Angel Creek is one of the places that made us realize that Nevada is much more than barren desert and glitzy casinos. We stumbled across this little jewel several years ago on a cross-country journey, and were more than surprised by the beauty we discovered.
Mountains? High alpine lakes? Aspen groves? This was not the Nevada we were accustomed to. We spent three peaceful nights at Angel Creek campground, hiked to high alpine lakes from Angel Lake, and put it on our “must return to” list. In late May, we finally made our way back.
Heading north from our last stop at Great Basin National Park, it’s an easy 200-mile drive through Nevada on some of the loneliest roads in America, through less than inspiring scenery. But pass through the dusty little town of Wells, take a left, and you’re suddenly on a scenic highway, traveling into a wilderness of snow-capped peaks, meadows of wildflowers, and alpine lakes.
We settled into our favorite site at Angel Creek campground, tucked into a grove of spring-green aspen and overlooking the valley below. In our travels—and life in general—we’ve learned that it’s the smallest things that make us happiest. Beautiful scenery, interesting hikes, abundant birdlife, wildflowers. Peace. Quiet. Dark night skies. (Good Verizon coverage is a bonus.) Angel Lake and Angel Creek has all of this, and more.
Our first visit several years ago was in the fall, and the hiking was superb. At least two trails lead to alpine lakes, one a 10-mile round trip hike; the other about 5 miles. We were looking forward to revisiting our hiking adventures—but failed to consider that in late May at this altitude, the trails would be covered in deep snow. Oops.
Had we known the trails were closed, we might have chosen a different travel route. But had we not been there in late spring, when the mountains and lake were still dressed in their winter finery, we would have missed the spectacular mirror image of the snow-capped mountains reflected in Angel Lake. Storm clouds billowed above us, and we hiked as far as we could before deep snow turned us around.
Just four miles below, snug in our campsite at Angel Creek, we were treated to abundant, colorful birdlife, including neon bright Western Tanagers, turquoise Lazuli Buntings, and Lewis’s Woodpeckers with their emerald green backs and rosy breasts. This is where we first saw Short-eared Owls several years ago, and we were delighted to again catch a glimpse of one as it flew across the road and landed in the sagebrush, staring at us with huge, unblinking eyes. The birding is fantastic in late spring—we saw 36 species in only a couple of days. To add to the delight of a spring visit, the meadows were thick with clutches of purple and yellow lupine.
Should you find yourself on this lonely road through Nevada, we highly recommend a couple of days at lovely Angel Creek and Angel Lake. It’s once again on our return-to list.
About the campground:
Angel Creek (a forest service campground) is a few miles off of Interstate 80 in the foothills of the East Humboldt Mountain Range, and eight miles southwest of Wells, Nevada. At 6200 feet, the campground is filled with mature aspens, and many of the sites are nicely shaded. Most of the sites are on the smaller side—our rig is 27-feet, and with our truck, we can only fit into a few sites. However, there’s one long, spacious site (number 16) that will accommodate any size rig.
No hookups, but there’s potable water and clean bathrooms. We also had blazing fast Verizon coverage in the campground. The sites are $15 per night (half-price with the Senior Pass).
Angel Lake—another four miles up a narrow, twisting road—also has campsites, but although there are a few 30-foot length sites, it seems better suited to small rigs and tents (I can’t imagine hauling a trailer longer than about 21-feet up that steep and winding road—especially with the sheer drop-offs). In late spring, the campground (at 8400 feet) was still buried under snow.
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