This is the second annual Reno Bike Project Staff Retreat. Last year we did a tour of the south end of the Black Rock Desert out of Gerlach to Frog Pond hot springs. The entire trip was a highlight, but dinner at Bruno’s and a dip in the Mud Pot hot springs were some favorites. This year we advanced north to the remote Soldier Meadows.
As a party of seven we drove out Soldier Meadows Rd (NV 217 above Wagner Springs), off NV 34. Finding the correct turn-off for the first time and in the dark was tricky but eventually we made our way to the BLM primitive campground with designated campsites and fire rings. After a late night we were able to sleep out under the stars with mild night time temperatures considering we were camped at 4500′ in October. The BLM promises an amazing night sky so far from city light pollution, and we were not disappointed.
We woke to a view of sunrise on Soldier Meadows. After driving for hours and setting up camp in the dark it was a surprise to see what Nevada had to offer. The meadow of sage brush sloped away from us. There was a distant pond. The mountains around us came in every shape. There was some discussion the night before regarding how this area became protected land (Area of Critical Environmental Concern- ACEC) and whether the legislation came out of a room in Washington DC or from “boots on the ground” efforts in Nevada. Regardless of the process, I am a fan of the conservation efforts and the opportunities to see the jack rabbits, birds, antelope, and wild horses in this landscape.
Another great attraction to this area are the abundant hot springs. One attribute to Nevada’s unique geology is its thin crust. The earth’s hot interior and ground water mix and bubble to the surface. Right in camp there was a steaming stream that had been tamed into wading pools with a great little foot path. The water was hot, not too fragrant with sulfur, and provided a great dip after our ride.
We did not have a particular ride planned out of camp but I did not think any direction was going to disappoint. The jeep road was not maintained and fairly rugged. Our short out and back of less than 10 miles had 1500′ of climbing. But the views and opportunity for wildlife were worth the effort. With hindsight (and GPS tracking) our ride was a part of a greater loop. I think our camp location could provide a comfortable base for multiple day loops if not used as a stop on a greater trek through northern Nevada.