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!

Monday, August 28, 2023

Destination Recreation - Zion National Park

By Meghan Sturgell

When thinking of Zion National Park it’s hard not to picture giant slot canyons and a wild and vast Utah desert. At least, these are a few of the things I imagined when planning my Zion trip. I had dreamed of going to Zion for many years but nothing could have fully prepared me for the reality of Zion. Great, towering mountains, a sea of red, with a spattering of green trees and underbrush greeted me as I drove from my home in Nevada to Utah.

The small yet culturally rich town of Springdale greeted me at the entrance of Zion, where the visitor center awaits all guests. Parking is available at the visitor center and the park’s quick and efficient shuttle service allows for visitors to enter the park. At the time of my visit in November, the shuttle had six stopping locations. These locations hosted trailheads, bathrooms, lodging, and food. Private vehicles were not allowed on the scenic drive while the shuttle buses operated. The shuttle system is free and a shuttle stops at each location every five minutes.

My first day at Zion started early, I was on the West Rim Trail heading to the famous Angel’s Landing by 8 a.m. The November morning was cool and breezy, and the trail was mostly empty. Angel’s Landing is considered one of the world’s most renowned hikes and for me, it was definitely unforgettable. The hike is considered strenuous, it’s a five-mile round trip, has an elevation gain of over 1,400 feet, and can take up to 5 hours to complete. The first portion of the trail consisted of multiple large and not-too-steep switchbacks up Refrigerator Canyon, aptly named for its cool and dark location in the canyon. These switchbacks lead you to a very scenic and easy walk until you reach Walter’s Wiggles; a set of 21 extremely steep switchbacks where you quickly gain elevation. At the top of Walter’s Wiggles, you reach Scout Lookout. This is the point where you decide to keep pushing forward or turn around. The final half-mile is not for the faint of heart. Steep drop-downs await you on either side of a narrow ridge to the landing. Hanging onto a chain bolted in the rock wall at 1,400 feet in the air can really take your breath away. The view once you reach the summit is a breathtaking panoramic of the surrounding canyon, leaving you awestruck and beyond ecstatic for tackling such a difficult yet rewarding hike.

My second day in Zion started even earlier, as I had more preparation to do for the planned hike. At Zion Outfitter, located right by the Visitor Center, I got specialized waterproof pants, canyoneering boots, waterproof socks, and a walking stick to hike The Narrows. The Narrows is the narrowest canyon in Zion and you are walking in the Virgin River surrounded by rock walls a thousand feet into the air. The Narrows leave you feeling tiny in comparison to the surrounding towering walls. In November, the water was cool but not freezing and the chance of flash flooding was lower than in the spring months. The Narrows is also considered a strenuous hike, but mainly due to hiking upstream in the river. The hike is very flat, with no steep inclines, you hike in as far as you want then turn and hike back out. I hiked for about three hours in and another three hours back. Most of the time the water was knee-deep, but a few places went above my waist. Traffic was minimal and at a few places, being alone in such an enormous place really made me appreciate our world and the beauty it has to offer.

If you are considering making a trip to Zion National Park, I highly recommend attending in the later months as the crowds are smaller, the weather is cooler and the fall colors are spectacular.

-Elko Programs Coordinator, Meghan Sturgell

Above: The last half mile to Angels Landing. 

Above: The Narrows

Above: The Virgin River in The Narrows

Above: The deepest section of The Narrows I hiked.

The Outside Guide: Achieving Harmony with Landowners, Ranchers, and Nature Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly! Principles for Nevada Game Hunters

In the expansive and diverse landscapes of Nevada, the call of the wild draws both avid game hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. The principles of Leave No Trace (LNT) and Tread Lightly! upheld and taught by the Nevada Outdoor School offer invaluable guidance not only for conserving the environment but also for fostering harmony with landowners, ranchers, and the natural world. Let's explore how these principles can guide game hunters toward sustainable and respectful practices that benefit the land, its caretakers, and the generations to come.

Leave No Trace serves as a compass for responsible outdoor ethics. These seven principles illuminate a path that not only minimizes human impact on the environment but also nurtures positive relationships with landowners and ranchers:

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare:

An integral aspect of planning involves establishing communication with landowners and ranchers. Seek permission to access their lands, familiarize yourself with their expectations, and abide by any guidelines they provide. This proactive approach demonstrates respect for their property and fosters goodwill.

