Flickr album link: Meadow Valley Recreation Area
Autumn is a good time of year for exploring destinations in the southern end of the Great Basin and the surrounding mountain ranges as long as the weather cooperates. A mild winter can present ideal conditions when compared to the extreme heat of summer, but visitors must still be prepared for icy cold temperatures and snow in the higher elevations. Spring actually is the best season for touring this region because there are several reservoirs that offer aquatic recreation and trout fishing opportunities, while the bitter cold nights will be less frequent. For those who are willing to brave the cold, plenty of peaceful solitude can be found, especially in the lesser known destinations that require zooming in on a map.
The Meadow Valley Recreation Area is one such lesser known place that is overshadowed by the neighboring Spring Valley State Park. In fact, most of the visitors that are familiar with the Black Eagle Reservoir often look upon Meadow Valley as being an overflow facility for when Spring Valley is at full capacity. This unique recreation area is literally right next door to the state park, yet the number of visitors are few on any given day of the year. This is due to the majority seeking quality trout fishing ventures at the Black Eagle Reservoir. The convenience of a fully developed campground with amenities inside Spring Valley State Park is also more attractive. On the flip-side, the Meadow Valley Recreation Area offers primitive campsites with only basic facilities. There are vehicle size restrictions at the Meadow Valley Campground too, because the dirt road going uphill is narrow with plenty of rock outcrop obstacles. There is a flat bare meadow across the main road that is used for overflow camping in this recreation area, which is much more favorable for RV campers and trailer haulers.
The Meadow Valley Recreation Area is located on Nevada Highway 322 about 18 miles east of Pioche Ghost Town. NV 322 is a dirt road highway that is smooth and well maintained, so an average passenger car can do the trip, but a high ground clearance vehicle is recommended. A 4x4 will present many more options, since there are several rough dirt side roads to explore in this area. After traversing the rolling hills through sagebrush country, the road goes through a mountain pass toward Spring Valley. The landscape dramatically transitions into towering bare rock spires and jagged peaks, which are the remnants of the gigantic Mt Wilson Volcanic Caldera. This definitive Nevada desert mountain landscape is more conducive for challenging hikes and rock climbing and the Meadow Valley Recreation Area is in the heart of this unforgiving landscape.
The neighboring Spring Valley State Park definitely attracts the anglers, while Meadow Valley tends to favor rock climbers and hikers. Because of the volcanic terrain, rock collecting is also a popular activity at this site. The Meadow Valley Campground is best suited for 4x4 tent campers, so everything about this recreation area is geared for pure extreme adventures. The volcanic terrain also is premium territory for landscape artists and photographers, so be sure to pack a good camera or a painter's palette. This is a dark sky area and the star gazing is amazing, so doing some night landscapes can be part of the plan too. Overall the Meadow Valley Recreation Area appeals to those who relish the thought of roughing it, rather than relaxing at a cozy fishing spot, so be sure to chalk this adventurous destination high on the list!
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