Shoreline access to Cave Lake is temporarily closed to the public as construction is underway to restore Cave Creek Dam. While the campground is open, access to the lake itself will remain closed due to unsafe shoreline conditions and other safety concerns until the project is complete. Please continue to check back for updates.
Incredible high desert recreation ops—ranging from stargazing, hiking, ice fishing, mountain biking, backcountry scenic drives, and more—abounds at Cave Lake State Park. Situated just off the Great Basin Highway, about 15 minutes south of Ely, this high-elevation hideout feels like a mini Great Basin National Park with spectacular mountain views, jagged rock formations, and alpine lakes. Here, count on crowdless alone-in-nature serenity, with quick access to town if you need it.
Early Days at Cave Lake, Nevada
The reservoir you see today at Cave Lake was originally built to serve the Civilian Conservation Corps, who were working in the area during the 1930s. The property switched hands a few times among local ranchers, but in 1968, all 1,240 acres of modern day park was sold to Nevada Department of Fish and Game for a whole $10.00. In 1973, the land was transferred to Nevada State Parks, and has been welcoming recreationalists since.
Visiting Cave Lake Today
Cave Lake is perched in the foothills of the Schell Creek Range, and part of the Humboldt National Forest. At a towering 7,300 feet, this 32-acre Nevada State Park offers outstanding views with almost brand new amenities and facilities. The main attraction here is of course Cave Lake itself, which provides great swimming, stand up paddleboarding, fishing and tubing in the summer months. During the wintertime, get the annually hosted Winter Festival and Ice Fishing on your radar, or plan to cross-country ski, ice skate, or snowmobile.
Hunting and fishing are popular must-do’s at Cave Lake, too. German browns are native to Cave Lake and park streams, but hatchery rainbows are stocked in the lake as well. Big game animals love the high elevation remoteness Cave Lake delivers, so be sure to keep an eye peeled for big game like elk and mule deer, and predators such as bobcat, mountain lion and coyote also live in the area. Bring your binoculars to spot large birds of prey who pass through the region on their migration paths, including hawks, eagles, Mountain Bluebird, pinyon jay, magpie and a handful of waterfowl and songbirds.
Mountain biking in the broader Ely area delivers on many levels, but especially at Cave Lake. Hard-packed gravel and over 20 miles of well-built singletrack weaving through deer and elk habitat among limestone cliffs, forests of aspen and juniper always makes for a great day out there, right? Even if you’re not on a bike, be sure to swing through the Success Loop Scenic Drive, which skirts the outside perimeter of Cave Lake, through the top of the Schell Creek Range, ending near McGill. Facilities at Cave Lake are almost brand new and include campgrounds, picnic areas, hiking trails and a boat launch.
Cave Lake State Park Camping
Besides some pretty outstanding recreational opportunities, you can also enjoy some of the best Ely, Nevada camping at Cave Lake. Settle into two designated campgrounds, including the Elk Flat Campground and the Lake View Campground. Both campgrounds provide level grounds for tent and truck camping, along with fire pits with barbecue grills on each campsite. Access roads to the sites are unpaved, and the camping limit is seven days within a 30-day period. Although reservations are not accepted and saving sites is prohibited, a few small group sites are available by reservation and several sites can accommodate more than one vehicle. For more information, including overflow camping details, get in touch with Cave Lake State Park directly at (775) 728-8100.
Cave Lake State Park is open year round from 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM. Visitors can enjoy the state park year-round, though Cave Lake is particularly special during the summer months. Expect snow from early December through early April, with several feet on the ground through peak winter months. The remainder of the year is relatively dry, but keep in mind the elevation around this area, storms can frequently move in and out quickly during summer and fall months. The Elk Flat Campground is open from early May and closes mid-October, weather permitting. Showers and flush-type toilets are available while the campground is open. The Lake View Campground is usually open year-round. In extremely cold conditions, the facilities may be closed.
Admission to Cave Lake State Park is $10 per vehicle ($5 for Nevada residents) and offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Camping is $20 per vehicle, ($15 for Nevadans) per night. For the most up to date information on hours, campsite availability and entry fees, please get in touch with Cave Lake State Park directly at (775) 728-8100.