Just as most Nevada towns sprang to life, the enchanting Paradise Valley is no different. In the summer of 1864, a troupe of four prospectors headed to the area, just 50 miles north of present-day Winnemucca. With the majority of gold-hungry miners not stopping until reaching the hills of California, this foursome took a chance by not only not continuing West, but also heading north. The reason? They were after some rumored gold in the Santa Rosa Mountains.
Upon entering this wildly stunning, panoramic valley, one of the prospectors was rumored to have exclaimed, “What a paradise!” And so it was named. With no real reason to leave, the gang set up shop that eventually sprang to a nice little town of around 100 people. Eventually, as the Central Pacific Railroad expanded West, the up-and-coming city of Winnemucca overshadowed most Paradise Valley businesses.
Today, roughly the same amount of people reside in Paradise Valley and continue to thrive on a rich ranching lifestyle. If you’re searching for a serious western getaway, you can bet your bottom dollar that Paradise Valley is it. Although the town has maintained a small population all these years, the town can certainly be classified as a ghost town, or a living ghost town. With the exception of the Paradise Valley Saloon & Bar G, no other services are available for travelers here.
Paradise Valley is such a tremendous example of a western ranching epicenter that the Smithsonian along with the American Folklife Center and U.S. Library of Congress initiated an extensive ethnographic study in Paradise Valley from 1978 thru 1982. During this elaborate field study, these organizations greatly documented the history and culture of the area’s ranching community. If that isn’t enough to keep you hooked, they also determined the astonishing variation of ethnic groups in Paradise Valley: Apache, Anglo, Basque, Chinese, German, Italian, and Northern Paiute. A true melting pot, right?
When visiting Paradise Valley today, visitors can enjoy exploring the well-preserved downtown area, which serves as quite the example of a pristine ghost town if we’ve ever seen one. Although the buildings are boarded up and clearly out of commission, this is the definition of a photographers dream. Take all the shots you want of the older, more ghost-towny portion of Paradise Valley, but use your head and be respectful…this is all private property. After you’ve wandered through the older portion of Paradise Valley, take note of the impressive stone walls bordering Big Cottonwood Creek, the original pump house to a former hotel, several opulent churches, or even sling back a few suds with some ranch hands at the Saloon. If you’re really feeling adventurous, take your journey a little further into the backcountry and hit Paradise Valley Hot Springs…one of the best in the state!
Bottom line: any time spent in Paradise Valley is most certainly well spent. A true must-see when traveling through Cowboy Country, get this no-brainer on your itinerary ASAP!
From Winnemucca, follow US-95 North for 22.1 miles until coming across the NV-290 junction. Here, turn right onto NV-290 toward Paradise Valley, continuing for 27.4 miles. Here, the road will convert to a well-maintained dirt road. Travelers take caution on this portion of the road as it’s referred to by locals as ‘Deer Alley.’ Many large deer are known to cross this area, so proceed with caution!
Paradise Valley is about 50 miles north of Winnemucca, and should take approximately 1.5 hours travel time.