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Fort Churchill

State Historic Park


About Fort Churchill

An integral part of the history of Nevada and the American West, Fort Churchill was built in 1860 to provide protection for early settlers and westbound emigrants and guard the Pony Express and telegraph lines. Today the ruins are preserved in a state of arrested decay within Fort Churchill State Historic Park, and visitors can walk designated trails to observe the ruins. The park also includes the renovated Buckland Station, an important way station in the 1800s for pioneer travelers on the Overland Route. Situated along the Carson River, the park is an idyllic place for camping, hiking, bird watching and canoeing.

Park Detail


Camping: The main campground has 20 sites suitable for travel trailers, motorhomes or tents. Campsites include a table, fire ring and charcoal grill, and all are shaded by large cottonwood trees. There are no hook-ups available, but a dump station is located near the entrance to the campground. 

Scout Camp is located on the Carson River Ranch section of Fort Churchill, adjacent to the Carson River. It is a large, dispersed camping or day-use area that includes picnic tables, fire rings with grill tops, one vault toilet, and multiple horse corrals. Scout Camp is a carry in, carry out trash area. Horse manure needs to be picked up and carried out, or disposed of in the designated manure dump. There is no electricity or water available here. Sites cannot be reserved.

Fishing: Catch-and-release bank fishing techniques are used to catch walleye, white bass, the hybrid wiper, catfish, trout and other game fish. The Nevada Department of Wildlife maintains fishing regulations. See a Health Warning from the Department of Wildlife on consumption of fish.

Group Area: A group area accomodating up to 60 people for group camping or picnicking is available by reservation only. The area includes a covered pavilion with picnic tables, a sink and food preparation countertop, a large charcoal grill, a fire ring with amphitheater-style seating, garbage cans and two vault toilets. No electricity is available. No RVs, please.

Hunting: Visit the Nevada Department of Wildlife for information on hunting in Nevada. View the Fort Churchill Hunting Boundary Map.

Picnicking: A tree-shaded picnic area along the Carson River provides tables, charcoal grills, drinking water and a restroom.

Visitor Center: The Visitor Center offers exhibits highlighting the rich and complex history of Fort Churchill. Drinking water and restrooms are available nearby.

Programs: Information about program schedules may be obtained from park staff or found in kiosks. Group tours or programs may be available upon request.

American Discovery Trail: The American Discovery Trail is a great way to experience Nevada's beautiful and rugged backcountry. The Nevada portion of this 6,800+ mile trail covers 500 miles of Nevada's remarkable landscape, traversing 14 mountain ranges and challenging its explorers to a total climb of 34,000 feet! Six of Nevada's State Parks can be accessed by way of this route, including Fort Churchill State Historic Park. Stay with Nevada State Parks while exploring the American Discovery Trail!

Park Hours: Open seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Office Hours: 7:30 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. daily.


  • Due to the structural integrity of the ruins and safety concerns, climbing on or entering the buildings is not permitted. Please stay on the trails.
  • Metal detecting is prohibited.
  • Fires are permitted only in designated fire rings, barbecues or approved portable stoves. Visitors should supply their own firewood.
  • Removing, disturbing or damaging any historic structure, artifact, rock, plant life, fossil or other feature is prohibited. State and federal laws protect this area and its resources.
  • Motor vehicles are permitted only on designated roadways and parking areas.
  • Pets are welcome, but they must be kept on a leash of not more than six feet in length.
  • The use of drones or any remote controlled aircraft is not allowed. Visit B4UFLY for more info.
  • Visitors are responsible for knowing all park rules and regulations in effect. Detailed rules and regulations are posted at the park or may be viewed on the Park Rules page.
  • Those with developmental and/or physical limitations are invited to enjoy all of the recreational activities of Nevada State Parks. If you would like to request additional support or accommodations, please call the Nevada State Parks division office. We continually seek ways to provide recreational opportunities for people of all abilities and welcome any suggestions you may have.
  • View a list of frequently asked questions.


Fort Churchill sits at an elevation of 4,250 feet and is flanked on the south by rolling desert hills and higher areas of the Pine Nut Range. Churchill Butte, reaching an elevation of 6,250 feet, rises to the north and is the closest mountain. The Carson River originates in the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the west. The river forms the major water resource in the area and is the only perennial source of surface water near the park. (READ MORE)


Nevada’s first, largest and most elaborate military outpost was active from its establishment in July 1860, through an era rife with local and national conflict, and up to its abandonment in the fall of 1869. During this tumultuous yet significant decade in the history of Nevada and the American West, Fort Churchill helped to bring about a semblance of Federal control over a quickly developing and resource-rich area that lacked effective government control.  The troops stationed at Fort Churchill protected California-bound emigrants, safeguarded the Pony Express and telegraph lines, fought battles and skirmishes with local Native Americans, protected area settlements, intervened in miner’s disputes and quelled any uprisings brought about by the Civil War. (READ MORE)

Park Fees

Fort Churchill:

Day use entrance fee:  $5.00 per vehicle (Non-NV Vehicles $10.00 per vehicle)
Camping:  $15.00 per vehicle, per night (Non-NV Vehicles: $20.00 per vehicle, per night)
Bike in:  $2.00 per bike

Carson River Ranches

Day use entrance fee:  $5.00 per vehicle (Non-NV Vehicles $10.00 per vehicle)
Camping:  $15.00 per vehicle, per night (Non-NV Vehicles: $20.00 per vehicle, per night)
Bike in:  $2.00 per bike


Photos of Fort Churchill State Historic Park

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