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces:

Sticking to designated trails and avoiding sensitive areas respects the livelihoods of landowners and ranchers. By traveling lightly, you minimize damage to grazing lands and ensure that their operations continue without disruption.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly:

Leaving behind waste not only tarnishes the environment but can also reflect poorly on hunters in the eyes of landowners and ranchers. Carry out all trash, including food scraps and packaging, showcasing your commitment to leaving the land as pristine as you found it.

4. Leave What You Find:

While hunting, exercise restraint and avoid disturbing property boundaries, farm equipment, or livestock. This principle highlights your understanding of personal boundaries and reinforces your role as a responsible steward of the land.

5. Minimize Campfire Impact:

Campfires can pose risks to both the environment and property. Utilize established fire rings, adhere to fire regulations, and prioritize the safety of nearby ranches. By demonstrating fire responsibility, you contribute to the well-being of the land and the ranching community.

6. Respect Wildlife:

Hunters and ranchers share a common interest in preserving wildlife habitats. Maintain respectful distances from animals, avoid altering their habitats, and steer clear of critical watering areas. These actions honor the delicate balance between human activity and the needs of local wildlife.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors:

By yielding the trail, minimizing noise, and showing courtesy to fellow hunters, hikers, and ranchers, you create an environment of respect and collaboration. This fosters positive relationships and enhances the sense of shared stewardship over the land.

Tread Lightly! complements Leave No Trace by focusing on responsible recreation, emphasizing mutual respect between game hunters, landowners, ranchers, and the land itself:

1. Travel Responsibly:

Responsible hunting involves not only adhering to established trails but also respecting private property boundaries. By honoring the rights of landowners and ranchers, you contribute to the preservation of their livelihoods and the integrity of their operations.

2. Respect the Rights of Others:

Demonstrate understanding and consideration for the rights of landowners and ranchers by acknowledging their presence and maintaining a respectful distance from their properties. This approach nurtures a sense of mutual respect and promotes positive interactions.

3. Educate Yourself:

Acquiring knowledge about local hunting regulations, private property boundaries, and ranching practices showcases your commitment to responsible hunting. Educate yourself to make informed decisions that reflect your dedication to coexisting harmoniously with the land and its stewards.

4. Avoid Sensitive Areas:

Hunters play a vital role in safeguarding sensitive habitats, which often coincide with private lands. By avoiding these areas and sticking to designated paths, you help protect the land's ecological balance and support ranching operations.

5. Do Your Part:

Consider engaging in initiatives that benefit both the environment and the ranching community. Volunteering for habitat restoration projects or participating in ranch-led conservation efforts demonstrates your commitment to leaving a positive impact on the land and its caretakers.

The principles of Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly! offer a compass that guides game hunters towards a harmonious relationship with the land, its stewards, and fellow outdoor enthusiasts. By integrating these principles into their hunting practices, hunters in Nevada can forge connections that extend beyond the pursuit of game, fostering bonds with landowners, ranchers, and the ecosystems they call home. Nevada Outdoor School has trainers on staff and can provide formal Leave No Trace and Tread Lighty! trainer courses to the public for free thanks to grant funding from the Bureau of Land Management, Nevada State Parks Recreational Trails Program and the Nevada Off-Highway Vehicles Program. Nevada Outdoor School also provides hunter safety courses in partnership with the Nevada Department of Wildlife. As the sun sets over Nevada's sprawling landscapes, responsible hunters can take pride in knowing that their actions have woven a tapestry of respect, appreciation, and coexistence with the land, ensuring its vitality for generations to come. And remember, get outside, it’s good for everyone.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

July AmeriCorps Spotlight- Toni Coulter with Nevada Outdoor School

 My name is Toni Coulter and I am currently serving at the Winnemucca Nevada Outdoor school as an outdoor educator. I was born in Reno Nevada and have lived most of my life in Reno and Winnemucca. I currently reside in Winnemucca with my husband and two adult children, along with our assortment of pets. 

