Rye Patch Reservoir, a body of water along the Humboldt River, covers a whopping 11,000 acres of land when full. Positioned 22 miles north of Lovelock and 50 miles south of Winnemucca, Rye Patch State Recreation Area is a recreationalist’s paradise. Known for it’s trophy-class fishing opportunities and sunny afternoons spent boating, visitors can also enjoy a variety of other recreational excursions including swimming, waterskiing, hiking, camping and picnicking. Here, fisherman can scout out crappie, wipers, white bass, channel catfish, black bass and walleye. Visitors can take advantage of well-maintained campgrounds complete flush toilets and hot showers, and RV dump stations. If you would like to visit the area for the afternoon only, awesome picnic sites are available with great views and shady awnings. And, if you’re interested in taking in Rye Patch’s beauty from the leisure of your car, we’ve got you covered there too. With over 72 miles of shoreline, there are definitely some great afternoon drive possibilities.
Interestingly, Rye Patch has quite the extensive background, dating all the way back to 23,000 years ago when glacial Lake Lahontan covered most of Northern Nevada and the Great Basin. In modern times, the water levels have been reduced to what are now the Humboldt and Carson Sinks…or Stillwater, Rye Patch, and present-day Lahontan Reservoir. The largest remnant of Glacial Lake Lahontan can be found at Pyramid Lake, just north of Reno.
While it’s not 100% certain that prehistoric people thrived at Rye Patch, there is some evidence that native people camped along the river an impressive 8,000 years ago. The first white man to enter the region was thought to be Peter Skene Ogden, a prominent beaver trapper during the 1820s for the Hudson Bay Company. After this rediscovery of the area, the Humboldt Trail was established and then wave after wave of prospectors came West creating the mining camps of Unionville, Rochester and even the town of Rye Patch to name a few.
After early pioneers spotted a patch of wild rye along the railroad route, the town was immediately dubbed Rye Patch, which included a school, post office, boarding house, a station on the Central Pacific Railroad and this large body of water. In the early 1900s this reservoir of water was used to supply farmers in Lovelock with much needed water supply for their crops, and by 1935 a dam was constructed to control floods and increase agricultural production. By 1971, Rye Patch became a State Recreation Area to be enjoyed for years to come.
***Please note that Rye Patch does have a boat launch, but due to the nationwide drought, the area is currently closed. Boats exceeding 20 feet in length are able to launch from shore without problems, but please note that this measure is taken at the boater’s own risk.
Heading north from Lovelock, drive approximately 22 miles on Interstate 80 until reaching exit 129. Exit the interstate and make a left hand turn, going underneath the interstate. Proceed approximately 2 miles before entering Rye Patch State Recreation grounds. A ranger station will be on the left hand side of the road.
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