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aerial photograph of Cave Lake State Park

Cave Lake State Park is a spectacular public recreational space nestled high in the desert mountains of eastern Nevada.

Situated just 15 miles south of Ely, the park covers 4,000 spectacular acres. Its centerpiece is the glistening Cave Lake Reservoir, which was created in the 1930s to provide water for the nearby town.

Surrounded by rugged peaks, pine forests, and colorful wildflowers, this lake is a popular spot for boating, swimming, and fishing. While many people come here to hike the various trails that wind off from and around it.

In addition to these recreational activities, this Nevada state park is a birding hotspot. It also offers several picnic areas and very good camping facilities, making it an ideal destination for a weekend getaway or a family vacation.


Visitors to the park can immerse themselves within its spectacular landscape in a variety of ways.

Outlined below is a brief summary of some of the various recreational activities you can partake in during your visit there.

Boating at Cave Lake State Park

As you would expect, given the park is based around a lake, boating is a popular activity.

The crystal-clear waters provide a terrific environment in which to take your vessel out onto the water.

To help you do so, the park has a convenient boat ramp. If you did not bring your own boat or watercraft with you, the store at the marina has kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, and fishing boats available to rent.

Swimming at Cave Lake State Park

During the warmer months, many people take the opportunity to go for a swim in the cooling waters of the lake.

Guests are able to do this between Memorial Day and Labor Day, however you should be aware that lifeguards are not on duty. So swimmers should exercise caution and be aware of their own swimming abilities when they enter the water.

As there are no designated swimming areas, guests can swim anywhere in the lake. If you are not a strong swimmer, it is worth wearing a lifejacket.

Fishing at Cave Lake State Park

Anglers from all over Nevada head to Cave Lake State Park for the chance to catch rainbow trout, brown trout, and channel catfish.

During the fishing season, which typically runs from Memorial Day weekend in late May through the end of September, they can be found in abundance in the lake.

Fishing can be done from the shore, from a boat, or on a fishing dock located near the boat ramp. The lake is also accessible to fly fishing, which is a popular method for catching trout. If you want to cast a line at the park you will need to have a valid Nevada fishing license.

For those who want to get their competitive juices flowing, the park also hosts several fishing tournaments throughout the year. This includes the annual Spring Fishing Derby in May and the Fall Fishing Festival in September.

Hiking at Cave Lake State Park

As well as recreational activities that take place in the water, the park also offers a variety of hiking trails that will keep you firmly on dry land.

These trails vary in length and how physically demanding they are for hikers. However, they do showcase the park’s outstanding flora and fauna.

One popular hike is the 2.3-mile Cave Lake Interpretive Trail, which loops around the lake and provides opportunities for bird watching and wildlife spotting.

Running slightly longer, the 4-mile Overlook Trail, presents stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the park’s reservoir.

If you really fancy a challenge you can always try the 8-mile Lake View Trail which takes visitors through the park’s backcountry and offers even more spectacular views of the landscape.

Regardless of which trail you head off on, be sure to take plenty of water and snacks with you. Also wear proper hiking boots and apply lots of sunscreen and mosquito spray.

Picnicking at Cave Lake State Park

Cave Lake State Park offers a beautiful setting for picnicking with family and friends.

Throughout the park there are several picnic areas for you to enjoy an outdoor meal.

Each of them is equipped with picnic tables, grills, and restrooms and features scenic views of the surrounding mountains and lake.

In addition to the picnic areas, the park has a group use picnic pavilion that can accommodate up to 75 people. The pavilion is equipped with picnic tables, a large grill, and a serving counter and reservations for it are required.


Pets are welcome at Cave Lake State Park, but owners should avail themselves of the rules and regulations before you bring them with you.

The park enforces several caveats about the presence of pets, including that they should be kept on a leash all the time they are there.

Pets are also not allowed in park buildings such as the visitor center, restrooms, and cabins. Although, they are allowed on the trails and in the campgrounds.

For a full explanation of their pet policy it is worth contacting the park’s main office.


Camping at Cave Lake State Park is a great way to enjoy the natural beauty of Nevada and experience the tranquility of the great outdoors.

Overall, the park has two campgrounds, namely Lower Lake and Elk Flat. Between them they have a total of 76 campsites that are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Each site has a picnic table and fire pit, and the campgrounds have restrooms with running water and hot showers.

There are also RV sites with full hookups available for those who prefer to camp in their vehicles.

The campsites are nestled among the trees, providing shade and privacy for guests to enjoy.

Park Location

Cave Lake State Park
US Highway 93-Success Summit
Ely, NV 89301
Phone: 775.296.1505

Park Website