Camping – Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park and Columbine Campground

Last week Duke and I did a two night camping trip in central Nevada. From Reno we headed east on Highway 50. Just past Fallon Naval Air Station there is sign which points south to earthquake faults. We have been wanting to explore that road so we headed south. There are some signs along the road explaining that in 1954 a big earthquake in this area uplifted the ground as much as 20 feet. Although the uplift is covered by vegetation now you can still see it. We got out and looked at the fault up close and then drove along it for a ways. In this picture the wavy line in the hills is the uplift along the  fault.


Heading east the map showed a dirt road across the Paradise Range through Germany Canyon. We found the road  and started up it in four wheel drive but it got very steep and there were some land slides across the road. We thought we were near the top but after getting out to survey the road ahead we decided to turn around. In the picture below you can see where we stopped the truck.


We went south a bit and took the paved road across the Paradise Range. We camped for the night at Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park in the next mountain range to the east. It was a beautiful night and there was only one other camper in the whole campground.


During the Triassic period 200 million years ago the park was under a shallow ocean. The ichthyosaur was a giant marine reptile that resembled a dolphin. Some of the ichthyosaur fossils found here were left in place and covered with a barn like structure. Last time we were at this park we just looked in the windows. It was difficult to know what we were looking at. This time the building was open and we took a tour. The giant ichthyosaur fossils are pretty amazing. The round rocks you see in the picture are vertebrae.


After the tour we headed east. Our second night was spent at the National Forest Service Columbine Campground at the edge of the Arc Dome Wilderness. The campground is set beside Stewart Creek in a big aspen grove. We had a few rain showers but they didn’t last long. Columbine campground is one of my favorite places to camp.


Before heading home we hiked up the Stewart Creek Trail towards Arc Dome for a couple of hours. Some day I would like to do the whole hike. It would be an all day adventure. According to the book 50 Classic Hikes in Nevada the Stewart Creek Loop Trail is 8 miles long and has 2500 feet of elevation gain, The hike to the top of Arc Dome is 3 miles out and back from the loop trail.



 On the way home we found another impassable road, turned around and found a wonderful four wheel drive road across the ridge top of the Shoshone Mountains. The first picture is the road in Bonita Canyon where we decided to turn around. The second picture is from the road at the top of the Shoshone Mountains.



If you would like to see all the pictures from this trip they are on Flickr here.

Zachary Taylor by John S. D. Eisenhower

I have a long term goal to read a biography of each American President. My list of the books I have read so far is here.

Reading biographies is giving me a more focused feel for American History. During our recent road trip I finished reading about President number twelve, Zachary Taylor. The biography was written by John S. D. Eisenhower, a retired brigadear general, historian and the son of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.



Eisenhower’s biography of Taylor is short, only 140 pages. “His presidency was also short. He was sworn in March 5 1849 and he died of an infection on July 9, 1850.” Taylor’s personal papers were destroyed during the Civil War when Union soldiers destroyed the home of Taylor’s son, Richard, at Baton Rouge. As a result not a lot is known about Taylor’s view of his presidency.

Taylor was best known as Old Rough and Ready, the general who led the U.S. to victory in the Mexican American War. Reading about the significant battles in that war and about Taylor’s leadership was the highlight of the book.

If you are looking for a book to read about Taylor I would recommend the Eisenhower book. It is a well written easy read.

Next I will be reading about Millard Fillmore, Taylor’s Vice President, who took over when Taylor died. He is considered one of our worst presidents so this should be interesting.