Silver Peak is about an hour's drive southwest of Tonopah, Nevada and the trip getting there is half the fun of this adventure. The dirt roads that run through the sagebrush valleys to this living ghost town are fairly smooth, but a high ground clearance vehicle is best for this trek. There is an old mill site watering hole along the way and where there is water in the desert, wildlife is guaranteed to be in the area. Since Silver Peak is the oldest mining district in this state, plenty of burros that were cut loose way back when modern industrial extraction methods were first employed and the offspring still roam free in these parts. Wild burros can be seen just about anywhere on the way to Silver Peak, which definitely makes the journey much more interesting.
Small herds of wild horses also roam in the Tonopah-Silver Peak region and the best time to spot them is early in the day, especially near the old roadside cement mill pond. These desert horses do not expend much energy due to meager food resources and they move slow enough for a photographer to really frame a good picture. The wild horses in this region definitely avoid human contact, so packing binoculars or a telephoto lens will make it easier to get a closer look.
Upon arrival at Silver Peak, the first point of interest will be the active large scale lithium salt mining operations and the evaporation ponds that extend to the edge of the mountains. Silver Peak has transformed from being one of the most lucrative gold and silver mining districts to producing high tech battery raw materials, which in turn guarantees that this old town will remain on the map for many years to come. The town of Silver Peak was established back in the mid 1860s and there is a lot of shared history with the mother lode mining operations that eventually took place in Tonopah.
When the gold ore was depleted, Silver Peak took a nose dive and when the world silver bouillon prices plummeted in the late 1800s, the community was once again left hung out to dry. Most of the population moved on to new horizons, but fortunately salt mining operations started up in the early 1900s, which once again prevented this old mining camp from being completely abandoned. Silver Peak is indeed a living ghost town and visitors should respect it as such. With the lithium operations going full tilt in recent years, Silver Peak has seen yet another small population boom, but there are very few businesses open and they only cater to basic essential needs. Silver Peak is an interesting historic spot to tour in the back country, while the wild burros and horses that can be seen on the way there are definitely an added bonus!
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