Dirt Roads Around Dixie Valley


Gage Smith, Picon Drinker of the American West

by Gage T. Smith, the Picon Guy

I enjoy the back country in our great state of Nevada and I get out into it more than most.

I lead a small, loose-knit group of folks who like to tour the back country as much as I do. We make trips together once or twice a month, sometimes for just a long weekend and sometimes longer. I also do an occasional day trip but everything that I can do in a day, I’ve seen several times already.

With the end of October comes the final trip of the year and when I put it out for the group to decide they thought Dixie Valley would be a fun place at the end of October; weather permitting . . . and permit it did; we had beautiful weather.

I was relieved that they chose Dixie as there is a rather large gravel pit at the end of the pavement that very easily held the 15 RVs that made this trip. Fifteen is huge. Most of the time, I might have two or three others interested, but this one held some major interest.

The Picon Guy leads the convoy to Dixie Valley NevadaThere are three major rides that can be done from this gravel pit. One is called Bobcat, another is called Steamshovel and the third is Bernice. Because of our large numbers, I was able to corral a few others into being leaders and split the group in two. This was the first time I was able to give up a leadership role and just be “Joe Rider”. I loved it.

Because Dixie Valley is not new on our ride repertoire, I decided the make the whole weekend totally different and to do that, I made up games and contests for all of these adults to partake in. There was no beer drinking contest or ‘best martini’ (that might be next year!). Instead, each group, each day went out with a different challenge. Each group member had to throw in a $5 buy in, winner take all.

ScrabbleGamers in Dixie Valley Nevada Scrabble was a fun one that went for both groups on different days. The group leader had a bag full of the lettered tiles and they were handed out at various stops along the day. By the time they were back in camp, each person (or couple) had 12 tiles. They each drew a 13th tile to determine order. I had already put two words on the scrabble board already so they had something to work from. They could make as many words as they could with their 13 tiles.

No drawing from the bag. When you were out of tiles or could not make a word, you were out. Standard scoring applied.

My thoughts were that it would take maybe 20 minutes. Oh no, hell no. It took over an hour and it was a lot of fun and laughter.

The other group had trivia and received throughout the day 20 trivia questions from Nevada history, cocktail ingredients, full moon names, counties and county seats.

Rocky road in Dixie Valley NevadaOn the third day, we all did the same ride but in different directions, meeting for lunch in the middle.

This ride was a Poker run with, of course, a $5 buy in. Each group played its own game. Again lots of laughter and fun. One group decided to make jokers wild and the winning hand was four- tens . . . three of them being tens.

The games were not all mobile . . . sort of . . . A few days before the trip, I was thinking of what else could be done that would be fun. A Treasure Hunt was in order. I had a can of bright gold spray paint and bought a can of bright silver. Taking rocks out of my yard, I spray painted ten of them gold and the other ten silver. There is a defined area called The Settlement in Dixie Valley which is what is left of the small farming community there before the Navy bought them out in the late ’70s. I was out in Dixie two days before everybody else came so I was able to hide (in plain sight) the 20 painted rocks.

Rocky road to Dixie ValleyThere was a prize for each rock. I was able to secure from the bank, a roll of gold Sacajawea dollars and a roll of Susan B Anthony silver dollars. Those were the prizes.

When it was my group’s turn to find gold or silver, I just took my fishing pole and fished some of the ponds that dot the area. I got a big charge watching all these grown adults tearing around the settlement looking for gold or silver rocks.

By the way, there are still two gold rocks out there.

Dixie Valley campfireLittle pumpkinsEventually there was one last contest. I had purchased a dozen small pumpkins from the grocery store. Most camps got one (for $5). There was the pot for the best pumpkin. They went out Thursday night and were due right before dinner on Saturday. I was amazed at the creativity that showed up with these pumpkins.

Dixie Valley NevadaI call this a perfect 4-day weekend. The weather was perfect, the participants were perfect, and the games were perfect.

But I can tell you that as the honcho of this group, when I got home Sunday afternoon, a long hot shower was first, second was a nap in the recliner and third was a quick but tasty dinner.

Finally, just a hair after 8 o’clock I gave up the fight and went to bed.



  1. I enjoyed the article, Gage! It brought me right back to the gravel pit to relive those memories. As always, THANK YOU for putting so much thought in our trips, being a hell of a leader, but mostly, for your friendship! See you soon for our next adventure.

  2. Boy does that sound like fun. We love exploring Nevada. Since we are usually by ourselves and 2 German Shepards, we don’t venture too far off the beaten path. We have explored so many back country dirt roads and had a ball. They are one day trips but still a blast. Thank you for sharing. I loved the article.

  3. Gage, the games were a blast and really made for a fun outing. The trail riding, however, was incredible. Even though we had to overcome washed out roads and fallen trees blocking our paths it was one of my most enjoyable riding experiences. Thank you so much for all of your hard work putting this together.


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