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Kershaw-Ryan State Park, a surprising forestry gem on the outskirts of Caliente, Nevada, provides a sharp contrast to its surrounding rugged desert landscape. Natural springs trickle through the lush grounds, feeding the wild grapevines, fruit orchards and rose gardens. This is highly appropriate, as Caliente is Nevada’s Rose City, named after the wild roses growing in the region.
Originally settled in the 1870s, pioneer’s Samuel and Hannah Kershaw were drawn to the canyon for its natural lushness. As the natural springs served as an irrigation system, the Kershaw’s were able to cultivate fruit orchards within the canyon, many of which are still in existence today. By the early 1900s, James Ryan purchased the property from the Kershaw’s. Rumor has it that he never actually resided within the canyon, but instead was merely interested in preserving its natural beauty and serenity for future generations to enjoy. In the 1920s, he was finally able to see his plan come to fruition after donating the land to the Nevada State Parks system. Then, in 1935 it became one of Nevada’s first four state parks. During that same time, other surrounding areas were also acquired by the Nevada State Parks system, including Cathedral Gorge State Park, Beaver Dam State Park and Valley of Fire State Park.
In the early 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps—a public work relief program under the New Deal that operated from 1933-1942 for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families—left a lasting impression on many parks within the area, including Kershaw-Ryan State Park. During this time, they constructed campsites, picnic tables, restrooms and even the wading pool that still remains at Kershaw-Ryan State Park today. Unfortunately, two flash floods, one more recently occurring in the fall of 1984, destroyed all of the CCC structures at Kershaw-Ryan except for one restroom, which is no longer in use.
The 700-foot colorful canyon walls that house Kershaw-Ryan State Park are quite stunning , and a remnant of millions of years in the making. Lava and ash erupting from ancient volcanoes laid the groundwork for the rock formations, while the water from the natural springs [and rivers that no longer exist] on the property forged deep channels within the rock, thus creating the striking canyon you can visit today. The natural springs can be seen oozing from the canyon walls, and interestingly enough from fountain-like receptacles the CCC constructed. The springs are so pure they require no filtration, and are used to irrigate the Park’s gardens, wading pool and fish ponds.
The climate within the area is diverse, ranging from the mid forties to -19 in the winter months, to the high nineties in the summertime.Monthly rainfall averages less than an inch, but during the monsoon months of July and August, thunderstorms roll in and can produce flash floods. Caution should be taken if hiking the canyon trails during July and August. The park has a new 15-unit RV/tent campground, complete with a restroom [with flushing toilets], coin-operated showers and an RV dump station. Each side has a shad ramada, picnic table, fire ring and grill.
Kershaw-Ryan State Park is located two miles south of Caliente, via U.S. 93 and State Route 317
PO Box 985
Caliente, NV 89008
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