Pahranagat Valley

The beautiful Pahranagat Valley is located in Lincoln County, Nevada and Nevada State Historic Marker number 38. Pahranagat Valley, nestled in the vast expanse of Nevada, offers a serene retreat from the bustling cities and a glimpse into the raw beauty of nature.

The wetlands of Pahranagat Valley
The wetlands of Pahranagat Valley is Nevada State Historic Marker number 38.

Pahranagat Valley is situated in southeastern Nevada, approximately 90 miles north of Las Vegas. It spans approximately 40 miles in length and is characterized by a picturesque landscape of rolling hills, lush meadows, and expansive desert plains. The valley is flanked by the towering peaks of the Sheep Range to the east and the imposing Pahranagat Range to the west, creating a dramatic backdrop against the azure sky.

The centerpiece of the valley is the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, a haven for migratory birds and other wildlife. The refuge encompasses several natural lakes, including Upper Pahranagat Lake, Middle Pahranagat Lake, and Lower Pahranagat Lake, which serve as vital habitats for waterfowl, shorebirds, and various aquatic species.

The valley is a haven for birdwatchers, with over 260 species of birds recorded within the refuge. Migratory waterfowl such as ducks, geese, and swans flock to the lakes during the winter months, while songbirds and raptors are a common sight year-round. Visitors may also encounter mammals such as mule deer, coyotes, bobcats, and desert bighorn sheep, which roam the rugged terrain.

The regeon holds cultural significance for indigenous communities, including the Southern Paiute people, who have inhabited the region for centuries. The valley provided sustenance in the form of wildlife, plants, and water sources, shaping traditional lifeways and spiritual practices. Today, the Paiute Tribe continues to maintain a connection to the land, participating in conservation efforts and sharing their cultural heritage with visitors.

State Historic Marker Text

Pahranagat Valley is named after a local Shoshone Native American Tribe.  Three local springs fill the valley’s lakes, which farmers have used for irrigation since the mid-nineteenth century.

In the late 1860s, outlaws pastured hundreds of head of stolen cattle in the valley meadows.  

In 1865, ore was discovered in the area.  The following year, a stamp mill was established at Hiko, twenty miles to the north to crush the ore.  Hiko became the center of activity for the valley and the county seat between 1866 and 1871, when local mining declined and Pioche claimed the county seat.

The valley received international notoriety in 1867 when Dan De Quille of the Territorial Enterprise published an article titled “The Rolling Stones of Pahranagat,” about magnetic traveling stones.  De Quille was notorious for publishing comedy and satire, sometimes mistaken by his readership for truth.  In this case, De Quille described these round stones as having a magical quality that, when scattered on the floor, would immediately began travelling toward a common center.  De Quille published similar articles on the stones in 1876, 1879, and 1892.

The town of Alamo before you, established in 1900, is the valley’s largest present-day settlement.  Watered by Pahranagat Creek, the area includes several ranches and the Pahranagat Valley National Wildlife Refuge.


Nevada State Historic Marker Summary

NamePahranagat Valley
LocationLincoln County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude37.3484, -115.1502
Nevada State Historic Marker38

Nevada State Historic Marker Map


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