Google Trekker and adventure mobile, Big Smoky Valley

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Trekker Video Placeholder
Trekker arrives at Laxalt Building

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Trekker arrives at Laxalt Building

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Lauren Peterson, Google Trekker at Ft. Churchill State Park

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Lauren Peterson, Google Trekker at Ft. Churchill State Park

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Lauren Peterson, Google Trekker at Ft. Churchill State Park

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Mormon Station State Park

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Jeff Moser at Spooner Backcountry

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Jay Howard, Sydney Martinez & Jeff Moser at Spooner Backcountry

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Needles at Pyramid Lake

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Pyramid Lake scenic shot

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Denis with Google Trekker at Lovelock Cave

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Denis Isbister at Angel Lake with Google Trekker

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Alicia Westmoreland with Trekker in Lamoille

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at Dollar Lakes, Lamoille Canyon

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at Stillwater NWR

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at Stillwater NWR

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at Churchill Vineyards

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at Churchill Vineyards

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at Sand Mountain

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at Sand Mountain

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at Hickison Petroglyphs, David Wiggins

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at Hickison Petroglyphs, David Wiggins

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at Hickison Petroglyphs, David Wiggins

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at Spencer Hot Springs, David Wiggins

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at Spencer Hot Springs, David Wiggins

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker in Belmont Ghost Town, David Wiggins

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at Belmont Courthouse, David Wiggins

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at the Nevada Northern Railway, Mark Bassett

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at the Nevada Northern Railway, Mark Bassett

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at Cathedral Gorge SP, Sydney Martinez

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at Cathedral Gorge SP, Sydney Martinez

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Kershaw-Ryan State Park

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at Valley of Fire State Park, Bobby Durand

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at Valley of Fire State Park, Bobby Durand

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at Techatticup, Anthony Tabor

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at Techatticup, Anthony Tabor

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Google Trekker at Techatticup, Anthony Tabor

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Trekker at Rhyolite with Tom Sheckells

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Trekker at Goldwell Open Air with Tom Sheckells

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Trekker at Tom Kelly Bottle House, Tom Sheckells

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Trekker at International Car Forest of the Last Church, Natalie Handler

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Trekker at International Car Forest of the Last Church, Natalie Handler

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

Sydney celebrating last Google Trek location at Tonopah Mining Park

Photo By: Sydney Martinez

NEVADA TAKES ON THE GOOGLE TREKKER

By SYDNEY MARTINEZ | January 2016
Updated: May 2017

Adventure

Points of Interest

NEVADA TAKES ON THE GOOGLE TREKKER | SYDNEY MARTINEZ

To access Nevada's Treks, click here.

A LITTLE BIT OF BACKSTORY...

Partnering with an internationally renowned company like Google was the chance of a lifetime, the stuff dreams are made of. In March of 2015, I’d been made aware of hushed intel about a backpack that was capable of trail mapping by capturing 360-degree photos. Delving deeper, I realized that it was the Trekker Loan Program, and like the Google Street Car [which you may have seen cruising around your area,] it would capture the same sort of virtual reality still photography that’s used on GoogleMaps.com, but was designed to be taken places the Google Street Car couldn’t travel. Super cool, right? Considering most of Nevada’s best bits are most appreciated by traversing the back roads, this already sounded like a complete slam-dunk. A TravelNevada + Google Trekker match made in heaven.

While priority is most certainly given to affiliations like tourism boards and educational sectors, applying for the Google Trekker is honestly something anyone out there can do. A few clicks of a mouse later, I had sent off my application for consideration, and had been green lighted to pitch locations throughout the state that we wanted to show the world. Otherwise known as the hard part. Heading into it, we were given the heads up that if we were approved to officially partner, we would have just a few short weeks to receive the camera equipment, do all of the photo mapping, and return for the next person to use. This thing was going to be fast and furious.

As chief adventurer at TravelNevada, I tour the state on an almost constant basis, working to show people the most untouched streams, highest peaks, most alluring ghost towns and tastiest hot springs…something I joke is simply showing people #HowToNevada. To slow down a tad and take advantage of the good stuff they might otherwise overlook. While I would’ve gladly mapped every last one of my favorite sweet spots, we were on a super tight turnaround, which meant developing an intense strategy on how to capture the essence of Nevada in three short weeks.

To me, the point of this project was to reveal places that you’d never dream existed in the Silver State. Stunning landscapes were a no-brainer and would successfully rival the perception that Nevada is a barren, desolate place. But what if we could do more? We would most certainly be sure to include places like Lake Tahoe and Valley of Fire, but I feel so personally connected to other less-talked about spots that define the spirit of this spectacular state…the unsung heroes that are worth talking about and most certainly worth visiting. We have unsuspecting scenery to showcase, but we also have countless of other places that are equally as meaningful. Places that helped shape who we are and remind people why they shouldn’t fade into the shadows.