I learned about the AmeriCorps program, Nevada outdoor school from my child Sedric who was a member before me. They suggested that it might be something that interests me and I have been enjoying my time here since September 2022. I chose to be an outdoor educator because I enjoy working with children and have had previous experience.  To me AmeriCorps is a great help in communities bringing people together to learn and share new experiences, in our society that revolves around cellphones this service is beneficial.  Members too are enriched by this program, not with just the human connections, but with life and job experiences. We as the AmeriCorps team are here to enrich, improve, and give back to the community. 

I have personally grown much during my service.  I am a very shy person who has a hard time interacting with people, I am more confident in my interactions with people and my public speaking skills are improving. Also the knowledge of our environment and its wildlife that I have gained is a bonus.                

Mostly I have led and participated in lesson in the schools, just seeing the logos on our shirts as we walk through the halls is enough to excite kids and our lessons not only educate, but encourage them to share bits of knowledge they have on the subject. We are not their just teaching lessons on good stewardship of our land, but encouraging participation and teamwork.  

I’d like to share the Battle Mountain Watershed lesson; I feel that the Watershed lesson is overall the most challenging of all of the lessons. Not only is it a very physically exerting event, but its full of information that members must absorb to share in the lesson and takes a lot of memorization. This lesson was done on a particularly windy day, gusts constantly blowing our materials away, but we made it work and still it was a great lesson.  As a team we overcame the obstacle and pulled off a lesson that was both informative and fun which is our goal. 

Monday, August 14, 2023

What's New at NOS- July 2023

With Summer Camps being in full swing we have been traveling a lot! Check out this month's What's New at NOS for all of the fun we have been having!

At this year’s Angel Lake camp, campers and educators traveled to the Angel Lake campground near Wells, Nevada for three days and two nights of exploration, education, and fun! Campers participated in various games and activities related to the seven Leave No Trace principles, all aimed at teaching campers how to explore the outdoors sustainably and responsibly. Through swims and hikes, we identified a variety of flora and fauna (including a bald eagle!), using the rule of thumb and leaving what we found along the way. Through our travels, campers not only got to experience the beauty of Angel Lake but had the chance to practice teamwork and cooperation as they played games, performed skits, and cooked meals. Our trip to Angel Lake created priceless memories and countless stories that our campers and educators alike will tell for years to come!

Early on the morning of Saturday, July 8, 2023, fourteen (14) novice fishing recreationalists set out from Elko and Spring Creek to participate in the Fishing for Beginners Workshop. We traveled past South Fork State Recreation Area through Jiggs and over Harrison Pass into Ruby Valley before turning South to enter Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Our first stop was at the historic Bressman Cabin where the group learned the seven (7) principles of Leave No Trace. We were visited by NDOW Game Warden Thomas Hamblin, who shared insight into the rules and regulations of fishing, where the fees from licenses go to, and answered a lot of questions about what he does. Then the group learned how to cast and had the opportunity to practice on two types of fishing reels.

Photo: campers swimming in Angel Lake

Next, we moved South to the Passey Springhole where everyone finally got the opportunity to fish in the collection ditch for some of those trophy sized rainbow and tiger trout. The group learned that the state records for largest rainbow trout and tiger trout came from RLNWR.

After lunch, the group moved down to the Brown Dike, Unit 21 where the Collection Ditch ends to fish some more, maybe even for some smallmouth bass. One rainbow trout was finally landed near the end of our time by a young lady named Scarlett who was a first-time fisher. She acknowledged that she really didn’t want to come to the workshop, but her mom made her attend. She however enjoyed herself by the end and was happy she attended. We traveled to the fish cleaning station just outside of RLNWR where AmeriCorp Member Angie showed part of the group how to clean and filet the trout that was caught.

The group ended the workshop with a tour of the Gallagher Fish Hatchery managed by the Nevada Department of Wildlife. It was a long hot exhausting day, but everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves and were grateful for the skills and knowledge they now had.

Scarlett Plata of Spring Creek, NV with her first rainbow trout

AmeriCorp Member Angie Gonzales shows workshop participants Becca Banks & KJ Palmer how to clean and filet a rainbow trout.

