Rock Crawling Through El Dorado Canyon
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El Dorado Canyon is located just above Dayton Nevada and offers 10 miles of some especially challenging 4-wheeling, in an area where scenic beauty abounds.
To drive up or down El Dorado Canyon you had better take a lifted 4×4 or a good 4WD ATV. Dirt Bikes aren’t advised due to the thousands of treacherous rocks. Don’t forget your camera, spare food, water and some tools and spares in case of a breakdown or flat(s). I don’t advise attempting this trip alone!
The bottom of the canyon starts above the Dayton High School, just south of the Como road, in Lyon County. The top terminates at Sunrise Pass road in Douglas County. You can start from either end and expect to drive a minimum of 2 hours in either direction. It’s best to take the whole day and enjoy all the trip has to offer though.
What You Can Expect to See
As you can see from my photos taken in late October, there are many different kinds of brush, plants and tree species; Pinions, Junipers, Cedars, Cottonwoods and Aspens.
Wild horses are plentiful, as are Mule Deer, Coyotes
and Bobcats. Many Mountain Lions live here too, but are seldom seen. Various game birds and Eagles are around too. Not to mention some spectacular rock formations, caves, abandoned mines and El Dorado Creek.
I’m very familiar with El Dorado Canyon as I lived on a ranch in the 1970’s that owned a good portion of it. Back in those days the road that followed the canyon was suitable for any 4×4, but over the years the road has mostly washed out leaving the stream bed as the only means of motorized travel in many places.
Much of the trail is made up of nothing but rocks and boulders with over a dozen stream crossings (that can rise without warning during flash floods). There are several off-camber spots, steep inclines and many trees to brush up against. Still you don’t have to be an expert to ride this beautiful trail. Just be prepared with good equipment, some buddies and a little judgment.
We began this trip from Johnson Lane, drove East over Sunrise Pass to the east side of the Pine Nut Mountains, turned north and East back up to the Como mining district, down to Dayton and the El Dorado dam.
From there we drove the 10 miles up the canyon to Sunrise Pass and 8 miles back down to Johnson Lane.
We rode 76 miles in all, including some side jaunts along the way! The actual trip is only 63 miles. Of course, there are other routes to take and you also can make two passes through the canyon, starting from either end.
Our rides consisted of a lifted Ford Ranger pickup, a Polaris 800, Yamaha Grizzly 450 and a Honda 300 Fourtrax (all 4×4 ATVs). I ran out of gas and had to go on reserve at 67.5 miles due to riding in 4X4 low range much of the time, so remember to bring enough fuel!
Unfortunately my camera’s battery gave out, so I missed getting some great photos along the second half of the canyon route. We plan to ride it again soon so I’ll take my extra battery.
I live at the top of Johnson Lane, so my trip started out from my garage, as did the Polaris 800 owner. We both live about 8 miles from the upper end of El Dorado Canyon.
If you are looking for a fun, challenging, very scenic ride, give El Dorado Canyon a try!
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