If you’re an outdoor recreationalist, choose your own adventure at South Fork—from hunting, to camping, boating, picnicking, swimming, ice fishing, cross country skiing and wildlife viewing, this Nevada State Park seems to have it all. Located in the heart of spectacular Lamoille Valley, South Fork State Recreation Area has been attracting campers, hunters and trophy-fisherman for decades. At the base of the Ruby Mountains, this expansive 1,650 acre State Recreation Area is surrounded by more than 2,000 acres of wildlife-filled meadowlands and rolling hills.
EARLY DAYS IN SOUTH FORK
Not far from the California Trail, early pioneers were making their way through this northeastern Nevada region in the 1850s. The South Fork Valley was officially settled by 1867 and this exact location was the site of the historic Tomera Ranch. Though it was privately owned, the area offered a constant and heavily relied upon water supply, and was generally a good travel route between burgeoning mining camps in the area.
Though the Tomera Ranch was sold to the State of Nevada in the early 1980s, the South Fork Dam project goes back to the 1938 Flood Control Act. During this time, U.S. Congress authorized feasibility studies for building dams and reservoirs on rivers like the Humboldt. By 1938, construction to dam a portion of this river was underway, operating on a “flow-in, flow-out” concept, which protected downstream water rights while minimally impacting wildlife habitat dependent upon the Humboldt Sink.
VISITING SOUTH FORK TODAY
With its juniper-rich woodlands, meadows dotted with massive Sagebrush clusters, rolling hills and deep canyons, the South Fork State Recreation Area not only provides an ideal habitat for a variety of wildlife, but is a spectacular way to recreate in the Silver State. South Fork’s constant water levels make it an excellent fishery—in fact, this reservoir is known for its trophy-class trout and bass fishing. But South Fork is equally popular with boaters and waterfowl—try your luck and spotting everything from Mallard and Pintail ducks to Canadian Geese, Common Coots, American Widgeons and more. Best yet, keep an eye out for badgers, coyote, beaver, kit foxes, and Rocky Mountain Mule Deer, who call the reservoir home, too.
South Fork Reservoir is a storage of excess water connected to the Humboldt River and one of the best recreational reservoirs—specifically for water based adventures—in the region. With constant water levels, South Fork is a next level fishing spot. Trophy size rainbow and brown trout, cutbow trout, smallmouth and largemouth black bass, wiper hybrid bass and channel catfish are dominant game fish species at South Fork, so be sure to bring your tackle when headed to this neck of Nevada.
ADMISSION AND FEES
Admission to South Fork State Recreation Area is $5.00. The main campground—located off the north park access road—has 25 sites, each equipped with campsite tables, grills, and a flush restroom with showers. Camping is $15.00 per night and offered on a first-come, first-served basis—sites may not be reserved. The campground is open from spring until late fall, depending on weather conditions. Open camping is also available along the southwest shore. For the most up to date information on hours, campsite availability and entry fees, please click here.
South Fork State Recreation Area is located about 20 miles south of Elko off State Route 228. From downtown Elko, follow State Route 227 up and over Lamoille Pass for about 12 miles. Make a right hand turn onto State Route 228 toward Jiggs and Harrison Pass Road. Continue on for an additional 7 miles until reaching the park entrance.