March 2009 trip to Sand Mountain Recreation Area

| October 9, 2009 | 0 Comments
Sand Mountain Nevada

Sand Mountain Nevada

By Jon Crowley,

Sand Mountain Recreation Area is located in northern Nevada about 85 miles east of Reno and right off of US 50.

Driving along the highway east of Fallon looks like typical Nevada desert. Then you round the corner and wow, Sand Mountain is quite a site.  The mountain of sand just comes out of nowhere and climbs over 400 feet higher than the surrounding desert.

Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly

Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly

Sand Mountain Recreation Area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and there are 4,795 acres within the designated area. Unfortunately, environmentalists and the BLM have effectively closed 1,000+ acres of prime trail riding due to the Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly. Although the butterfly is not listed as endangered or threatened, the USFWS wants to make sure it doesn’t end up that way. The silly thing about the protection of this butterfly is it is just a subspecies with only very minor differences from another blue that is much more prolific.

Our Endangered Species Act is so ridiculous and in need of a complete overhaul that it makes me sick. Unfortunately the political climate won’t allow any common sense when it comes to “saving species” and our riding areas will continue to shrink even as off-roading becomes more popular..

Alright, I’ll get off my soapbox now…..

Teryx,  RZR and RZR S

Teryx, RZR and RZR S

This was our second father/son trip to Sand Mountain with a UTV, but this time two other friends brought their UTVs as well so we could do some exploring.

In our group, we had a Polaris RZR, Polaris RZR S and a Kawasaki Teryx.  We did lots of dune rides, some Geocaching, and a desert ride.

The desert ride took us south of Sand Mountain near the salt flats. Then up through a mountain pass and over to the Naval bombing range.  From there we traveled north to Dixie Valley, then up into the east side of Sand Mountain by way of End of the World, then through Toyota Gulch (by the Wall) and back to camp.

“Priceless” Moment while parked at Superbowl:

Food & drinks for father/son trip to Sand Mountain – $75
Diesel for motorhome – $150
Gas for UTVs – $40
Watching your son find a new way to “test” the RZR S, priceless….

Sand Springs Pony Express Station

Sand Springs Pony Express Station

Pony Express Station:

The Sand Springs Pony Express Station is about 1/2 mile off of the main access road to Sand Mountain Recreation Area. This is a simple side trip in a UTV and well worth an hour.

A Little History: At a time before there were airplanes, telephones, railroads or even a telegraph, the Pony Express carried the mail 2,000 miles in just 12 days in the summer and 14 days in the winter. From April 1860 to October 1861, dozens of brave young riders carried the U.S. mail by horseback 1,800 miles between Sacramento, Calif. and St. Joseph, Missouri. Today, Highway 50 roughly parallels the route the riders took across the wild and untamed Nevada landscape.

The station was built in March of 1860 and was used by the Pony Express until November 1861. When the transcontinental telegraph was completed on October 24, 1861, messages could be sent from coast to coast in just minutes. The Pony was doomed and it died only twenty-seven days later. The telegraph and the Overland Stage Company continued to use the station throughout the 1860’s. Other freight companies like Well Fargo occasionally used the building up until about 1900.

Sir Richard Burton, British scholar and explorer, visited Sand Springs Station on October 17, 1860, and described it in his diary this way:

“The water near this vile hole was thick and stale with sulphury salts; it blistered even the hands. The station house was no unfit object in such a scene, roofless and chairless, filthy and squalid, with a smoky fire in one corner, and a table in the center of an impure floor, the walls open to every wind and the interior full of dust.”

Travelers found a reliable source of water at Sand Springs, but its poor quality often poisoned animals and probably made people ill.

Abandoned and forgotten, the station was almost completely buried by drift sand. It was rediscovered in 1975 and archeologists from UNR excavated the site and removed the artifacts. A historically accurate stabilization of the site was completed in 1997.

By 1981, the station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


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Category: Kawasaki, Polaris, Trail Rides

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