These sites lie to the east along or near I-80, between Elko and Wells. The furthest distance from the CTIC is approximately 60 miles.
Trails West Markers
For decades, Trails West has been erecting trail markers on the original California Trail. As the trail continues to erode away these markers have become the easiest way to locate the physical trail. There are two markers used by Trails West to identify the trail. First, there are the “T” markers made out of two rails welded together. Each “T” marker has an emigrant quote on it and the top rail is oriented with the direction of the trail. Hundreds of these markers are planted in various points along the trail. Trails West publishes guidebooks that provide directions, maps, and supplemental information about each marker site. You can purchase these books at the California Trail Interpretive Center or at https://emigranttrailswest.org/. The other markers laid by Trails West are white carsonite posts. In certain areas, these posts are spread along the actual trail route to help identify the trail.
California Trail information in Northeast Nevada:
You will follow the main overland route emigrants took to reach California. Most, but not all, took the trip from east to west. You will be following the trail in the opposite direction. Between 1841 and 1869, approximately 250,000 emigrants used the California Trail to reach California. The 2,000 mile long trail is comprised of many shortcuts and alternative routes. However, the large majority of emigrants drove their wagons, animals, and families through the sites you are visiting today.
By the time emigrants reached Nevada, they had already been travelling for months and were typically hot and tired of the monotonous trip. Walking through Northern Nevada in the heat of July, August, or September was not easy. However, it was a necessary trip. The Humboldt River is the only reliable source of water that crosses the Great Basin. Without it, Northern California would have been nearly impossible to reach by land. Snowfall could block the pioneer trails running through the High Sierra by early October.
As you embark on your trip today, it will take a strong imagination to remove today’s landscape without power lines, houses, ranches, and highways. None of these existed in Northeast Nevada while the California Trail was being used by the emigrants.