Flickr album link: Bird Creek Campground
When traveling on the Great Basin Highway in northern Nevada, it does not take long to realize that there are far more dispersed camping opportunities than there are modern motel accommodations. When drowsiness sets in at the end of a long day, a tourist may have to drive an extra 150 miles just to find signs of civilization, while an opportunity to do a good old fashioned campout may only be a few miles away. This is a good reason for packing some camping gear when touring the Great Basin Desert. By plotting a few campgrounds on a map ahead of time it will be easier to find a cozy campsite, since cellular communications are practically nonexistent in this region. Such was the case while I was traveling to a job at Mt Rainier and this is how I came across the Bird Creek Campground in the Humboldt National Forest.
The Bird Creek Campground is located about 30 minutes north of Ely, Nevada about a dozen miles east of Highway 93. This campground can be found in mapping systems, so plotting a pathway through the agricultural areas to the access road is easy to do. There is adequate roadside signage marking the dirt road that goes uphill to the campground and a good landmark to look for is the ranger station at the edge of the national forest. The dirt road to Bird Creek is rated for high ground clearance vehicles and driving a 4x4 will present more trail riding options. Upon arrival, there is a short water crossing at Bird Creek before entering the campground and as long as it is not raining, it will be easy to pass through.
Bird Creek is a primitive camping area with basic facilities and a few picnic tables. There are several looping trails through the pine woods that go to secluded campsites and there is a grassy meadow next to the creek where camping is allowed too. The creek does flow through the campground and the relaxing sound of the water creates a peaceful atmosphere. The water also is a haven for mosquitos, so packing some organic repellent is recommended for when these bugs are active around sundown. The high elevation deep pine forest is all around, so it is best to be bear aware when storing food and garbage. This is also mountain lion territory, so keeping small children and pets in sight will be necessary too. More often than not, the only animals that a visitor will encounter are mule deer and elk, which also indicates that this campground is a favorite spot for hunters during the autumn season. Oddly enough, this cozy creekside campground sits empty most of the year, so do not be surprised to have this entire wilderness area to yourself!
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