Featuring an abundance of recreational opportunities, Rye Patch State Park is an RV lover's dream in the desert. Rye Patch State Park is located in a remote area of Nevada that, in prehistoric times, was situated under a natural lake that has since been replaced by the Rye Patch Reservoir. Archeological evidence indicates that early humans lived and thrived in the area and lived off the water of the lake to survive in the otherwise harsh landscape. Humans and animals lived side-by-side, creating a thriving community. After humans left the area, the land remained somewhat isolated and barren until the California Gold Rush, when people came west to find gold.
The highlight of the park, as well as its namesake, is the gigantic Rye Patch Reservoir. The park also features smaller offshoots of water stemming from the reservoir which together, makes over 11,000 acres of water surface. Aside from prehistoric roots, the park also has significant historical roots. The Rye Patch Reservoir, built during the Great Depression as part of a New Deal relief project, helped develop what is now known as a Nevada State Recreation Area, retaining water for several parts of the Southwest. The reservoir is the most popular place for recreation with visitors enjoying fishing and boating. There are over 70 miles of shoreline perfect for swimming, picnicking, or just relaxing.
Camping at Rye Patch State Park is available in two different campsites, both of which have RV and trailer friendly sites that accommodate rigs up to 40 feet in length. The primitive campgrounds give campers a feeling of rustic camping while still remaining under the umbrella of a state recreation area. Campers looking for a place to stay coming or going to the biggest RV-destination in the state of Nevada, Burning Man, should consider staying at Rye Patch State Park as a place to relax before heading to the Playa.
The main recreation area of Rye Patch State Park is located near I-80 and US-95, about 22 miles northeast of the town of Lovelock. Besides Lovelock, there are a few other small towns in the immediate area, including Winnemucca (around 52 miles to the north) and Battle Mountain (which is approximately 104 miles to the east). The closest major city to Rye Patch State Park is Reno, which can be found 118 miles to the southwest.
Since the park is in a remote location, make sure that you have adequate supplies before beginning your drive. If you are coming from Reno (this is the most popular route), we suggest that you stock up before you leave the city. You shouldn't have any problems accessing the park with your RV or trailer, as the roads are wide and there are no overhanging trees due to the desert location. The park is open year-round, but call the park if you are traveling in winter to make sure that all services and amenities are still available.
The Westside Campground at Rye Patch State Park is the largest of the two campgrounds that accommodate RVs. In total, 25 large, flat, quiet, and private sites are ready for you and your rig. All sites in this campground are non-powered; however, that doesn't mean that there are no amenities. During your stay, you will be able to use restrooms that feature flush toilets and hot showers, along with a sanitary dump station that has potable water. The Westside Campground also has access to the boat ramp, picnic areas, and it is nearby to the Swim Cove.
You should be able to get cell phone reception on all networks within the campground. Quiet hours exist between 10 PM and 7 AM. If you're camping with pets, Westside Campground is pet-friendly, but animals must be leashed at all times. Reservations are available by calling the park office.
The River Campground is the smallest of the two campgrounds that accommodate RV campers. In total, 22 riverside sites are available. All sites in this campground are non-powered, but most of them come equipped with a picnic table and fire ring for you to enjoy. There is no dump station at the River Campground, but visitors in need of one can head to Westside Campground. A restroom with flush toilets and hot showers is available for you to use on-site. The River Campground also has access to a volleyball court, horseshoe pit, great fishing spots on the banks of the river, a swimming area, and a picnic area.
You should be able to get cell phone reception on all networks within the campground. Quiet hours exist between 10 PM and 7 AM. River Campground is also pet-friendly, but animals must be leashed at all times. Reservations are available by calling the park office.
Fishing is one of the most popular recreational activities available for visitors to Rye Patch State Park. Common species caught in the reservoir include black bass, white bass, wipers, channel catfish, crappie, and even walleye. A handy tip is to pack your own bait in a cooler along with you in the Airstream since the park is so remote, and it may be difficult to find any bait in the surrounding area. A Nevada fishing license is required for you to be able to fish legally, and can easily be bought online before you head out for your fishing and camping trip.
Along with casting out a line, boating is another popular choice for visitors who want to enjoy the most of Rye Patch State Park. Motorized boats are allowed on the reservoir, and they are quite popular as boating is a fun way to get from one area to another. You will also see people using canoes, kayaks, and other personal watercraft during the summer. If you brought a boat along on your RV vacation, you can access the water from the boat ramp and dock. They are both located next to the westside camping area.
Once you have finished playing in the reservoir, you can take the chance to have a relaxing picnic within Rye Patch State Park. The park contains two different day-use picnic areas that vary in use. If you have a small picnic group, we recommend using the river picnic area. It has tables, grills, and restrooms available for your convenience. The west side of the reservoir has a group-use picnic area that has space for up to 100 people. It is also is equipped with tables, grills, water collection points, and restrooms.
If you need a retreat from the sun during your camping trip, head to the cool waters of the Rye Parch Reservoir. This human-made body of water has over 70 miles of shoreline and two designated swimming areas. The Swim Cove is located on the west side of the park, near the Westside Campground. Here, you can swim, tube along the shore, or enjoy a scenic picnic on the banks of the water. Further south, you'll find Ramada Beach, located next to the River Campground. The sandy beach here is perfect for sunbathing, splashing in the water, picnicking, or simply taking in the breathtaking view.
The Reno Prospecting and Detecting Club holds an annual event known as the Rye Patch Nugget Shoot that brings people of all ages together for an old fashioned treasure hunt. The event is held within Rye Patch State Park, and those participating in the Rye Patch Nugget Shoot use metal detectors to try and locate their loot. Many gold nuggets have been discovered in Pershing County since the mid-1800s, and there are plenty more still out there waiting to be found. For more information on the Rye Patch Nugget Shoot, contact the Reno Prospecting and Detecting Club.
A great way to get out of the pop-up and explore Rye Patch State Park is by making use of the hiking trails. The trails in Rye Patch State Park are quite short, and the brief length will suit hikers of all ages and skill levels. One of the most popular trails in the park is the one-mile long East Cove Trail. The classic Nevada desert scenery of sagebrush and other shrubs will be seen, and as you leave the trailhead area, the terrain will change to colored bands of dirt and rock strata as you descend. Since this park is very remote, make sure you tell the park rangers of your hiking plans.
If you were to take a glance at the desert in Rye Patch State Park from the window of your campervan, you might not think that living things were in abundance. Surprisingly, this is not true, and there is plenty of wildlife for you to view in the park—you just have to look a little closer to spot it. Leopard lizards are very common on the hiking trails, and you may even catch a glimpse of some larger animals, including deer, turkeys, rabbits, ducks, and pelicans. With all wildlife, make sure you keep a safe distance between them and try not to scare them.
You may not think that the desert area surrounding Rye Patch State Park has much to offer in terms of scenic views, but mountain vistas, the clear blue water of the Rye Patch Reservoir, and colorful sunsets make this park a photographer's dream. The park's active wildlife also draw visitors to the park, and you may be able to snap a photo of hawks, deer, antelope, fox, or eagles. Tread lightly along any of the park's trails for your best chances as seeing critters, or hike down to the beach to get a picture of one of the stunning sunsets. Wherever you wander, you won't want to be without your camera.