At first attempt, I “narrowed” it down to my top hits. I came up with 52. Too ambitious. That, and the cameras on this space-age contraption would not be able to capture any high-quality indoor photos. Comprised of a handful of Nevada State Parks, culturally-important American Indian sites, hot springs, ghost towns, and historic mining locations, we pitched a more dialed-down 27 locations, and only a few were nixed by Google. The reason? Someone had beat me to a trek at those places, dadgummit.

And so it began. We inked the deal: I was to obtain permits and written permission from each location, and Google would then send me their ultra-engineered, specially-designed Google Trekker backpack contraption. I was to do the physical legwork and capture the still photo content that would later be stitched into a 360-degree virtual reality experience for people all around the world to navigate on GoogleMaps.com, and TravelNevada would be allowed to implement the mapping on our website. I think Google got the short end of the stick on that deal, but hey, maybe that’s just me...

THE EXCITEMENT [AND MAYBE A TEENSY BIT OF PANIC] SETS IN

The specs: a 42-pound backpack equipped with 15 cameras would each take a photo every two seconds. I’ve spent my fair share traversing in the mountains of Nevada with packs about that cumbersome, but things went zero-to-one-hundred when I was notified that a 230-pound steamer trunk was waiting for my signature of receipt on the loading dock. Yep, as in the type you’d use to tote your every last possession when immigrating to America 150 years ago.

With a little help from my friends, three of us lugged the two trunks up four flights of stairs and it was then that I quickly realized that this one-man-band effort was about to come to a screeching halt. It was basically a physical impossibility for me to lug this thing, solo, on a non-stop trek through the state considering I couldn’t even put the thing on without assistance! So, I rallied the troops, turning to some folks I loved. Lucky enough to have met each one of these fine Nevadans on my travels, I knew I could depend on them to help me complete the job, I just needed to cash in a few favors. To my surprise, each and every one came back with an unwavering ‘YES’ to help me tote the Trekker all over the state. I’d ask someone to meet me at mile marker 81 at 1:30 on a Tuesday, and by golly, they would show up, taking the day off work, paying their own way in order to help map a state they love so much.  

To me, I thought that the actual finished product would be the reward, but by the time this three-week marathon was over, I realized that the true prize was getting to spend time ripping around Nevada’s back roads with some of the best people out there. It was a true band of brothers, whatever-it-takes mentality that has continued to inspire me in each trip since. I carried the torch, but they are the ones who executed with intense passion.

Connect with who I began referring to the ‘Trekker Team’ below to get a little insight on why as Nevadans it was so important to show off these locations, and what it meant for them to show the world what it was like from their exact footsteps.

1. FORT CHURCHILL STATE PARK

Trekker Team Member: Lauren Peterson

Age: 37
Occupation: Learning and Development Professional
Reno Resident 3 Years
The thing that surprises you most about Nevada: Nevada has this kind of magic that I haven’t experienced anywhere else. Maybe it’s the “Don’t Fence Me In” spirit of the people who live here, but the wonder, possibilities and sense of adventure still shines just as bright as when I moved here a few years ago, which is pretty special.

On bringing the Google Trekker to Fort Churchill: "This was my first trip to Ft. Churchill and it was remarkable to learn that it was such an integral part of the history of the state and the American West. It was such a quiet place even in the heat of the day, so vast and open. Yet, while I was carrying the Trekker through the ruins, I didn’t feel alone. I’ve felt like that a lot when out exploring Nevada. The state’s wide open spaces, landscapes and big skies inspire me to really focus on the journey of life and being a part of something bigger. I read once that a visit to Ft. Churchill requires some imagination because the ruins are in a state of arrested decay, and I had that in mind as I was mapping out the ruins. It made me think a lot of about who had been there before and their struggles, how fortunate we are to be able to touch and feel and experience where Nevada came from, and how it makes us who we are today. Aside from allowing my imagination to run wild with the historical component, I was the first person to carry the Trekker for TravelNevada, and couldn’t help but wonder about all the legs to follow, who else would be carrying the Trekker, and what sort of experiences they would have with it. I hope the footage we’ve captured and our stories inspire others to be awake in their experiences."

2. MORMON STATION STATE PARK

Trekker Team Member: Sydney Martinez

Age: 29
Occupation: Content Wrangler at TravelNevada
Reno resident 19 years
The heaviest thing you carried on your back before the Google Trekker:
Backpacking to Liberty Lake in Lamoille Canyon this summer. It was only a couple of miles in and I thought my pack was heavy, but one second with the Trekker made me realize Lamoille was a walk in the park! I normally tote a few cameras while adventuring, which adds to the weight, but the Trekker took two lithium ion batteries the size of my head and a memory card the size of my palm…that’s not even counting the cameras. I’m normally 5’5, but the Trekker made me close to 7 feet tall. Wearing it is like having my backpacking pack on, while balancing with one foot on top of a basketball. It wasn’t as much heavy as it was goofy and cumbersome!

