A piney camp in Nevada next to giant “beehives!”

Wednesday, May 10

Before leaving Kershaw-Ryan State Park, I fill up the Best Little Trailer’s fresh water tank (for washing and flushing) and also several one-gallon jugs (for Reggie’s water dish and my coffee and cooking).

We’re on the open road again!

For those of you who like to follow our itinerary on a map, we head north out of Caliente on Route 93.

A few miles north of Pioche, I pull over to the side of the highway.

Reggie has a walk-around (photo above) and then I pull out my Benchmark atlas to remind myself what lies ahead.

There are boondocks along Stampede Road (near this pull-out) but I want to push further north.  At this point I don’t know where we will camp tonight.

Reggie curls up in his doggie bed beside me and we resume our “journey.”

The Schell Creek Mountains are to the west of us as we roll through the vast, sage plain of Lake Valley on the straight, two-lane, paved Route 93.

The only sign of human life is the sparse traffic we meet on the road.  

This is immense, open space.  When we come upon a place where road materials like gravel and sand are piled up, I park there so Reggie and I can stretch our legs.  It’s a chance to take photos of the mountains.

If I were tired and desperate for a place to camp for the night, I would boondock here. Not a pretty camp but the views are outstanding.  Not now . . . No internet signal and I do need to work on the blog.

On the road again . . .

Over Lake Valley Summit (6,160 ft.) and into Spring Valley, a few more miles and we arrive at the junction with Route 50.

A right turn would take us to Great Basin National Park.

White-with-snow Wheeler Peak (13,063 ft.) at the park encourages me to take a left turn instead.  To be truthful, I’ve done enough sightseeing lately that I’m not looking for a national park experience right now.

Soon a winding, uphill pull and we reach Connors Pass (7,723 ft.).

We roll into Steptoe Valley on the last stretch to Ely. Now the Schell Creek Mountains are to the east of us.   It isn’t until this point that I make a decision where we will camp.

Hmm . . . Before we reach Ely, we’ll turn on the road to . . .

Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park!

The PTV rumbles over the dirt road on a straight path to the mountains.

I hope, I hope, I hope our elevation doesn’t increase too much before we reach the campground.

We’re about 18 miles south of Ely.

I stop to see if I can pick up internet signal on my Verizon air card.  No good.  I take the photo (above) and we keep going.

Turns out the campground, called Willow Creek Campground, isn’t too high up for us this day.

(Researching for this post I find the elevation is about 7,060 ft., high enough to be bitter cold in May. Without internet as we arrive at the campground, I can only guess at the elevation.)


The air is scented with pine and it’s refreshingly cool.

This is good.  I don’t think it will be terribly cold overnight.

At the self-pay station I deposit a check in the amount of $14.00 for one night.

I choose campsite #5.  

It has a view of the mountains on the other side of Steptoe Valley.  Only one other campsite, out of the 14 total sites, is occupied (by late afternoon two more rigs arrive).

Willow Creek has vault toilets and water is available at the entrance.  Recently renovated sites have new picnic tables and metal shelters.

Uh-oh.  Metal shelters.  

Reggie soon realizes to his great alarm that The Popping Monster followed us here!

“Never mind that, Reggie.  Let’s go for a hike over to see the charcoal ovens.  C’mon, it’ll be fun!”

Reggie likes this idea very much.


Off we go through junipers, pines, and sagebrush!

A footbridge crosses small Willow Creek from which Rainbow, Brown, and Brook Trout can be caught.

“Look, Reg!  Over there! The ovens!  What an unusual sight.”

Six “bee-hive” charcoal ovens in a row.  

Made by hand from “tertiary volcanic and quartz latite tuff” chipped from nearby hills, the ovens are identical in size and shape.

I think the process of building the ovens and producing charcoal for smelting the silver ore from the Ward mines is fascinating.  The ovens were in operation from 1876 through 1879.

To read more about the reason for and the history surrounding the charcoal ovens, follow this link to Nevada Magazine. The article at that link includes a somewhat surreal photo of the back of the ovens dusted with snow under a dramatic sky.

Also you can enlarge the pic below to learn more.  To fill the six ovens for only one time required 36 acres of trees!

Imagine the work involved!

The interpretive board says the ovens are 27 feet in diameter at the base and 30 feet tall.

“That deserves a backhoe, right, Reg?”

At the website, parks.nv.gov, there is a satellite view map showing the campground, the trails, the ovens, the surrounding topography, and roads.

Back at our campsite . . .

Reggie turns grumpy.  He does not want to have his photo taken.  He does not want to be outside. He does NOT LIKE THE POPPING MONSTER!

“Okay, okay, lil’ buddy, we’ll go inside.  You’ve been a good boy all day long.”

