The Road to Berlin: the options

Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park campground is up West Union Canyon a bit south of the Berlin ghost town. It is at the head of the Ione Valley at the foot of the Shoshone mountains

To the north is US 50 paralleled by route 722, the old US 50, from Eastgate to Austin. The road to Berlin leaves those paved routes and goes over the Desatoya Mountains from Eastgate or up Smith Creek Valley from Paterson Station.

To the west is US 95 with route 361 running parallel through Gabbs up to US 50. From there you have to go over the Paradise Range on route 844.

On the south is US 6 and US 95 going through Tohopah. From Mina on US 95 you leave pavement to go over the Pilot Mountains, through the Monte Cristo Valley and then over the Cedar Mountains to get to Ione Valley. From Tohopah, leave pavement on the Powerline road to head up Smokey Valley to Ione Valley squeezing between the mountain ranges.

To the east, the nearest paved route is 376 down the Big Smokey Valley. To get from there to Berlin, you would go over the Toyabe Range to the Reese River Valley and then over the Shoshone Mountains. That trek would be just north of the Arc Dome Wilderness area. This is not a route to be taken on a whim with any ol’ RV.

Once you leave pavement, it is easy to get lost. The main routes are usually easy to see because they are (usually) wide and well maintained. They are also numbered. That is not always definitive, though. There are a lot of unpaved roads through the valleys and going up canyons that might distract you from your destination if you do not have a good idea of where you are going. Getting lost in this country is not something to dismiss lightly. Be prepared.

The most common approach to the Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park is via route 844 from Gabbs, which is paved most of the way. Next most common is the route down from old US 50. The other possibilities, which seem rarely used, are the route over from the Reese river valley or from the south via Powerline road and Ione road.

The Paved route is 844 out of Gabbs

The intersection of 361 and 844 north of Gabbs is at about 4600′ elevation. The mouth of Menter Canyon is about 6 miles from the intersection at 5800′. From google earth data, the road through the canyon is about 1.6 miles and rises 1000′ – that appears to be an average of a near 12% grade! The reports of those who travel the grade seem to indicate that the actual grade is more reasonable at maybe 6% to 8%. Once you get up that grade through Menter canyon, the going isn’t too bad as it goes over the Paradise Range in elevations from 6500′ to 7000′ feet until it gets down to the 6200′ elevation of Ione Valley. There is only a mile or two of gravel on the approach to the park.

From EastGate, Buffalo Creek Road leaves route 722 at a 5400′ elevation to the summit at 7100′. Along this route you climb about 1000′ in more than three miles. That’s a 5% grade. Most of the rest of this route seems to run up and down about 100′ per mile which is about a 2% grade. One motorhome tourist that took this grade says he was able to do most of it at 30 to 40 mph. It seems it is a rather gentle gravel road without much in terms of either grade or washboard or ruts.

The alternative from the south of Austin is route 472 out of Paterson Station. It skirts the foothills of the Shoshone Mountains.

Except for 844 from Gabbs, these roads are miles of unpaved travel. That means dust and rocks that can ding siding or break light lenses. You have many options for ways to get to Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park and all of them are for the adventurous.

See the Previous entry: The Road to Berlin: the challenge for more information and links to other resources.

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