Flickr album link: Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park
When planning a tour of Ely, Nevada, it is best to add a few extra days to the venture because there is so much to experience in this region. Historic downtown Ely offers plenty of cultural attractions, which include a railroad museum and old fashioned casino hotels that are straight out of the old west. All around this town are wide open spaces to explore and there are even a few cozy fishing destinations. The Ely Elk Viewing Area is a great place for an afternoon picnic and two state parks are located nearby. Cave Lake State Park offers lakeside camping and fun in the sun, while the Ward Charcoal Ovens boasts wholesome outdoor activities in a historic place.
The Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park is managed as both a recreation area and a cultural site, so boredom is a word that is seldom heard. This park is located a short distance down a dirt road that is smooth enough for passenger cars, while 4x4 vehicles will have an advantage because more adventures await further up in the mountains. The charcoal ovens are located on the edge of the mountain tree line and just a little further uphill is where the Willow Creek Campground can be found. This campground is spacious and the campsite modes range from RV pads to tent sites, so this campground can accommodate a wide range of guests. Two day use picnic sites with basic facilities are also located in this recreation area and there are plenty of shade trees to go around. Trout fishing is a popular activity in Willow Creek and there are extensive hiking and mountain biking trail systems in this area. This campground is also a popular basecamp for ATV trail riders and rentals can be found in Ely so anybody can join in on the fun.
Of course, the old Ward Charcoal Kilns are the main attraction and doing the tour is as easy as taking a stroll in a park. These classic beehive shaped kilns were constructed back in the 1870s when silver mining was booming in the newly established town of Ward, Nevada. Tragedy struck when part of Ward was burnt to the ground in the mid 1880s and when the price of silver crashed, there was not much reason for continuing operations into the future. The town of Ward eventually dissolved and most of the raw materials were scavenged for other projects in this region. The charcoal ovens ended up being a local attraction on private land for many years, then then the state acquired the land as a preservation site in the mid 1900s. The Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park is well work checking out, so be sure to place this destination high on the list when planning a tour of Ely!
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