Interested in marrying the history Nevada was built on with a solid dose of outdoor adventure? Well then you, my friend, have just found your park: Dayton State Park. It’s no secret that Nevada still very much depends on gold and silver mining production – in fact, it still secures its spot within the top five gold and silver producers in the entire world. But where did it all start?
NEVADA'S FIRST GOLD DISCOVERY IS MADE
In a state with over 600 ghost towns and mining camps of yesteryear, the very first gold discovery in the state was made in the town of Dayton. While resting on his route to California, Abner Blackburn discovered a Gold Creek in 1849, and by 1850, dozens of miners set up shop, forming the community of Dayton. The legendary Comstock Lode was discovered just a few years later up the canyon from Dayton, in Virginia City.
Here’s where it all gets so interesting. Dayton separated itself from other booming prospector camps because it was a milling operation exclusively… no actual mining was ever done in Dayton. Although Dayton originally began as a commercial hub for miners working in Six Mile Canyon, they soon started to realize that milling was also very lucrative business. So, in 1861, the first ore crushing stamp mill was built – the Rock Point Mill – and remains to be one of the earliest examples of large mills in Nevada of its time. Despite the fact that people have been living in Dayton since 1849, substantial controversy surrounds which is Nevada’s oldest establishment: Dayton or Genoa. The major point of interest within Dayton State Park is the Rock Point Mill itself, because who wouldn’t want to see ruins of a 156 year old mining relic?! To access this historical site, park behind the Gold Ranch Casino, which is almost directly across from the main entrance to Dayton State Park.
MODERN DAY DAYTON STATE PARK
If it’s outdoor recreation you’re after, Dayton State Park is a great place to setup a campsite, fish from the Carson River, and enjoy a tasty BBQ with friends and family in the day use area. Paiute Indians, who used this section of the Carson River as a fishing camp before all the mining activity happened, once occupied the area. Be sure to snag your fishing permit before visiting, the river is raging and stocked with tons of fish!
Several hiking trails can be accessed in the park, as well as picnic areas near the Cottonwood grove and near the Rock Point Mill Site. The park is equipped with 10 campsites, all of which accommodate tent camping up to a 34-foot RV, and include picnic tables and BBQs. The large, shaded group area is available by reservation only and boasts 10 picnic tables, a sink with running water, electricity, a large BBQ, lush grassy area and plenty of parking. Plus, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife in the area. Hawks, foxes and porcupines are known to call the park home.
PARK ENTRANCE FEES
$7.00 – Day use entrance fee
$17.00 – Camping fee, per night
Dayton State Park is always open, with no restrictions or closures.
From downtown Carson City, head south on South Carson Street toward West 2nd Street. Turn left on to East 5th Street. At the traffic circle, take the 3rd exit onto Fairview Drive. Turn right onto U.S. Highway 50 eastbound, and follow for 9.6 miles. Dayton State Park headquarters will be on your right, but keep an eye peeled for the Gold Ranch Casino on your left… almost directly across from the official park entrance. Here, you’ll find ruins of the Rock Point Mill. Check in at the visitor center to find out more about seasonal closures and special events in the park during your visit!