Camping on the Edge of a Crater
An interesting site in the middle of nowhere Nevada
Connie and I left Reno early in the morning and headed east on Route 80 towards Fallon, Nevada, then south on Hwy 95. Our goal was to make it to the Lunar Crater National Natural Monument in time for Happy Hour. Lunar Crater is a destination we enjoy camping at. It's great for dispersed camping, hiking, and photographing the wide-open landscape.
Walker Lake, NV
On our way, we stopped at Walker Lake for a quick lunch and continued towards Tonopah for gas. Walker Lake has several dispersed camping opportunities near the edge of the lake and there are pit toilets too, 38.74934, -118.76108. It is a popular place for an overnight stop for people traveling along Hwy 95, but we’ve never had a problem finding a spot. Leaving Walker Lake, we saw Big Horn Sheep standing on the high cliff ledges staring down at us as we passed—what balance they have.
WWII Hanger - Tonopah, NV
Just outside Tonopah, on Hwy 6, we noticed an abandoned WWII hanger off in the distance. It is amazing that in the middle of nowhere there still stands the remnants of a once active unit that was part of the last great war. The airfield is still in use. More information on this and other points of interest in Nevada can be found here https://www.nvexpeditions.com/nye/tonoaaf.php
After a quick stop to check out the hangar we continued down Hwy 6 towards Warm Springs and noticed it was the junction for the “Extraterrestrial Highway”, also known as Hwy 375, —oh boy! Maybe we will see aliens😉. Unfortunately, at the time, there were no road/street signs of any kind that had the “Extraterrestrial Highway” on them—Bummer—so we didn’t stop for a picture.
We continued past the intersection and made our way down this lonely highway with wide open spaces, a few ranches, and the occasional abandoned building. Not too much farther down the road we arrived at the turn-off for Lunar Crater.
We took the second entrance 38.47871, -116.05494 into the Lunar Crater National Natural Landmark which would take us past Lunar Lake. In the distance we noticed what seemed to be flags flapping in the wind. Being curious to say the least, we changed course toward the flags. To our surprise as we got closer, it wasn’t flapping flags but the flapping sails of Land Sailing sailors racing around the hard packed and dry Lunar Lake. That of course was a photo opportunity.
Camping at the Crater
After our picture taking, we headed up to the Lunar Crater to find a camp spot, toast our day, and eat a delicious dinner. Unfortunately, it was windy that afternoon (very typical for high desert plains), so we didn’t eat by a campfire, but we did enjoy the beautiful sunset and serenity of our camp spot perched on the edge of the crater.
As a side note…according to the American Southwest website, the crater is “termed a 'maar', the name given to a shallow, broad crater formed by explosive eruptions close to ground level, usually caused by heating of subterranean water.”
The night sky was clear and Oh! the stars twinkled in the dark night and the milky way was just that—milky. So now it was time to take some star shots and maybe, just maybe capture a shot of an alien craft… Naw, that didn’t happen. However, if you like taking photos, this is a good spot to capture (or practice) landscape and night photography.
The next day we hiked up the high side of the crater wall to a vantage point where most of the park was in view. And what a view. Looking across the landscape one can see several craters and the mountains on the horizon.
This is one location that is worth a night of camping when travelling through Nevada…and, who knows, maybe you will get to see an alien.
Bill & Connie
Use code BWFRIENDS15 at checkout