The Great Outdoors
As summer is winding down and the high desert soil welcomes cool breezes, Mineral County remains a treasure trove of places to enjoy camping, while enjoying the sweeping views of Walker Lake and the vast circle of mountains surrounding it.
Coming out of Hawthorne when traveling north on Highway 95, a first stop would be Walker Lake’s Monument Beach. Once known as the State Beach, it has now been dedicated by the County as a free, family spot. Day use is advised, but dry camping is available at the beach waters or in various other locations that offer a shady picnic cover. The boat ramp was recently rebuilt to accommodate the rising waters within the lake’s shoreline. Trash receptacles are in place and the request of proper pickup is mandatory. A directory greets you within a rock monument, explaining details of this Ice-Age lake’s progress and changes. Details can be found at these websites: walkerlake.org or walkerlakecrusaders.com. You will also see billboards which invite you to “Save Walker Lake,” sponsored by the Walker Lake Working Group and other supporters.
Traveling north to the next location, be sure to watch the mountainside for the Big Horn Sheep, as they graze in the rocks and at times wander toward the desolate, rocky shoreline areas.
The next camping location will be Sportsman’s Beach, a Bureau of Land Management location that offers a rural setting, bathroom use, dry camping, shoreline fun, and hiking. Various signage is available to instruct and guide you in your “first come, first serve” camping stay. This camping is based on the honor system, with a box on grounds without staff on premises.
Back on Highway 95, round the corner to the north and you will see signage for another BLM campground called Tamarack Beach, which also allows you bathroom use only and a spacious area to relax among the wide range of views and quiet landscape. Collect unusual rocks or be entertained as various small critters and harmless lizards wander near you. No one monitors your stay, and the honor system is also available during your stay, as no park rangers are on premises.
The last and northernmost stop on the lake is 20-Mile. This is a basic oasis of dry camping for the rough and ready camper. Set up camp on this north end of the lake and enjoy the peaceful waters as you watch an array of birds visiting the shoreline. Use binoculars to view wildlife on the western area, where the unusual tufa rock formations have created holes and dark cave structures. In the evening, view the city lights of the Hawthorne military base, many miles away.
As the summer heat surrenders to the brisk cool air, don’t discount the great outdoors as an easy escape that is offered all year round within Walker Lake’s serene landscape.
— Sheri Samson