On July 10th we began our 2nd adventure camp of the summer with 12 campers at Elko City Park! The first day began with assigning camp names and getting everyone to know each other. The day capped off with a trip to the Museum, where we had a special presentation on the Pony Express. The next day was filled with water activities and beach fun at the Spring Creek Marina! Wednesday was the beginning of our overnight camp, but before we traveled to the Neff Campground, we took a visit to the Weather Station. Here we were given a tour of the facility, and a demonstration on some of the equipment used every day to predict our local weather. Finally, that afternoon we traveled to our campsite to begin our overnight stay. We learned all about Leave No Trace, and cooked hamburgers and hotdogs for dinner. That night we started a campfire where we had fun doing skits and singing songs. The next day we packed everything and started the journey home! It was a great adventure, I’m glad everyone had a great time and enjoyed the experience. I can’t wait for more escapades in the future! 

Photo Caption: Adventure Camp #2 Campers going for a hike at Neff Campground!

The Great Basin Kids Workshop in Ely Nevada started on July 14th and went through the 16th. This was a fun-filled weekend full of exciting adventures and many learning experiences. We partnered with ENLC for an amazing camp! We went on fun adventures in the Ely area and learned about all sorts of different creatures such as bats, bugs, and native animals of Nevada. NOS was also able to teach Leave No Trace at the workshop and play many games and activities alongside ENLC. At the end of the camp, the families of the campers were able to attend the barbeque with their campers and played games all together. It was a fun and great experience to be able to attend, and we would like to thank everyone who was able to join us as well as support us during this camp!

Campers learning about the Elk trunk at the Great Basin Kids Workshop

Thanks to the generous support from the Chukar Chasers Foundation, Winnemucca Trap Club, Nevada Division of Wildlife, Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, Nevada Bighorns Unlimited - Midas, and the Back Burner Smoke Haus, Nevada Outdoor School (NOS) hosted the 3rd Annual Youth Trap Shoot Tournament on July 8th, 2023. We are happy to announce that 34 kids were able to attend this firearm education and trap shoot tournament and we could have not done it without our partners! Because of their generosity, this event was free to all participants and included breakfast, lunch, personal protective gear, shooting vests, shotguns to borrow and plenty of shotgun shells and cold water to go around!

During this event youth 7 – 17 years old were educated about safe and responsible firearm use with partners and volunteers on hand from Chukar Chasers, Nevada Division of Wildlife, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and the Winnemucca Trap Club. Upon entering the event the youth participants were given a gift bag with Chukar Chaser hats, safety glasses, ear plugs, stickers, and a summer camp voucher from NOS. Before the tournament started and after firearm safety instruction from the Humboldt County Sheriff's office, Chukar Chaser team and Winnemucca Trap Club was given. Participants were then given the opportunity to practice their shooting skills with adult volunteers by their side before the official shooting competition began.

A big thanks to the Nevada Bighorns Unlimited – Midas Chapter who made a donation of five 20-gauge shotguns for the youth to use at these events. Prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place trophies in three different age groups were given out to the winners as follows:

7-10 year old: 1st place- Quinn Kegler, 2nd place- Lewis Harros and 3rd place- Judah Bryant

11-13 year old class: 1st place- Jonathan Gildone, 2nd place- Peter Rivas and 3rd place- Joel Bengoa

14-17 year old class: 1st place- Maddox Lage, 2nd place- Hannah Benjamin and 3rd place- Enzo Lifante

Jacklyn and Casey Orr donated a combo 243 Rifle/20-gauge shotgun that was raffled off and won by Uriah Graham! The Chukar Chasers donated a 20 ga shotgun that was also raffled off and won by Peter Rivas!

What a great example of likeminded community organizations coming together to provide a good outdoor recreation education experience and expose youth to the fantastic hunting and trap shooting culture we have here in rural, northern Nevada! See you next year!

On July 17th 3 NOS members and 11 campers aged 11-13 went into the Santa Rosa Mountains to Lye Creek campground for 4 days. Over the week we played a lot of games and activities to learn about Leave No Trace (LNT). Between LNT activities we went to Paradise Valley and did some exploring and played some team building games. We partnered with the Forest Service and were able got a lot of work done during our stewardship project. We cleared the area surrounding the bathrooms and camp entrances of weeds and made paths to them. We were also able to clear a whole new spot for a future RV camping spot. Throughout our week we not only learned about the 7 Leave No Trace principles and team building but we also learned some basic life/camp skills with our camp chores and our stewardship project. Overall, the week was a great experience. We learned a lot about how and why to respect nature by using LNT and outdoor ethics.

