Nevada Roundup

Nevada Roundup

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location.2012.elko-nevada.parked-atv.overlook.jpgThere were two primary reasons early pioneers came to the West; to explore new territory, or for a chance to strike it rich.  Regardless of the motivation, though, nothing brought a flood of immigrants to the Western territories faster than the lure of easy gold, just there for the pickin’.  Today the lure of gold still calls to many and even the History Channel chronicles the life of those doing their best to claw a few precious specs from the guts of the earth.  California may have gotten the early glory, but it’s Elko, Nevada that is the capital of U.S. gold production today, with several active mines playing a major role in the vibrant local economy.  

Like many cities in Nevada, Elko started out as a ranching community and a railroad stop.  Early settlers came from all walks of life, and today the diversity of the local culture is still evident.  While gold is king, large ranches remain a fixture of the community and the spirit of the rugged, independent, cowboy life lives on.  The city of Elko offers every modern convenience and you can find pretty much anything you need in Elko, whether it’s an ATV part, a custom-tooled leather saddle, or home improvement help from Home Depot.  It’s the trails we like best though.

With vast spreads of ranch land in every direction, Elko is smack dab in the center of great riding. The Elko Convention and Visitors Authority, with the help of enthusiastic local riders, made a considerable effort to accommodate all types of off-road activity whether on foot, horseback, ATV, or Jeep.  On our adventure, we tried both the Merritt Mountain trail, and the Spruce Mountain Trail, and both offer their own unique experience.  location.2012.elko-nevada.riding.atv.on-trail.jpg

The Merritt Mountain trail begins about an hour from Elko at Gold Creek Road.  For the first several miles, the trail follows local side roads and then begins to climb higher.  There are several small creek crossings, rocky sections, and wildflower covered meadows along the way.  It’s exhilarating to escape the last stand of pines with the peak in sight, and from the top, the view is awesome.  Everyone in our group had an ear to ear grin!  On our way back to town, we passed people fishing at the Wild Horse Reservoir, and it looked like a great place for a cool swim. 

We also explored the Spruce Mountain trail system, and once again we were treated to unforgettable riding.  This trail featured plenty of challenges and many elevation changes, with optional routes to the peaks, but these routes should only be attempted by very experienced riders.  Scattered throughout the Spruce Mountain route were small caves dug into the side of the mountain by prospectors, and it gives you an appreciation for their determination.  

Exploration and Elko go hand in hand, and there’s as much to discover today as there ever has been.  The local ATV clubs and Convention and Visitors Authority did a great job in creating a unique trail system with just about every type of terrain any rider could ask for.  It’s the rare chance to ride the great American West as it used to be.  At the end of the day, there is plenty of exploration to be had in town as well.  They even hold several festivals throughout the year such as the annual cowboy poetry festival, an annual ATV jamboree, and the Ruby Mountain Balloon Festival, which we’ll be back for in September.  There’s something for everyone in Elko, and as they say, this is the Gem of Nevada Trails. 

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August 11, 2012