On bringing the Google Trekker to Mormon Station: “There was absolutely no way possible we could leave Mormon Station off the list, considering it’s Nevada’s first permanent structure and first official settlement. While Genoa definitely broadcasts that they are, indeed the oldest town in the state, I think that the area is sort of hidden in a sense. It’s not a place that you would randomly pass through, but instead have to set your sights on and travel to directly. The bar there is the oldest in the state [which we unfortunately, couldn’t trek as it was an indoor location] and the historical structures found at Mormon Station are just incredible….point being, if we can show people a preview of one cool location to check out knowing they’ll discover many others around it, that’s something I feel good about. I know they’re going to be delivered some impressive surprises they never imagined possible. We live in a “new” country, on the “new” half of it to boot, so to find structures—the kind you can actually go inside—that date all the way back to 1851 is remarkable. Plus, while some might be aware of the history found here, I’d suspect they might not know that Mormon Station is a Nevada State Park. It’s not the oldest state park, but is the perfect location to kick off your own passport and familiarize yourself with the rich history of the Silver State.”

3. LAKE TAHOE STATE PARK [Spooner Backcountry - Marlette Lake - Sand Harbor - Hidden Beach] 

Trekker Team Member: Jeff Moser

Age: 45
Occupation: IT Professional, Carson City Search and Rescue
Carson City Resident and Nevada Native
Favorite Nevada Pastime: Exploring the outdoors. I love all the hiking, mountain biking and camping there is to enjoy in Nevada.

On bringing the Google Trekker to Lake Tahoe State Park: “Growing up in the area, I’ve spent a lot of time up at Spooner Lake. I hiked and cross-country skied there with my parents and I can still remember the nature talks from rangers when I was a kid. Later in my teens, we started exploring more of the park on our mountain bikes. Today, I still do all of these things with my wife and son. Spooner Lake is the gateway to the backcountry up at Tahoe, giving access to Marlette Lake, The Flume Trail, and the Tahoe Rim Trail. One of the best views in the world is being able to see both Marlette Lake and Lake Tahoe at the same time from high up on the Tahoe Rim Trail! Tools like online maps and the digital imagery we created with the Google Trekker are tremendous resources. It’s an honor to be able to share this beautiful place with the rest of the world, and help encourage people to come experience it for themselves. I know that what we’ve done will help people plan a successful and safe Nevada backcountry adventure.”

4. PYRAMID LAKE

Trekker Team Member: Sydney Martinez

Age: 29
Occupation: Content Wrangler at TravelNevada
Reno resident 19 years 
Best meal of the trip: I was lucky enough to have Trekked Pyramid with a couple of professional chefs and an expert fisherman, so while capturing the footage out there, we were also working on another project where we reeled in some cutthroats to whip up into culinary delight.  We caught some pigs, seasoned them to perfection and cooked them over an open campfire. The whole experience was totally unlike any other, and not only the best meal of the Trekker trip, but one of the most memorable of 2015.

On bringing the Google Trekker to Pyramid Lake: “Tahoe is an international travel destination. It’s a totally beautiful alpine lake that people ‘round the world are aware of and travel to, knowing that they could enjoy it with a day on the slopes or a day sipping beverages on the beach. It is undoubtedly one of my favorite places, but it bums me out that Pyramid is always in the shadow of Tahoe. Folks might not understand that two lakes are, in fact, connected by waterway [the Truckee River] and I think they would be surprised with how mysteriously beautiful it is out there…it’s enchanting. The tufa rock formations are spectacular beyond description, and the variety found at Pyramid are considered to be some of the best examples in the world. Then you’ve got the legit, world-class fishing, which is just totally mind-boggling. It’s a fisherman’s wildest dream [and then some!] to reel in 20-pounders on any given day, and you can legitimately do that at Pyramid. Then you’ve got this entire layer of American Indian history that’s indescribably mesmerizing. I hope that bringing the Trekker in a boat to cover part of the shoreline helps give people a glimpse how amazing Pyramid is, and inspire them to plan a trip out there. The whole thing is a bit of a spiritual experience that people need to enjoy for themselves in order to fully understand the magic at Pyramid Lake.”

5. LOVELOCK CAVE

Trekker Team Member: Sydney Martinez with an assist from Denis Isbister

Age: 29
Occupation: Content Wrangler at TravelNevada
Reno resident 19 years
While wearing the Trekker, which location did you most connect with the landscape? Tough question—there are too many to count! Every once in a while you find a vista that has a way of centering you, connecting you with the land. One of the best examples of that was at Lovelock Cave. You don’t think you’re that high in elevation, but the minute you reach the cave and turn around to look at what was behind you, you’re reminded of why this was a place people went to re-ground themselves. The panoramas are sublime and silence is deafening, making it a place that’s hard to forget about.

