Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Nevada State Parks system is celebrating its 75th anniversary

The Nevada Division of State Parks (, starting with the incorporation of Cathedral Gorge and three other sites in 1935, is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2010. Today, the system has 25 park designations including 12 state parks, 6 state recreation areas and 7 state historic parks. Most of them are located in the Las Vegas area, Reno-Tahoe area, and around Cathedral Gorge north-east of Las Vegas; but to see some of the most unique and “truely Nevadan” sites, like the Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park, requires a planned-ahead tour through desert country to remote landscapes.
The state park categories, however, do not refer to remoteness or serenity but to preservation and protection efforts as well as scenic, cultural and historic characteristics [1]:
State Parks are primarily established to preserve and protect exceptional or unique natural features of ecological, geological, scientific, or similar nature, or exceptional scenic qualities. Cultural features of historical, archaeological, or other significance may exist on the site.

State Recreation Areas typically possess unusual natural or man-made features suitable for a variety of outdoor recreation activities. Such features may include topographic, open space, streams, lakes, or reservoirs.

State Historic Parks preserve and protect historical and archaeological resources and are intended to provide a direct link for the park visitor to Nevada's past. Such areas can include public or private historical buildings or a group of historical buildings, battle grounds, town sites, significant sites of native culture, historical trails or routes, arts, or other sites associated with a significant person or event.

Nevada's state park designations are the most prominent sites that visitors of the Silver State are coming to see, but the wide-open space of this “Western Territory” has even more to offer for hikers, bikers, (horse-)riders and travelers of any kind: yet-unnamed trails, hot springs, beaches, sand dunes, ghost towns, caves and hidden petroglyph sites or colorful lichen-covered rocks, which you have to discover on your own or by guidance of the friendly locals.

[1] J. Steve Weaver:
Nevada's State Parks: 2010 marks the 75th anniversary of the formal establishment of our state parks system. Nevada Magazine March/April 2010, pp. 10-12.