About two hours west of Reno lies a park that you would think should be on the edge of the ocean rather than in the middle of the Nevada desert. Sand Mountain Recreation Area is a popular place for locals to visit on the weekends to go hiking, camping, off-roading, dirt biking and even sand-boarding. The area stretches over 4,795 acres of desert and consists of several mountain-size sand dunes, a dry camping area, parking lot, pit toilets and picnic areas. The highest of the dunes is about 600 feet high and about 2 miles long.
Sand Mountain Recreational area is located on Hwy. 50, the "Loneliest Road in America" and is accessed by a dirt road from the main highway. This is a great place to watch locals ride their off-road equipment over the massive sand dunes and even do some hiking on the over 30 miles of hiking trails in the area.
Off-roading at Sand Mountain — Photo courtesy of Nevada Commission of Tourism
The area also contains a historic 1860 Pony Express station and the Sand Springs Desert Study Area. The Sand Springs Pony Express Station was built in March of 1860 and was used by the Pony Express until November 1861 when the telegraph machine brought the Pony Express to an early end. Travelers of the era found a reliable source of water at Sand Springs, but its poor quality often poisoned animals and probably made people ill. Abandoned and forgotten, the station was almost completely buried by drift sand. It was rediscovered in 1975 and in 1981, the station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.