Desert recreation areas usually are not the first destination in mind when seeking an escape from the extreme heat of summer, however, all it takes is adding water to make the prospect all the more enticing. For a desert dweller, a big lake recreation area that is located in the middle of sagebrush country is the equivalent of a water sports park and swimming pool all wrapped up in one alluring package. Of course, fishing is part of the program too, which helps to solve the mystery of why an adventurer would tow a bass boat trailer way out in the middle of a vast desert expanse. People like this are not heat stroke crazy, because where there is water in sagebrush country, fun in the sun is guaranteed!
The South Fork State Recreation Area in Nevada has two basic requirements for achieving the great escape from the extreme heat status. This recreation area features a large reservoir lake and it is far enough north for the outdoor temperatures to be bearable. This man made lake has its origins in the civic flood control dam building projects that were popular in the 1930s. It may be difficult for an outsider to imagine, but this end of the Great Basin Desert is nearly always covered with a thick blanket of snow during the winter season. The Humboldt River bears the brunt of the massive spring season snow melt in this region, which often is fast and furious in the desert environment, so the old South Fork Reservoir Dam certainly has played a part in taming the annual floodwaters.
The South Fork Reservoir is over 3 miles long and over a mile wide, so there is plenty of room to roam on this large body of water. The gently rolling Ruby Mountains surround the vast sagebrush meadow that this lake is situated in, so the scenery is as picturesque as can be. The shoreline is long and there is limited vehicular access, so boating is definitely the best way to explore this park. The South Fork Reservoir is also over 30 feet deep, which has all the makings of a top notch fishery. This lake is stocked with bass, catfish and record size trout, so this certainly is a great spot for summer season anglers.
South Fork Reservoir is also a major waterfowl habitat, while the surrounding sagebrush meadows harbor all sorts of wildlife. Birding and wildlife viewing are pastimes, while the range of species are guaranteed to not leave an observer bored. Where there is water in the desert, there will be a migration bottleneck, so the birding certainly can be exciting. Mule Deer, badgers and kit foxes are commonly seen around this lake, so there will be plenty of good photo opportunities. Seasonal hunting is limited to shotgun or bow and arrow, which means it is safe to go boating even during duck season.
Setting up a basecamp for an extended stay is the best way to go at the South Fork State Recreation Area, especially when boating is in the plans. There are both developed and primitive campgrounds to choose from in this park, which include facilities, showers and picnic areas. There are very few shade trees to be found in sagebrush country, so be sure to pack some sun protection. There are two boat ramps in this park that help to minimize the wait when hoards of bass boats are lined up to get an early start on a Saturday morning. The city of Elko is nearby, so stocking up and finding rentals is easy to do. Overcrowding is rare in this end of Nevada, which is like the icing on the cake for those who wish to escape from it all. This all makes the South Fork State Recreation Area an ideal place to be when the extreme heat of summer rolls around!
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