Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013 | 6 p.m.
Population: 563 according to the 2012 state estimate.
Location: About 100 miles north of Las Vegas on U.S. 93.
GPS: 37.364189°, -115.163798°
Elevation: 3,467 feet
Alamo is a little stop along U.S. 93 in the Pahranagat Valley, which is a long, narrow, green stretch fed by a creek. The town, the center of life in the valley, is quiet and filled with trees. (Alamo is Spanish for poplar.)
The area was settled by Mormon pioneers and was officially founded in 1901. They found a fertile valley, and agriculture has been a staple since. There also has been mining in the area, but nothing big has ever played out. The town’s relative solitude was rocked with the beginning of nuclear testing at the nearby Nevada Test Site in the 1950s. The town was the nearest downwind to the tests.
Farming continues today, and Alamo serves travelers making the trip on the eastern side of the state. The leafy trees that grow in Alamo around Pahranagat Creek provide plenty of shade, and with services available, it’s a good stopping point for travelers.
There’s a grocery/convenience store that is reminiscent of an old general store. (It does, however, feature “rural Nevada” prices, meaning they are usually higher than in the cities.)
There are a couple of relatively new (and beautiful) bed-and-breakfast resorts – A Cowboy’s Dream and Windmill Ridge – which play to the town’s cowboy theme. (Windmill Ridge has a bakery and cafe that are open to the public.) They serve as a remembrance to the region’s Old West past. (The Pahranagat Valley was, in the late 1800s, once a haven for horse thieves.)
Before you get to Alamo, you'll pass the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, which is overseen by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. With two lakes, a creek and marsh areas, the refuge offers plenty of outdoor recreation activities. This is a great place for bird watching because it's on a major migratory path, and 264 species of birds have been seen here. Hiking, fishing, camping and hunting also are allowed. (Check the website for regulations.) The refuge also offers guided walks and other events to help people explore the area. For more information, see the refuge website here.
The Key Pittman Wildlife Management Area is north of Alamo at Crystal Springs. It has two lakes, Nesbitt and French, which offer great opportunities to see a variety of birds and animals. It's a state-run area, and fishing for largemouth bass, bluegill and black bullhead catfish is allowed on Nesbitt Lake for much of the year. Hunting is also allowed in season, primarily for waterfowl and dove. For regulations, the permit process and other information, you can find more information here from the state. There is no camping.
The Bureau of Land Management's Mount Irish Wilderness Area is to the north, northwest of Crystal Springs, off Highway 375 and up an unnamed county road. It offers hiking, camping, fishing and hunting. The area features ancient Native American rock art, plenty of wildlife and many geological features. You'll need to go off road to get there. Click here to see a PDF map and information sheet from the BLM.
The future: Alamo is a small town that has sustained itself on agriculture, recreation and travelers. The addition of the bed-and-breakfasts add to the area's charm.
If you go: The Pahranagat Valley is easy to find – go straight up U.S. 93, and you can’t miss it. You’ll be in it. Alamo has gas, groceries and a few hotels and RV parks. Gas also is available farther north in nearby Ash Springs. And if you go into the wilderness, always check locally for conditions and information and carry a map (in addition to an electronic device). And always take food and plenty of water.