Later . . .

I leave a sleepy Reggie in his bed and go out to inhale the piney air and to watch the near-full moon rise above the mountain peaks across the valley.


NOTE:  I’m often faced with the choice between keeping the blog up-to-date including staying in touch with readers or living my full-time RVing life in a way I enjoy most.  In this instance, I chose the latter.  I wanted to camp at Willow Creek Campground and see the charcoal ovens, and that’s what I did, even though it meant the blog would have to wait another day.  As much as I love my blog and its readers, I mustn’t let that part of my life take over the rest.  — Sue


Your purchases are appreciated.

These links take you to a few of the items recently ordered by RVSue shoppers:

Skin So Soft
Trigger Start Propane Torch
Organic Linden Blossom Tea
Washington Benchmark Atlas
GoPro HERO+ (Wi-Fi Enabled)
Roomba Robotic Vacuum Cleaner



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52 Responses to A piney camp in Nevada next to giant “beehives!”

  1. Cynthia from San Clemente says:

    First again?

  2. Dawn in NC says:


  3. Robin B (Oregon & Arizona) says:


  4. milliehubbard says:

    Fourth – WOW you all are quick!!

  5. Robin B (Oregon & Arizona) says:

    We drove by the charcoal ovens road but didn’t take it as we were too tired from our drive from Utah and our Ely hotel room was waiting, but so glad to see the campground is nice. Perhaps a return trip is in order. We were surprised at how gorgeous that area of Nevada is and I can’t wait to go through Caliente.

    Do what you enjoy most; we can wait for your blog posts–we’ll be on pins and needles but we can wait. 😉

  6. Robin B (Oregon & Arizona) says:

    BTW, you may have reported on this before, but we were surprised to hear “Ely” pronounced “E-lee.”

    • My sisters kept correcting me from saying E-lee until they asked a waitress at the casino LOL

      • Gail R says:

        It’s funny how the pronunciation can be so different than you imagine. Here in Ohio we have Vienna pronounced VI-Anna and Mand in Florida they pronounce Micanopy as MIC-Kan-O-Pee. I had to ask someone how to say it because to me it looked like the pronunciation My-canopy would be correct. LOL

  7. Sandy in TX says:

    Your generosity of location information/tour guiding is appreciated and should never be expected! You enjoy yourself first. we will be waiting when you’re ready and able to share!
    VERY interesting ovens! Will put those on the “to see ’em” list.

  8. Kat and Cookie Dog in NYState says:

    Thanks for sharing this RVSue and Crew (Regman) I have added this as a place to be sure to visit someday! I love all your posts and seeing the USA through someone else’s eyes. Great pictures!

  9. Cynthia from San Clemente says:

    Poor little Reggie 🙁 How frustrating to have a popping monster follow you from campsite to campsite and not even be able to get your teeth into it and tear it apart! I know dogs smell much better than we do but I wasn’t sure about hearing, so I went to my favorite book on dogs, Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz. She says humans’ auditory range is from 20 hertz to 20 kilohertz, and dogs hear all of that and then some, since they can detect sounds up to 45 kilohertz. They can hear the navigational chirping of rats behind your walls and the bodily vibrations of termites! Wow – that is a lot of background noise. They are especially good at detecting changes in pitch, which is probably why they get so excited when we say, “Are you ready for a walk?” as opposed to ‘I think I’ll take a walk today.” Ok, enough dog science.

    I also looked up your elevation at that camp – Mapcarta says you are at 5, 981 feet, which seems a little low given the other elevations you mentioned.

    Please don’t worry about leaving us for a day or two – I think it adds to the suspense and excitement of waiting to read about and see photos of your next adventure. It’s just when you go missing for a week or more, we tend to get a little anxious …

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Cynthia,

      Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park encompasses 700 acres and elevation varies across the park. The state park’s elevation is 7,054 feet at the ovens, according to several websites including the state park’s site. The campground is slightly higher than that, judging from the hike we took.

  10. Reine in Plano (when not camping) says:

    Most of the rest of us have lives we enjoy, why not you too? Take the time to be Susan and come back to be RVSue when you’re refreshed. Your honesty is one of the things we love and we’d rather have fewer posts than have you feel we’re leeches sucking the life out of you.

  11. Marcia GB in MA says:

    Very interesting! I didn’t know about the charcoal ovens before. Hope you and Reggie are away from the Popping Monsters now 😉

  12. chas anderson says:

    Enjoyed the beehive kilns.I will have to see them.Death Valley has a similar set which I have visited several times.Have never heard of other ones from that era that are still intact.

