Getting my Nevada State Parks Passport

nevada state parks passport - val in real life

I spent many of my years in Georgia exploring the vast offerings of its state park system. Much of that was with Fred and George in tow as we pursued the Parks GeoTour and History Trail GeoTour geocaching challenges. Through that effort, we got to know the state and the Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites in depth.

Now that I live in Nevada, and being a fan of state parks in general, I have a lot of work to do to explore Nevada’s park system.

The error of my ways

nevada state parks passport - val in real life
My better-late-than-never Nevada State Parks passport.

A couple of years ago, I began visiting Nevada State Parks as adventures tacked onto my trips to Overland Expo West. Then I started visiting Nevada as a destination in itself. In those wanderings I managed to visit the parks at Cathedral Gorge, Cave Lake, Washoe Lake, Berlin-Icthyosaur, Ward Charcoal Ovens, and Dayton. I never imagined I’d end up living in the Silver State. I noticed the park passport program during those visits but really didn’t think I’d be in Nevada enough that it made sense to participate. How wrong I was.

My slacking doesn’t end there though. Even since my move to Nevada last year, I’ve visited Sand Harbor at Lake Tahoe, Fort Churchill, and the Buckland’s Station unit of Fort Churchill (multiple times!) and still didn’t pick up a passport. Cue facepalm.

With Nevada Magazine’s year-long commitment to covering Nevada State Parks, I finally realized my silliness. I fully intend to visit all the parks anyway, just like I did in Georgia, so why not add the fun of the passport challenge? That means I’m starting from scratch in pursuit of filling my Nevada State Parks Passport. It won’t pain me in the least to return to the parks I’ve already visited. They’re fantastic and well worth multiple trips, just like Georgia’s parks. It could prove a bit more challenging though given that Nevada is almost twice the size of Georgia. That’s why I make no promises how long this effort will take me!

ward charcoal ovens - val in real life
Storm brewing over Ward Charcoal Ovens.
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Iconic view at Berlin-Icthyosaur State Park.

Nevada State Parks

With 23 parks (some with multiple units), the Nevada State Parks system extends across the various landscapes and history of the Silver State… and it’s a BIG state. It’s an exciting year to explore them with Governor Sandoval’s Explore Your Nevada initiative well underway. Two new parks are in the works and existing parks will see improved amenities in response to visitor feedback and growing demand for outdoor recreation as more and more people discover Nevada’s allure.

And much like the National Parks Passport, the Nevada State Park’s passport has a page dedicated to every park that you can stamp as a sort of travel journal. It also includes a brief description of the parks as well as a guide to the amenities available at each. The program is free and if you collect 15 stamps, you earn a year’s pass to all Nevada State Parks.

buckland's station - val in real life
Historic Buckland’s Station
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Panorama at Cathedral Gorge State Park.

Seeing it all

Visiting Georgia’s state parks showed me the value of seeing all of the units. It gave me a complete experience in the state that included all of the various landscapes and broad history that make Georgia what it is. It gave me a sense of place and belonging in the state I called home for 22 years.

I hope to have that same experience in Nevada as I get to know my new state as well as I know Georgia. The landscape, history, and people here are quite different so this is a blank slate for me. I’ll admit I’m a bit giddy at the prospect because I find myself in a unique position—in which I’m more than a visitor but not a native or long-time resident. I’m already in love with this state; I’ve seen enough to know this is a special place. But now I get to explore as a new Nevadan with fresh eyes and ready to invest in learning and developing the same depth of experience I had in Georgia.

Adventure on, friends! See you in the parks.

berlin-ichtyosaur state park - val in real life
Sunset at the Berlin-Icthyosaur campground.


  1. I’m glad you finally have your act together! 😉

    Two questions. (1) Do they any parks dedicated to military test sites? I visited the historical site that the NPS made out of an ICBM launch facility in South Dakota and it was very cool. (2) Which park is your favorite so far?

    1. It’s taken me awhile, I know. I promise I’m laughing at myself.

      No on #1. But I agree, it’s fascinating. Visit ECBR-1 site in Idaho a few years ago. Sobering.

      So far, hard to say. I get attached to certain ones for personal reasons. I think I’d go with Berlin-Icthyosaur if you forced me to chose just one. 😉

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