dayton state park

Ever stumble across a place that just looks gorgeous regardless of the season? That’s a pretty apt description for Dayton State Park, found roughly 30 minutes east of Nevada’s state capital of Carson City. Whether the trees are in spring bloom, blazing with color in fall, or canopied in freshly-fallen snow, Dayton State Park is always ready for its close-up. And, with gold and silver mining ruins located on site—the location of Nevada’s very first mill—this Dayton park is a one-two knockout of beauty and Nevada history.

Come for the mining history, stay for the beautiful riverfront scenery and recreational opportunities at 160-acre Dayton State Park.

Dayton Mining History

Nevada is home to more than 600 ghost towns and mining camps, the very first gold discovery in Nevada was made near modern day Dayton. While resting on his route to the California gold fields, Abner Blackburn discovered gold in the area using only a hunting knife and frying pan to prospect.  Not long after, Dayton’s go-to status and geography secured its role in supporting the massive silver discovery happening just right up the road in Virginia City—the Comstock Lode—with a ton of stamp mills.

stamp mills
carson river

Here, the stamp mills would crush rock, releasing the silver and other precious metals for use. Water is an important piece to the stamp milling process, and conveniently enough, the Carson River ran right past the area. At one point, there were a whopping 21 quartz mills that ran along the Carson River, and in 1861 the Rock Point Mill—located within modern day park boundaries—was one of the earliest large mills in Nevada built to crush ore from the Comstock mines. The largest silver discovery in the world drew a massive population to the area, many of whom ended up living and working in Dayton, processing this rich silver discovery.

Visiting Dayton State Park

If it’s outdoor recreation you’re after, Dayton State Park is a great place to wander trails, fish the trout-packed Carson River, and camp out for the night at one of 10 sites that can accommodate RVs up to 34 feet long. The campsites come with picnic tables and barbecues, and group camping areas are available as well. A shaded group-use area includes 10 picnic tables, a sink, electricity, a large barbecue, a lawn area, and lots of parking. Reservations for campsites can be made in advance but aren’t required.

The Paiute People used this section of the Carson River as a fishing camp before all the mining activity happened. If you want to do the same, be sure to snag your NDOW fishing permit before visiting—the river is always flowing and stocked with tons of fish.

Dayton State Park

Several hiking trails can be accessed throughout the park, as well as picnic areas near the cottonwood grove and near the Rock Point Mill Site. A quick trip to the visitor center yields more details about seasonal closures and special events happening in the park during your visit.


Dayton State Park is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Park entrance to Dayton State Park is $5 for Nevada residents and $10 for out-of-state vehicles. Those on bicycles can enter for $2 per bike. Campsites are $15 per night for Nevada residents and $20 for out-of-state vehicles.

This Location:

North Central, Nevada




North Central