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Exploring the Hot Springs Mountains--a virtual tour for Earth Science Week, 2020
Exploring Hot Springs Mts

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Product Code: E066

Title: Exploring the Hot Springs Mountainsa virtual tour for Earth Science Week, 2020 (Guide for the Earth Science Week virtual field trip, October 17, 2020)

Author: Rachel Micander and James E. Faulds
Year: 2020
Series: Educational Series 66
Format: 20 pages, color

Trip highlights:
  • Hot Springs Mountains
  • Desert Peak (core of an old volcano)
  • Lake Lahontan shorelines
  • California Trail and the Fortymile Desert
  • Natural history, flora, and fauna
  • Geothermal energy
  • Leete mining district and Eagle Salt Works
  • Desert Queen and Fallon Eagle mines

Since October 1998, the American Geosciences Institute has organized this national and international event to help the public gain a better understanding and appreciation for the Earth sciences and to encourage stewardship of the Earth.

In 2020, Earth Science Week celebrated the theme "Earth Materials in Our Lives." In conjunction with the theme, the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology (NBMG) virtual field trip will take us on a tour of the natural history and geological resources in the northern Hot Springs Mountains of west-central Nevada. Our field trip will be a little different this year, as we aim to bring the outdoors and wonder of our unique state to you remotely, and socially distanced. This year we won’t be following a road log, or touring sites in person, but we will be bringing some beautiful scenery, fascinating geology, and natural history directly to you, wherever you are.

The Hot Springs Mountains are located in Churchill County to the east and northeast of Fernley. They are bounded to the west by the Fernley Sink and the Truckee Range while Hot Springs Flat and the Trinity Range lie to the north, across Interstate 80. The Fortymile Desert stretches far out to the east, full of alkali flats, sand dunes, and smaller hills of volcanic rock. The Hot Springs Mountains are a relatively subdued range (by Nevada standards) with multiple ridges rather than high mountains, as the name would have you believe. During the Pleistocene, this range was surrounded by a vast lake known as ancient Lake Lahontan—the Hot Springs Mountains were an island in this lake that extended across much of the western Great Basin.

If you would like to venture out and explore the many wonders of the Hot Springs Mountains in person, we welcome you to hop into your off-road capable vehicle and grab some topographic maps, a spare tire (or two), a picnic lunch, a GPS and compass and head on out to explore your public lands. Topographic maps are available for purchase from the NBMG Publication Sales Office. Cell phone coverage is spotty at best in this part of the state, and we have always found paper maps to be worth their weight in gold. To help get you started, the quadrangles in this area include Parran, Desert Peak, Hot Springs Flat, Eagle Rock, Soda Lake NW, and Upsal Hogback.

For a topographic map index complete with links to purchase 1:250,000, 1:100,000, 1:62,500, and 1:24,000 quadrangle maps in Nevada, check out the NBMG topographic map web application here:

Topographic maps are also available for purchase from the NBMG Publication Sales Office:

As always, please exercise caution when exploring off highway areas and respect the landscape, wildlife, artifacts, and others out enjoying nature. Remember to stay on developed dirt roads and trails, and never park on dry grass or brush.

Thank you for joining us on this virtual field trip and if you have questions about the rocks, geology, or the natural resources that we covered in this guide, NBMG geologists are always happy to answer your questions!

National Earth Science Week website:

Governor Sisolak proclaimed October 11-17, 2020 as Earth Science Week in Nevada:

View past Earth Science Week trip logs and plan your own trips!

Suggested Citation:
Micander, R. and Faulds, J.E., 2020, Exploring the Hot Springs Mountains—a virtual tour for Earth Science Week, 2020 (Guide for the Earth Science Week virtual field trip, October 17, 2020): Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology Educational Series 66, 20 p.

© Copyright 2020 The University of Nevada, Reno. All Rights Reserved.

Original Product Code: E66