The Top Six Attractions For 2012 In Nevada's Pony Express Territory

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Six Western Towns Welcome Travelers to Nevada's Historical Pony Express Territory with Experiences known as down and dirty and/or historic and modest.

Nevada Mountain Biking

Bikers Enjoy the Scenic Beauty. Photo Credit: Bob Allen

Artists are thrilled and love to perform at the Eureka Opera House. They request to come back year after year. I should also add that it’s a perfect place for a themed wedding.

While many people visit Nevada for its ornate casinos, flashy shows and energy charged night life, another realm of opportunities exist often described as down and dirty or historic and modest. For 2012, there are six key attractions in northern Nevada’s Pony Express Territory that travelers won’t want to miss. Each attraction is discovered in one of the six friendly towns along Highway 50 where Pony Express Riders once traveled through the heart of Nevada.

The area officially designated as Nevada’s "Pony Express Territory" encompasses six main towns with approximately two hours of driving distance between each − Dayton, Fallon, Fernley, Austin, Eureka, and Ely. The routes that link these towns have come to be known as one big 17 million acre museum. The “museum” greets visitors with expansive terrain, natural wonders, historical heritage and one-of-a-kind events found only in this area of the rugged West.

Visitors can drive the entire territory from one end to the other (approximately 409 miles) in about 6.5 hours (at 65 miles per hour) whereas by horse, Pony Express Riders took approximately 41 hours to cover the territory. Travelers may choose to start their journey in Dayton or in Ely. Another option is to journey directly to a select town to partake in its unique festival, event and/or year-round attraction.

  •     Each year in September, Dayton, which is a short drive from Carson City, celebrates Dayton Valley Days bringing “The Arts” to school children and raising funds to preserve Old Town Dayton’s historical significance. Dayton is where Nevada’s first gold was discovered in 1849 and this year’s event will highlight Lyon County’s 151th Birthday. The 1865 stone Schoolhouse Museum is open weekly and the 1875 firehouse and jail have been recently restored.
  •     The second town along Nevada’s Pony Express Territory coming from Dayton is Fernley. Only minutes from the town, the main recreational attraction, Pyramid Lake, on the Paiute Indian Reservation features some of the finest beaches and water located this side of the Pacific. It’s one of the only salt water lakes in the nation and boating facilities are readily available. Visitors can get a true sense of Pyramid Lake’s importance to the Paiute Tribe with a trip to the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum and Visitors Center.
  •     Next is Fallon. This town is home to the annual nonprofit Spring Wings Bird Festival taking place in May. The festival occurs at the height of spring migration in the internationally recognized Lahontan Valley Wetlands. The area is home to more than 280 species of birds and to some of the most significant wetland systems in the American West attracting more than a million waterfowl, as well as over 20,000 other water birds, including pelicans, egrets, cormorants, herons, ibis, gulls and terns.
  •     Austin is the next charming town reached while heading east along Hwy 50 and a main attraction is Mountain Biking. Enthusiasts appreciate the numerous routes with the most popular including the Castle Loop, Cahill Canyon Run, Bob Scott Slide, Gold Venture Loop, Crest Cut-off, and the Pony Canyon Down Hill Trail and Pony Express Trail, an 11 mile trip for all level riders. Trails offer a feeling of isolation while boasting scenic beauty: Toiyabe range, wildlife, aspen groves and rocky ridges. When off the bike, visitors can explore Austin, a living ghost and historic mining town. From Reno, the trip to Austin is only about three hours.
  •     Eureka is the fifth town along Hwy 50 in the Pony Express Territory, and its historic Eureka Opera House features a monthly event. Theatre buffs make the trek to Eureka because of the authentic experience the venue offers, a historical building off the beaten trek. The 121 year-old opera house features a Grand Hall Auditorium, state-of-the art event/meeting accommodations and a cultural center. Eureka also offers a walking-tour of restored buildings including the 1879 courthouse still used by county government and its historic art gallery and the Eureka Sentinel Museum.

“Artists are thrilled and love to perform here and request to come back year after year,” said Andrea Rossman, opera house director. “I should also add that it’s a perfect place for a themed-wedding.”

  •     Sixth on the journey of attractions is Ely where visitors are enamored by the Ely Renaissance Society murals celebrating the town’s history, but are also physically exhilarated by the down and dirtiness of the Nevada Northern Railway (NNRY). This is the only railway in the nation where people can actually operate a historic steam locomotive. For 2012, consider enrolling you and/or your teen in a one-of-a-kind Railroad Reality Camp that is both extreme physical and mental training. Campers replace ties, shovel coal, lube a hot steam locomotive and operate a diesel locomotive to couple to a caboose. Camp graduates operate a 1,500 horsepower locomotive. Ely is 350 miles east of Reno and 240 miles north of Las Vegas.

Another must see attraction in the Pony Express Territory is the magnificent Great Basin National Park, which is a short distance off Highway 50 east of Ely with several sites listed in the National Registry of Historic Places . Wheeler Peak is the second highest in the state, and the Lehman Caves tours are a rarity.

The Pony Express Territory welcomes the media to its new online pressroom with exclusive high res photography and fresh story ideas. We’re available to help you tour, customize your story, and more.

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Nevada's Pony Express Territory sits on 17 million acres of wide-open space with 150 years of rich history, rugged undisturbed nature and black night skies. The Territory is where the Pony Express riders once galloped along its main trail, now Highway 50, connecting the six adventurous towns of Dayton, Fallon, Fernley, Austin, Eureka and Ely. 1,840 miles of wilderness was crossed in the Nevada "Pony Express Territory". Twenty years ago Life Magazine designated this section of Nevada State Highway 50 – “America’s Loneliest Road.”


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Rick Gray

Tracy Owen Chapman
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