On bringing the Google Trekker to Lovelock Cave: “Lovelock Cave is just so flipping cool; I’m thrilled that we can use the Trekker to get people pumped up about it. Something about the area [which I was even guilty of dismissing as barren nothingness,] was once covered in a prehistoric ocean. Imagining that alone is difficult to grasp. The entire basin was full of water with house-sized marine reptiles swimming around, and when the temperatures started to rise the water began to recede and wave action created tons of caves, like Lovelock Cave. American Indians soon called the valley home, and it was typical for them to cache their goodies in caves like this one. Many [and by many I mean thousands] of artifacts were recovered from caves in the area, but Lovelock Cave is the Holy Grail because of the tule duck decoys found here. The fact that they are believed to have been completely untouched for 2,000 years and are the oldest on earth is amazing. Getting to bring the Trekker to Lovelock Cave and walking the exact steps these prehistoric people did was really an honor. With vistas like that, it’s easy to understand why it was such a sacred space and important to talk about.”

6. ANGEL LAKE

Trekker Team Member: Denis Isbister

Age: 39
Occupation: TV Host of Wild Fish, Wild Places
Fallon Resident and Nevada Native
Nevada's most underplayed feature: People would never guess the amount of water that can be found in Nevada. I’ve fished all over the world, but some of the best memories I’ve had are chasing fish off grid in Nevada’s backcountry lakes and streams.

On bringing the Google Trekker to Angel Lake“Google Trekker is such a huge project and prideful endeavor for TravelNevada. There are a lot of new roads being forged here and I’m happy to be on the front line getting the job done. One of the things I think the Google Trekker will allow people to do is see some of the beauty that Nevadans know is here, that a lot of people don’t understand. They think of Nevada, and in their minds eye see a wasteland and big desert landscape. But we as Nevadans know how beautiful the diversity of the landscape is. By bringing the Trekker to Nevada, people will be able to see exactly the beauty we’re talking about without actually being here, and then book trips and be able to come in and explore it for themselves.”

7. LAMOILLE CANYON

Trekker Team Member: Alicia Westmoreland

Age: 27
Occupation: Realtor & Entrepreneur
Elko Resident and Nevada Native
Favorite Nevada Pastime: I call it "racing the sun," or driving during sunrises and sunsets. Nevada has a pretty killer range of light.

On bringing the Google Trekker to Lamoille Canyon: "It’s important that Lamoille be “on the map,” so-to-speak, because it’s unexpected. The Great Basin is the largest desert in the U.S., so I like to think of Lamoille as our own oasis. People hear the word ‘desert’ and what do they think of? Dirt. Tumbleweeds. Two dudes waiting for high noon to have a quick draw shoot out. But ‘desert’ doesn’t exactly inspire a mental image of unbelievable views, no matter the season, with lush landscapes, lakes, wildlife, and being able to stand surrounded by snow-capped mountains. That’s exactly what you get, and that’s why it NEEDS to be on GoogleMaps.com. I had to jump at the chance to be part of this project, not only because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to contribute to the world’s knowledge of my own stomping grounds, but also because I’m in love with this place. I love sharing what I’m passionate about. I’ve been all across the country, all across the world. And no place feels like Nevada."

8. STILLWATER NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

Trekker Team Member: Anonymous 

Age: 40
Occupation: Finance
Minden Resident 14 Years
Best wildlife spotting experience in Nevada: Definitely in the Carson Valley. My family and I are always on the lookout for spotting cool wildlife while we’re out and about, but the Carson Valley is tough to beat. Just five minutes from my house, you have the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains, and some of the biggest eagles I’ve ever seen in the U.S. that I’m lucky to be able pass by every day during commute to work.

On bringing the Google Trekker to Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge: “It was incredibly important to include one of Nevada’s National Wildlife Refuges in their efforts with Google Trekker, especially Stillwater. People think of Nevada as a barren desert with no water or wildlife, but they would be surprised to see what’s out there at places like Stillwater. The place is ranked of global importance as a stopping point on migratory bird routes, meaning bird watching out there is spectacular. I live not too far from the refuge, but had no idea the amount of wildlife—not just birds—that calls the area home. The fact that you can jump right out of the car, and within minutes jump on the boardwalk and be completely immersed in wildlife was an amazing experience. There was no noise, it was completely still. National Parks are great, but you’re bouncing into people at each and every turn. Stillwater is so secluded. It was a personal experience and easy to connect with nature. It’s a place that needs to be on every nature traveler’s radar, and I’m really proud I get to help show some of that to the world.”

