The town of Pioche, Nevada is perfect for a weekend (or weekday) getaway. Pioche is historic in terms of its Wild West heritage, it’s cooler than Las Vegas, and the most direct way to get there from Las Vegas takes about three hours, a perfect driving time for “mature” travelers.
Last weekend, my gentleman friend and I made our second trip to Pioche. We returned because we loved the length of the drive; we adored our hotel and the folks who worked there AND we learned we should have visited one of the five state parks nearby Pioche.
Our drive was straight up Highway 93. The scenery is classic Nevada basin and ranges with scenic desert views everywhere one looks. Once in town we headed for the Overland Hotel & Saloon, Room 101, the room we had occupied on our first trip. Room 101 is a beautifully decorated big room with two large beds, chairs, a dining table, a microwave, refrigerator, TV and adorable flower-oriented decor. (Every room has a different theme.) Cost: $113 per night. The hotel’s only downside: to get up to any of the rooms (all the rooms are on a second floor), one must manage a very steep staircase. Yes, hand rails are on both sides of the stairs making the climb manageable, but an elevator is not available. The first floor of the building, incidentally, houses the hotel check-in desk, a bar and a row of poker machines — everything a traveler could want. Just across the street is the Historic Silver Cafe.
Incidentally, Pioche is named after an early San Francisco financier named Francois A. Pioche who, around 1860, sent a representative to the area to set up a mining company.
On this trip, we came ready to explore one of the nearby parks: Echo Canyon State Park. The park entrance is about 20 minutes from our hotel and the park itself is absolutely beautiful with one of the nicest picnic areas we have seen. Lots of greenery, canyons and lakes. The weather in Las Vegas was 110 degrees F. or so, but in Pioche the temperature was about 15 degrees cooler. Yes, your ears will “pop” during the drive up and back, though the drive seems rather flat, and one doesn’t realize the elevation is increasing or decreasing. Last weekend, we saw very few other folks on the road or in the campgrounds. On the drive back, we were hours into the drive before we had to pass another car. We made a vow, however, come fall. to bring our picnic fixins to the Echo Canyon State Park campgrounds and cook dinner.
We drove quite a distance in the Echo Canyon State Park and even made it to Spring Valley State Park. If you like Nevada park scenery (and we do), you’ll enjoy driving through the parks and seeing a number of prosperous farm lands as well.
Returning to Pioche from our parks outing, we made a stop at the Boot Hill Cemetery. Pioche in its heyday was a very prosperous mining town with a large population (between 8,000 and 10,000 people) and lots of Wild West violence. The story is told about Boot Hill that more than 70 folks were buried in Boot Hill before anyone in town died of natural causes. Today’s population in Pioche is between 800 and 1500 people depending on the source you consult.
Pioche itself is full of buildings, some still in use, some unoccupied and many with long histories. We plan to return to Pioche again — the drive is perfect; the room is delightful — and spend our extra hours exploring the town. In its heyday, Pioche had 72 saloons, three hurdy-gurdy houses, 12 Maisons de joie, two theaters, two breweries, two gravity fed water systems with street mains and fire plugs, two fire companies and a livery stable maintaining 300. horses. Today, the story is much different, but lots of historic information is available about the town’s structures.
And the TV worked.