Wild Horse State Recreation Area
Remote and remarkable, this high-desert Nevada State Park offers up incredible fishing, camping, and wildlife viewing throughout the year. During summer months, the sky’s the limit when it comes to water-based adventures. During the wintertime, locals and travelers alike head to Wild Horse for wildly satisfying ice fishing. Visit Wild Horse Reservoir during the spring and summer for a spectacular array of wildflowers you won’t want to miss.
Early Days At Wild Horse Reservoir
Along with South Fork State Recreation Area, Wild Horse Reservoir was built in the late 1930s as part of the national Flood Control Act. Formerly known as the Owyhee Meadows, this new reservoir was named after herds of wild horses that roamed freely in the area during the time. Since the construction of the dam, wild horses are not so commonly found in the area, but can be spotted to the west throughout the Owyhee Desert. The reservoir doubled in size in 1969, when the original dam was deemed structurally unsound. Today, the Wild Horse State Recreation Area has a surface area of 2,830 acres, is equipped to hold a staggering 73,500 acre-feet of water, and is yours for the taking.
Visiting Wild Horse State Park Today
Situated at a stunning 6,200 feet—the same elevation as Lake Tahoe—Wild Horse Reservoir commonly boasts Nevada’s lowest winter temperatures, which makes the area perfectly ideal for prime ice fishing. Freezing early in the fall months, this reservoir freezes more quickly than other lakes in the area, and remains frozen the longest. Stocked with rainbow and German brown trout, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and catfish, the reservoir offers fishing during the summertime that is equally satisfying. Though hunting is not allowed within park boundaries, Wild Horse Reservoir is a popular basecamp for hunters looking to fill their tags. The northeastern corner of Nevada is typically home to some of Nevada’s big game animals, like pronghorn antelope, mule deer, desert bighorn sheep, and rocky mountain elk. Of course, these animals are also fun to shoot through a camera lens, too.
If you plan on visiting the Wild Horse park during the summer months, get ready for a day on the water—Wild Horse is a popular favorite for some of the best boating, swimming, camping, and hiking in the area. Best yet, more than several dozen wildflower species blanket the park in the spring and summer months, making it hard to take a bad photo of the place.
Wild Horse Reservoir Camping & Boating
The main campground at Wild Horse Reservoir in Nevada is located north of Elko. To get there from Elko, take State Route 225—also called the Mountain City Highway—and follow it directly north for 65 miles. The park will be on the left-hand side of the road. The campsite has 34 sites, each equipped with a table, shade ramada, and camp pad. There are no RV hookups within the campground, but restrooms and showers are available year-round. Visitors also enjoy boating in the spring and summer. There is a boat ramp located right next to the day-use beach.
Wild Horse State Recreation Area is open seven days a week, 365 days a year. For the most up-to-date information on hours, campsite availability, and entry fees, get in touch with the park directly at (775) 385-5939.
Admission to Wild Horse State Recreation Area is $5.00 ($10 for Non-NV Vehicles). Camping runs $15.00 per night and sites are offered on a first-come, first-served basis—sites may not be reserved. Fees to access the boat launch is $10.00, or if you’re planning to camp and boat at Wild Horse, the combined fee is $20.00 per night.