Day trips: Yerington offers picnicking, fishing, cultural events |

Day trips: Yerington offers picnicking, fishing, cultural events

by Nancy Hamlett

A day trip to Yerington, Nevada can reveal a multitude of possibilities for the backyard tourist. Whether you are interested in outdoor activities such as fishing and wildlife watching or in history or the arts, the slow paced community offers many opportunities.

An easy 1-hour drive from downtown Gardnerville, the journey offers interesting side stops and historic buildings in the agricultural communities of Wellington and Smith, including a 1860s school house and the historic Hoyle Mansion, now a bed and breakfast.

The journey winds through Wilson Canyon with the East Fork of the Walker River flowing through it. Leave the canyon and the Mason Valley spreads out before you, the rich agricultural land irrigated by both forks of the Walker River.

The Information Center, a partnership between Lyon County Economic Development. Lyon County Museum and the Mason Valley Chamber of Commerce, is the perfect jump off spot for your excursion. With a wealth of pamphlets and brochures about points of interest and historic information, the helpful staff can point you in the right direction.

The Lyon County Museum is next door to the Information Center, and it houses turn of the century exhibits of a home, a sheriff’s office and the Anaconda Copper room. Outbuildings include a natural history building, a county store and a one-room schoolhouse.

The museum is not federally funded and is run entirely by volunteers. Donations, dues and fundraising events keep the museum in operation.

Historic buildings share Main Street frontage with casinos and shops, and the Lyon County Courthouse has been the home to county offices since 1911.

Turn right on California Street to discover the Jeanne Dini Yerington Cultural Center. Poised grandly in the middle of the school complex, the former public school was originally built in 1912 at a cost of $16,600. This fine example of Italian Renaissance Revival architecture held up to 100 students, and it remained a school until 1980 when larger facilities were constructed.

In 1988 several citizens in the community launched an effort to refurbish the old school house into a cultural center and theater. After 10 years of raising funds and construction, the center was dedicated on January 31, 1998.

One of the largest fish hatcheries in the state is located north of town. Drive north on Main Street where it blends into U.S. 95A (south). Follow the highway to Pete Hendrichs Road. Turn left at the well-marked intersection. Continue to Aiazzi Lane and turn left again. After a 90-degree curve in the road, (you are now on Miller Lane) the entrance to the hatchery is well marked on the right. The gravel road is well maintained.

The Mason Valley Fish Hatchery was completed in 1990 at a cost of $8.1 million. Since 1991, the hatchery has added over 6 million fish to Nevada’s waterways.

The hatchery is open 7 days a week, but because of the small staff, tours are self guided. Sign the guest book in the main office and pick up a self-guide tour book. Employees will answer questions if they are available.

To reach the Wildlife Management area, continue north on the gravel road. In addition to herds of deer, the management area is home to quail, ring neck pheasant, and other native wildlife. During the season, migrating birds hone in on the area. The wealth of wildlife could make this a day trip all on its own. Look out for a predator or two as well. Coyotes, as well as an occasional mountain lion, have been spotted searching for a meal.

Within the boundaries of the management area are many excellent fisheries, including four western ponds, the Hickson Slough, the bass pond, crappie pond and north pond. Bordering the area is the Ft. Churchill cooling ponds. Bring lots of lures. The species of fish available are trout, bass, bluegill, crappie and catfish.

There are excellent picnic opportunities in the wildlife area. Spread your blanket, unpack the basket and be sure to leave the spot cleaner than you found it.

Yerington has always been primarily an agricultural community, however, in the early 1950s the development of copper deposits at the Anaconda Copper Mine resulted in the birth of the company town, Weed Heights, named after the chairman of Anaconda’s board of directors, Clyde E. Weed.

To reach the mine and Weed Heights leave the Wildlife Management Area and when you reach the paved road (Miller Lane) turn right and travel until it intersects with U.S. 95A. Turn left (south) on U.S. 95A to Burch Drive. It is marked with a sign for Weed Heights. Turn right and follow the road through the oxide leaching area to the town (2 miles.) Turn left at the stop sign and immediately on the left is the lookout over the open pit mine. The site is marked with equipment tires standing on end.

At one time, the mine was the largest open pit mine in the country. From 1951 until it closed in 1978 over 15 million tons of copper were produced. Currently the processing area is leased to other companies that are using new technologies to re-mine the tailings.

Weed Heights is experiencing new growth after the almost ghost town status of several years ago. Even with the renovations of houses and an influx of businesses, the town remains as a sleepy reminder of its mining-day boom.

It’s time to head for home, unless you’ve chosen to enjoy a few hours of small town night life at one of Yerington’s two casinos or a performance at the Jeanne Dini Cultural Center.

To return to Yerington, retrace your tracks and turn right on U.S. 95A. Either Goldfield Avenue or Bridge Street (both left turns and well marked) will take you back to Yerington.

To return to the Carson Valley, continue on U.S. 95 A. Along the way you’ll pass through the very small town of Mason (2 miles), and pass the Cottonwood Ranch on the left, where you can see llamas in the fields. Nine miles after Mason you’ll intersect with Hwy 208 at Wilson Canyon.

You’re almost home.

How to Get There

* From Gardnerville travel south on U.S. 395 to Holbrook Junction, approximately 19 miles.

* Turn left on State Hwy 208.

* Follow the turns in the road through Wellington (11 miles) and Smith (5 miles.)

* After driving through Wilson Canyon the road forks (8 miles.)

* Follow 208 to the right (Farm District) for a scenic drive to Yerington.

* Hwy 208 is Yerington’s Main Street.

* Total mileage from The Record – Courier to the Mason Valley Information Center is 55 miles.

Calendar of Events:

March11: Wilson & McKee – Traditional Celtic music and dance. 2 public performances. Jeanne Dini Cultural Center. Contact Yerington Theatre for the Arts 775-463-1783

March 17 – April 27: Great Basin Basket Makers. Basket exhibit, workshops, demonstrations and lectures. Jeanne Dini Cultural Center. Contact Yerington Theatre for the Arts 775-463-1783.

April 7 – May 28: Nevada State Women Bowling Tournament. Every weekend. Contact the Information Center 775-463-2245.

April 8: Side Street Strutters Jazz Band – Dixieland and Big Band sound direct from Disneyland. Casino West Convention Center. Contact Yerington Theatre for the Arts 775-463-1783

April 15: Sleeping Beauty – community children in a professional production. Contact Yerington Theatre for the Arts 775-463-1783.

May 27 – 29: VORRA off-road races in the desert. Contact the Information Center 775-463-2245


Information Center

227 S. Main St.

Yerington, NV 89447


Fax: 775-463-3369

Yerington Theatre for the Arts

P. O. Box 695

120 California St.

Yerington, NV 89447


Lyon County Museum

215 S. Main St.

Yerington, NV 89447


Open Year Round

Thurs – Sun 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

April – October

Additional hours

Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Mason Valley Fish Hatchery

50 Hatchery Way

Yerington, NV 89441


Fax 775-463-4422

Open Daily for self guided tours

8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year

Group Tours by Appointment

Diane Bradley, owner of Fondly Remembered, estate sales and collectibles:

“It’s open county with wonderful opportunities, from the pronghorn antelope recently released to Wooly Mammoth bones. There’s great hiking, fishing – it’s a great place to visit, a greater place to live.”

Judy Davis, third grade teacher Yerington Elementary School and vice president of Yerington Theatre for the Arts:

“The cultural center is clearly the pride of the valley. It provides a wonderful opportunity to bring the arts to Yerington.”