Location: North Central Nevada
Elevation: 4299 feet above sea level
Latitude: 40:58:23N Longitude: 117:44:05W
Following one of the main east-west transportation corridors on the North American continent, 15,000 people visit Winnemucca each day as they travel through the Great Basin crossing from the Rocky Mountains to the port cities of San Francisco & Oakland, California.
We were on the route when it was just a footpath, long before people were riding across these lands on horseback. Then came the pioneer's California Trail, when the gold and silver mining booms fueled the greatest Western Migration in American History. When the first transcontinental railroad was built, Winnemucca became a major shipping point serving the intermountain west.
Now Winnemucca lies on the backbone of the Internet, astride the Union Pacific Railroad with it's Amtrak service, and alongside Interstate 80 which begins in New York City and ends in San Francisco.
Fun Facts about Winnemucca
- Winnemucca was formerly named ‘French Ford,’ by a French trader, who settled on the banks of River Humboldt in 1860. The name was changed to Winnemucca in 1868, by the Railroad authorities, in honor of Chief Winnemucca, a local Paiute Indian.
- Chief Winnemucca’s daughter, Sarah, was an advocate for education and fair treatment for the local tribes. She also worked as an interpreter, scout and messenger for the U.S. Army during the Bannock War of 1878. You can find a statue in her honor right inside The Winnemucca Grammar School doors!
- The name Winnemucca loosely translates to ‘one moccasin’.
- Winnemucca is one of the largest potato farming areas in the world.
- Winnemucca is the first town Johnny Cash names in the song “I’ve Been Everywhere”!
Recreational Things to do in the ‘Mucc
Sand Dunes – Do you enjoy dirt bikes, four-wheelers and ATVs? Just 10 miles North of Winnemucca, lies the largest Sand Dunes in Nevada. The dunes stretch about 40 miles, with sand hills reaching almost 100 feet! The Dunes are always available, so you can zip through the hills anytime!
Humboldt River – Humboldt River is the only major river system wholly contained within the state of Nevada, and it runs right through Winnemucca. You’ll find many people floating the Humboldt during the summer, or having a picnic at the Riverside Park, located right on the river!
Water Canyon – At the very top of town, you’ll find Water Canyon secluded in the mountains, lined with Aspen and Cottonwood trees. Water Canyon is “one of the premier recreation areas in Northern Nevada,” offering camp sites, grills and tables for picnics, and hiking/biking trails.
Paradise Valley – Interested in visiting the living ghost town? Travel 40 miles North of Winnemucca, and you’ll discover Paradise Valley. Paradise is home to about 50 people, and features the town’s original saloons and homes, making you feel like you just stepped into an old Western movie.
Bloody Shins Trail – If biking is your thing, check out the Bloody Shins Trail! It doesn’t matter if it’s your first biking trip, or if you’re a professional biker, Bloody Shins has a trail for you. The Trail System offers different paths for different experience levels, ranging from seven to seventeen miles long.
Fishing – Is fishing your passion? Winnemucca offers an in-town reservoir for catch-and-release daily fishing. If you wish to venture out more, Chimney Reservoir, Onion Valley Reservoir, and Rye Patch Reservoir are all within a couple hours drive.
Run-A-Mucca – Once a year, Memorial Day Weekend, the motorcycles come rolling in. Run-A-Mucca is a weekend full of Motorcycle showcasing, live music, and good food! The festival closes out with the “burning of the bike” and a Memorial Service cruise to Veterans Park.
Basque Festival – In Winnemucca, the Basque culture is very prominent, and they showcase it annually! The festival hosts many traditional Basque activities, including weight carrying and performing traditional Basque dances.
Silver State International Rodeo – The SSIR has been a high school rodeo tradition since 1985, inviting fellow rodeo contestants from all over the U.S. and Canada to small-town Winnemucca. The Silver State Rodeo is the biggest rodeo of the year, featuring more than 500 contestants, a parade, a barbecue, a beauty pageant, dances, and even a mud volleyball tournament. Fun for the whole family!
Tri-County Fair – Every Labor Day Weekend, Winnemucca hosts the Tri-County Fair! Home of Nevada’s oldest continuous Rodeo, and you won’t be asking why if you come take a look! Aside from the rodeo, the weekend consists of a carnival, a parade, contests, western art shows, and tons of animals!