Vol. 1, No. 19         August 1, 2004

“One of the Silver State’s Hidden Gems”
by Donald C. Cook

If you find yourself heading east on US 50, more commonly known as the “Loneliest Road in America,” and have the urge to take a day or so to savor some great scenery and history, Kingston, Nevada could be your answer.

To reach Kingston, you need to travel east from Austin on US 50 for 12 miles, then travel south on SR 376 for 14 miles and follow the sign to your right taking you to Kingston, which is about 3 miles from the highway. The approximate 30-mile journey takes you through the Big Smoky Valley and is a leisurely jaunt for your RV, with only a couple of small to moderate grades to traverse.

Kingston became a town site in 1864, due to the overflow mining activity in Bunker Hill, just slightly to the north. A few mines sprung up during the next couple of years near the entrance to what is known as Kingston Canyon. The 20 stamp Sterling Mill was built in 1865, as was the local Post Office. Several other mill sites were constructed, including the Smoky Mill. With the development of numerous businesses, the town boasted a population of over 120 people.

The success was short lived, all activity in the town ceased in 1870. It remained in this dormant state until 1881 at which time many of the mines reopened, as well as the Post Office (then renamed “Morgan”). A school was constructed in the mid-1880’s. Other modest growth spurts occurred in the early 1900’s with the formation of the Kingston Mining Company. They shut down their activities in 1911.

The most visible reminder of Kingston’s past would be found at the site of the old Sterling Mill. The massive stone ruins are a permanent reminder of the glory days. Just taking the time to view and photograph the haunting remains of this bygone era is reason enough to make the journey! Several other lesser structures can be found in the area, especially if you take the gravel road that leads you to the gorgeous Kingston Canyon area.

Kingston Canyon is an excellent gateway to the Toiyabe Crest Trail and Arc Dome Wilderness located in the Toiyabe Mountains. If you are inclined to test your limits on the Crest Trail, remember the old Boy Scout motto, be prepared! The trail is over 60 miles in length and reaches elevations in excess of 8,000 feet above sea level.

In addition to the excellent hiking trails, lake and stream fishing abound. If you brought your fishing gear and have a Nevada fishing license, you could experience what is said to be some of the best fishing in the State. Kingston Creek and nearby Groves Lake will tempt you with an array of Brown, Brook and Rainbow Trout.

A short distance up the canyon reveals a relatively small campground of 12 sites tucked away alongside Kingston Creek. Kingston Campground does not require reservations; restroom facilities and water are available. The campground is open late spring to early fall, dependent upon the weather. Given the canyon’s somewhat narrow gravel road and configuration of the sites, smaller travel/tent trailers would be the best bet for this location.

If you plan to drive a moderate distance up the canyon, an SUV or other off-road vehicle would be the ticket. During the fall, Big Creek Meadows, at the other side of Kingston Summit, will provide you with a vivid splash of color courtesy of its abundant aspen and cottonwood groves. With a bit of luck, you might even spot a few of the Bighorn Sheep that seem to be perched precariously along the steep mountainsides.

Currently, around 100 residents call Kingston their home. Most of these friendly folks are active retirees, with many spending a good portion of their time at the Round Mountain Golf Course, about 25 miles further south on SR 376. Day-to-day shopping needs are met in Hadley (adjacent to Round Mountain) or nearby Carvers, just 7 miles away.

Limited full-hookup sites are available at $12.00 night at Smoky Joes RV Park 6 miles south of the Kingston turnoff on SR 376; (775) 964-2422. As previously mentioned, the Kingston Campground has 12 sites, with no reservations required, which can accommodate smaller motorhomes and trailers.

Make sure that you have an ample supply of film, as it will disappear quickly; the Kingston Canyon and Toiyabe Mountains will provide you with numerous breathtaking photo opportunities!

This is all that remains of the old Groves Lake Station. The building will show how much effort went into making a place operational so many years ago.
This road is passable in all seasons except winter when heavy snow falls in the high country. Don't be surprised to find Basque sheepherders with the flocks if you go over the top and drop into the Reese River Valley. There are roadside camping and picnic areas along streams on the Reese River side of the canyon.
Kingston is a flourishing little community in Lander County. The general store can be a busy place, and gossip often is the order of the day, as in almost all rural areas of the world.
The Kingston Station Building completely refurbished and looking mighty good. A community project all can be proud of.
Mines have operated in the Kingston Canyon area for well over one hundred years. These are the remains of the Kingston Stamp Mill. There have been many efforts recently to get one of the mines to be productive, but it hasn't quite panned out.