Nestled in the Lahontan Valley, roughly 60 miles east of Reno, is the friendly town of Fallon. The area is often called the “Oasis of Nevada,” thanks to the valley’s high volume of water, and the lush playground is a wonderful host to all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts. Fallon was incorporated more than a century ago, after Theodore Roosevelt took office and created the Reclamation Act, which was intended to reclaim desert land by instituting canals and dams. Since then, the town has flourished, largely due to the production of both alfalfa and a particularly delicious type of cantaloupe known as Hearts O’ Gold. These sweet, succulent melons are of a delicate nature and don’t ship well, so visitors flock to the annual end-of-summer Hearts O’ Gold Cantaloupe Festival.
Just as popular is the beloved Lattin Farms, a true family farm with animals to pet, fruits and veggies to pick, homemade jams and pies to sample and buy and even a “cow train” for a leisurely tour of the farm. Every fall, one of the leading maze designers in the world sets to work on a three-acre, life-size corn maze intended to puzzle adults and children alike. Other Fallon area highlights include the Stillwater Wildlife Refuge, home to hundreds of species of migratory birds, the popular Lahontan State Recreation Area, known for its great wakeboarding, fishing, swimming and skiing, and the Fallon Naval Air Station. Not only does it fuel local economy, it’s home to TOPGUN, the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program. The popular film “Top Gun” was actually modeled after this specialized pilot training. Also nearby is the behemoth sand dune known as Sand Mountain, a two-mile long, 600-foot-high sand dune often buzzing with ATVs and dune buggies.
Fallon is situated along Highway 50, known as “The Loneliest Road in America” according to a Life magazine journalist more than 20 years ago. The towns on Highway 50 embraced the moniker and visitors today can download a Highway 50 Survival Guide and get it stamped at each town along the highway to earn a certificate from the governor proving “I Survived!”