Nestled in the Lahontan Valley just about 60 miles east of Reno, is the downright neighborly community of Fallon. Often referred to as "The Oasis of Nevada,” thanks to the region’s formerly high volume of water, the area is a wonderful host to boundless outdoor activities.
Welcome to the Breadbasket of Nevada
They don’t call it “The Oasis of Nevada” for nothin’. Come fall for the friendly farm town of Fallon, home to fresh food, high-octane outdoor action, a singing sand dune playground, bundles of birds to watch, rich cultural history in museums, galleries, and ancient art sites, and plenty of comfortable spots to stay the night, indoors or in your RV—all of it just about an hour away from bustling Reno. And you won’t be the first. The lush greenery surrounding Fallon has long provided welcome respite for American Indians, westbound pioneers, and, most recently, travelers along Nevada’s famous ribbon of Highway 50, dubbed the Loneliest Road in America. If you’re tackling that classic road trip, be sure to pick up your Highway 50 survival guide and kick off the fun with some stamps around Fallon.
Even if you don’t know much about Fallon, you’ve likely heard about its most famous military installation: Naval Air Station Fallon. The facility located southeast of Fallon was once home to the Navy’s Top Gun fighter pilot training program—yep, that Top Gun.
By the way, Fallon wasn’t always known as “The Oasis of Nevada.” The entire basin once held prehistoric Lake Lahontan, which stretched west to Pyramid Lake and south to Walker Lake during the Pleistocene epoch. You can often spot the waterline from this ancient lake by looking high on the hillsides of nearby mountains. And yet, the land east of Fallon is an inhospitable desert that posed 40 miles of waterless travel for California Gold Rush emigrants.
However, ranches began cropping up in the fertile areas of the Lahontan Valley by the mid to late 1800s, and the town of Fallon was incorporated in 1908. In 1903, the federal Bureau of Reclamation authorized the Newlands Project, which led to nearly 70 miles of canals diverting water into the Fallon area, which is the agricultural and ranching heart of the State of Nevada. The nutrient-rich alfalfa grown in Fallon is prized by Nevada and California dairy farmers alike.
You can learn all about Fallon’s diverse history and American Indian heritage at the Churchill County Museum & Archives, which houses a collection of authentic tule duck decoys—Nevada’s official state artifact—as well as up at Grimes Point Archaeological Area, where you can view dozens of petroglyphs and hike up to Hidden Cave.
Things To Do in Fallon Nevada
There’s no shortage of remarkable things to do in and around Fallon, Nevada. In town, historic Maine Street is a charming, walkable district full of cute shops and cafés to peruse. Several blocks east is Oats Park Arts Center, one of Nevada’s hidden gems when it comes to groundbreaking art and performances, housed in an old school building.
Travel Nevada Pro Tip
The Fallon area also boasts the nearly 80,000-acre Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, a prime destination for more than 250,000 migratory waterfowl each year—and, thus, birdwatchers.Thousands of off-roaders spend their weekends camped out 20 miles east of town at legendary Sand Mountain, a towering 600-foot-tall sand dune that stretches more than two miles long. Meanwhile, racing enthusiasts get their motors running at the Top Gun Raceway, northern Nevada’s premier drag strip, located just south of town on Schurz Highway.
Not too far west is Lahontan State Recreation Area, a large reservoir that draws throngs year-round for boating, camping, fishing, birding, and other outdoors activities. Meanwhile the ruins at Fort Churchill State Historic Park and Buckland Station, once an official Pony Express station, remain pristine examples of early American West history.
Culinary enthusiasts embrace Fallon’s farm-fresh vibes at a number of tasty destinations. Leading the charge are Lattin Farms, a fifth-generation organic “field-to-fork” growery, which also hosts many seasonal family events; and Frey Ranch Estate Distillery, Nevada’s first (and one of few on Earth) distilleries that grows their own ingredients for their award-winning spirits.
Some of our favorite Fallon restaurants? Courtyard Café & Bakery for scrumptious breakfasts, specialty sandwiches, burgers, quiche, and pasta. The Slanted Porch for artisan burgers, hot and cold sandwiches, and upscale salads. Stone Cabin Coffee for excellent espresso, frappes, and baked goods; and Telegraph Coffee & Tap for coffeehouse flavors with a side of craft beer and cocktails. Azteca Grill & Bakery for Mexican treats and Fallon’s famous “Super Burrito.” And, of course, 40 minutes east, Middlegate Station for roadhouse classics, including the (in)famous Middlegate Monster burger challenge.
Fallon Hotels & Accommodations
Adventurers weary from a hard day’s play in the Lahontan Valley and visitors alike can find enjoyable respite throughout Fallon’s Highway 50 corridor. Cool down with a dip in the indoor pool at the Holiday Inn Express Fallon, a pet-friendly hotel that opened on Commercial Way in 1997. The smoke-free Best Western Fallon Inn & Suites on West Williams Avenue is newly renovated, along with the Quality Inn & Suites are located a short distance from NAS Fallon. RVers, meanwhile, can find full hookups at Bonanza RV Park & Casino.
Plan your trip to Fallon to coincide with one of its popular annual events to really experience the town’s hospitality and spirit. For foodie fun, hit up the Fallon Cantaloupe Festival in August, Nevada’s longest-running food and drink festival, celebrating the famously juicy Hearts of Gold melon. Bird-nerd it up in May at the Spring Wings Bird Festival to celebrate the prolific waterfowl and migratory birds that flock to Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge.
Kick things up a notch with the Top Gun Raceway Drag Racing Series from April to September, as well as at OctaneFest, a weeklong racing event held each summer at Rattlesnake Raceway. Or have a blast at the World Cowboy Fast Draw Championship, the ultimate event following dozens of regional and state competitions around the country.
Whether you’re chowing down on fresh fare, spotting migratory birds at Stillwater, or cheering on a race, tag your pics with #TravelNevada for a shot at being featured right here.