  13. weather says:

    That’s a really nice looking (and wonderfully scented)campground, and the charcoal ovens are very interesting. I’m glad you took the opportunity to see them while you were in the area. The whole subject of mining precious metals and how people moved across the nation to do it, towns built around them, then abandoned when the ore was all but gone fascinates me. I’ve read a few historical novels with all that as part of the story and just love that stuff 🙂 ! Thanks for the link to Nevada magazines article, wow, people can be so ingenious when they need to be.

    Thinking it only takes a day to see what you wanted to there, I’m guessing you only stayed the one night you mentioned paying for. Reggie must have been glad to get away from the popping monster again. He’s usually such a sweet and happy little boy that his being too grumpy to want to have his photo taken says a lot. I love the picture with him on the faded wooden footbridge! Is the new header photo of your home and PTV at that camp?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, weather,

      The header photo was taken a couple years ago at the boondock in Coconino National Forest across Route 89 from Sunset Crater National Monument, north of Flagstaff, AZ.

  14. Cinandjules (🌵) says:

    Grumpy and the ole stink eye! It’s okay lil buddy….the popping monster will stay behind…as you continue on your journey!

    • AZ Jim says:

      Ahhhhhhhhhhh yes BUT…..others, even more menacing may well lie ahead!!! Stay tuned and find out what adventure is next to unfold for little Reggie. 🙂

  15. chas anderson says:

    Old kilns fascinate me.My GG Grandfather was a kilnworker in a brick factory from 1860 to 1905.His son my G Grandfather worked side by side with him and worked there until 1924 when he died in a brick accident.They used to load the bricks on a barge and float them up to NY harbor.A pile of bricks fell and knocked him into the river in December and he drowned.In 1968 I worked a summer job in the same kilns.

    Most dangerous job I ever had.17 year old kid going into the kilns loading red hot bricks .

    • Barbara from Camano says:

      Thanks for sharing. That was interesting. What families pass down from generation to generation is amazing and humbling.

  16. rvsueandcrew says:

    Hi, Blogorinos and Lurkers, too!

    Great comments so far! Enjoyable for me and everyone to read. Thank you very much for participating.

    I’m going to stay in the background and hope by doing so, blogorinos and lurkers will be encouraged to talk among yourselves.

    Don’t you love it when folks share information about themselves or a bit of family history, an anecdote or whatever interests them? And also when someone gives a little lesson, like how to pronounce Ely or the hearing acuity of dogs? Wow!

    Keep up the good “work” everyone!

    Bye for now,

  17. ValGal (westernWA) says:

    Another pretty and intriguing spot. I see those weather forecasts in the sidebar. Brrrrr.

    Poor Reggie and the Popping Monsters. I hope the next camp doesn’t have them.

    I hope you’re having a grand day.

  18. Suzicruzi from Van., WA says:

    Hi Sue and kind Bloggerinos. Thank you for the nice condolences on the loss of my dog. I happened to be on the month of September last year when Sue lost Bridge, and reading all your heartfelt replies to her, when I had just put my doggy down. I bawled and I’m still bawling. Now I have to read the stories without Bridge in them- from here forward. I am glad Sue, that you have Reg to carry you through. I so wish I too had another buddy, as my house is so cold and empty now. I just wanted to get on here and say thank-you for this caring community. I will say more later…. just, well, just thank you for “this place to come to”, and the cheer we get from this group. It’s quite the little family.

  19. Dawn in MI says:

    Katie my sheltie and I are camping tonight. Low in the 60s so they say. 88 right now…too hot! Forgot the bug spray and the sunscreen so thankful for a stiff breeze and a shady spot to sit.

  20. cc and canine ( now in Oregon) says:

    Hi Sue! You’ve been to a lot of Nevada State Parks lately….did you know that they have a “Passport”program? You get a little booklet (free!) with a page for each of the 23 state parks. At each park you visit, have your passport stamped. When you get 15 different stamps, you qualify for a year of no entrance fees at any of the parks. Looking at my passport, there doesn’t seem to be a time limit on how long it takes you to get to 15. At least you don’t need to get them all, as some are very remote, at the end of long gravel/dirt roads!

    I got my passport at Spring Mountain Ranch SP, a day use park west of Las Vegas…nice hiking, and a neat ranch home that had once been owned by Howard Hughes…highly recommended!

    • Rochelle in IN says:

      I didn’t know that! Thanks for the info – hopefully they will still be doing that in 3 years, which is our target date.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thank you, cc, for posting about the Nevada State Parks Passport.

      To clarify for readers, the NV SP Passport, once obtained, gives one free entrance to state parks. It does not give you free camping. If you pay a camping fee, you do not have to pay an entrance fee.

      Still a good program, especially for those who visit NV state parks for hiking, picnicking, and other day use activities.

