Churchill County, Nevada is uniquely located. East of California, Reno and Carson City, Churchill spans 5,024 acres and includes mountains, valleys, ranges and many bodies of water. All throughout the county’s west side are lakes, channels and ponds, and on the county’s north-end line, most of Humboldt Lake rests designated as part of Churchill. Further east, past the county seat of Fallon, are the mountains. Perhaps most telling of Churchill’s unique positioning is the route of Highway 50, which comes into Churchill from popular Lake Tahoe, passes through Fallon before running through the rest of Nevada as “The Loneliest Road in America,” leaving Churchill in the middle with access to the best of both worlds.
There are many sights to see in Churchill, along with things to do for both residents and travelers. The Sand Mountain Recreation Area is a sand dune and designated off-highway vehicle fee site located east of Fallon. The sand mountain itself, which is the dune’s largest feature, is around 3.5 miles long and 600 feet in height, “making it the largest single dune in the Great Basin.” On the west side of Fallon, toward Washoe County, lies Lahontan State Recreation Area, which includes the area around the Lahontan reservoir, where folks camp, picnic, boat, fish and hunt. More on the historical-adventure side, there’s Lovelock Cave, the archeological find and landmark. In her day, Northern Paiute author Sarah Winnemucca wrote of the myth of the sighted red-haired cannibal giants being driven back into the cave. Richard Moreno, with the Nevada Appeal newspaper, pointed out, “Even ignoring the giants, the cave has an interesting backstory.” He goes on to write that in 1911, two goldminers, James Hart and David Pugh, mined bat guano before encountering human mummified bodies and many Native American artifacts, furtherly uncovered by L.L. Loud and Mark Harrington from the University of California. To this day, Lovelock Cave is open to visit, together with the Lovelock Cave Days event, which was cancelled 2020 for COVID-19. Nevertheless, the Bureau of Land Management has a guide to a safe, self-guided tour.
Year-round in Churchill, family-friendly events are hosted that bring together the county as community. In Fallon, for example, there’s the New Year’s 5K Fun Run; Tractors and Truffles which mixes ranching, farming, vineyard facilities and theatre; an all-out rodeo event in the DeGolyer Bucking Horse and Bull Bash; the Fourth of July Parade; and the monster truck, dirt track racing, drag racing Octane Fest. On the natural side, in May and June tens of thousands of birds stop in Fallon, making for a birdwatching haven.