Whether you’re just passing through or making it your primary destination, the Rye Patch Recreation Area offers beautiful scenery, hiking trails throughout the park, a variety of fish to catch, and is home to abundant wildlife, including hawks, eagles, deer, and owls.
Making Rye Patch
The Humboldt River stretches across most of northern Nevada and is considered to be the largest river in both the State of Nevada and the entire Great Basin region. Thousands of years ago, this enormous river was even mightier, feeding prehistoric glacial Lake Lahontan. Nearly 23,000 years ago when the elevation of this enormous ancient lake was lower than that of the present reservoir, animals such as camelops, horses, mammoths, and bison were drawn to the water as a drinking source. Some of the first evidence of people living in the area stretches back to 9,500 years ago. These inhabitants also depended on the water supply found here as a life source. Interestingly enough, fossilized bones from these prehistoric animals and artifacts from human life in the area have been found all along Rye Patch’s much lower, modern-day shoreline.
Peter Skene Ogden was one of the first people to have moved through the region in 1829, while on a trapping expedition for the Hudson Bay Company. Soon, the California gold fields enticed thousands of early pioneers, who traveled across the region in the 1850s, which helped lead to Nevada’s massive silver boom in the 1860s. During this time, Rye Patch—much like Unionville, Rochester, Star City, and Humboldt City—sprang to life out of a sea of sage. Rye Patch—named for a patch of wild rye grass growing alongside the railroad—had a post office, school, boarding house, and even a Central Pacific Railroad station after the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869.
During the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps helped build a dam here to funnel water to farmers in the Lovelock area. The 75-foot high, earthen dam is designed to hold more than 200,000 acre-feet of water, and became a Nevada State Recreation Area in 1971.
Rye Patch Reservoir Fishing & More
Positioned 22 miles north of Lovelock and 50 miles south of Winnemucca, Rye Patch State Park is a recreationist’s paradise. Known for trophy-class fishing and sunny afternoons spent boating, this 11,000-acre State Recreation Area is a perfect way to relax, without fighting crowds. Visitors and locals alike can bask in swimming, waterskiing, hiking, camping, and picnicking, or try their luck at reeling in crappie, wipers, white bass, channel catfish, black bass, and walleye. Take advantage of some shade from the original CCC-built shade ramadas found throughout the park, along with some signature stone-masoned barbeques the CCC is known for. If you’re interested in simply taking in Rye Patch’s beauty from the leisure of your vehicle, we’ve got you covered there too.
Rye Patch Campground
Gaze up at some of the brightest stars at the riverside Rye Patch Campground, located right below the Rye Patch Dam, which offers 22 sites and a restroom with flush toilets and hot showers. Other river campground amenities include drinking water, a dump station, a boat ramp, and of course, picnic tables and fire rings for the coziest, s’more-filled nights. The campground on the reservoir’s west side has 25 more units, as well.
Rye Patch State Recreation Area is open seven days a week, 365 days a year. Quiet hours at the Rye Patch Campground are from 10:00 PM to 7:00 AM. Pets are welcome, but they must be kept on a leash of not more than six feet in length. For more information on planning your visit to Rye Patch, get in touch with the park directly at (775) 442-0135.
Admission to Rye Patch State Recreation Area is $10 per vehicle ($5 for Nevada residents.) Camping is $20 per vehicle, per night ($15 for Nevada residents) and offered on a first-come, first-served basis. The fee to access the boat launch is $10, or if you’re planning to camp and boat at Rye Patch, the combined total fee is $20 per night.