  21. Linda a says:

    Your right Sue, your life should always come first!
    We, your readers, love, love your blog and seeing America
    along with you. But,,,,, it’s at your discretion, always.
    Just happy your willing to share with us !!!

  22. Pookie and Chuck in Todd Mission Tx says:

    what beautiful scenery……….great pictures sue………
    got back from my vegas trip sick and Im still moping
    around a week later…….guess im not as young as I
    used to be….HA
    keep up the good work
    chuck and pookie

  23. Those ovens would make a nice Hogan LOL

  24. Shawna says:

    It matters little that the blog is “late” … It’s how your last few days unfolded. We got to see the ovens; it never matters if it isn’t on the same day you do! If your blog becomes a burden we all lose, so do what makes your adventure the best experience for you. And it keeps us in suspense — what’s that Sue up to????

  25. Ilse in Sequim says:

    I’m sure glad we got a side view and a front view after six rear end pictures of the Regginator, of course followed by another hiney.

  26. Dy says:

    Sue & Reggie..
    Re: no internet to blog…
    In my perspective, I would like you to do “your thing” and enjoy many sites etc. even without interacting with us Blogos’.. and then when you blog about them, we get the experience of your adventures, as well as you re-living the time you were not connected to the internet.

    We’ll always be here waiting for your next adventure. What do they say”absence makes the heart grow fonder”…. Well we sure are fonder of you and Reggie..

    Thanks for enhancing my life…

    Northern California

  27. Elizabeth in WA says:

    Some trees again…LOVELY…bet the smells are awesome!! Enjoy and hope you find the spot you want soon!! The sun is supposed to actually come out some for a couple days!! But I hate heat, so no complaints!!

  28. AZ Jim says:


  29. Such beautiful country! Those ovens are really wonderful.

  30. MelindaK (TX) says:

    The whole part of retirement is to enjoy yourself! You do it so well by how you describe your daily life. I get behind on reading your blog because life gets in the way, but I catch up. You should take the time to see and do all you can. We will still be here lurking because we know you will be back to share your adventures.

    Your blog has a profound affect. Awesome post.

  31. Rick & Brock the dog, WA says:

    Hi Sue,
    Brock and I have been off-line for awhile. I had knee issues and lots of driving back and forth between Seattle and Bend OR for my mom. Things are calmer now. Plus, Brock and I picked up our new Escape 17B trailer! So we’re hitting the road for a nine day shake down camping trip. Once I find my property I can retire and travel more frequently.

    About three years ago I cut over to Pioche NV from visiting Best Friends in Utah and stayed at the Cathedral state park. Really enjoyed the area and the drive north on the road you’re on now to Twin Falls ID. Much better than going through Salt Lake City traffic. I’ve always wanted to go back there so hoping to get there this fall. Enjoy the area and the time off from “work”, i.e. the blog. Everyone needs some relaxing time!

  32. Jean in Southaven, MS says:

    I am lurking out here today. I really enjoy the comments. Some times I enjoy the comments more than the blog if that is possible. I have learned so much over the years from the comments. Hope everyone has a great day.

  33. Great post Sue, popping monsters?,,,, we are at Bradfield camp on the Delores River and been watching the Rafters heading towards Utah and we have been getting Snowed on, Piper loves to play in the cold snow, we got bout 2in., and now it’s melting, but it’s still cold here, 40 for a high today, staying till Sunday morning, then hopefully to a warmer site, I guess we came a little bit too early, but having a great time meeting folks,,, have a great weekend and stay safe and give Reggieman a huge hug from us too,,,, Rusty n Piper

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Piper n’ Rusty,

      I’m so glad to hear from you! I was worried about you!

      I’ve been watching the temperatures in southern Colorado because the last you wrote you said you were near Cortez. Lows in the 20s. I prayed you were able to keep warm.

      Isn’t that Bradfield Campground a nice campground? Not too fancy, not too rough, just right. The campsites have big shelters over the tables and the sites are spaced far apart. It’s fun watching the rafters launch. I love that you’re “having a great time meeting folks.” 🙂 I can imagine Piper playing in the snow. She’s in a place that suits her!

      I don’t know where you’re going on Sunday… wherever it is I hope it’s warm enough and you arrive safe and sound. Thanks, Rusty, for letting us know where and how you are. Internet signal can be hard to find, I know.

      Hugs to you both! Have a wonderful weekend!

      NOTE TO BLOGORINOS: If you’d like to see photos of Bradfield Campground on the Delores River, go to my post of June 5, 2016.

  34. The ovens are gorgeous! Great pix.

  35. Eileen Dykeman says:

    Thanks for the info and pics about the ovens. Had never heard of them before. A very unique bit of history!

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