Dennis Cassinelli: The Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park
Having visited many of Nevada’s State Parks, I want to share with my readers information about some of them, since it’s tourist season and often people I know are wondering where to visit that would be fun and interesting for the family to see. One of these is the Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park near the geographic center of Nevada.
Directions to the Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park: Take U.S. Highway 50 to Eastgate Station, then south 30 miles on State route 361 to Gabbs, then 16 miles east on State Route 844 to the Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park.
The park contains the town of Berlin, built in the 1890s, that’s preserved in a state of arrested decay. A true Nevada ghost town, many of Berlin’s original buildings remain and some of the original residents are interred in the town’s cemetery.
Trails throughout the town site tell the story of Berlin and its mine. Another ghost town nearby is Ione, Nevada. The area is also known to be a fine place to gather pine nuts in the fall.
The park is also home to the most abundant concentration, and the largest known remains of ichthyosaurs, an ancient marine reptile that swam in a warm ocean that covered central Nevada 225 million years ago. The actual fossils are displayed at the park’s Fossil House. The ichthyosaur has been declared the Nevada State fossil. The park has a panel made of concrete that displays a full size representation of what an ichthyosaur looked like when alive. The animal shown was 55 feet long. There’s also a smaller representation of an ichthyosaur on display at the Nevada State Museum in Carson City.
The fossils displayed in the park’s fossil house are a concentration of several fossilized skeletons in a huge pile indicating there was a catastrophic event 225 million years ago that caused the death of so many of these huge fish-like reptiles. The ancient marine fossils at the park give a new meaning to the saying, “The ocean someday may a desert be.”
The park has 14 well-spaced camping units for RVs, fire pits, barbecue grills, drinking water and restrooms. There’s an RV dump station and camping is limited to 14 days. The park has a day use picnic area with tables, grills and restrooms. There are many hiking trails nearby to the Berlin townsite, the Diana Mine, and the Fossil House. There are scheduled times for guided tours of the Berlin Mill and the fossil House.
The park is open seven days a week, year round. The nearby Grantsville area is where I found the best places to gather pine nuts.
This article is by Dayton author and historian Dennis Cassinelli, who can be contacted on his blog at denniscassinelli.com. All Dennis’ books sold through this publication will be at a 50 percent discount plus $3 for each shipment for postage and packaging.