Hiking Fort Churchill State Historic Park

Less than an hour’s drive east of Carson City is Fort Churchill State Historic Park. This Nevada state park preserves the remains of a United States Army fort and a way station on the Pony Express and Central Overland Routes dating back to the 1860s. A short interpretive trail lets visitors tour the grounds of the old fort, and a small self-guided visitors center has interesting information and displays about the history of the place.

A video of our hike through the park down to the river.

Eager to get away from the snow and mud, we headed out to Fort Churchill for some much needed sun and dry ground at the end of a stormy February. We parked at the visitors center and followed the trail down into the ruins. Halfway through the fort trail, we took the nature trail through the tall brush and cottonwoods down to the nearby Carson River. Although the river level is still really high, the startling high water mark from the recent flooding is still evident above the riverbanks, with lots of flood debris stuck in the trees. All the newly deposited sandbars made a nice spot to rest and enjoy the river as it made its way from the Sierras out to the Great Basin. We returned the way we came, and caught the rest of the fort tour on the way back.

Fort Churchill State Historic Park

If you go, take HWY 50 east out of Carson City for 30 miles to Silver Springs. Look for the Ramsey-Weeks cutoff (shortcut) before reaching Alt 95 to shave off a couple miles. Head south on Alt 95 four miles, and look for the Fort Churchill park entrance before reaching the Carson River. The entrance fee to the park is currently only $5 for NV residents ($7 for non-residents), and the park is open year-round. There’s lots to do and see during your visit, and it makes a great family destination. The park also has a picnic area and campground in its quiet desert setting . Check out the official State Parks page for the latest information.

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