Photo: Campers posing with their Leave No Trace movie poster they made at camp.

On July 24, campers Join NOS members Noah Doyle, Kaitlin Phipps, and Stewart Nielson for their first day of Adventure Camp #3! This was just the start of what would be a 3 ½ day adventure learning about how to have fun safely and responsibly outdoors in nature! This program works with youth groups between the ages of 8-10. Noah Doyle led this pirate themed camp and included a lot of ocean and pirate themed activities such as designing your own pirate hat, creating 3D textured treasure maps. In addition to fun crafts and games, campers learned all about following the seven principles that Leave No Trace has outlined in order to help educate others on what they can do in order to protect the recreational areas they spend time in. On Tuesday, July 25th, campers went up to Lamoille Canyon and hiked the Hanging Valley walking path! While on the path, NOS members emphasized the importance of being prepared for a hike by bringing snacks and water. They also reiterated the importance of the second Leave No Trace principle of choosing the right path and remaining on established trails while hiking and to be careful not to step on any vegetation that may have overgrown into the path. Once the group returned to City Park, they split into groups and went around the park with plastic bags and rubber gloves, picking up each bit of trash they could find (there was a ton of it!) so that it could make it into a proper trash can. On Wednesday, campers got to go out to the California trail center where NOS associate, Macy Rohr, led the group in a tour of the facility as well as other activities like archery! Here, campers discovered the history behind the California Trail and the pioneers that lived during that time. After playing with some pioneer toys, campers loaded back up into the van and headed out to Ruby Valley for their night of camping at the Neff Family’s Private Campground. During the overnight stay, campers got to set up tents on their own, help make dinner, learn about how to properly take care of dishes while out camping, and participate in a NOS campfire program! Overall, it was a very fun and educational experience for everyone involved!

Noah Doyle Leading Campers on a hike through Lamoille’s Hanging Valley Walking Path

On July 26th, Programs Coordinator, Allana, and Outdoor Educator, Noah, drove down to Mina, NV to provide the new Nevada OHV State Evaluation to a group of employees at GRC Nevada Inc for usage of their work ATV. By taking this optional OHV skills evaluation, they demonstrated and confirmed their and their ATVs riding skills and abilities to safely and responsibly ride whether it is for work or for play!

Photo caption: Evaluating weaving skills.

On July 22nd, 25 campers of all ages from several different states joined NOS and Friends of the Rubies at the Thomas Canyon Campground for a night of animal tracks fun. Associate director of NOS, Karl Klein, started off the hour with information about different animals and their claws/paws. We then lead all of the campers in looking at molded animal tracks. Campers got to use their knowledge of what tracks belong to which animals and why they came to that conclusion. We also discussed the advantages of each animal’s foot shape. The children of the group seemed to really enjoy this. Angelina Gonzales, NOS’s summer Outdoor Educator with AmeriCorps, lead the participants through a craft using animal print stamps that they got to take with them. We finished out the hour just in time for campers to return to camp a short walk away and enjoy their dinner before it got too dark. This was a great night to learn about animal tracks and relax while spending time with friends, family, and fellow campers.

At this year's Battle Mountain Day Camp, we spent the day playing fun games and making crafts while learning a lot about the importance of preparedness in nature and the power of the sun! We learned the science of solar stills and how to make them as a useful survival skill and campers got to show their creativity by making color changing bracelets to show the power of UV light from the sun. Through many games and activities all of our campers learned a lot and had a great time while also making friends and spending time outdoors. Everyone had lots of fun and got to take home not only their own cool crafts and useful knowledge, but also the great memories they made throughout their time at camp!

