Wells is swell!

We followed my folks off the highway and down a series of gravel roads to the new property. Dad had just laid down some fresh gravel for the parking pad and soon enough we were parked, unhooked, and tied into the sewer line. The sun was bright and the air was cool. In the distance were two mountain ranges covered in snow. The lot was situated in the high Nevada desert equidistant between the towns of Wells, and Elko. Both towns have a rich mining history and a large portion of their residents still work in the industry.

Deeply rutted road

 One of our first excursions was to check out 12 Mile hot springs and the ghost town of Metropolis. Both of these sites were within a few miles of each other and about 11 miles North of Wells. We figured we would tackle the hot springs first and then skip over to the ghost town to catch the sunset. The road from Wells to the turnoff to the springs was paved but pretty raggedy, with crumbling asphalt and more than a few potholes, but it paled in comparison to Bishop Creek Road, a dirt road that while relatively level was rife with deep ruts and huge rocks. After a mere third of a mile, we decided to not take any chances with our tow vehicle, pulled over and hiked the remaining 1.2 miles to the spring. While it would have been a bone-jarring ride, it turned out to be a pleasant hike.

12 Mile hot spring

Walking deeper into the canyon along the road, we passed parts of cars that had been claimed by the ruts and rocks. We investigated an old damn,  forded the creek, and finally arrived. The pool was like a long narrow swimming pool created with river rocks. A local family was there with two pickups packing up a picnic and cookout. We decided to keep our distance and did not jump in. Cate took photos and we were surprised at the ferocity of the wind that was funneled into the canyon, at one point it almost blew Cate over! We hung around a bit to see how long until the picnickers drove away, but eventually we headed back across the creek and down the road to the truck.

Metropolis School facade

We drove along the crumbling asphalt for a few more miles before turning onto a short dirt road to the Metropolis ghost town. As we approached we could see the giant arched facade of the collapsed school building looming in the distance. It was the only thing higher than the sagebrush for miles. We arrived and explored all that was left of the hotel, what looked like a basement and several below grade rooms . There was quite a bit of graffiti sprayed on the the crumbling walls, twisted metal lay all around. Afterwards we drove further up the road to all that was left standing of the school, an ornate arch, a set of stairs and the ground floor that was slowly falling into the basement. The history of Metropolis is fascinating and we strongly encourage you to go down that rabbit hole starting with this link!

Lamoille Canyon portal

On our next journey we were joined by the fam! We set off to do a day of touring by car. Due to the fact that Frankie Rae was with us, we actually took took two cars…..no one wants to ride with a goat on their lap….well except maybe cate! We travelled down I-80 to Elko, NV before heading North to Lamoille Canyon. Climbing up out of the valley we turned onto Lamoille Canyon Rd. and were surrounded by 10,000 foot snow covered peaks. It was stunning to us that this landscape could be found in Nevada! As we drove the 12 mile scenic byway, we stopped frequently to take pictures at the dozens of waterfalls falling thousands of feet down the canyon walls and the beaver-dams along the river. Finally the snow blocked the road, and as we turned around, we watched a pair of cross country skiers getting ready to continue on up the road. Cate suggested on the way back down that we stay a night here before heading to Bonneville Flats. It seemed like a capitol idea!

Ruby Mountains

After leaving the canyon we convoyed back to Elko and picked up the Secret Pass Road that would lead us up and over the other side of the Ruby Mountains. The sunset was shaping up to be an impressive one, and we pulled out to watch it and snap a few photos on our way back to Wells. Out of the corner of my eye, hidden under a large sagebush I spied a box! I knew immediately what it was, a geocache! When the kids were younger, Cate and I used to take them geocaching all the time. Stumbling on one without looking for it or knowing the location is very unusual. We signed the log, made a trade (took a headband for frankie, left hand sanitizer), and re-hid it! The sunset faded and we continued on to Wells and then back to camp. 

 The next few days were spent doing camper maintenance, painting, and visiting with my folks. I finally received my long awaited Renogy 100 watt solar panels and put them to the test. They exceeded my expectations putting us on a path to a (mostly) generator-free existence!


Our last side-trip before moving the Argosy to Lamoille Canyon was a trip 40 miles South of Wells to Spruce Mountain ghost town and Monarch Mine. Cate did an excellent write up on Facebook. For more info click here! After arriving at Spruce Mountain, we parked the truck and elected to hike the two miles up ( and we mean UP) to the mine and encampment. The road required a high clearance vehicle in a few spots, and we decided *again*  not to chance it. Higher and higher we climbed as more of the distant Ruby Mountains began to show themselves to us! Far below, a huge dust devil danced in the mid day sun. Finally we arrived at the mine. The opening was still there but the shaft had collapsed, buildings in various states of decay clung to the hillside.  Frankie, Cate and I explored them while keeping a wary eye out for rattlesnakes. Once we were satisfied that we hadn’t missed anything, we began the descent. The air was cool but the sun blazed down on us at 8000 feet giving me a sunburn, and Cate a healthy red hue 😜

On the way to Wells…Deeth Starr Valley

We made one more quick outing with the parents before buttoning up the Argosy for our return trip to Lamoille Canyon. We attempted to get to Angel Lake high above Wells in the East Humboldt Range but found the road closed, as we expected. While there we were approached by a distraught woman who said that her dog had run away while she was hiking on the closed road, determined, she had moved the barrier and driven up to where she had hiked, and we felt like we should lend an eye. We followed her up, looking and hoping for her dog Pico. We had no luck and we had to drive down and will probably never know what the outcome would be. We hope she was reunited with her fur baby.

Thankful for the opportunity to spend time with my family, and 8 days on their lovely acre, we hugged their necks and pulled out and pointed the nose towards Lamoille Canyon. Little did we know, the trip was going to take longer than expected! -To Be Continued….

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