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More than meets the eye... Over a century ago, the town of Winnemucca was little more than a stopover point for weary travelers. With the Humboldt River twisting about, it offered water and supplies to the thousands who would wend their way through the treacherous routes of the Great Basin.
Today, this high-desert hub still offers those same amenities. But with 24-hour gaming, a multitude of recreational opportunities, a rich and still-enduring history, and agricultural, mining and other industrial centers, Winnemucca is no longer simply a stopover point. No, truly in Winnemucca—there’s more than meets the eye.
Winnemucca continues to be a gateway of sorts to the Great Basin, with Idaho and Oregon to the north, Salt Lake City to the east and Reno and the Bay Area to the southwest. Located at the crossroads of Interstate 80 and U.S. Highway 95, Winnemucca is the seat of Humboldt County and half of the county’s 18,000 residents live within the city’s limits.
Winnemucca has five major casinos with exciting 24-hour gaming action, including slots, table games, live keno and sportsbooks. Over 1,150 rooms can accommodate any kind of traveler, and a full menu of restaurants can appease any appetite, including three that serve up traditional Basque fare.
Nestled between mountains to the south and sand dunes to the north, Winnemucca offers a host of great recreational opportunities. It’s just a short trip to some of the best mountain biking in the West. The 36-mile long “Bloody Shins Trail,” as the Winnemucca Trail System is affectionately called, is located on the south side of Interstate 80 along the Sonoma Mountain Range.
Good hunting abounds throughout Humboldt County. Deer, chukar, sagehen, duck, geese, quail, dove, pheasant and antelope are all plentiful. Numerous fishing grounds are stocked with trout, catfish, crappie and walleye.
Rockhounds appreciate the local mines and mineral resources, including the Royal Peacock Opal Mines near Denio, and locals and visitors alike enjoy the sand dunes, trap shooting, boating, water skiing, archery, hiking, horseback riding, camping, rock climbing, scenic drives, wildlife viewing and off-road adventure.
Winnemucca is the gateway to the Black Rock Desert, what should be the eighth wonder of the world. It is a desert so isolated and so flat that men have used its expanse to set land speed records, to host no-holds-bar golf tournaments and surprisingly enough—to see the curvature of the earth. The Black Rock is a playground of sorts for a variety of recreational pursuits, such as backpacking, rockhounding, car camping, mountain biking, backcountry horseback riding, hang gliding, hot springs bathing, off-highway vehicle use, ballooning, amateur rocketry, wildlife watching and photography. In 1997, the 20,000-pound British SSC Thrust jet used the desert expanse to set a new world land-speed record of 763 miles per hour. More recently, it has become the site of the Burning Man Festival every Labor Day weekend.
The Humboldt Museum is filled with remembrances of Winnemucca’s past. The museum’s main exhibits include a display of furniture in a turn-of-the-century scene, along with a changing theme of period collectibles. Antique cars are also on display, along with the Edna Purviance Exhibit, which pays homage to Charlie Chaplin’s leading lady in 36 movies during the 1920s. An exhibit on Sarah Winnemucca, the daughter of the Paiute Chief for whom the town is named, details the life of one of Nevada’s most famous women.
Downtown, the newly expanded Humboldt County Visitors Center rewards visitors with displays and exhibits on everything from the Old Pioneer Trail to the world’s second largest gold producing region, located in Humboldt County’s backyard, to the William Humphreys Big Game Collection, which includes 53 full-size specimens representing four continents. Also, don’t miss the Buckaroo Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Museum, a tribute to the men and women who settled the Great Basin.
The town is also home to many historic buildings, including the town’s first hotel, the Winnemucca Hotel, where Basque meals are still served family-style. The beautiful Humboldt County Courthouse, built in 1919, has been likened to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, and the site of Butch Cassidy’s infamous robbery of the First National Bank of Winnemucca in 1900 still stands at the corner of Fourth and Bridge streets.
Just outside Winnemucca, wagon wheel ruts can still be seen near the Humboldt River, and a surprising number of ghost towns offer remembrances from the past, including the still-thriving Paradise Valley to the north, the quaint Midas to the east, and Unionville to the west, once home to Mark Twain.
Winnemucca is home to one of the largest Basque populations in the United States. Here, Basque customs and language are not only practiced daily but celebrated annually. Winnemucca has hosted an annual Basque Festival for more than 20 years. While the event provides a rich helping of Basque traditions, it also includes a liberal mix of the traditional American good times that characterize this second home.
Winnemucca can also meet all your convention needs. The Winnemucca Convention Center offers 26,000 square feet of space, while the Winnemucca Events Complex features the brand new $5 million indoor Winnemucca Event Center, three outdoor arenas, an outdoor grandstand, an Exhibit Hall, 4-H Barn and hundreds of permanent and temporary horse stalls.
Those two facilities host this area’s long list of popular events, including Winnemucca’s own classic car fest, Fifties Fever, the West’s premiere photography symposium, Shooting the West, the Winnemucca Mule Show and Races, Run-A-Mucca Motorcycle Rally, as well as, Winnemucca’s biggest event of the year the Winnemucca Ranch Hand Rodeo Weekend. In addition, Winnemucca hosts the state’s oldest continuous rodeo held each Labor Day weekend as part of the Tri-County Fair & Stampede.
For more information on Winnemucca, where there’s more than meets the eye, click on the links below or call the Winnemucca Convention and Visitors Authority at (800) 962-2638.
Links of Interest:
Humboldt County Chamber of Commerce
Bureau of Land Management
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