9. CHURCHILL VINEYARDS

Trekker Team Member: Ashley Frey

Age: 33
Occupation: Owner of Churchill Vineyards & Frey Ranch Distillery
Fallon Resident and Nevada Native
The coolest part about owning your own vineyard: Looking out my window every day at a beautiful vineyard!

On bringing the Google Trekker to Churchill Vineyards: "We are so honored that Churchill Vineyards was chosen to be Trekked. As the only food-related location in the state, we cannot wait to share the 365-degree views of our vines with the rest of the world. I would say that people would never, in a million years, suspect that Nevada is home to world-class vineyards like those at Churchill Vineyards. Sure, the public is expecting top-notch wine to come from Northern California, but Northern Nevada? No way. We’ve been able to produce an award-winning variety which we’re very proud of, and I feel that most people would be completely shocked if they knew about what we have to offer here, right in the core of Nevada."

10. SAND MOUNTAIN RECREATION AREA

Trekker Team Member: Brin Reynolds

Age: 27
Occupation: Marketing Campaign Specialist
Reno Resident and Nevada Native
Best off-roading you've had in Nevada: I’ve been riding close to 20 years now, and some of the best trips I’ve ever gone on were at Sand Mountain and Moon Rocks. I love loading up with a good group of people and spending the day on a long ride, then exchanging stories at the end.

On bringing the Google Trekker to Sand Mountain: "Sand Mountain is a very unique section of Nevada. It’s such a serious geological anomaly and it attracts so many people from all over the world as an OHV destination. It’s not a vast sea of small dunes, but rather one huge mountain out in the middle of Nevada, that’s what makes it so unique. It’s a huge area with the best “competition hill” in the country and is great for jumps, trail riding, technical stuff…everything you want. Of all the places in the U.S., you can’t get the type of open-riding freedom in any other state than Nevada. Being apart of the Google Trekker crew for Nevada was a super sick experience. It was so fun to see Google take interest in Nevada, and in my backyard. Plus, I get to help the world understand just how cool our state is."

11. BERLIN-ICHTHYOSAUR STATE PARK

Trekker Team Member: Anthony Cummins

Age: 25
Occupation: Student/Park Aid for Nevada State Parks
Tonopah Resident and Nevada Native
The coolest artifact to make sure to see at Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park: "For sure, it’s the fossilized remains of the ancient marine reptile Shonisaurus Popularis, but specifically letter V within the exhibit. The letter V offers the very unique perspective of a rib cage on one of these colossal prehistoric creatures."

On bringing the Google Trekker to Berlin-Ichthyosaur: “Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park is a very important piece of early Nevada mining history because of the amount of artifacts that were left behind, along with the intense level of preservation happening here. Honestly, getting to tote the Google Trekker was by far the coolest thing I got to do all summer. Being able to personally map out the park and provide people with a first-hand look was super exciting. Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park is a place that I believe the entire world should see, and being able to help give people a preview of what it’s like to be here was an honor.”

12. HICKISON PETROGLYPHS

Trekker Team Member: Sydney Martinez with an assist from David Wiggins

Age: 29
Occupation: Content Wrangler at TravelNevada
Reno resident 19 years
The most unexpected surprise of the trip:
The biggest surprise hit me while ripping around Pete’s Summit in the Toquimas when a couple of rocks jumped up and bit me. I popped a tire, and then my spare blew out. Before I knew it, a rancher and his family came along, offering to help with the spare. Then, the owners of the B&B I was staying at offered to patch my tire on the spot. To me, that’s the coolest thing about Nevada—it’s a huge state that may be intimidating to some, but it seems you always have unexpected friends all over the place. Someone once told me that everywhere you go in Nevada feels like a small town, which is true in the most satisfying ways imaginable.

On bringing the Google Trekker to Hickison Petroglyphs: “This is another super important and very cool place to show off the presence of American Indians in Nevada. The whole Big Smoky and Monitor Valleys were once pretty heavily occupied by American Indians thousands of years ago. Some of the best examples of pictographs [pictures drawn onto rock faces] in North America are just around the corner at Toqiuma Cave, and the highest known American Indian hunting ground in the country is on the table at Mt. Jefferson. Hickison Petroglyphs is cool because you can camp here, see some impressive petroglyphs [drawings carved into the rock faces] and in my opinion, is where you can have the best view in the state. One of the trails takes you through some cool petroglyphs and eventually winds up over the ridge where you can take the Big Smoky Valley with 60-mile vantage points.”

13. SPENCER HOT SPRING

Trekker Team Member: Sydney Martinez with an assist from David Wiggins

Age: 29
Occupation: Content Wranger at TravelNevada
Reno resident 19 years
Describe your perfect Nevada day:
Busting out the gazeteer, heavy-duty boots, and a towel and dropping off grid to find some hot springs. There are so many out there, it turns into a shameless obsession almost instantly. Some of my happiest days have been spent in a cattle trough filled with hot water with no one in sight where no one can reach me. It might be a scary concept for some, but to me, that’s Nevada’s unmistakable sweet spot that I will back any day of the week.

On bringing the Google Trekker to Spencer: “There are few things I love in this world more than a natural hot spring. Lucky for me, Nevada has the most in the nation, so I knew that TravelNevada NEEDED to include a hot spring to make this effort a well rounded one. The trick was choosing one that wouldn’t ruffle a lot of feathers. To the die-hard springers out there, tracking down these hot spots is almost a little secret-societyish. You have to prove that you have the chops to do it, keep some under the radar, and respecting the space is of utmost importance. I can’t tell the disappointment of tracking a spring all day, only to find them sullied with broken glass and trash. So, it was a little bit of a sticky situation deciding which one to share, but we settled on a foolproof favorite: Spencer Hot Spring just outside of Austin. The temp is always perfect—no matter the season—and it’s on Bureau of Land Management land, meaning it’s totally public and open for anyone to take a dip in. To me, a trip to Nevada isn’t complete without saying you could relax in a natural hot spring…hopefully the Trekker can take some of that uneasiness away from it all. People would be shocked to find the serenity that awaits out there, they just have to let go of the idea of being able to connect to Wi-Fi.”

14. BELMONT GHOST TOWN

Trekker Team Member: David Wiggins

Age: 29
Occupation: Firefighter
Elko Resident and Nevada Native
Favorite way to experience Nevada: Any day I'm not in town and out on a dirt road exploring places is the best day I can think of. Be it by car, truck, motorcycle, or one foot in front of the other, explore Nevada every chance you get.

On bringing the Google Trekker to Belmont: “To me, the best part about Nevada is traveling on the back roads versus the main roads. I always think it’s a more interesting way of traveling the state. Places where your phone doesn’t work, the only thing you’re using it for is to take pictures. I think it’s cool that we got to bring the Google Trekker out with us on some back roads. It’s pretty awesome to get to explore Belmont with it, and will be cool to show people where I actually carried it. It will be good to let people know that Nevada is more than a place with just a bunch of sagebrush, there are a lot of hidden gems.”

15. NEVADA NORTHERN RAILWAY

Trekker Team Member: Mark Bassett

Age: 62
Occupation: Executive Director of the Nevada Northern Railway National Historic Landmark
Ely resident for 13 years, been in Nevada 25
Most unsuspecting thing you’ve seen in Nevada:
Once, I stumbled into a mining camp that was completely untouched. In the kitchen were plates, cups and silverware, and there was a calendar on the wall from 1953. Throughout the home were National Geographic and Life magazines stacked high. Out back was the mine with ore samples…it was an incredible find.

On bringing the Google Trekker to the Nevada Northern Railway: “In general, it’s great that we can bring the trekker to Nevada, because really, it’s the coolest state in the union. I’ve been to 49 of the 50 states, and Nevada is it. There are no fences here, you can go anywhere you want, within reason. It’s a great experience. There is a lot more to Nevada than the lights of Vegas. It’s very exciting to have the Google Trekker at the Nevada Northern Railway. The rail yard is huge; it’s a mile long by about a quarter mile wide. When people come here, they expect to go into a building. We have over 70 buildings and structures. The museum is the entire yard, so being able to use the Google Trekker camera, I am actually able to show the world exactly what the museum is made of. This is the real McCoy. This is the way it was a century ago. You go down into the engine house as the steam crews are prepping the locomotive, and you can’t tell whether you’re in 1915 or 2015…it’s the same. It’s great that the Trekker gives people a sneak peek of that.”

16. CATHEDRAL GORGE STATE PARK

Trekker Team Member: Sydney Martinez

Age: 29
Occupation: Content Wrangler at TravelNevada
Reno resident 19 years
Favorite thing about Nevada’s wide-open spaces:
I think the best thing about the vastness of Nevada is that it’s always surprising you, even when you think you’ve got it all figured out. It has its own distinct way of creeping back in and showing you things you never dreamt possible.

On bringing the Google Trekker to Cathedral Gorge: “Cathedral Gorge is an example of Nevada’s myriad of unearthly landscapes…a total could-be-walking-on-the-moon sort of vibe. When you think of a slot canyon, places in the American West like Utah or Arizona might come to mind, but if I had to wager a bet, I’d assume no one would be spouting off Nevada. Well, we’re here to tell you that they’re wrong, and we can prove it with the Google Trekker. Cathedral Gorge State Park is tucked in a lesser-traversed corner of the state, but if people knew what existed here they’d be all over it. It’s just down the street from Pioche [an underplayed Wild West town that was far more rugged than Tombstone,] is surrounded by several other state parks, has wildlife that I lust over [KIT FOXES!] and the slot canyons are a perfect way to escape the summer heat but there really isnt a bad time to visit. It was a hot and brutal day toting the Trekker a few miles through the park…I cant believe it fit through some of those tight spots in the slot canyons! It’s a place that defines Nevada and is certainly worth a visit.”

