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Carson City District - Sierra Front Field Office

Fort Churchill to Wellington Backcountry Byway

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A historic town and frontier fort await the visitor along this back country drive. This scenic desert off-road driving tour parallels the Carson River and climbs into the rugged Pine Nut Mountains.

Directions:  The byway begins at Fort Churchill, 35 miles east of Carson City. Fort Churchill was established in 1860 to protect the Pony Express mail line. In 1957, the fort became part of the Nevada State Park system. Leaving the fort, head west on Nevada State Route 2B (graded gravel) for 21 miles along the tree-lined Carson River to Dayton. The road follows the route of the Pony Express National Historic Trail. Turn south at Dayton and travel 29 miles through the rugged Pine Nut Mountains, climbing steeply above Eldorado Canyon and passing through the Como Mining District, and dropping down to Wellington on Nevada State Route 208.

These roads can be rough and muddy. Four-wheel drive or high clearance vehicles are recommended for the climb over the Pine Nut Mountains. Summer and fall are the best seasons to travel the byway. It takes roughly four to five hours to drive.

A detailed BLM map of this byway can be obtained by stopping off at the BLM Carson City District Office.


Photo from the Fort Churchill to Wellington Backcountry Byway, looking south to the Pinenut Mountains.
Looking south across the Carson River from the Fort Churchill to Wellington Backcountry Byway to the Pinenut Mountains.
Photo of eastern slopes of the Pinenut Mountains in Douglas County, Nevada.
Much of the Byway passes along the eastern slopes of the Pinenut Mountains, which are covered in pinyon pine.