Editorial Page

Nevada Forests, Scenic, Massive, Spectacular, Breathtaking

January 14, 2022,

Driving from Southern California to Las Vegas can be very scenic.

Especially if you love mountains and deserts. You will get your fill.

When we’ve driven the route, several times and we bring electronic master blaster music to keep us awake. Love the sad and moody songs, space music too, but not on this trip.

That can be a widespread view of Nevada.

Something might surprise you.

Nevada has one of the largest forests in the lower 48 states. Did you know that?

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The Humboldt–Toiyabe National Forest (HTNF) is the principal U.S. National Forest in the U.S. state of Nevada, and has a smaller portion in Eastern California. With an area of 6,289,821 acres, it is the largest U.S. National Forest outside Alaska.

The forest lies in 13 counties in Nevada and six in California. The counties with the largest amount of forest land are Nye, Elko, and White Pine in Nevada, and Mono County in California, but there are 15 other counties with land in this widely dispersed forest. Forest headquarters are located in Sparks, Nevada.

Given how huge it is, if you have never traversed there and wanted to visit, where do you begin?

How about at home.

At their website www.fs.usda.gov they welcome, “The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest’s spectacular 6.3 million acres makes it the largest national forest in the lower 48 states. Located in Nevada and a small portion of eastern California, the Forest offers year-round recreation of all types.”

We like that. Spectacular and year round recreation. We all need to get away.

When planning an outdoor vacation in the Forest, visitors should be aware that wildfire and, or smoke, even from fires hundreds of miles away, could affect your trip. It is important to “Know Before You Go” and check the following resources in advance:

  • Weather forecastfrom the National Weather Service or a favorite phone app to assess heat levels and the risk of thunderstorms, both of which increase fire risk.
  • InciWeb (https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/) for information on all currently burning major fires.
  • Air Quality Index (AQI)at gov. The AQI’s color-coded system provides air quality for cities and zip codes around the country. In addition, the AirNow.gov smoke advisories page offers air quality reporting at temporary stations near known fire locations.
  • State fire websites(CalFire/org) for all things fire related in the state.
  • Local Ranger District office (https://bit.ly/HTNFForestOffices)will have the most up-to-date information for the area.​​​

Good to know. Some wonderful basics.

Once there, what will we find in these enchanted forests?

Well, if you love Bambi then you’ve come to the right region.

The mule deer is a deer indigenous to western North America.

This cute rascal is named for its ears, which are large like those of the mule. Two subspecies of mule deer are grouped into the black-tailed deer.

Unlike the related white-tailed deer, which is found throughout most of North America east of the Rocky Mountains and in the valleys of the Rocky Mountains from Idaho and Wyoming northward, mule deer are only found on the western Great Plains, in the Rocky Mountains, in the southwest United States, and on the west coast of North America.

The most noticeable differences between white-tailed and mule deer are ear size, tail color, and antler configuration. In many cases, body size is also a key difference.

The mule deer’s tail is black-tipped, whereas the white-tailed deer’s is not. Mule deer antlers are bifurcated; they “fork” as they grow, rather than branching from a single main beam, as is the case with white-tails.

Each spring, a buck’s antlers start to regrow almost immediately after the old antlers are shed. Shedding typically takes place in mid-February, with variations occurring by locale.

Note this. Mule deer have also been introduced to Argentina and Kauai, Hawaii.

Hanging loose with Bambi.

Just as Bambi faced adversity in the animated film, in real life, these deer face challenges too. We say all of this because when you go into the forests, you should also be aware who some of the other neighbors are.

Besides humans, the three leading predators of mule deer are coyotes, wolves, and cougars. Bobcats, Canada lynx, wolverines, American black bears, and grizzly bears may prey upon adult deer, but most often only attack fawns or infirm specimens, or eat a deer after it has died due to natural causes.

Bears and smaller-sized carnivores are typically opportunistic feeders, and pose little threat to a strong, healthy mule deer.

But they do exist. Keep that in mind.

Now if you are really feeling adventurous and want to live off the land, or at least some of it for a little while, don’t forget there is some great fishing there.

The team at gonevadacounty.com share, “A climate moderated by a wide range of elevations makes fishing possible throughout the year. Depending on when and where you go, species range from rainbow or German trout (with some steelhead, brook and mackinaw), to bass, Kokanee salmon, and pan fish.”

Sounds delicious.

Many in our circle have fished before and yes, that includes cleaning the fish. We don’t know why but fishing, securing your meal and cooking it over a camp fire is a very life affirming experience. As though if you had to, you could actually survive off the land.

The fresh fish taste absolutely delicious.

Do you like beer or wine with your smoked fish?

Many especially like Martis Creek Lake.

Located close to Lake Tahoe, Truckee and Reno, Martis Creek Lake has a beautiful, peaceful campground off the beaten path.

The Martis Creek area features hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking and trout fishing.

You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

The outdoors group at gonevadacounty.com is happy to take you there. Back in time that is. Some of the details are fascinating.

They educate, “From the rugged mountain peaks of Truckee where the ill-fated Donner Party wintered, to the lucrative deep quartz mines below Grass Valley and beyond, Nevada County offers fascinating historic reminders at every turn. Nevada County’s many historic buildings, museums, state parks and sites offer an intriguing look into the region’s fascinating history. In addition to paying homage to the robust Gold Rush era, these historic destinations also offer vibrant insight into hearty emigrants, Native Americans and Chinese populations who filled the county’s history books.”

Good to know and see.

A scenic trip through Nevada has so much to offer.

Many hidden gems along the way and if you are fortunate?

You just might spot Bambi.

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