17. KERSHAW-RYAN STATE PARK

Trekker Team Member: Sydney Martinez

Age: 29
Occupation: Content Wrangler at TravelNevada
Reno resident 19 years
Most interesting character you met while toting the Trekker:
Nevada is chock-full of the most interesting people that I’ve ever met. I feel like I come across at least one once a day, but every once in a while you meet a person you know you wont forget.  I think my favorite person I met on the trip was a guy in the Overland Hotel & Saloon. This guy was a local; lived his entire life in Pioche. I was by myself in a bar full of guys, but felt so at home…everyone was beyond friendly and told some of the best stories I’ve ever heard. A true Nevada memory, that’s for sure.

On bringing the Google Trekker to Kershaw-Ryan: “Lincoln County could be one of the coolest in the state because there are so many Nevada State Parks right on one spot! I wanted to Trek all of them, but couldn’t say no to Kershaw-Ryan…it’s like this crazy fern-gully sort of situation in an otherwise arid area. The first time I was here I was totally stunned because you come around a clearing and natural spring water is shooting out of the canyon, creating this little pocket of paradise. Some killer mountain biking trails are found in the area, there are some impressive BBQing facilities, and there’s even a pool filled with spring water you can relax. I personally am super interested in the Civilian Conservation Corps’ presence in all the Nevada State Parks, but there’s a pretty cool little stone structure at Kershaw that you can get right up in. A visit to this state park will be an enlightening one for sure.”

18. VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK

Trekker Team Member: Bobby Durand

Age: 25
Occupation: Maganese Dioxide Operator
Henderson Resident and Nevada native
Your Nevada ‘Happy Place’:
Anywhere on my dirt bike or mountain bike because I get to see parts of Nevada’s beauty at a high-adrenaline pace.

On bringing the Google Trekker to Valley of Fire: “Being at Valley of Fire State Park was pretty surreal. I’ve driven past it a hundred times and never really knew anything about it, other than being near it was a sign that I was almost home. When I went for the first time, I had no idea what I was getting into, but once I was there I felt like I had found a hidden gem. The colors and the shape of the rock formations was just so unreal, it took all the thoughts out of my head and I just soaked in all the beauty of this state park. From movies that had been shot there to the petroglyphs that were there, I was most surprised by the facts I learned while being there. The world has become so modern and computerized, meaning people want to see things instantly and preview places before they make the commitment and go. Knowing that I personally got to map something that millions of people around the globe are going to see is pretty exciting. I am honored to be the person to give people a preview of VOF because I was once in their shoes, not knowing anything about the area. Now people will get a glimpse of my trip there and know that it’s a spot worth seeing.”

19. TECHATTICUP AT ELDORADO CANYON

Trekker Team Member: Anthony Tabor

Age: 32
Occupation:
Physical Therapist
Henderson Resident and Nevada Native
The coolest Nevada ghost town you've traveled to?
Rhyolite

On bringing the Google Trekker to Techatticup: "Techatticup is American history in Vegas’ backyard. In a place that holds the mentality of “out with the old and in with the new,” it’s one of the few places that gives a snapshot of the history of the American West. Nevada has the most ghost towns out of any other state, and in a “young country” where few histories exist, places like Techatticup are proof of a great expanse to settle our country in such a short time period. I honestly had not known of Eldorado Canyon, and I feel like schmuck for not knowing so. People would be blown away by the mix of rustic industry of years past placed against the backdrop of a river canyon. Buried in the canyons between Lake Mead and Lake Mojave on the Colorado River, I am usually headed straight to the water to escape the heat. However, since the trip out there, I have told countless people about it. Every Vegas native should visit.  I think the whole idea of Google Trekker is absolutely brilliant. The ability to show maps, trails and towns that would otherwise go unrecognized is amazing. There is so much beauty in Nevada, and places that most Nevadans don’t know exist. I hope that the footage obtained will bring attention and recognition to smaller towns and trails all over our state."

20. RHYOLITE GHOST TOWN

Trekker Team Member: Tom Sheckells

Age: 32
Occupation: Owner and Bartender at Goodsprings Pioneer Saloon
Goodsprings Resident 12 years
Favorite thing about the Silver State [if you had to choose just one]:
Beautiful open ranges with breathtaking historical landmarks, which are all just a jeep ride away.