On July 29th, our two new Hunter Ed instructors Jacklyn Orr and Meghan Sturgell taught their first class in Elko! The Hunter Ed class is open to all members of the community who are interested in starting a path into hunting or who are just interested in learning more about firearm safety. The class consists of games and hands-on activities related to the sport of hunting and outdoor ethics. The class had 8 participants who all successfully completed the course. If you missed out on this class, no worries we have another one scheduled for August 12th. We hope to see you there!

Photo Caption: Students at the first NOS Hunter Ed Course!

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

6 years and a 1,000 memories by Allana Havernick

 When I first moved to Winnemucca I figured I’d be here 1-2 years for my AmeriCorps service. That turned into 6 years as I was hired on as full-time staff, first as the Outdoor Ethics Program Director and then transitioned into the Programs Coordinator role. But like all good things, my time here is coming to an end. I can't explain how much my time here in Winnemucca and with NOS has changed me. When I first moved here, I was a young and bright 21-year-old with a sense of adventure and a dream to travel, experience new places, people, and see the great “wild west”. It all started after I graduated college, looking for a job, but coming up short in my hometown area. My cousin told me about this thing called the “AmeriCorps program” and said it would be a great experience and a “for sure” way to find a job that could get me the experience I would need for future jobs. So I began my search on the AmeriCorps website where I stumbled across several different programs, job descriptions, and found NOS.

Photo: 2019 Lassen Volcano Camp

I applied and interviewed from Buffalo, NY, and was more than happy to move 2,276 miles away from home. I was offered the position, gathered my belongings, and made the trek to Winnemucca, NV within a week! When I arrived, I knew no one, didn’t have a place to live, but was here and ready to go to work. Through my time with NOS I have done and experienced SO MUCH! I have led and assisted in 15 summer camps, 5 Ride Safe, Ride Smart (ATV) Camps, ran countless outdoor learning experiences (OLEs) with teachers in 4 counties and 12 schools, and been a part of 5 years of creating Watershed Heroes. I have been able to be a supervisor to 12 AmeriCorps members in 4 years, made friendships that will last a lifetime, and driven and explored most of Nevada.

LNT ME photo

I have also been given the opportunity to get so much training that I can’t wait to take with me to my next adventure from Leave No Trace Level 2 Instructor, Tread Lightly! Master Trainer, ATV Safety Institute Instructor, safeTALK, CPR/AED/FA, and many more. These trainings allowed me to not only get more skills but also bring more and more programs to the NOS communities over the years.

Photo: Gala photo

Lastly, I want to thank Melanie, Zulma, and Brandon for giving a girl from New York the chance to move here to learn and experience so much in the time I have been with NOS. Thank you to my coworkers throughout the years, the AmeriCorps members that gave me the chance to be their supervisor, and the board members for allowing us to run programs the best way we could. If you ever want to visit Buffalo or Niagara Falls, you know who to call ;) A big thank you to the communities I have been in, to the teachers that welcomed me and my members into your classrooms year after year, and to the parents and campers who allow us to take your kids on adventures from new skills, hiking trails, and even camping locations. Without you, I wouldn’t have the memories I do!

Photo: Buffalo in the shelter

You are all NOSome! Thank you for a wonderful 6 years and a thousand memories I have for life ♥️


Buffalo (Allana Havernick)

Photo: Map of NV

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Destination Recreation: Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 Destination Recreation

Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge

By Karl Klein, NOS Associate Director

As someone who loves the great outdoors, I have to say that there's nowhere quite like Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Ruby Valley, Nevada. It's the kind of place that's so beautiful, you almost forget that you're sweating through your shirt and your feet are covered in blisters from all the hiking you've been doing. Almost.

But seriously, folks, Ruby Lake is one of my favorite places to go when I need to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. There's just something about the combination of pristine wilderness and total isolation that really speaks to me. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the scenery is absolutely breathtaking.

Now, some people might say that the best part of Ruby Lake is the wildlife. And don't get me wrong, I love seeing all the different creatures that call this place home. From the graceful mule deer to the speedy pronghorn antelope, to all the many species of waterfowl, there's always something exciting to spot. But let's be real for a second: the real stars of the show are the mosquitoes.

I mean, have you ever seen anything more persistent? These little buggers will follow you around for miles, buzzing in your ear and biting you at every opportunity. It's like they have a personal vendetta against humans. But hey, at least they keep things interesting, right?

