Fort Churchill is the state park that started this somewhat crazy idea of visiting all the parks this year. I enjoyed my time there so much I decided then and there that I would visit them all and include the kids on this adventure. I have always been a bit of a history buff and Fort Churchill is full of it, especially for being a short-lived military outpost.
Fort Churchill is along HWY 95A on your way to Yerington. It makes for a painless, 45 minute drive as long as you ignore your car GPS and don’t take Fort Churchill road out of Dayton. Yes, it is a shorter distance, but the road is not paved and will take you a lot longer. I think I drove out there once with the Jeep in our ‘before kids’ phase. While it is fun, make sure you know what you are getting into.
I was able to get to Fort Churchill on a chilly, but sunny winter day. It was a Wednesday so there wasn’t anyone else around. The kids were with Grandma for the day, so I was able to really take my time and explore. An event that is pretty rare and cherished these days. The clouds were breathtaking and the isolation was refreshing. I loved being able to take my time reading the history, walking through the ruins, and hit the recharge button.
Fort Churchill Highlights
- Self-guided Museum
- Easy trail to get up close to the ruins
- Trails to Carson River from day use areas
- Small quiet campground
The visitor center was open and has some great displays of the colorful history of the Fort. It has a miniature layout of what the Fort looked like while in use. This was a great starting point as the buildings themselves are pretty deteriorated and require some imagination. The visitor center is also a replica of what one of the buildings originally looked like. If the museum isn’t open on your visit, you could still look through the windows for some diorama style displays of the people who occupied this area. The visitor center also sits on the hill looking down on the Fort which is quite the view.
After exploring the visitor center I wandered down a trail to walk the Fort. The trail provides information on each of the buildings still standing or the buildings that use to stand there. The remaining buildings are extremely unstable so it is important to admire and explore from the existing trail. I don’t plan on taking my kids to explore the Fort as I did, because keeping hands off can be difficult for a 3 almost 4 year old and 1 year olds don’t understand trails. But I would certainly recommend this park and trail to families with kids who are little bit older. Especially if they are at reading levels.
After I finished the trail, I drove down to the campground to explore. It would be great for tent or small trailer camping, but know the train tracks are awfully close and I feel there might be early trains coming through. If you have a train loving kid in your crew, that would be an added bonus, otherwise it might be a really early wake up call.
Next to the campground is also a day use area that has a lot of trails leading to the Carson River. The literature mentions canoeing from here to Lahontan when the water allows. Now that is an adventure I sure want to try when the weather gets a little nicer!
My solo adventure to Fort Churchill was a success and a great way to recharge. Something, us mommas definitely need at times. If you enjoy a little history and don’t mind a little imagination, this State Park is quite a gem to Nevada. If you check it out, let me know how your adventure went. I’d love to hear anything I might have missed. I certainly plan on being back in other seasons.