On bringing the Google Trekker to Rhyolite: “The opportunity to do the Trekker program and to be able to map out a historical landmark like Rhyolite is such a personal thing in my heart. To have something that so many people can see and learn from, and experience it from my footsteps is a really special thing. A lot of people feel that Las Vegas defines Nevada, which is definitely true in a lot of aspects. But the early start to that was in small mining towns like Rhyolite and Goodsprings, people wanting to make it big, wanting to mine, and being in saloons playing poker and drinking. Towns like these were the foundation of our state, all of that goes hand in hand. Inside the Pioneer Saloon, the bar you actually sit at is from the mid-1800s and was used in Rhyolite. To know that Rhyolite was built up even more than Goodsprings, and to be able to sit behind that bar and think about how far it had to travel to be relocated from Rhyolite to Goodsprings, how many beers have been spilled on it, stories that have been told, whiskey that’s been poured. It’s just fascinating. Nevada is full of so many of these treasures, and it’s really exciting to get to show them to the world.”

21. INTERNATIONAL CAR FOREST OF THE LAST CHURCH

Trekker Team Member: Natalie Handler

Age: 36
Occupation: Bartender/Reno Instagrammys Co-Creator
Reno Resident and Nevada Native
The best thing you’ve discovered when turning down a random road in NV:
I have found so much beauty in hidden pockets of Nevada and its surrounding areas, and that beauty feels like home. The best thing I have found when exploring at random has been my soul. Even for a cynic like myself, I trust in that feeling and guard it close.

On bringing the Google Trekker to the Car Forest: "Nevada is pretty easy to just turn down any road and find something completely awesome. Whether it’s history or some funky landscape architecture like the International Car Forest of the Last Church, gold mines, old ghost towns and cemeteries, it’s all incredible. I just come from the idea of ‘Oh, here’s a road, do I feel like turning down it? Sure.’ When I do, I always find something really cool. Nevada is chock full of it for sure. I think the Google Trekker will help us show off our state a little bit better. Google Trekker will give the average outdoor adventure seeker a head start on their exploration. I think it will be most useful in preparing folks who want to visit a certain state park or conquer a trail. Its benefits lie in being able to see the terrain and landscape, to get an idea of what land you will be crisscrossing before you go. It may also serve as a tool to inspire one to get off their tush and hit the road for adventure. Some people don’t love surprises and would love to feel more apt to previewing where and what they will be doing. With Google Trekker, problem solved!"

22. TONOPAH MINING PARK

Trekker Team Member: Sydney Martinez

Age: 29
Occupation: TravelNevada Content Wrangler
Reno resident 19 years
The most unexpected thing you came across while on the Trekker trip:
The 1,500-foot stopes [or caverns in the earth created to extract minerals from mining operations] supported by original timbers from the early 1900s. I had wildly mistaken the Tonopah Mining Park to be old and dusty in a very literal and figurative sense but couldn’t have been more wrong…that place is amazing!

On bringing the Google Trekker to the Mining Park: “Nevada certainly has such a range of beautiful landscapes, fascinating historical relics peppered all over the state, and tons of funky features that you cant find in any other state. In telling Nevada’s story through the Trekker, it was important that we capture those things, but one concept that really mattered to me was making sure we highlight Nevada’s rich mining history. It’s pretty amazing when you start to really think about it. If it weren’t for the Comstock Lode [in Virginia City,] San Francisco wouldn’t have been established, and for that matter, most of the west coast as a whole—and that’s just ONE of the mines in the state. The money that came out of Nevada as a result of mining activity is almost too great to describe, and still happens here today. As a matter of fact, Nevada is still the top gold producer in the United States, and the second largest silver producer after Alaska. It was super important that we emphasize this tremendous history with the Trekker, and the opportunity struck when we were given the green light to Trek the Tonopah Mining Park. The place is cool, really cool. Everything there—the stopes, mining equipment, hoist houses—is ORIGINAL. The sense of pride and enthusiasm is contagious, and should be something that every American appreciates. It’s a big deal, and is something I’m really passionate about showing off with the Trekker. This was also the final stop on the Trekker tour, making the experience here one I wont soon forget.”

Hope you enjoyed our take on the experience and that it has inspired you to delve a little deeper into this amazing state. If I can ever help point you in the right direction when it comes to traveling Nevada, please let me know [smartinez@travelnevada.com] and by all means, please send me your own adventures in the Silver State! See you down the trail...

XOX-Sydney

TAKE ME THERE

Fort Churchill State Park
Mormon Station State Park
Lake Tahoe State Park
Pyramid Lake
Lovelock Cave
Angel Lake
Lamoille Canyon
Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge
Churchill Vineyards
Sand Mountain Recreation Area
Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park
Hickison Petroglyphs
Spencer Hot Springs
Belmont Ghost Town and Belmont Courthouse
Nevada Northern Railway
Cathedral Gorge State Park
Kershaw-Ryan State Park
Valley of Fire State Park
Techatticup at Eldorado Canyon
Rhyolite Ghost Town
International Car Forest of the Last Church
Tonopah Mining Park

For more information on how to get your hands on a Trekker of your own, take a peek at the Trekker Loan Program.

Point of Interest Go››

X