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aerial photograph of the ruins at Fort Churchill State Park

Fort Churchill State Park is a fascinating historical and recreational park that is located in Lyon County, Nevada.

Situated about a 55 minute drive from Reno, the park is named after the 19th-century army fort that served as a vital defense post for early settlers, wagon trains, and the iconic Pony Express.

Covering over 3,200 acres, it boasts a diverse range of landscapes, from the lush greenery of the riverbanks to the rugged terrain of the surrounding mountains.

Visitors to the park can explore the ruins of the fort, experience the beauty of the Carson River, and enjoy various recreational activities including hiking, biking, fishing, paddling, picnicking and birding.

Overall, the park is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs interested in the American West.

Providing a glimpse into the past, this Nevada state park gives visitors an insight into the life and times of the pioneers who helped shape the region.


Fort Churchill State Park offers visitors several opportunities to embrace its wonderful scenic location.

Showcased below is a brief selection of some of the main sights of interest and activities you can enjoy during your time there.

Fort at Fort Churchill State Park

The fort was established in 1860 as a response to tensions between settlers and the indigenous tribes in the area. It was named after Sylvester Churchill, a captain in the U.S. Army who died in the Pyramid Lake War.

Originally, it was built with adobe bricks and consisted of barracks, officers’ quarters, stables, and a hospital.

Over time, additional buildings were added, including a bakery, a laundry, and a blacksmith shop.

Today, visitors to Fort Churchill State Park can explore the ruins of the fort and get a sense of what life was like for the soldiers stationed there. You can do this via guided tours and exhibits that highlight the fort’s history and its role in the development of the American West.

Boating at Fort Churchill State Park

Boating is a popular activity at Fort Churchill State Park, thanks to its proximity to the Carson River.

The river runs through the park and provides a picturesque setting for visitors to enjoy a range of boating activities like rowboating, kayaking, canoeing and paddleboarding.

To help you get on the water, the park offers a boat ramp that is easily accessible. Once on it, you will be able to be treated to breathtaking views from the park’s stunning landscape.

Fishing at Fort Churchill State Park

You should definitely bring your rods and reels with you to Fort Churchill State Park as it gives you access to one of the more popular fishing spots in Nevada.

The Carson River is stocked with rainbow trout, brown trout, and smallmouth bass, making it an excellent spot for both novice and experienced anglers.

Fishing is allowed year-round at the park, although the best time to fish is typically from early spring through late fall. Most people tend to do it from the riverbank or a boat.

It is important to note that fishing regulations are strictly enforced. So be sure to obtain the necessary permits and follow all rules and regulations before casting a line.

Hiking at Fort Churchill State Park

Hiking at Fort Churchill State Park is a great way to experience the natural beauty and history of the area.

Throughout the park you will find several miles of well-maintained hiking trails that you can choose to explore.

These trails wind through the park’s diverse terrain, including the Carson River, sagebrush-covered hills, and historic ruins and range from easy to moderate difficulty levels.

One of the most popular trails is the River Trail, which follows the Carson River and provides scenic views of the surrounding landscape. Another is the Fort Churchill Trail, which takes hikers past historic buildings and ruins from the old military fort that once occupied the site.

Before setting off on any of the trails, be sure to wear a hat and appropriate footwear, bring plenty of water, and check on the weather conditions. You should also always stay on designated trails and be mindful of any wildlife or potential hazards along the way.


Pets are allowed to join you at Fort Churchill State Park, however there are rules and regulations that must be followed to ensure the safety of all visitors and their pets.

For the entire time they are at the park, pets must be kept under control on a leash that is no longer than six feet in length.

They are also not permitted in any of the park’s buildings, including the visitor center, or the fort. In addition, owners are also responsible for cleaning up after their pets and properly disposing of pet waste.

For a full rundown of the park’s pet policy it is worth contacting the employees at the main office.


If you are wanting to stay overnight at Fort Churchill State Park there are two campgrounds within it. These are the Silver Saddle Ranch and the Campground by the River, both of which provide lovely options in the beautiful surroundings of nature.

Between them, these campgrounds cater to all camping preferences. The Silver Saddle Ranch campground, for instance, offers primitive camping with picnic tables, fire rings, and access to vault toilets. By contrast the Campground by the River has 20 campsites with electrical hookups and water, as well as a dump station and restrooms with showers.

Camping fees vary depending on the campground and type of site you want to stay at. Unfortunately reservations cannot be made though, as they are only available on a first come first served basis.

Whilst staying at the campgrounds, visitors are reminded to follow all park rules and regulations, including keeping their campsite clean and free of food scraps to avoid attracting wildlife.

Park Location

Fort Churchill State Park
10000 US-95 ALT,
Silver Springs, NV 89429
Phone: 775.577.2345

Park Website



Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Fort Churchill State Park: