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.
Traveling The Loneliest Road To Angel Creek
Heading north from our last stop at Great Basin National Park, it was an easy 200-mile drive through Nevada on some of the loneliest roads in America, through less than inspiring scenery. But we passed through the dusty little town of Wells, turned left, and found ourselves 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.
Beautiful In All Seasons
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.
There are no hookups, but the campground has potable water, clean bathrooms, and blazing fast Verizon coverage. 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.
Your birds are beautiful. I would have missed the owl. I bet the campground was not too crowded with all of the snow they got last winter. Hope you are getting better internet. We appreciated having great access after a month with very little.
Debbie, we were there so early in the year, there were only a handful of other campers. The birds were out in abundance, though! We’re still struggling with terrible internet on Lopez.
We found Angel Creek campground quite by accident back on a trip in 2012. Loved seeing it in the spring with the new leaves and all the birds. And Snow! We didn’t drive the MoHo to Angel Lake, but did take the car up that road. Wonderful place.
Sue, I think that’s about when we discovered Angel Creek. It’s a sweet place, both spring and fall.So glad you know about it, too.
WOW! You’ve done it again. What a fabulous place. How in the world did you find it in the first place and why didn’t you keep it a secret. LOL!! Your bird pictures are fantastic. 36 species, I am so jealous. That reflection picture should be on a poster. Thanks again for showing me things I wouldn’t see without you.
Sherry, put this one on your list—it’s your kind of place. ;-) We always look for Forest Service, COE, and BLM campgrounds and often find them to be beautiful. This is a really good one! We were pretty happy to find 36 species of birds—and surprised.
Hiking with the snow can create a problem, however, it does make for spectacular views, reflections, and photos:) How nice to see the cold snow with all of our very warm weather. Your opening photo is beautiful with the snow and wildflowers:) The short-eared owl is so cute!!
Pam, we’re happy we’ve somehow managed to escape the heat this entire summer. I thought of you when I posted the owl photo, knowing how you love owls. :-)
Angel Lake fabulous and oh so beautiful as well as
the assorted birds. I like the Lewis Woodpecker..
What fun and it must have been so cozy in your
sweet trailer …
Peggy, Angel Lake is a special place, and we were definitely cozy even though it was cold. (Yay for our Arctic Fox!) The Lewis’s Woodpecker is a beautiful bird, indeed. oxox
How many times we’ve driven through Wells, stopping only for the night and then moving along never knowing what a beautiful spot is so near! Thanks for taking us there, even though I wish I’d known sooner….hint hint. We’ll be flying through Wells again tomorrow with no time for a stop.
Beautiful pictures of a fantastic place. I loved seeing the Lewis’s Woodpecker. I’ve never even heard of it!
Sue, you must return to visit Angel Creek so that you can see the Lewis’s Woodpecker for yourself. Wells doesn’t look like much, but incredible beauty isn’t far away. Wish I had known you were traveling through there—I would have told you about it. Next time! Glad you enjoyed the photos. :-)
What a gem of a place, and yes the birds! You have just drawn our route for springtime.
I only caught a glimpse of Lewis Woodpecker while at Red Lodge. Now I know how it really looked like, great photo!
The reflection shot is tops, and so are the birdies!
Thanks, MonaLiza. You really must stop here—if you visit in the spring, you’re sure to see lots of birds, all posing for you. Aren’t the colors of the Lewis’s Woodpecker amazing?
You have shown me a side of NV that I didn’t know existed. Nevada for me has always felt like the desert but it appears there are some beautiful little gems that go beyond that. Love your bird photos and the reflection shot.
LuAnn, Nevada has been a wonderful surprise for us, as well. We’ve discovered so much great hiking, birding, and wildflowers—as well as hot springs. We’ll be happy to share more of our favorite spots with you.
We did the hike up to Smith Lake a few years ago! That area is such a pleasant surprise.
I’ve never heard of the Lewis’s Woodpecker, great catch!
Lisa, I was amazed the first time I saw a Lewis’s Woodpecker through binoculars. So cool that you guys know about Angel Lake, too. Smith Lake is a wonderful hike!
Another beautiful surprise in Nevada!! Such a treat to enjoy the cold snow. Love the bright green leaves and of course that spectacular reflection shot. All the pretty birds are a feast for the eyes. I can see why you would come back here again :-)))))
Jodee, we were pretty excited about the gorgeous reflection in the lake—even though we couldn’t get very far up the mountain because of all of the snow. The birdlife was amazing!
Well there’s another one to add to the list. Looks fantastic! Beautiful pictures as usual! So I pulled it up on google maps and I noticed nearby is the Ruby Mountain Brewing Company and their website says it’s located on a working ranch. Might be worth checking out. As if Angel Creek didn’t sound heavenly enough…………
Henry, this is a great place—you guys will love it. Thanks for the tip about the Ruby Mountain Brewing Company—how fun that it’s on a ranch! Another reason to return to Angel Creek. :-) Glad you enjoyed the photos.
Wow gorgeous photos and beautiful blog post overall. I love birds even though I know very little about them, going bird watching is a favorite activity.That yellow and orange one is a beauty.
Opening photograph is a stunner!
Nice to read you!
Thank you, Peta. I’ve learned everything I know about birds from Eric—it’s become quite a fun pastime combined with hiking!