The Zunino-Jiggs Reservoir Recreation Area is a camping site managed by the BLM in Elko County, Nevada. The recreation area is located on the north-east shore of the Zunino-Jiggs Reservoir. The forty-five-acre lake occupies an area of grassy flatlands bordered to the east by the Ruby Mountain Range. It's a landscape dominated by the prominence of a barren and jagged peak known as Ruby Dome, the twenty-seventh highest peak in Nevada. To the west are the Toiyabe Mountains which are part of the extensive acreage of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.
All camping at the Zunino-Jiggs Reservoir Recreation Area is primitive. Although the reservoir is situated on privately owned land, the BLM takes care of the entire shoreline, making all parts of the lake accessible to visitors wanting to fish, spot wildlife or just make the most of some quiet outdoor time. That said, there is only one road to the reservoir and this leads to the nine semi-developed campsites. The rest of the lake shoreline can only be accessed on foot so is only appropriate for dispersed tent camping. The RV pitches at the recreation area are dirt-surfaced with no utility hook-ups. There is no water available on-site or any other amenity, though each of the campsites is fitted out with picnic tables, grills, and fire rings. Camping is permitted all year and pitches allocated first-come-first-served.
Most RV campers pitching up at the Zunino-Jiggs Reservoir Recreation Area are expecting to enjoy some fishing during their stay. It's a good idea for anglers to have a back-up destination in mind as the water levels in the reservoir can vary greatly, dropping drastically to almost non-existent during prolonged dry spells.
Hikers stepping out to explore the area around the reservoir will be trekking in the footsteps of 19th-century pioneers who journeyed through the area on their way to California. Interested hikers and history fans can get a hands-on experience of what it was like to be a pioneer at the California Trail Interpretive Center or the Western Folklife Center in Elko.
While there is wildlife to be seen at the reservoir, serious bird-lovers will want to plan a trip to the nearby Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge to see the enormous flocks of migratory birds there. Mountain bikers and winter sports aficionados will have a great time at the nearby Snobowl Ski and Bike Park. RV camping at the Zunino-Jiggs Reservoir Recreation Area might be quiet, but it definitely won't be boring.
The Zunino-Jiggs Recreation Area is located just off the US 228 between Elko and Jiggs. The recreation area is about thirty miles south of Elko and three miles north of Jiggs. The recreation area is signposted so you'll easily spot where to turn off of the US 228. Once you do, you'll find the access road to the recreation area is a narrow, but reasonably maintained dirt-surfaced roadway that won't cause you any problems if you take it steady. If there have been heavy downpours you may find the road develops some potholes so proceed with caution after rain.
If you're heading to the campsite from the north of the state after RV camping at the Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir in Idaho, head to Wells first on the US 93 southbound. From Wells, you can join the I 80 westbound to Elko. It's a straightforward drive that will take you around two and a half hours. If you've been camping out in your RV in the Great Basin National Park, once you're through Ely, the trip north to Jiggs will take around the same amount of time.
If you arrive in your rig to the Zunino-Jiggs Reservoir Recreation Area and all of the limited pitches have been taken, head back towards Elko on the US 228 for just under twenty miles and you'll find a great alternative, the South Fork State Recreation Area. The park covers a total area of almost four-thousand acres and allows dispersed RV camping by the south shore of South Fork Reservoir as well as RV camping in a campground.
Although the park itself is open all year round, the campground at the South Fork State Recreation Area is only open from the beginning of spring until late fall. Exact dates vary depending on the severity of the weather conditions. The campground has twenty-five gravel-surfaced pitches that can accommodate most lengths of rig. All campsites are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. Only two of the campsites have electricity hook-ups and there is a small daily surcharge for using the service. Many of the pitches have lake views and all are furnished with sheltered picnic tables, grills, and fire rings. Stays are restricted to fourteen days in any thirty day period.
On-site amenities are minimal, though there is a functioning water spigot during the season and a year-round dump station. The campground has two boat ramps. One, located on the southwest shore of the lake, is for boats no longer than fifteen feet. The larger launch ramp has a trailer parking area and has been fitted with a vault toilet.
RV campers traveling with youngsters should be aware that there is a ten o'clock at night juvenile curfew operating at the park as well as standard quiet hours from ten in the evening until seven in the morning.
The countryside around the Zunino-Jiggs Reservoir Recreation Area is great for exploring on foot. Trek around the lake's shoreline for a pleasant stroll or step out onto the historic Hastings Cutoff section of the California National Historic Trail for a more adventurous trek.
Hikers wanting more of a challenge won't be able to resist the six and a half mile long out-and-back Ruby Dome Trail. It's a hike that's classed as difficult, so go prepared with good boots and hiking poles. The trailhead to go up the mountain is half an hour's drive north of the campground near Spring Creek.
The Zunino-Jiggs Reservoir attracts a lot of anglers to fish both by boat and from the shore. There is no size restriction for boats, but small is better as there are no ramps to launch from. The reservoir has a good stock of trout, bass, bluegill and sunfish.
Ice fishing for trout during the winter can also produce a great catch. If you get to the lake and the water level is too low for floating a boat or decent fishing, the South Fork Reservoir is a good alternative and only a short, twenty-minute drive north.
The Ruby Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is a forty thousand acre bird and wildlife preserve that covers terrains that vary from marsh to meadow to grasslands. The refuge is a thirty-mile drive south of the Zunino-Jiggs Reservoir Recreation Area near the small community of Shanty Town.
The landscape of the refuge attracts huge flocks of migratory birds that feed and nest in the area. There, depending on the season, you'll be able to spot multiple species of waterfowl including ducks, geese, and swans as well as heron, grebe, and cranes. Raptors like bald and golden eagles, hawks, kestrels, and falcons are also common sightings.
Relive the pioneering past with a visit to the California Trail Interpretive Center in Elko. The fascinating museum has indoor and outdoor exhibits, multi-media presentations, interactive displays and a huge collection of artwork.
There are interpretive walking trails running through the grounds that you can stroll alone or with a qualified docent in full pioneering costume. The museum is open all year round for five days of the week from Thursday through to Monday.
The Snobowl Ski and Bike Park is a combination recreation area near Elko for mountain biking in the summer and snow sports in winter. When there's enough snow coverage, the ski lift will take you up the slopes so you can ski or sled down.
There are trails for all levels of skier and snowboarder from beginner to advanced winding through sixty acres of ground as well as plenty of opportunities for sledding. When there's no snow, the trails, with the addition of a few man-made jumps, become an interesting challenge for mountain bikers of all skill levels.
The Western Folklife Center is a cultural center focused on preserving the history of the American West through various mediums. The center houses both permanent and temporary exhibits on such diverse topics as quilts and horses, presents film, live music, and readings of Western poetry and literature in the three-hundred seater in-house theater. There are even Western-style dance classes.
Check what's on before you go on the Western Folklife Canter's official website so you don't miss out on a great hoedown when you're RV camping at the Zunino-Jiggs Reservoir Recreation Area.