Enjoying a mild fall evening on the Snake River before leaving home

After four weeks at home, we were back on the road. Thanksgiving was quickly approaching and the weather between us and our winter destinations was beginning to deteriorate. It was time to head south for some warmth and sun.

Our route to SE Arizona

Our route would take us south through Oregon and Nevada to Arizona where we had reservations at state and national park campgrounds for the majority of December and January. Our goal was to see as many new places as possible in areas with daytime highs averaging 60-70 degrees. And sun—we wanted lots and lots of sun.

Leaving home on a cold, but clear November morning

On day one, we traveled from our home in SE Washington through NE Oregon to Spring Recreation Site, a BLM campground and boat launch on the banks of 52 mile long Brownlee Reservoir in Eastern Oregon. We stayed at Spring on our way south in September 2019. Conditions were much warmer for that stay, but we enjoyed having the area pretty much to ourselves this time. For $5 dollars, the campground offers drinking water (seasonal), garbage, and pit toilets.

Cold and quiet night at Spring Recreation Site along Brownlee Reservoir (Snake River)

Day two took us along I-84 and US 95 from Oregon, into Idaho, back into Oregon, and then into the desolate expanses of Northern Nevada. This has become a familiar route for us and we like to stop at New Frontier RV Park in Winnemucca for night two. They have easy access and nice big pull through spots (70′ x 30′) so we don’t even have to disconnect for the night. Their rates are extremely affordable and the full hookups are nice considering we are usually moving on to dry camping sites the following day.

Not many fellow campers in cold Winnemucca

Day three took us to Illipah Reservoir Recreation Area in the heart of Nevada. From Winnemucca, we headed east along I-80 to Carlin where we caught NV 278 south to Eureka. 278 is a particularly quiet stretch of highway and we have found it to be a much more pleasant route south to Ely compared to US 93 (significantly less traffic). We turned east at Eureka along US 50 which was named “The Loneliest Road in America” by Life magazine in 1986. The route traverses several large desert valleys separated by mountain ranges, the characteristic basin and range terrain that is so typical of the state. And yes, the route is gloriously lonely.

Illipah Reservoir is located just off US 50 midway between Eureka and Ely in Central Nevada. It has a free BLM campground with 15 campsites suitable for large RVs. Roughly half the sites have good views down to the reservoir and up into Humboldt/Toiyabe National Forest. Grills, picnic tables, and shade structures are available at most of the sites. Restrooms and trash cans are available, but no potable water.

Illipah Reservoir was first created in 1953 when Illipah Creek was impounded for irrigation purposes. At capacity, Illipah covers 70 surface acres to a maximum depth of 50 feet. Rainbow trout are stocked twice annually by Nevada Department of Wildlife and a self-sustaining population of brown trout currently inhabit the reservoir. Water levels looked pretty low during our visit, but we enjoyed the views and solitude. We saw a couple fisherman trying their luck during the day and one other RV came in later in the evening, otherwise it was very quiet. The temperature was a balmy 54 degrees when we arrived and we took the opportunity to stretch our legs and explore the area.

Illipah Reservoir (our truck and trailer are those small specks at far left)
Map of Illipah Reservoir Campground
Cold but sunny morning at Illipah

On morning four, we awoke to a cold 25 degrees and a layer of frozen rain covering the truck and RV. But we were warmed by the fact that we would be enjoying sun and 60+ degrees at Cathedral Gorge State Park, our first destination of the trip, by the end of the day. The first fun of our Winter 2021-2022 travels was about to begin!

The Adventure Continues

Be sure to join us next time as we explore Cathedral Gorge State Park, a destination that has been on my bucket list for many years. And don’t forget to check out our Amazon RV and Adventure Gear recommendations. We only post products that we use and that meet the Evans Outdoor Adventures seal of approval. By accessing Amazon through our links and making any purchase, you get Amazon’s every day low pricing and they share a little with us. This helps us maintain this website and is much appreciated!

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