Despite the mosquito situation, there's something really special about spending time in a place like Ruby Lake. It's a reminder that even in our hyper-connected world, there are still pockets of pure, unadulterated wilderness out there waiting to be explored. And if you're lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a herd of pronghorn antelope or a group of mule deer.

But there's more to Ruby Lake than just the wildlife. The fishing here is top-notch, with state record rainbow and tiger trout lurking in the depths of the Collection Ditch. And if you're looking for something a little more exciting, the bass fishing in the marsh units is hard to beat. Just be sure to bring your A-game, because these fish don't go down without a fight.

Before traveling to Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First of all, the refuge is located in a remote area, so you should be prepared for limited cell phone service and spotty internet connectivity. It's also important to remember that you are entering a fragile ecosystem, so please do your part to minimize your impact on the environment. This means packing out all your trash, being mindful of where you hike and camp, and respecting the wildlife.

As for facilities, Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge has a visitor center with exhibits and information about the refuge. There are also several hiking trails and observation decks, as well as picnic areas for visitors to enjoy. However, it's important to note that there are no lodging or food options within the refuge, so you should plan on bringing your own supplies.

There is no entry fee to visit Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge, but there may be fees for some services, such as fishing permits. Camping is available nearby at the Ruby Lake Campground, which has both tent and RV sites available. 

Pets are allowed in the refuge, but they must be kept on a leash at all times. There is limited parking available at the refuge, so it's a good idea to arrive early or carpool if possible. Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs) are restricted within the refuge, so be sure to leave them at home.

Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge is generally less crowded during the week and in the off-season, which runs from October to March. However, it's important to note that hunting is allowed in certain areas of the refuge during certain times of the year, which can affect the number of visitors.

The history of Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge dates back to the early 20th century, when the area was used for cattle grazing and hunting. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps began building dams and creating marshes in the area, which attracted a wide variety of waterfowl and other wildlife. The refuge was officially established in 1969 and has since become an important habitat for many species of birds and other animals.

To keep Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge healthy and open for current and future use, it's important to choose your activities wisely. Stick to designated trails and campsites, avoid disturbing wildlife, and always pack out your trash. By doing your part to protect this beautiful area, you'll ensure that it remains a destination for generations to come.

To get to Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge, take US-93 south from Elko, NV, for approximately 60 miles. Turn right on State Route 229 and continue for 22 miles until you reach the refuge entrance. Look for the large "Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge" sign on the left side of the road. If you're coming from Spring Creek, NV, you can take the scenic route through Jiggs, NV and over Harrison Pass. However, it's important to note that Harrison Pass is not maintained during the winter and is closed for traffic until the snowpack melts. So, if you're planning to visit Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge during the winter months, it's best to stick to the more direct route on US-93. Once inside the refuge, follow the signs to the visitor center and other points of interest. And remember, cell phone service may be limited in this area, so be sure to bring a map and any other necessary navigation tools.

So if you're looking for a destination that's equal parts beautiful and challenging, I highly recommend giving Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge a try. Just make sure you bring plenty of bug spray. And maybe a hazmat suit.

The Outside Guide: Staying Safe in the Summer Heat: Enjoying the Outdoors of Northern Nevada's Great Basin Desert

Northern Nevada's Great Basin Desert offers a unique and breathtaking landscape for outdoor enthusiasts. However, the scorching summer temperatures can pose challenges when it comes to staying safe while recreating in this arid region. In this article, we will explore essential tips and precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience in the heat of summer, allowing you to embrace the wonders of the Great Basin Desert while keeping your well-being a top priority.

One of the most critical aspects of staying safe in the desert heat is staying hydrated. The aridity of the Great Basin Desert can lead to increased water loss through perspiration, which can quickly result in dehydration. Carry an ample supply of water and drink frequently, even if you don't feel thirsty. Remember to replenish electrolytes through sports drinks or electrolyte-enhanced water to maintain proper hydration levels.

Plan your outdoor adventures during the cooler parts of the day, typically early morning or late afternoon. Avoid being outside during the peak heat of the day when temperatures are at their highest. This strategy helps reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses and sunburns, allowing you to enjoy the beauty of the Great Basin Desert without putting your health in jeopardy.

