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Nevada’s Great Basin has a fascinating history that had a violent volcanic start hundreds of millions of years ago. The region eventually calmed down and became filled with water, some areas containing a brilliant pink sediment at the bottom of the lake. When this massive lake dried, that pink clay dried out and was shaped by the elements over the next few millennia, creating what is now Echo Canyon. This canyon was dammed in 1970, creating Echo Canyon Reservoir and Echo Canyon State Park.
The reservoir is a modest 65 acres contained within the 1,800-acre state park. This region was initially inhabited by the Fremont native tribes 1,000 years ago, who left evidence of their seasonal hunts here with pictographs and pottery. The first permanent residents were Mormon pioneers in the mid-19th century, soon followed by ranchers drawn by the abundance of water in an otherwise arid landscape. Visitors camp at Echo Canyon State Park today to get off the grid and take advantage of the reservoir’s excellent fishing. Echo Canyon State Park is in eastern Nevada, a few hours north of Las Vegas, at an elevation of 5,500 feet. Search for an RV in Lincoln County and add Echo Canyon to your list of Great Basin destinations.
Echo Canyon State Park is perhaps known best for its fishing. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout, brown trout, largemouth bass, and crappie. You can launch a boat from the reservoir’s north shore, but fishing from the beach is just as good. The park hosts a tagged fishing derby every May and has free fishing days for kids. You’ll find some swimming areas too where you can cool off on a hot summer day.
The reservoir has attracted numerous waterfowl that in turn attracts birders and photographers. The park is home to mallards, swans, and herons. Additional birds you can see include bald eagles, owls, and songbirds. Deer come down to the lake to drink in the morning, and if you’re lucky, you might also spot a resident bobcat.
This small park contains a great hiking trail where you can observe the park’s flora and fauna and get some outstanding views of the canyon, reservoir, and valley. The Ash Canyon Trail is a two-and-a-half-mile loop that starts in the northern campground and quickly climbs 300 feet to the rim. After following the rim, the trail descends the canyon walls and returns to the campground via a paved road.
Camping at Echo Canyon State Park is available year-round. There are two campgrounds here, and motorhomes are invited to both. Each campground has drinking water and flushing toilets, and there's a dump station in the state park RV campground. Pets are allowed if kept on a leash.
The northern campground has 33 back-in sites that can accommodate smaller RVs. There are no hookups in this campground, but each site has a sheltered picnic table and fire ring with a grill. This campground is your typical Great Basin sagebrush environment, but there are some small trees to shade yourself and your pets.
The RV campground at Echo Canyon State Park is on a hill overlooking the valley and has 20 sites with a mix of pull-through and back-in sites capable of accommodating larger RV rentals. Each site has full hookups, a sheltered picnic table, and fire ring with a grill. This campground has fewer trees to speak of, so you’ll need to take advantage of your motorhome or picnic shelter for shade.
Echo Canyon State Park is 13 miles east of the charming town of Pioche. When you're camping at Echo Canyon State Park, you'll need to set aside some time to explore this small town. The Lincoln County Historical Museum has a unique collection of curios and artifacts from the early days of settlement and mining and is itself housed in a historic building. Head over to the Boot Hill Cemetery and read the gravestones of the colorful characters now buried there, then get some refreshments in one of the town’s historic cafes. Pioche hosts a wild Labor Day Celebration that attracts so many people the town triples in size.
There are a few travel stations along US-93, which runs north to south through Pioche, where you'll find the closest gas station and basic grocery store. After restocking your campervan rental, be sure to check out the slot canyons of Cathedral Gorge State Park, just ten miles away. Great Basin National Park and the southernmost glacier in North America are only two hours north, while St. George and Zion National Park are two hours to the east. But if you need a break from nature and have a craving for bright shiny lights, Las Vegas and all of its attractions are just three hours to the south.