bitchin back road camp sites, and yes, some are very accessible – even with a huge motorhome.

peak

ghost towns
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