NOS Mission

Nevada Outdoor School inspires exploration of the natural world, responsible stewardship of our habitat and dedication to community.
This is the spot for us to share stories, fun ideas or general musings. When you aren't in here, we hope to see you out there!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Respect Our OHV Access

To put it simply – roads and trails are temporarily closed for a reason.

During winter and spring many dirt roads and trails are closed to vehicles. Use of wet roads and trails contributes to costly trail damage, erosion, and sedimentation of streams. These negative impacts can be easily avoided by allowing roads and trails time to sufficiently dry, ensuring quality recreational opportunities in the future.

Also, winter is a sensitive time for wildlife; their resources are scarce and they need to conserve their energy. Motorized vehicles may disturb wildlife, causing them to exert what little energy they have, leaving them exposed to predators and harsh winter elements.

Respect seasonal closures or risk losing access

By no means am I telling you to lock your ATV or OHV away for the winter, just know there are other places to ride during these wet months. Visit sand-based recreation areas where you actually get better traction in damp conditions, such as Sand Mountain or visit Sand Dune Guide for information on dunes across the country. Another option - put in for vacation time and plan a road trip to drier climates in southwestern states.

Do you have any suggestions on riding in the winter and spring? We’d love to hear them!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Destination Recreation: Sand Mountain

Start your engines for this installment of Destination Recreation! We’re visiting Sand Mountain before the summer heat arrives.

4,759 acres of awesome riding

Destination: Sand Mountain Recreation Area Adventurer: Jen Stockton
Chosen Activity: Riding my all-terrain vehicle (ATV)

Allure: My family travels to Sand Mountain for Thanksgiving where we spend the holiday speeding around on the sand, exploring the trails, and deep frying our turkey for dinner. Sand Mountain is nearly 600 feet tall, which may be intimidating to some, but there are riding options for all skill levels. You can venture to the top and ride in the super bowl (a giant bowl in the sand that you can circle at top speeds), stick to the lower and mellower dunes, or delve into the trail system that journeys into the high desert. I love visiting Sand Mountain, not only for the riding, but for the quality time spent with family and friends sitting around the fire, playing board games, and enjoying each other’s company. Recently, my brother and I turned our old snowboards into sandboards and tried boarding down the slopes. We still need some work…but let me tell you – if you sit on the boards like a sled they FLY! On that note, I would recommend a helmet for both sandboarding and riding ATVs – safety first!

The Super Bowl - Enter if you dare!

Other Activities: off-highway vehicle riding, hiking, sandboarding, camping, exploring the Pony Express station, photography, geocaching
Location: Central Nevada on US 50, 25 miles east of Fallon
Information: Bureau of Land Management – Sand Mountain Recreation AreaDune Guide – Sand Mountain

Visit the Nevada Outdoor School website – Destination Recreation page to explore the rest of our favorite places to play in Nevada.

Monday, February 14, 2011

National Park Fee Free Days

Mark your calendars and pack your bags! The National Park Service has announced their fee free admission days for 2011:
- January 15-17 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday weekend) – keep in mind for next year
- April 16-24 (National Park Week)
- June 21 (First day of summer)
- September 24 (Public Lands Day)
- November 11-13 (Veterans Day weekend)

Sven Svenington enjoying Great Basin NP

If you’re strapped for cash and none of those dates fit into your schedule, here’s a helpful hint – many of our 394 national parks never charge an entrance fee, including Nevada’s own Great Basin National Park. Another option, if you volunteer with a National Public Lands Day conservation event you earn a free public lands pass!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Think Outdoorsy, Act Locally

One act of vandalism leads too...

Back in December I vented about a vandalized trailhead restroom – see Winter Hike Interrupted – recently, I was excited to hear the Bureau of Land Management was able to repair the damage! However, my excitement was rudely interrupted when my informant’s sentence was finished with, “but now it’s covered in paintball shots…”

I ventured up to Water Canyon to take a look at the damage myself and along the way found tree vandalism as well. Some of this vandalism was not deemed appropriate for this blog; I’ll let your imagination figure out what was carved into one particular tree. 

...more vandalism.

If you’re like me, you’re probably a little disheartened right now. But turn that frown upside down and ask yourself – what can I do to help my local recreation areas? The answer – lots!

- Carry a trash bag with you on a hike and pick up litter along the way.

- Stay on the designated trails. It is much easier to avoid creating a user trail than to erase one.

- If you see vandalism, report it to the land manager.

- Lend a hand during a land stewardship event. Contact your local conservation organization for information or look for a local event in correlation with National Public Lands Day.

- Join a Friends Group or another local organization; these groups adopt recreation areas to help conserve our resources. A couple of the Friends groups we partner with are Friends of Nevada Wilderness and Friends of Black Rock High Rock.

- Spread awareness by voicing your concerns with a letter to the editor of a local newspaper.

Volunteers removed a few tons of trash from the
Black Rock Desert on National Public Lands Day

I feel that it’s important to take care of all recreation areas; but while National Parks belong to everyone across the country; local parks belong to you and your neighbors. I would argue that we need to take even more pride in these recreation areas and help conserve our local resources so our community can continue to enjoy them.

Do you have more ideas to help protect your local resources? We’d love to hear them!


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Principles, Powder, and a Porcupine

Principle presentation -
Leave What You Find

Nevada Outdoor School’s winter Leave No Trace (LNT) Trainer Course was filled with exciting adventures. Six participants joined us in the Sierra Nevadas to explore outdoor ethics and learn how to help spread the LNT message to others.

On Saturday, the first day of the two-day course, we ventured into the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe to snowshoe and take a closer look at a few of the LNT principles. Each course participant was responsible for presenting one of the LNT principles and for facilitating a hands-on activity with the group to reinforce what folks had learned. In addition to learning new information, a number of folks strapped on a pair of snowshoes for the first time; judging by the smiles on their faces, it won’t be their last!

Snowshoe hike near Lake Tahoe

The skies opened up Saturday night and dumped about nine inches of powder on us, making for great snowshoeing conditions. Sunday morning we finished the last of our principle presentations and went out for one more hike. While taking a break under a tree I noticed a pile of an animal’s business, (whatever had been there had not been disposing of their waste properly) I glanced and noticed an unidentifiable object nestled in the branches, I immediately tried to piece it all together… was it a birds nest? A clump of dirt with pine needles poking out of it? Whoa! It was a porcupine! My first encounter with a porcupine and it happened to be in dangerous canon-ball striking distance. I preferred to leave the hike quill-free so I checked to make sure we were following the LNT Rule of Thumb (remaining a respectful distance from wildlife), took a few quick snapshots, and moved on.

Leave No Trace Trainer Courses are great opportunities to delve into outdoor ethics while experiencing them first hand. If you are interested in joining us this summer for a trainer course e-mail me at

LNT Rule of Thumb - Respect Porcupines