Choose lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that provides sun protection while allowing for ventilation. Opt for light-colored attire that reflects sunlight rather than absorbing heat. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses helps shield your face and eyes from the intense sun rays, reducing the risk of sunburn and heat exhaustion.

Protect your skin from harsh sun rays by applying sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) before heading outdoors. Reapply it every two hours, or more frequently if you are sweating profusely or swimming. Don't forget to cover often overlooked areas, such as the back of your neck, ears, and tops of your feet.

When taking breaks or resting during your outdoor activities, find shade to protect yourself from direct sunlight. Look for trees, rock formations, or canopies that offer shelter from the scorching sun. Taking regular shade breaks allows your body to cool down and reduces the risk of heat-related illnesses.

Educate yourself on the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Heat exhaustion signs include heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, and clammy skin. If you or someone in your group experiences these symptoms, immediately move to a cooler place, rest, and rehydrate. Heatstroke is a severe condition characterized by a high body temperature, absence of sweating, confusion, rapid heartbeat, and loss of consciousness. Heatstroke is a medical emergency, and you should seek immediate medical attention if these symptoms arise.

When venturing into the Great Basin Desert, it is safer to travel with others. If possible, let someone know your itinerary, including the route you plan to take and the estimated time of return. This way, if any unexpected situations arise, help can be alerted promptly.

Stay updated on weather conditions and heat advisories for the area you plan to visit. Local weather forecasts and park information centers can provide valuable information regarding current temperatures and potential hazards. Adjust your plans accordingly and be prepared for any changes in weather patterns.

Ensuring the safety and well-being of participants is of utmost importance when engaging in outdoor activities, especially in regions known for scorching temperatures like Nevada. The Nevada Outdoor School (NOS) and its dedicated team of AmeriCorps Outdoor Educators are well-equipped to handle potential emergencies, thanks to their comprehensive training in first aid and their implementation of rigorous safety protocols. By prioritizing the knowledge and application of essential first aid techniques, as well as incorporating specific safety instruction related to outdoor activities in the heat, NOS and its AmeriCorps members are setting a high standard for safe and enjoyable outdoor experiences in Nevada.

The staff and AmeriCorps Outdoor Educators at NOS undergo thorough first aid training to ensure they are prepared to handle any emergencies that may arise during outdoor excursions. This training covers a wide range of skills, including CPR, wound care, heat-related illnesses, and emergency response procedures. By staying up to date with the latest first aid techniques and certifications, NOS staff members maintain a high level of preparedness, fostering a safe environment for program participants. Nevada Outdoor School is also Nevada’s only Leave No Trace (LNT) accredited youth program.  NOS Staff and AmeriCorps Outdoor Educators undergo LNT training to teach and incorporate the principles of ethical use and enjoyment of the outdoors in its programming.  NOS also has LNT Level 2 Instructors (formerly known as Master Educators), on staff to provide Leave No Trace training to community members, businesses, and organizations.

AmeriCorps Outdoor Educators are well-versed in recognizing the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke. They are trained to effectively communicate and educate participants about the importance of hydration, sun protection, and pacing oneself in extreme heat. These safety instructions are seamlessly integrated into the program curriculum, ensuring that participants are equipped with the knowledge and tools needed to mitigate risks associated with outdoor activities in the heat.

By incorporating comprehensive first aid training and heat safety protocols, NOS and its AmeriCorps Outdoor Educators demonstrate their commitment to providing a secure environment for outdoor adventures in Nevada. This proactive approach not only promotes the physical well-being of participants but also instills confidence and peace of mind, allowing individuals to fully immerse themselves in the wonders of Nevada's breathtaking landscapes. 

The Great Basin Desert of Northern Nevada offers remarkable outdoor opportunities, but the summer heat requires careful consideration for your safety. By following these essential tips, such as staying hydrated, planning outdoor activities wisely, dressing appropriately, and being aware of heat-related illnesses, you can enjoy the wonders of this unique desert landscape while minimizing the risks associated with extreme heat. Remember, your well-being should always be a priority when exploring the beautiful outdoors of the Great Basin Desert.  And don’t forget: Get Outside! It’s great for everyone.