Denio Nevada offers visitors a fascinating slice of Wild West history. If you want to tour the alluring Black Rock Desert, incredible hot springs, Black Fire Opal mining, or simply step off the grid and get some much-needed quiet time and peace of mind, then Denio is the place to be.
Denio Nevada: You’re Gonna Dig It
Nestled on the borders of Nevada and Oregon, the town of Denio, Nevada and nearby Denio Junction at the intersection of State Route 140 and State Route 292 are steeped in Old West history. As the farthest-flung town off the Burner Byway road trip, Denio serves as a gateway to incomparable outdoor destinations such as Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, Soldier Meadows, and the Black Rock Desert. The Denio area also is home to three Virgin Valley Black Fire Opal mines that offer public digging for a fee. The black fire opals found at these mines were designated as Nevada’s state precious gemstone in 1987. This is one of just two spots on earth where these incredibly rare gems are formed.
History of Denio
Located near the state line and the junctions of State Route 140 and State Route 292, Denio Nevada was named after early settler Aaron Denio, who opened a trading post for travelers at Denio Station in the late 1880s. The tiny town became an important crossroads for travelers headed north through Nevada to Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
South of Denio lies the historic Applegate-Lassen Trail through Soldier Meadows and the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge. This corner of northwestern Nevada is some of the most rugged and desolate land in a state known for its unfettered wide-open spaces. Get lucky and you might just have a first come, first served BLM cabin all to yourself, including Stevens Camp, once owned by country-western singer Tennessee Ernie Ford.
Things To Do In and Around Denio
A trip to the Denio region provides visitors with an abundance of truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and experiences. Spend a day rockhounding at the dig-it-yourself Bonanza, Rainbow Ridge and Royal Peacock Virgin Valley black fire opal mines. Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, meanwhile, offers some of the best stargazing on the planet, as well as opportunities to view migrating pronghorn antelope, the fastest land animal in the world.
Soldier Meadows provides visitors with the kind of solitude that’s only dreamed about by those living and working in big cities. Located within the Black Rock High Rock Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area, Soldier Meadows provides access to the High Rock Canyon 4×4 trail to Massacre Rim (an international Dark Sky Sanctuary, just one of eight places in the U.S. to earn the designation), as well as to the Black Rock Desert Playa to the south.
Travel Nevada Pro Tip
Adventure awaits anywhere you go in or around Denio. Relax and dine at Denio Station, or soak in at Virgin Valley Warm Springs. Spend a day hiking through the otherworldly volcanic canyon at Thousand Creeks Gorge, or chase trout in the pristine subalpine lakes of the Pine Forest Recreation Area. Wherever you go, Denio is certain to tick several boxes on your adventurer’s bucket list.
Where to Eat and Drink in Denio
Hungry travelers weary from a long day exploring some of Nevada’s most impressive natural sites can warm their bellies with a famously juicy burger washed down by ice-cold beers at Denio Junction. The nearby Diamond Inn Bar, opened in 1951, offers good food and bar entertainment such as pool, shuffleboard, cards, and bar dice.
Denio Junction Motel
Due to its remote location, travelers to Denio Nevada looking for a roof over their heads wind up at the modest-yet-cozy Denio Junction Motel. If backcountry camping is in order, Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge provides an abundance of primitive know-it-when-you-see-it sites, while the Virgin Valley Campground is the go-to destination for established RV and tent camping.
Whether you’re digging for Virgin Valley black fire opals, soaking in a warm spring, or hitting the dirt for the overlanding adventure of a lifetime, be sure to tag your pics (when you get back to service, that is) with #TravelNevada so we can share your exploits.